Much of the article is on privacy issues -- Peter is Google's "Global Privacy Counsel" -- but I wanted to highlight his thoughts on the benefits of personalization and the future of search:
Our search algorithm is pretty sophisticated and most people end up with what they want. But there is inevitably an element of guesswork involved.When a searcher only enters a few keywords, any additional information could help. By looking back at what the searcher has done before, search engines can better determine intent and interest. By using search and web history, search engines can help get people the information they need faster and with less effort.
An algorithm ... built to take into account an individual's preferences ... has much more chance of guessing what that person is looking for. Personalised search uses previous queries to give more weight to what each user finds relevant to them in its rankings.
If you think of search as a 300 chapter book, we are probably still only on chapter three. There are enormous advances to be made. In the future users will have a much greater choice of service with better, more targeted results. For example, a search engine should be able to recommend books or news articles that are particularly relevant - or jobs that an individual user would be especially well suited to.
A minor point, but I do want to quibble with Peter's final example where he said "in the future ... a search engine should be able to recommend books or news articles." If Google wants to build a search engine that can recommend books or news articles, it need not write its own chapters in the book of search. It need only to look to the chapters already written by others.
[FT article found via the Official Google Blog and Jeremy Pickens]
Update: If you liked this post, the post from last week, "Personalization the most important part of Google's expansion", with quotes on personalization from a Google CEO Eric Schmidt, also may be of interest.