Monday, August 29, 2005

Searching for Self:

My first experience with a search engine hooked me. Ten years ago, a coworker showed me something called "Inktomi" which I believe was either the first or one of the first "spidered" search engines. Yahoo already had a search function but back in 1994, links in a yahoo search were largely found by human beings at Yahoo. Formula-based searches that browsed the net for relevant hits could find items in places humans would never have the time or inclination to look into or hook up to a search term. Up to then, you could easily find stories on Bill Clinton, the Palestinian question, or the best bottle of red wine for under ten dollars. You couldn't necessarily just put in an obscure name like "Osama Bin Laden"
or the back in private business "Dick Cheney" and get much if anything. My first time with Inktomi, I typed in the name of an old girlfriend. The story popped up "_____ has leukemia and her friends are raising money and trying to help her find a bone marrow match."

She died six weeks later, but because of Inktomi I had the opportunity to talk to her first. Her then current, who was very devoted to her and saw her through the illness, didn't tell her that I had phoned. After a ten days, I tried phoning again and just happened to catch her at which point she told me "She was recovered and doing okay."

Can you blame me if I came away convinced that search engines had some sort of metaphysical power? This was way better than those old plastic 8 balls with the 12-sided die inside it that answered questions with slightly shaded variations on yes or no.

Of course, one of the next items I put into a search engine was me where I discovered that I had accumulated almost a page of links without ever having had my own web page. There were a few bloggers even then, but I still was bracketed with html-phobia, not to mention all those questions about copyright, being hacked, being outed, etc.

Within weeks, google had more or less shoved Inktomi asside, but search engines became part of my everyday life. In that time, I've looked up virtually everything on the web from travel plans, recipes, and electronics purchases to articles explaining the history of the mideast and the names of people I'd just encountered in person. It worries my wife. I should never have told her that I tracked down an old girlfriend via search engine. Certainly, I do show signs of addiction to the great memory crutch that search engines appear to be. If you think of a google/yahoo/dogpile search as the ultimate prosthetic for your brain (there was an article in Sports Illustrated about amputee sprinters that hinted at the possibility that individuals could be outfitted with prosthetics that might make them faster than "able-bodied" peers some day), doing searches much of the day leaves you inside your head rather than interacting with the "natural" world and with people who don't appear as an array of pixels on a screen.Chancelucky foretold his own doom

At some point, they may have to develop tools to go in a couple directions. Things like "spirit" searches on the net where you can ask questions like "What is the purpose of my life?" and get individualized answers or timers that just say your 200 searches for the week or up, go outside and take a walk or something. In any case, I already have the name for a metaphysical search engine, "Cogito", thanks to Nicodemus where users might search their souls instead of the internet or might they use the internet to search their souls. (Imagine if you simply had a counter that tracked all your search items over the course of a three month period and what that might say about you?) Sadly, I crossed the line a long time ago where my internet time passed either time spent in front of television (maybe not a bad thing), reading books on paper (definitely a bad thing), and exercising. Yes, I confess, I'm pathetic.

Since I blogged myself into existence on the web a few months ago, I've discovered a parallel evil to the search engine and that's the hit counter. The hit counter not only lets me know how many people flash by this site, but it also occasionally tells me that they got here via search engine. In the meantime, my wife keeps asking me why I'm so obsessed with whether or not people read this site or not.

I'd say that a good percentage of chancelucky is vaguely or explicitly political. There are, however, hundreds even thousands of people blogging about Cindy Sheehan, Karl Rove, and the War in Iraq. I think that leaves this very modest site way back on the hits list. Instead, I get lots of hits about volleyball players. One of the amazing things is that "pictures of Rachel Wacholder" is close to the most popular search item that gets people here. Two odd things about that. First, I've never posted any pictures of anyone on this site and I've never written an article about Rachel Wacholder, though I have written about beach volleyball. Second, I'm about ten pages back in any search list for Rachel Wacholder pictures. By the way, I'm happy to have the visitors for any reason, just sorry to disappoint. Perhaps she has a lot of ex-boyfriends who don't know where she is or what she looks like anymore.

Another oddity, I misspelled Scott McClellan's name once and was getting hits linking the press secretary to Karl Rove. Once I corrected the spelling, I've never gotten another McClellan/Rove hit.

Search engines appear to have already developed one metaphysical quality: Uniqueness helps and the world has an insatiable appetite for pictures of attractive people. One friend has suggested I try working Clive Owen's name into my blogs, but I say the name and I think of that strange man being mean to Natalie Portman in the champagne room in the movie Closer.

In the meantime and ten years later, I'm still searching for the soulof Chancelucky or at least the one that may have once belonged to his alter-ego.


At 8/30/2005 04:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucid dreaming is the search engine for souls, a subject pogblog will be elucidating lots over spice (space-time).

The akashic record (horribly until you get used to it) records every twitch however petty or noble, low-down or high-toned. The cosmos is the ultimate information machine. It's a medium those who do grail-braille can grok.

We who are lucky enough to have broadband (worth any price, tho it bloody OUGHT to be free) are already cyborgs with our peripherals on our desks or laps.

Having a broadband searchable connection is like having a personal librarian who can instantly check stuff out for you. It's wonderful -- an education which fits like a glove.

I remember in 1992-ish asking the reference librarians at our dear public library where Darien was -- from 'a peak in Darien'/Keats. Endless dusty books were consulted. This shy lad who was a page at the library timidly came up and said to us, "I have it for you on the Web [Lycos maybe?]." I sat at the computer and there was not only info about Darien but about Keats having had dinner the night before with some friends & the conversation which lead to the poem, etc etc. I was a hog wallowing in lovely mud. I had found a fellow Keats nut, some professor in the UK & it was bliss. I was a convert that day. AND we are just in the infancy of this stuff. [The big hole is how to get living authors & artists paid a small something from everyone or somesuch system so we can get as much access to living material as we have to dead poets.]

Google or yahoo or one of them is doing algorithms which will know your months of search and find stuff for you that suits your style of search. It'll seem weird, but will be cool.

The only people who don't get it or like it are people who don't have their own high-speed access and of course access to their own computer -- computers can not be shared. Hatreds arise.


At 9/02/2005 12:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Belatedly, from one who is also hooked on google (and other surf engines before). It's sheer joy for a word-lover to be able to get all the dictionares of languages with which I may only have a nodding acquaintance and then go to native websites and try to decipher their lingo. But there are so many other paths to explore in that veritable land of knowledge. But I have also learned
that not eevrything that shines in google is gold. Loads of lies, disinformation,inccuracies and mistakes So, surfing - yes. But checking and then checking again - essential. Google is Akasha Chronicles in a mini-form. It's a step in teh right direction, though.

At 9/06/2005 02:45:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

thanks for the reminder about checking and rechecking. I have an earlier post about little glitches in the Wikipedia. I don't consider myself an expert, but I've actually "corrected" the Wikipedia twice and that's a site that takes care to get things right.

I suppose I'll have to follow both Pogblog and you into this Akashic record business.


Post a Comment

<< Home