Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is this the vanishing heyday of the Internet?

line drawing of a computerMan, do I love living in the Internet age -- from figuring out What Show That Guy Is Familar From while I'm still watching it, to easily looking up a fact that you're curious about, to doing all my Christmas shopping on lunch and coffee breaks without having to fight the madding crowds. But I'll admit that some of my Google search results have become perplexing lately. Sometimes you get 25 sites recycling the same low-expertise article, and sometimes sites that seem to be filled only with ads, sort of clustered around word salad -- both of these are common for parenting questions, as well as attempts to research options for home projects. Apparently others have noticed, and the phenomenon is more widespread than I'd realized; as the author at the above link notes, "To a first approximation, the entire web is spam when it comes to appliance reviews."

Perhaps this is something that Google will be able to overcome algorithmically. But I suspect that what we're looking at is another arms race, in the mode of the ever-escalating battle between email spammers and filters. Most of us have learned to just shrug and sigh about the fact that 10-90% of our email is crap (depending on the recency of the account and the vigilance of your network provider), but it sucks, and I'm sad to think that someday a quick Google search may feel the same way.

(via rc3.org)

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