Thursday 6 February 2014

Duck Duck Go

I guess that the human brain was the first search engine. It was never as effective as Google, Bing, Dogpile, Duck Duck Go or Yahoo are, but it was the best we had before computers came into our lives.

The brain worked pretty well depending on the person who was conducting the search. There were limitations of course, a lot of times it boiled down to the persons interests. Someone who hated to read wasn’t going to be able to tell which of Shakespeares plays “To be or not to be” came from. They might know a lot about Honey Boo-boo and her inbred family of morons or what the current price of an Amana Radar range is. It all depended on life experience and the ability to retain knowledge.

I’m pretty good at retaining useless bits of knowledge that I can sometimes remember when I need to remember them. More often than not, I know something but I have trouble recalling it just when I need it. Thankfully, I don’t have to remember much of anything anymore, I just have to know how to search for it. I have an uncle that could look at a wall of books and tell you shelf, location on the shelf and the page number that a particular quote was from. That is a good brain search engine.

I think that interest is a very large factor in the human search engine. I have friends that at times seem to be borderline morons, but they can quote hockey statistics back to the turn of the century. Some friends couldn’t tell you the ingredients in a BLT sandwich, but can play thousands of songs on their guitar from memory. I don’t have that kind of memory, but there are times when I will pull a fact out of the air and see amazement on the faces of  friends and loved ones. I suspect the amazement comes about because they think I am a borderline moron myself.

The human search engine often used reference books from the library to access facts. It was kind of fun going to the library and tracking down some elusive factoid which until that moment you had no idea existed. I liked doing research in the old days, searching through the card catalogue, finding the reference number and then finding the book on the proper shelf. Often, if it were a class project, that particular book would be taken out and you would have to find another angle to get the information. It was a pain in the ass, but once you found the information and wrote the paper there was no way you forgot that stuff.

Now, you just type in the topic and 2,746,394 results come up on the computer. Far too many to be useful, but it is a start. The problem with the internet is that the information just might be false. Someone with good intentions uploads what they believe to be accurate information but for whatever reason, they got it wrong. There is an option of paying $70 for the online version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but I’d have to do a lot of research to discover if it would be worth paying.

I will stick to the different search engines because I am cheap and I don’t really need accurate information. The people I write for either think I am an idiot or that my word is gospel, and I am unlikely to change their opinions. One thing I do plan to do is to look to other search engines like Duck Duck Go more often, just because I like the name.

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