Google launches profiles, questions about their intentions

Last week, MGP Director Bill Densmore pointed out that Google had started a new profile service.  People can now create a profile page about themselves that will come up when their name is Googled.  Google is promising this will give people more control over their image on the web.  This is probably true, but it's also true it could increase Google's leverage. If enough people sign up, it becomes a centralized way for people to organize their identity on the web.  If this occurs, Google has managed to make itself even more essential. 

In this Slate article, Farhad Manjoo ponders whether the speculation is true, that Google's move positions it to be a new social network, and whether this social network might be able to reap money in a way that Facebook hasn't been able to:

"If the speculation proves true, Google's plan would be both deviously brilliant and also a little scary. Why would Google want a social network? To get to know you better—and, thus, to serve you more profitable ads." 

Bill Densmore raised a different set of questions, centering around privacy and individuation:

Google is now preparing to become the national identity card that we have been agonizing over as a society for 50 years.  Has its time come?  Will there be other competing identity-card providers?  As a consumer, what choice will we have over how much of our 'persona' to share?