Thursday, December 15, 2005

What do they think the internet is, really?

I love this person for making me laugh so much. Someone found this site by searching in Yahoo for this question:

"can you find steve F. Austin's journal" [without the quotation marks.]

Apparently, I'm the number one search result on Yahoo for that, though I've never, well, I've never had any idea what that even means. How does Yahoo connect this blog to that search? Here are the excerpted lines the search page offered with matching terms bolded:
Just So We're Clear... Thursday, December 08, 2005. Is The New Yorker published by Piranha Press? ... posted by Steve Ely at 12/08 ... Street Journal. Important newspaper columns detailing the wrongness of this nomination have been written by George F ... Antone's, Austin's Home of the Blues ...
At first, it was just funny that
  1. Yahoo works in such a way that this is the best it can do there. Compare that to Google, which copes rather better.
  2. Someone reading the lines above, with such hints as "Steve Ely," "George F," and "Antone's, Austin's Home of the Blues" chose to click through to see what I had to offer them.
Then, though, I realized it shouldn't be too surprising they'd click through despite those giveaways. Of course a search engine might be baffling. After all, this is a person who gave Yahoo not search terms but a conversational question, implying a conception of some kind of conscious mind lurking inside The Internet that Yahoo allows us to converse with.

That perception of the web made me roar with laughter. Roar, I tell you.

Yahoo's not the Computer on board the Starship Enterprise, pal. Or the Master Control Program in the movie Tron.

Of course, it's probably some 78-year-old person who never uses the web, which makes me kind of a jerk for laughing. Except "Steve F. Austin" makes it sound as if our Texan friend conflated the names of Stephen F. Austin, who was the founder of Texas, and professional wrestler Steve Austin, who is stone cold.

And yet, my curiosity aroused, I am compelled to learn the answer: can i find steve F. Austin's journal?

(I'll just pretend it's less an overheard question from Geordi to the ship's computer than a sort of message in a cyberbottle—"Hey, benevolent stranger with a cable modem, can you find this for me?" "Sure!")

And, of course, as usual, Google makes it easy. The Prison Journal of Stephen F. Austin. Wow. I hadn't even known Stephen F. Austin had ever been imprisoned. Of course, I hadn't known much of anything about him. It's been an educational night. Thanks, Yahoo! Thanks, Geordi!

Later: Of course, now each Yahoo and Google find the text string in this post first, so you'll just have to take my word for the earlier results.


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