Welcome Back to the Internet!

posted in: External Screenshot, Smog 0

Receiving 100% of your search results from Google is a little like getting all your information from the popular kids at school.  The top results might satisfy most needs, but there’s a whole lot of internet out there beyond that first page of links.  Not that anyone wants to go beyond the first page or even the first result.  Thanks to SEO, it can all start to look like the yellow page equivalent of AAA Web Content after a while anyway.

Luckily, a new search engine has come along that gives you a chance to dig deeper without having to bother with a second page.  Meet Million Short, where you can exclude the top 100 – 1,000 – 10,000 – 100,000 – and yes, 1,000,000 web sites from your search results.

There are so many angles to explore.  While leaving out the top million sites is interesting, knocking out the top 100 is… a revolution.  All that effort to get there and now you’ve got a simple tool to completely ignore them.  Take out the top 10,000 and it’s like driving through a city without seeing a single chain store.

Welcome back to the Great Unknown!

[via Hacker News]

Duck Duck Go Find Yourself Another Search Engine

posted in: Commentary, Smog 1

When it comes to getting a page of top results for your search query out of the unfathomable amount of information content text code online, it makes sense to get a second opinion every once in a while.  Visually, the Google search page looks much as it did during its 1999 launch.  Conceptually, however, it is a whole different story.  Without getting caught up in the full laundry list of changes and baggage that have piled up over the years, or how well Google has kept to not being evil, let’s first consider the search itself.

There are more parameters behind which results you get served than ever before.  The critical change is the shift of emphasis on the objective value of the data to the subjective nature of how it all applies to you.  Personally.  Your web history is now being interpreted as a profile of your person and you are in turn being given the results your profile says you will want to see.

Unfortunately, the very nature of searching implies a lack of knowledge.  If you knew what you were looking for, you wouldn’t be searching for it.  Without knowing it, our own ignorance is being fed back to us, creating a bubble that potentially cuts us off from the information we would need to actually understand a subject.

Meanwhile, the proverbial permanent record that plays bogeyman for school children has suddenly broken through the dream into reality, and we are writing it ourselves with every new search and click.  Once it is stored, it can be sold to the highest bidder or simply requested by whatever authority feels they have the authority. Furthermore, new uses for this data are being pursued around the clock, meaning we don’t yet know its potential for being used to help or harm us.

Does this mean you need to kick your Google search habit?  That, of course, is up to you, but perhaps a more realistic starting point is simply trying something different.  With that in mind, meet DuckDuckGo

Give it a try.  If you’d like to know more about search engine tracking or the little search bubble you’ve been encased in, DuckDuckGo has set up presentations on both matters at DontTrack.us and DontBubble.us.  The anti-tracking app suggestions at the bottom of the first are eye-opening all on their own.  And don’t forget the goodies!

Disclaimer:  This post has been influenced to an unknown degree by there being a duck involved.

[Related: You Need a New Dictionary]