May 10, 2024

Staying Chatty.

I can’t remember if the first web-based search engine I used was Lycos, Excite, or AltaVista. Prior to web-based search engines I remember using things like Gopher (which wasn’t really a search utility, per se) and Archie. But that was back in the day when one was looking for text and text-based files. Ads were still on television and billboard. The good ol’ days.

I know that of the three (Lycos, Excite, AltaVista), AltaVista was my favorite and I hoped it would continue to give search engine goodness for a long, long time. Yahoo! was dancing around with the concept back then but then Google came along and became a verb. This was before the company that pledged to “Do No Evil” started getting greedy and crazy with monetary goals.

These days I don’t really trust Google’s search results. If I search for anything, the top result is likely to hit our bank account. Even if I’m looking for a recipe for baked beans or something, the top result in a Google search is going to either be an ad for pre-made baked beans, take me to a link that is splattered with a tedious number of ads touting botox or something, or a dissertation on why I should talk about baked beans in a YouTube video.

I don’t like Google’s ad based model.

I’ve been running with DuckDuckGo but it doesn’t feel like it’s giving me the results it could be giving me. Granted, DuckDuckGo is respecting my privacy and not trying to monetize the fact that I enjoy baked beans, but I still get strange results like photos of baked beans and links to videos on people making baked beans, eeking out each step in between ads for things like soap on a rope.

I’m a Gen-Xer, I want a list that I can read and a step-by-step guide I can follow.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have been giving ChatGPT a whirl. It’s nowhere near “intelligent”, artificially or otherwise, but it does give me lists to follow and, after a month of focusing on the service, the conversational interface feels much more natural than typing keywords in a search box. It’s a shame it isn’t powered by Majel Barrett-Roddensberry’s voice.

My husband has been messing around with ChatGPT as well and he is enjoying the experience. He knows to double check the facts, but he really likes the other parts such as the aforementioned conversational style, the ability to discuss submitted, photos, etc.

Perhaps tech is finally on to something again.