Google has got messed up - and I find that reassuring

Eddie Izzard
Eddie Izzard
The German Christmas market in Commercial Road
puts Cheryl Gibbs in a festive mood

CHERYL GIBBS: I’ll be blasting out non-stop Christmas music for weeks

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We often hear that Google knows more about us than we know about ourselves.

So, armed with an interesting piece in The Telegraph about how to find out what Google thinks about you, I thought I’d find out via history.google.com/history.

I like that I’m sitting outside of some pre-defined algorithm

It was surprising. It turns out that I mostly use the internet on Tuesdays and, as much as it almost kills me to admit this in public, my most-visited site is Wikipedia.

I am gobsmacked by this, as I think I rarely go there. I was also startled to discover that Google is tracking my movements and it thinks my most-visited place (in real life) is my next-door neighbour’s house.

This, cheeringly, actually means Google has me at the wrong address, although it does know which petrol station I frequent the most.

Creepily, Google knows where my dentist is and where most of my children’s friends live – when I’ve waited to drop off/pick up children, Google’s been busily tracking my movements.

It is very revealing. I had a look at my YouTube search history and this is where things started to go awry as seemingly I had searched for ‘lady farts happy birthday’.

That was not me, I hasten to add (though I might go and have a look now that I know such a thing exists).

So my children – or husband – have been busy on my laptop when I wasn’t there.

Then I found the ads section. This is where Google tells me how old it thinks I am, what gender I am and what interests I have.

This is how it prepares the ads that I see online.

This was actually brilliant, as it’s put me a decade over my age and can’t tell my gender.

I like that I’m sitting outside of some pre-defined algorithm.

I was also relieved to discover that the infamous search engine believes I am interested in banking and Brazilian music.

So although it is tracking every part of my life, it’s got the basics all messed up.

I find that reassuringly comforting.

EDDIE’S INSPIRATIONAL, BUT HIS MESSAGE MAY NOT MOTIVATE

Can you imagine the pain that Eddie Izzard went through, running 27 marathons over 27 consecutive days for Sport Relief?

The man is amazing (and one of my favourite-ever comedians too).

I heard him speaking about the experience on the radio.

He said that it’s part of being human, to move, and we should all embrace our bodies and run more.

He also said he intends to run a marathon every two weeks for the rest of his life, because he can.

And he believes we should give up refined sugar in our diets. He’s right of course but I fear, like many others, I’d find starting that process the hard part, and then continuing with it too. So while he’s inspirational, I’m not sure if his message is motivational enough just yet.

JOY OF INTERNATIONAL FAMILIES IS TRYING EACH OTHER’S CULTURES

Last week I overcame one of my final frontiers in terms of food boundaries and managed to put poutine in my mouth.

This is chips covered with gravy and cheese.

Can you imagine anything less healthy or appetising? Seemingly it is popular in Canada, from whence it came via my relatives.

And while my children wolfed it down in decadent style, declaring it ‘the best thing ever’, for me it was like forcing fat slugs down my throat.

It was truly not the most pleasant experience in the world, but isn’t that the joy of international families? Trying out each other’s cultures?

If I hadn’t married an immigrant, I’d have never experienced that, or maple syrup, pancakes and bacon.