One particular Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) search -- from wanting to know something, to being provided with links (and ads) -- was a magical and creepy experience for Nicholas Carr. He writes in The Atlantic about how Google Suggest proposed terms he might be searching for when he started to type in its search box.

"I like Google -- it's a cuddly company, and endlessly helpful -- but I also resent it," writes Carr. "It's like a nosy mother, intent on knowing everything her children are doing and thinking. Worse, it's like a meddlesome mother, the kind who can't let her kids do anything on their own. Start typing a keyword, and she immediately butts in, trying to finish it for you. At first you enjoy the hyperactive solicitousness. But then you begin to bridle. You're being smothered."

Google says Suggest's benefits include letting searchers rest their fingers, catch a mistake, and get useful information fast. The capability has been around for years. It can be disabled, and it's possible to have the search queries not based on your Web history, according to the company.

In a recent filing with the SEC, Google explains the "intense" competition it faces, and states in bold type: "If we do not continue to innovate and provide products and services that are useful to users, we may not remain competitive, and our revenues and operating results could suffer."

It can be funny to see what Google Suggest thinks you might be looking for, but Carr has a point when he writes: "Relentlessly focused on making their programs more 'user friendly,' [software programmers are] scripting the intimate processes of intellectual inquiry and even social attachment."

Let us know in the comments box below if you have qualms about how the programs we use direct our thinking. Do these kinds of web innovations concern you from a privacy perspective, or do you prefer the additional ease of use they provide to services?

Fool online editor Kris Eddy owns no shares of any stocks mentioned in this article. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Try any of our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is good at math.