Ever search random ideas, things or thoughts? Do it then watch the “ads” appear! A friend was over, we wondered if we could make pigs in a blanket without buying canned dough (you can) … now my “ads” all feature recipes, blankets, hot dog brand names, and (my favorite) actual piglets in blankets.
I did a blog a while back about cyber-stalking advertisements and it still amuses me how fun it can be. And now many major telecommunications groups (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) are planning to or are already selling your particular search history to others. Theoretically the “individual identification” is removed. Uh huh. Sure it is. No one could possible track me down … right Target?
Dangerously cool! And awesome! And, a little scary sometimes.
Show of hands, how many of you go to MedlinePlus (or your other favorite consumer health site) when you ‘suddenly’ develop a symptom and figure it must be The Start of Something Awful? Say, perhaps, your feet are a wee bit swollen. Obviously something is wrong. It could not possibly be the 3 hour flight, a week of eating junky food followed by a 10 hour drive home. Certainly you now have Something Serious.
Off you go to look up Edema (psst, that is doctor-ese for ‘swollen feet’). In looking at the list of suspects, it’s obvious. You have kidney disease. Or maybe heart failure. After reviewing all the possibilities you come to the inescapable conclusion. Too much salt.
Hmm. Now to find how to get rid of it. You need a Diuretic. Being a new-age kind of person (and not wanting to pay to see a real doctor, plus the drug side affects look really icky), you head over to that other wealth of information, Goohoo (google/yahoo) to find some natural cures.
The Professional Librarian in you knows that Goohoo results are not always, well, truthful. So, using your ninja like research skills you quickly suss out that Dandelion is a pretty good choice. But … since it is not regulated, it is risky to just pick up any old dandelion pill.
Wait! What’s that? Watermelon and cucumber are natural diuretics? And they are on sale? And you love both?
On and off I have been working on a post about technology. I love new technology, am fascinated with the possibilities but at the same time I want to know how it will effect (and affect) things.
Remember the old PDA? The first run of these basically were just electronic address books – and the stylus was rather difficult to use (especially for those of us with less than stellar handwriting). I liked the idea but preferred my old handwritten, scribbled on, little black book. I still do use that little black book (especially for physical addresses of friends/family) but I also my phone’s ability to retain phone numbers. Works for me but it does mean I can no longer remember phone numbers since I no longer dial from memory.
Then there is the downloadable music of today. I’m told downloadable is replacing compact disc (which replaced the LP and cassettee…not entirely and not across the world). This frustrates me. I love music and dislike the idea that I can only get some things by purchasing and downloading. Well, except when you go to see live music of not-so-well-known bands. CD sales is where they can make their money, gigs don’t pay very much and CD (and tshirt and keychain, etc.) sales is where they can make some $$$.
Oh! And books. Books are going away, d’ya know? Yes! It is said that no longer will we have paper, we will be a paperless society (I’ll pause here for your laughter as you look around your office). Instead of purchasing a book or grabbing one from the library, you will purchase and download books to a device. Seems very much like ‘renting’ to me – especially when Big Brother can reach across and delete from my device (referring to the Kindle/1984 phenomena - and ain’t it a kick what book that happened to? Cue Rod Sterling).
I like owning a physical copy. Yes, it takes space but when my computer crashes and my hard drive backup is corrupt…I still have my CD and I can read by candlelight if power dies. I wish I had taken my own advice on physical copy when my phone decided I no longer needed to have any friends or contacts – which happened right after my computer decided to kick the bucket thus killing my phone backup.
Then, of course, is the issue of access. I have ranted and ranted about this. NOT everyone can afford an MP3 player. What? They’re really cheap? Uh huh, so is milk but many still need food stamps or WIC. Oh! You’ll give everyone a player? Sweet. Now, how do they get the music to put on the ‘free’ player? Ah! Simply download it…on what? Can’t download in a public library. Can’t download when you do not own a computer OR have internet access. Oh and let’s not forget the cost of electricity and/or batteries. It ain’t cheap. Then there is the learning curve on how to do this…rant rant rant.
Wow – go off subject much? Yes. Yes I do. Point being technology is great, it really is but let us not forget everyone else. Let’s not build a society of information-rich and information-poor. Libraries can help fill this niche needed to provide all this wonderful technology to the masses. And they do – quietly and without fanfare, libraries are out there helping people get what they need to succeed (as well as entertain).
*disclaimer, I do use downloads. I have downloaded music and books and all sorts of neato cool things. And I love it. But I do also love my physical copies for things I want to go over and over and over and over… I am not anti-technology. I am, though, pro-options.
On the NGC4LIB list, James Weinheimer posted a link to an article in the New York Times, The Dirty Little Secrets of Search. The article both scares and fascinates me. I sort of figured something was going on with search since I would get high hits for companies that had nothing to do (not really) with the object of my search. [and no, I shan't name the company so it won't get additional hits but it is big and has a red circular logo...]
Another article “How the Internet Gets Inside Us“, this from the New Yorker, was also posted on the NGC4LIB list but this time by B.J. Sloan. I think I am a Ever-Waser, based on the description in the article. I am cautiously optimistic. Actually, in general I am an optimistic person but with distinct paranoid tendencies.
Have you read the two articles? No? Go on. I’ll wait here [tapping foot], go on! Yes, they ARE long articles. Read.
OK. Why would I post these two articles together? You think they are unrelated? Au contraire mon frere! If the Internet is getting inside us AND if search is being so easily manipulated then… well then my paranoid self jumps aboard.
Search has been manipulated since Day 1. I remember when the “relevancy” ranking meant how many times a term appeared in the page (B.G. – Before Google). Many sites added massive amounts of metadata to their pages to drive their ranking and get more hits. Then along came Google with their sneaky-cool algorithms. Of course spammers had to figure out how to work around that and they did. I think Google automatically ranks the domain extension as higher (such as a .gov would go higher than a .com) but then it relies on more complex computing, metadata, links, etc. to determine ranking.
I used to teach a class on how to read the URL and analyze the website to determine validity (at least, to get an idea if the site was credible). Few people really look at where they are getting the information, just so they get it. This is no different from B.I. (Before Internet). My grandmother swore by the tabloids – after all, if they printed it then it must be true. The Internet via WWW carries on that tradition.
We now are seeing the phenomena of the Internet and World Wide Web. We can get to information (and misinformation) much more quickly than ever before. We have the capability to instantly speak to someone in a completely different location – and share pictures, lectures, music, etc. practically at the speed of light. This is the change. It is faster. Human nature is the same. We still have evil. We still have manipulation. We still have beauty. We still have love. We can just access each other and the information faster.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” said George Santayana [yes, I did google to find that-wait! no, I actually yahoo'ed]. Behind all the technology are human beings. Our nature has not changed drastically. Despite the new technology, the speed, etc. we are still we. We must be responsible enough to keep that grain of salt as we carry on using the glorious new techie tools for behind the tools lie humans [cue Dorothy and the Wizard behind the curtain]