I happen to be reading and writing a lot about search engines lately. Their rising power as information gatekeepers and all that. And further to an earlier post of mine, I am still pouting about Google not at all recognising this site (while Yahoo does).
I promise that this is not about a blogger’s ego. At the OpenNet Initiative conference in Oxford last May, each attendant was given before the start a flyer saying “Please note that the network is monitored continuously and any illegal activity results in a machine being disconnected”. Jonathan Zittrain then prefaced the event by wittily pointing out getting disconnected from a network is the very “death penalty” to the machine in our time. So my pouting is more about that.
And Technorati even says out loud: “There is nothing in the known universe about yawningtree.” Ouch. Of course I understand it’s nothing personal. Indeed, algorithms are a funny thing. When I was doing my DEA at l’ICM, the conclusion of the course Interfaces and Practice of Human-Machine Communication after a whole term was that natural language processing would never work. Le point final. How encouraging. It’s probably not a very good attitude for scholars to have, but when I look at Google Ads, for example, I don’t have high hopes that we will come up with a computer system that will understand the paralinguistic and contextual aspects of a message. I can laugh off about getting an ad like “Don’t Teach English [in] Korea – Teach English in Taiwan. Better lifestyle+climate“, despite neighbourhood competitiveness. 😉 But this one…
Why would I want an international private investigator (with 38 years’ experience)? Which part of any of my emails exactly makes Google think I would want/need one? It really leaves me scratching my head.