This week Starbucks announced changes to their rewards program. What does it mean?
Don’t worry. I’m here to break it down brevity-style. No, not breve. Starbucks “baristas” don’t know that word.
Why the change? According to Starbucks Newsroom official website it was done “based on the #1 customer request” to have more stars. In other words, you asked for this. Look what you made us do!
In the way back I’d heard about Starbucks stars. I drank there when it was in my face and I wanted coffee so I enthusiastically figured, “What the hell?” I signed up and gave it a try.
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!
The new gold card’s here! The new gold card’s here! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this card every day! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity, your name in print, that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.
I walked confidently into the corner coffee shop. I got in line and waited a quarter hour. Finally it was my turn. I cleverly placed my order. “I’ll have a chestnut praline latte with a twist. Shaken, not stirred. Make it a grande.” I whipped the gold card out of my camouflage wallet and presented it to the barista. Light from the trendy overhead track lighting reflected and momentarily blinded her. “The name’s Taker. Tom B. Taker.”
Several women in the vicinity immediately swooned and removed their tops. Decisions, decisions.
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