I’ve been playing around with GuruNet. It’s a very cool little program that sits in the background on your computer, just waiting, just itching for you to Alt-Click on a word to find its definition. It can look up entries from a dictionary or encyclopaedia, maps, weather reports for cities, and so on.

I was just mucking around with it, looking at the entry for Melbourne, and thought I’d take a look and see what it had as a map. The map appeared, and… very, very spookily, included a "You Are Here" marker, placed right over my suburb.

[GuruNet - they know more than they should]

I don’t mind telling you – I panicked. Not the brown trousers kind of  panic, but certainly I think my heart rate increased momentarily. How could they know? Did they track my IP address? Did they query my ISP
to work out what suburb I’m in?

What else did they know about me? Did they know my name? Where I shop? My shoe size? That I’m addicted to Cadbury chocolate? Did they know how untidy my desk is?

Then I realised they just plonked that "You Are Here" in the middle of their map. Which just happened to be my suburb. I tried looking for a map of Sydney, and sure enough, they claimed I was in the middle of that map too. Phew, that’s a relief. (Not a relief map, just a relief.)

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.