The Database of Intentions is simply this: The aggregate results of every search ever entered, every result list ever tendered, and every path taken as a result. It lives in many places, but three or four places in particular hold a massive amount of this data (ie MSN, Google, and Yahoo). This information represents, in aggregate form, a place holder for the intentions of humankind - a massive database of desires, needs, wants, and likes that can be discovered, supoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited to all sorts of ends. Such a beast has never before existed in the history of culture, but is almost guaranteed to grow exponentially from this day forward. This artifact can tell us extraordinary things about who we are and what we want as a culture. And it has the potential to be abused in equally extraordinary fashion.
The issue for this blog is, of course, what should we make of a putative "Virtual World Database of Intentions"?
Battelle raises concerns and opportunities with the DBoI that stem from searches. Surely there are even more interesting questions when, as in VWs, the amount of information about user intentions is so much greater. We've discussed privacy concerns previously, and I don't necessarily want to reheat that discussion. Though of course commentators are free to muse on whatever aspect of this they like.
But I think Battelle is onto a different idea, and one potentially more interesting.