Google is fluid and ever changing. It’s always trying to improve itself. Yes, I’m talking about it like it’s a thing. It’s The Blob.
The way Google works in the now is not necessarily the way it worked in the before.
For example, one day I noticed that entering certain words would provoke a dictionary response on the top of search results.
Response: a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.
Hey. Thanks, Google. That’s kind of sort of useful if I’m in the mood for a dictionary type response. A little down-arrow is included so the box can be expanded to see things like additional definitions, word origin, translations, and even a cute little chart of “usage over time.”
Then, yesterday, I decided to try the function again, this time for the word “interstellar.”
My God. It’s full of commercials.
The dictionary box was gone. Almost like it never existed. In its place was a box entitled Showtimes. Yes, that’s right, Google. Good job. Interstellar is also the name of a movie. You figured it out.
The right side of the page was also transformed. What used to be blank space was now essentially a big advertising poster for the movie. There’s a thumbnail photo, a series of reviews (it really is full of stars) and other info about the movie. A way to jump to posts on Google+ was thoughtfully provided, thumbnails of the cast and, last but not least, a section called “People also search for.” (This last one I like to call Who Gives A Shit?)
Very interesting, of course, except for that fact that none of this was what I actually wanted. Google excels at this.
I carefully checked the rest of the page. Perhaps tucked away in a corner of the screen there’d be a way to ask for the dictionary? Nope. Nothing.
It was almost as if the dictionary box had been erased. From existence. And magically replaced with Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise Casino. Great Scott! This is heavy!
So what happened? Just like that alternate timeline (which Marty and Doc eventually repaired) Big Daddy Google has come up with a clever system of analyzing words based on money.
The proprietary Google algorithm looks something like this:
is search term a big money word, something that can be sold
if yes, show results_monetized()
if no and it’s a dictionary word show the dictionary_box() followed by results()
if no and it’s not a dictionary word, show our bastardized rip of a wikipedia entry followed by results() including a link to the real wikipedia page
I know this is complicated programmer-style pseudocode but that’s essentially how it works.
Sooner or later this will happen to every word in the English language dictionary and Google will cease to be a valid source of information and will exist only as a shill, much like a carnival barker on the midway. This process is known as the google stomp. Given enough time Google will have about the same meaning as a highway billboard that advises, “Eat at Joe’s.”
Spend $120 on a game and you just might win a piece of crap made in China that’s worth fifty cents. That’s a Google-sized bargain. This is our inevitable future.
Technology and continuous improvement. Is there anything better? Kaizen!
This weekend I did something I should have done about one year ago when I got my new iMac. I dragged out an ethernet cable, hooked it up to the old PC running Windows XP, and began the arduous task of retrieving my data.
First I had to get the computers to talk to each other. I thought it will be a process like finding the other computer on the local network and clicking it and being prompted for a username and password. I figured the latter would be no big deal because I was the “administrator” on both of the computers.
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In the spirit of Don’t Be Evil, I’ve got something to say.
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Here are some personal favorites of searches that were used to find my blog in the last seven days. Batter up! And don’t ask me why these phrases worked. I, of course, remain completely innocent and have absolutely no idea.
firm forces staff to attend christmas
goodbye asshole neighbor song
state farm sandwich
boss gets fucked at work
Wow. There sure are a bunch of sickos out there!
Tonight the Google Let Me Down
Sung to the tune of “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down”
Tonight the Google let me down
Displayed results without my search term not around
An image search for “Spock” with nothing found
Tonight the Google let me down
So yeah, there I was on the Google. I wanted a new wallpaper, so I did what I usually do: Google Image Search (GIS) with the exact dimensions of 1920 x 1200 (which just happens to be my display resolution).
I have found that I can get interesting wallpaper results by omitting “wallpaper” as a term and searching images that just so happen to match the dimensions of my desktop. I like to be different I guess. (For my personal safety I keep “safe search” at moderate. If I set it to “anything goes” I’d likely be buried in porn, and that’s no good. Google is, after all, one of the largest purveyors of porn in the Universe. Or so I’ve heard.)
Being in a logical mood, I decided to use “Spock” as a search term. I was hoping to find results of a type never before encountered.
As usual, some of the results were representative of the search term and some were not. Also, as not, there was a surprising number of frisky images of women in bikinis. Now what do they have to do with Spock? Highly illogical.
Want to try the exact search for yourself? Click here.
I kept scrolling down the image results looking for a suitable wallpaper that I could meld with, but none really moved me. Gradually, however, I began to become aware of something. Spock wasn’t in very many of the results.
I took a screenshot of the results. By only page 5 Spock was strangely no where in sight. Four of the results in this shot actually pertain to Star Trek but no Mr. Spock. There’s a couple video game shots, a Robert Downey Jr., a sexy girl in a hammock, a jumbo jet, and a refreshing glass of Coke. I guess I have to ask, “Hey, Google! Where is the Mr. Spock in this equation?”
One thing is certain. I won’t be trusting my past or future to Google computations for time warp (beta).
Google is imperfect. Abyss will sterilize. Along with all the carbon-based life forms infesting the third planet of this solar system.