Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Google Challenge Update

A few preliminary results:
  • Kristine is way smarter than I am.
  • Murky Thoughts and my friend Kim are also way smarter than I am.
  • My sister and her husband give up too easily, probably because they have small children and little time to waste. Of course, that didn't stop me.
And a few points:
  1. Kristine notes that Google Images search was worthless, and she's quite correct. When it comes to search - to information, really - text is king. And queen. And jack. In fact it's hard to believe that text will ever not be king. Someday there may be a way to search photos without first reducing them to text... but I can't really imagine how that could be done.
  2. Google is kind of stupid. By that I mean, that it requires its users to be far smarter than they should have to be, to root out things that are just a little bit obscure. (A more charitable way of putting it would be that Google is lousy at sorting the wheat from the chaff.) I must admit that this is the first time I've got better results from Clusty than from Google, but I haven't played around with Clusty all that much, and I don't really have a solid sense of how to use it to best advantage. Still, Google seems to me very vulnerable to competition, perhaps not the Internet superpower of the popular imagination.
  3. The Internet's usefulness is still, in large areas (the arts and culture come to mind), mainly due to the efforts of fans, hobbyists, and dilettantes. This is not to denigrate fans, hobbyists, and dilettantes - I happen to be one myself - but it does give you some idea of the structure and causes of the Internet's limitations, as well as its strengths.
  4. Note that the photograph in question is under copyright, and that at least the majority of instances that are accessible on the web are pretty clearly not licensed. Me, I would call every instance that I've seen an example of fair use. The copyright holder might not agree, and I would guess the courts would side with the copyright holder if it came to a test.
Anybody else?


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