Tag Archives: google

Here, Let Me Google That for You

I really don’t mind being asked for, say, a restaurant reco or an easy and direct subway route. I’ve lived in this city a long time and am proud to impart my wisdom. But we’ve all gotten that query like “what are the museum’s hours?” which could just as easily be resolved by the query-er himself spending eight seconds on the internet. For that there’s let me google that for you.

lmgtfy.com

Go to the site, type the search term into the fake Google search bar and hit return. It will spit out a link. Hover over it to reveal a tiny url — it’s more subtle — copy it and send the link to your friend.  I could describe what it will do, but it’s more fun to experience it for yourself:

http://tinyurl.com/2wry68a

You’ll end up looking like a wise-ass, but a magnanimous wise ass: you’re friend’ll get his answer in the end.

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Google Game: Information

It’s so basic. What are people looking for online? Information, of course. What on? Let’s take a look at Google’s top ten.

From this I surmise that we, as a population seek

  • to keep up on current events
  • insurance that we won’t be mauled
  • to put a ring on it
  • a back-up plan
  • an A in Social Studies
  • too much candy
  • a vacation
  • an adventure
  • an escape

Googlers Told to Buzz off; Yahoo Was Ahead of the Curve, Relieved No One Noticed

Pretty much as soon as Google launched Buzz in Gmail, the stings started a-coming. (I knew they would, I just knew it.) Alley Insider did a great “Code Red” timeline of the scramble to un-fuck-up:

February 9 — Google Buzz launches.

February 10 — In a post titled “WARNING: Google Buzz Has A Major Privacy Flaw,” We complain that before you change any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see the people you email and chat with most. Our complaint is that Google forces users to opt-out, rather than opt-in, to exposing this private information publicly.

February 11 — Google updates Buzz to make it easier to opt-out of publicly displaying lists of followers.

February 12We suggest this change doesn’t go far enough.

February 12 — A woman complains that Google automatically set her up to be followed by her abusive ex-husband.

February 13Google goes all the way, replacing an opt-out feature, auto-following, with an opt-in feature, auto-suggesting.

February 16 — Google promises more changes, including a more prominent “mute” option. Says a Google spokesperson, “Some people feel like there is too much noise in the inbox and this is something we are working on better controls for.”

A former Google employee even started a virtual Buzz complaint box.

But what really cracks me up about this whole thing — all the excitement and creeping-out, hemming and (ye)hawing — is that Yahoo started rolling out an automated social wire and status updates on the What’s New page of its mail client months ago (like, August of 09), and no one even noticed. They even posted the latest on the Mail blog on February 5, four days before Buzz exploded:

It’s less invasive than Google’s, as far as I’m concerned (I have email addresses with both), but still pretty, well, fucking stupid. Good thing for Yahoo nobody cares enough to give them a hard time.

[Thanks, Ahs.]

Dear Google, Back up off a bitch

Dear Google,

Back up off a bitch. Seriously. You’re getting to be like the creepy uncle who wants to kiss on the lips. Get out of my personal bubble already.

So here’s the back story: I’m doing a little cursory web-searching for an article I have due, when at the bottom of the page I notice this:

One of the Google guys’ newest brainsurges, Social Search results. (Ed. note: Clearly the real buzz today is Google Buzz, but that’s not pissing me off — yet — so I’m running with this. Run with me.) Basically, below the “legitimate” results Google presents me, I now get this, a section of results from people in my “social circle.” And according to the web giant, this fellow, [name redacted], is a buddy of mine, who has germane information to share. Well, I beg to differ. Not only was this entirely unhelpful, but I have no fucking clue who this guy is. And I don’t care.

I’ve done a decent job of keeping the circumference of my social circle off the internet — you know, like actually social — so the fact that Google purports to have some insight into my personal life is presumptuous at best and unnerving at second best. OK, Google, I say. I’ll play your little reindeer games. Show me whom you think my social circle encompasses.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson Would Probably Call You a Pussy

Logic leads to advancements, which in turn dictate logic. Why call someone when you can Facebook them? Why scan the street for an address when you can check the location on your iPhone? You could pick up a book on a subject of interest, but instead you’ll search for a few sufficient snippets online. Could you plan a trip without Orbitz or Kayak or Google Maps?

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Self-Reliance” in 1841, praising the strength of the individual, the value of unadulterated opinion, and revealing the folly of blind following. In it Emerson provides a poignant vision of technology’s subtle and subversive shifting of priorities and perceptions. More than a century and a half later it is still a vital reminder that whatever our tools and acquired facilities, we must rely, ultimately, on ourselves.

This passage may as well have been written today, about the Internet and cell phones. The message hasn’t lost a bit of relevance — OK, maybe a bit; Kiwis are, today, largely clothed, I reckon:

Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given something is taken. Society acquires new arts and loses old instincts. What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men and you shall see that the white man has lost his aboriginal strength. If the traveller tell us truly, strike the savage with a broad-axe and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch, and the same blow shall send the white to his grave.

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has a fine Geneva watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His note-books impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance-office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber whether we have not lost by refinements some energy, by a Christianity, entrenched in establishments and forms, some vigor of wild virtue.

We kneel at the altar of information on atrophied legs. Occasionally it would behoove us to get up and walk around.

Not OK, Google.

There I am doing an innocent Google search for the latest on the Conan/Jay debacle when I notice results ensconced in freakin’ talk-bubble-boxes (see yellow highlighting):

Not OK, Google. If I wanted to search Twitter I would have fucking searched fucking Twitter. As if I didn’t feel had enough by this Conan craziness, now you gotta go search-resulting me comic-book style? F you, dude. Like I’d want to get my TV entertainment news from some hip hop radio station. Or this guy.  Totally lame.

Bigger picture, this is an unnerving turn in the world of internet search. That may sound dramatic. But. It’s hard enough as it is to click a credible source online without the Twitter vomit of no-name bozos appearing directly below legitimate news results — which are of questionable reliability to begin with, and yet the best we’ve got to go on. Throw a rock in the air you’re bound to hit someone stupid. Throw a query in the Cloud you’re bound to hit his latest tweet. Blerg.

Closed Captioning for YouTube Brought to You by Google

The New York Times today reports that

In the first major step toward making millions of videos on YouTube accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired people, Google unveiled new technologies on Thursday that will automatically bring text captions to many videos on the site.

According to the article, Google’s speech recognition technology, already used in applications such as its voice-to-text phone message service, initially will be applied to largely educational video channels on the YouTube, such as PBS, National Geographic and university stations. Another version of it will be available to regular users, giving them the option of having YouTube caption their videos for them, auto-generating transcripts from the audio.

While aimed at making online videos more accessible to the aurally-challenged, the technology will also be a revelation for the rest of us who want to bask ever more thoroughly in the glow of humanity’s radiant stupidity. Did she just say, “could be a crack head that got hold to the wrong stuff”? Let’s go to the transcript for confirmation. (Yes. I am getting word that, yes, that is what she said.)

Furthermore, imagine the far out search implications. Forget hoping someone’s typed out and time-logged choice quotes from the latest Family Guy (06:24: “I did some poos, I did some poos, I didn’t  mean to.”), or straining to recall in which chapter R. Kelly sings “I thought your name was Mary/ That’s what you said at the party/ Man, this is getting scary/ I’m gonna shoot somebody.” Uploaded videos will be automatically tagged with text files, unleashing a deluge of previously untap-able search reserves. It’s the web’s next logical step, really.

And you thought you spent a lot of time on the computer now.