November 28, 2020

Shifting Searches.

Has anyone noticed the shift in Google over the past year or so? Back in the day of an informative Internet, one could search on a subject and get results back from fellow users on that subject. For example, a search for a Netgear network card would return results on reviews and blog entries from geeks who wanted to tell you how to get the Netgear network card in question working properly.

Today, a Google search on that same Netgear network card will return a Pinterest page to show you what network cards looks like when collected by someone using Pinterest, followed by a bunch of links as to where to buy the network card in question. Three or four pages deep into the search results you might find a blog entry or something describing a geek’s experience with said network card, but Google is going to do its best to hide that information from you. Google wants you to view an ad and buy, not read about other geek experiences with this particular piece of hardware.

This is what keeps the United States of America running, right? Buying things. Think you have COVID-19? Buy an oximeter. How effective are the proposed COVID-19 vaccines? You can get them at your CVS Minute Clinic when they become available. Do you want a review on “The Mandalorian”? Subscribe to Disney+ to see what all the hype about “baby Yoda” is. The biggest concern with the pandemic has been the blocking of the ability to buy things and keep the economy moving. Dead Americans? They don’t count; they’re closing down restaurants.

I actually tried to do a search on AltaVista tonight just to bring back the good old days. AltaVista is long gone and the replacement site wants to buy Christmas gifts.

We’re not doing Christmas gifts this year.

If you’re wondering what I’m blathering on about around this “AltaVista”, it’s one of the original search engines from the late 1990s. Originally released by my old alma mater, Digital Equipment Corporation (or DEC), AltaVista allowed you to search the web without telling you what to buy. There were others; Excite comes to mind as well. Like AltaVista, Excite is long gone. They didn’t tell us what to buy. They didn’t encourage us to keep the economy moving. So they’re gone. It’s the American way. Buy something. Buy your health insurance. Not working? Die.

You know what I miss? The free exchange of information by reputable geeks that weren’t out to make a fast buck and more important, reputable geeks that wouldn’t think of populating the Internet with falsehoods, lies, and other forms of misinformation. Google doesn’t like the old ways, Twitter doesn’t like the old way, Facebook doesn’t like the old ways. Spend money, make the investors and shareholders happy, the truth is not important. Commerce is important. The economy is important. Nothing else is important.

Spend. Money.

My husband and family and I were talking about where we’d like to live if we decide to leave Chicago. I mentioned that I dream of leaving the continent, but no one else in the family has an interest in doing so.

I guess I can Google about what it’s like living in Europe or Asia or Antartica. I’ll probably have to buy something to make it worthwhile.