Tuesday, December 18, 2007

White-Hat ELO

Google is truly amazing. Here's how Google works in a few short sentences:

Google looks at keywords on your page to determine what the page is about. For example, if I have the words "albino", "fetish" and "porn" on my page, chances are my page is either about Albino Porn Fetishes, or is my brother's blog. Google then decides how good your page is based on whom you link to, and more importantly, who links to you. Therefore, just based on that link above to my brother's blog, Google thinks that my brother's blog is just a little bit more important than it really is. Google uses the "twin schmuck" theory, which states:

If one schmuck links to another schmuck, both may be slightly less schmucky than we think, and could be worth looking at.

However, the system isn't perfect. Some people don't understand that Google is a machine just looking at groups of keywords, and will type in actual questions, thinking that it is smart enough to understand the question and its context. Google is essentially just that "Dr. Know" character from Spielberg's A.I.

At any rate, this "asking a question" idea of searching is what led to Ask Jeeves many years ago, which argued that you could actually do that and the search algorithm would understand it. Of course, this didn't work, and that is why you have Ask.com today, which apparently is only good for helping Bigfoot learn how to shave.

This brings me to the point. Someone made it to my blog by typing "can $1,000,000 in one dollar bills fit into a suitcase" into Google. Those quotation marks are mine. Why would you need to know this information? I doubt any gun dealers have ever asked to be paid in "One million dollars, all in unmarked one-dollar bills, please."

Of course, I soon realized that this was likely a third or fourth grader, based on the top result in Google for this query. This link is a series of activities for youngsters to teach them math, within which is this word problem. Fabulous! Google works. Someone typed in that question and Google immediately provided an answer. This begs the question: If someone typed this into Google, and the very top result clearly provided the answer, why would the searcher scroll down and click on the #6 result, which says this:

"Country Caravan: September 2007
Unfortunately, you can only fit in 16 letters at a time on this one, .... There are forty suitcases. One of them has 1000000 dollars, one of them has 1 ..."

This blurb obviously has nothing to do with the question asked. It's not clear what exactly I was talking about, but based on the series of ellipses, I was certainly not providing an answer to the question.

Some of these results are interesting. My blog is currently #20 on Google for "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" which I'm pretty sure is the exact quote from Romeo and Juliet. I am going to try and get myself in the top 20 for a whole slew of Shakespeare quotes. Can you imagine if I were in the top 20 for "E tu, Brutus?"

Oh, and I suppose, if you think there are some good alternatives to Google completely owning your search experience, you should check out Mahalo. But honestly, if you're on my blog and you don't know what Mahalo is, what is with the caravan jokes?

1 comment:

Lelah said...

This is very strange. Why are people searching for caravan jokes? I have never heard of such a thing and you certainly don't provide any.