Saturday, March 29

Google Search

I've been concerned, recently, about google search results. They've gotten... worse, much worse, than they used to be.

I'm also looking at google from a variety of other perspectives, as a user and as a potential employee. There's still a lot of good stuff there, but it looks like whoever is managing search either

(a) Has forgotten about long tail issues, or
(b) Is taking the concept of "fail as good business" too seriously, or
(c) Prefers other search companies to take the lead, or
(d) Is an idiot, or
(e) Is reacting to regulatory pressure, or
(f) Are overwhelmed by spam, or
(g) Something else...

Yeah, basically, I have no clue what is going on. But I am presuming some combination of some of the above.

But, it's pretty clear that if I want good search results I should be using other search engines, and falling back on google search only when my habits get the best of me.

And we should probably expect something similar from google's other services - and maybe that is the point. (Though, more likely, this is the result of "professional management" in the sense of "preventing work and taking money for the privilege of having presented the concept in an impressive fashion".)

On the other hand, philosophically speaking,  anyone working with computer systems needs to have contingency and backup plans.

Still, I am not sure how to view this - are they crying out for my help, or are they warning me to stay away (obviously neither of those, in a very real sense, but maybe you get the gist of how I need to think about this in terms of my own future plans).

Maybe it's time for me to give up on computers as a career path, and take up farming (in the sense of growing stuff out of the ground)?

Meanwhile, I'll point out that the failure of google search is something of a marketing and management failure as well as a technical failure.

As I understand it, one of the roots of the issue has been a focus on the first search result as a metric of success, and a focus on search speed as a metric of quality. And these are indeed important goals. But they cannot sustain the company by themselves, and while breadth of search is available in a variety of ways, those extra "useless" search hits provided a variety of useful information about potential related searches, and about the communities of information that one had access to.

But another issue is spam. To pursue its goals, Google needs to deal with money. And money - like any other human endeavor - leads to too much of some things and not enough of others. In other words, "spam". There's a huge element of people trying arbitrary things until they find something that works for them. And, another issue is that one person's good idea is another person's bad idea.

Personally, I'd take spam as early efforts at artificial intelligence - a subject worthy of study and research. And, of course, a good way of attracting attention to yourself if you are controlling or distributing it. (Pro tip: do not annoy too many people unless you actually want to attract the attention of the really violent types.)

Google has started to take a stab at this issue with google groups. Google groups makes a fair set of assumptions about how people organize their lives and their information. But somewhere in the process a lot of information that used to be available is no longer there.

Anyways, what Google currently conveys to me is that they do not have a clue and that companies that they service do not have a clue. And this is silly because the people within Google definitely have clues. So how is it that the corporation does not? This is something of a business opportunity - now is probably a good time to cash in on all the clueless businesses - but it's also something of a warning of things to come.

Good investment opportunities for the long term are probably not computer related at all, and probably not money related at all. Instead, make sure you have direct contracts with farmers and construction outfits and so on. If you want a safe future you probably need to make arrangements to bypass monetary transactions entirely and have direct access to the underlying services you need. This means food, water, something to keep you relatively dry, something to keep you warm, and so on.

Money, meanwhile, is looking more and more like it's mostly only going to be good for paying taxes.

I sure hope I am wrong about this, and that I am just being grumpy.

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