Tag Archives | Search Engine

When Will The World End? Is Neil Armstrong Muslim? Was George Washington Gay?

Apparently the most popular internet search question we have about celebrities is whether or not they are gay. Even, or perhaps especially, the Pope. Via the New York Times:

There are the questions you ask friends, family and close confidants. And then there are the questions you ask the Internet.

Search engines have long provided clues to the topics people look up. But now sites like Google and Bing are showing the precise questions that are most frequently asked, giving everyone a chance to peer virtually over one another’s shoulders at private curiosities. And they are revealing interesting patterns.

Frequently asked questions include: When will the world end? Is Neil Armstrong Muslim? Was George Washington gay?

The questions come from a feature that Google calls “autocomplete” and Microsoft calls “autosuggest.” These anticipate what you are likely to ask based on questions that other people have asked. Simply type a question starting with a word like “is” or “was,” and search engines will start filling in the rest.

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Spanish Court: You Do Not Have The Right To Be Forgotten

ssurgericDo you have the right to be forgotten? No — the internet has no escape hatch. Via ISP Liability:

A civil court in Spain handed down last Thursday a ruling dismissing plaintiff’s claims against Google Spain over the so called “right to be forgotten”. The case is Alfacs Vacances SL v. Google Spain SL.

While the right to be forgotten is being the subject of heavy litigation in Spain, this is one of few judicial rulings on the matter. Indeed, most claims have been brought before the Spanish Data Protection Authority. About 130 cases are thus pending.

The plaintiff in this case runs a campsite near Tarragona. In 1978, the campsite was hit by a terrible accident with more than 200 people killed and many others severely burned when a tanker truck loaded with flammable liquid got on fire on the highway just in front of the campsite. While the accident happened more than 30 years ago – and the campsite was acquitted of any liability – it still springs out as the first search result when you search for Alfacs on Google, including horrifying thumbnails of burned corpses.

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Search Engines Pressured To Doctor Results To Favor Copyright Industries

Lego-Google-via-FlickrGovernments and corporations want to make sure that you see only approved material. Raw Story writes:

TechDirt’s Glyn Moody reveals that “the UK government is pressurising search engines to police search results in a way that goes well beyond notice and take-down.”

What the British government is after amounts to the artificial promotion of “approved” online music and film services, combined with a blacklist of websites accused of infringement which would be completely excluded from search results. As Moody notes, a system of this sort could easily lead to the censorship of a great deal of legitimate content with no oversight or appeal.

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Google Wants To Stop Spreading Santorum

Spreading Santorum… but there’s just no way to put the stuff back where it came from! Danny Sullivan explains at SearchEngineLand:

As Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum loses two primary races to rival Mitt Romney, perhaps he can console himself with, ironically, another loss. Spreading Santorum, the page defining “santorum” as a by-product of anal sex, has finally dropped from the top results on Google. The related anti-Santorum blog, however, remains. And a page from Urban Dictionary keeps the definition alive, more explicit than before.

Santorum: The Definition Page
The page at SpreadingSantorum.com, created by columnist Dan Savage as a protest against Santorum’s views about homosexuality, has maintained its position in the top results on Google for years. The page defines “santorum” as:

The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

To understand more of the history of the site, and how it ended up doing so well on Google (and Bing, Yahoo and Baidu), see my previous article, Should Rick Santorum’s “Google Problem” Be Fixed?

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Internet Makes Smart People Smarter, Dumb People Dumber

Or so claims Kevin Drum, writing for Mother Jones, and using his attempt to Google the price of milk as a supporting anecdote. The theory (that the internet increases “cognitive inequality”) has yet to be tested via scientific study, but, does it ring true?

Moral of the story: the internet makes dumb people dumber and smart people smarter. If you don’t know how to use it, or don’t have the background to ask the right questions, you’ll end up with a head full of nonsense. But if you do know how to use it, it’s an endless wealth of information. Just as globalization and de-unionization have been major drivers of the growth of income inequality over the past few decades, the internet is now a major driver of the growth of cognitive inequality. Caveat emptor.

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Google Would Beat Bing On Jeopardy

bingIn two weeks, IBM’s Watson computer will compete on Jeopardy against two of the show’s all-time human champions. But instead of wondering whether humanity emerge victorious against the rise of the machine, Stephen Wolfram is wondering which machine is better. The physicist behind the Wolfram Alpha “answer engine” just announced the results of his own experiment, which revealed that Google would beat Microsoft’s Bing search engine in any contest based on questions from Jeopardy!

“Wolfram took a sample of Jeopardy clues and fed them into search engines,” explains this technology blog. “When it came to the first page, Google got 69 percent correct, just beating Ask with 68 percent and Bing on 63 percent… To put that into context, the average human contestant gets 60 percent of answers correct, while champion Ken Jennings has a record of 79 percent.” Interestingly, Wikipedia came in last, scoring 23%, though they may have more to do with how Wikipedia handles searches.… Read the rest

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Australian Search Engine ‘Groggle’ Gets Pushed Off The Wagon By Google

drinkleGroggle got its name from the word “grog,” Australian slang for booze. A search engine intended to help users compare alcohol prices in Australian stores easily lends itself to the “grog”-”Google” mash up, but Google didn’t seem to think it was clever. After a six-month legal battle, Google has had Groggle change it’s name. It is now Drinkle. Instead of spending the money and time on such a lawsuit, Google should have used the site to find itself a drink. BBC News reports:

An Australian hoping to quench his nation’s thirst via the web has agreed to change the name of his alcohol search site after protests from Google.

Cameron Collie set up Groggle to allow users to find the best-priced “grog” in nearby stores.

Search giant Google complained at his effort to trademark the name, prompting a six-month legal wrangle.

Now the name Groggle has been changed to a more conventional title, Drinkle, ahead of its launch in 2011.

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