Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Google Complex

If 2012 taught me anything it's that Google is my friend, but that friend that only comes around whenever they need to borrow some cash to get out of a jam. I remember in years past this supposed friend was much more helpful in my day-to-day life, but without warning they turned. I never really gave much thought to that as I never really gave much though to how Google really worked. That is, until I read and learned more about it.

I'm an avid user of Google as my primary search engine for the same reason as every one else; it's become more of a force of habit ingrained into our heads by word of mouth and the media. Among my regular searches are baseball photos, stats and stories, etc. as I am not only an avid fan of the game and history, but I want to work journalistically in that field once I finish my studies at the University of Oregon. In fact, I worked for Major League Baseball last season temporarily to really get a grasp on whether or not I was on the right path. During my time I spent anywhere between 4-10 hours a day on my computer, always writing or looking something up. During this time I used only my Samsung Galaxy Note and my newish HP computer. Anytime I look up something baseball related the information I'm looking for comes up relatively quick, but when I need to look for something outside of that subject I'm sent on a small wild goose chase.

The video we watched from TED really opened my eyes on why I've been having so many issues:

Due to my sometimes one dimensional nature, Google has pretty much assumed that the only thing that matters to me in this world is baseball. I don't really blame it for feeling that way; however, sometimes I do research about music, films and food for other projects in interested in. But in most cases it becomes a bit of challenge to track in depth information down from a viable resource prospective.

Another interesting point that was brought up in the video is how two people may be searching for the exact same thing, but Google will yield different results. Oddly enough this issue ended up biting me in the ass about 2 hours before I watched the video. Every day I write a blog post about 1 of the 250 or more New Era baseball caps that I have, making sure to into in depth detail about the history of when it was used, the players who wore it during the era and where one can find it for their collection. In most cases I don't need to spend more than 1-2 hours on research and the actual writing of the article combined; however, tonight it took me a little more than 4 hours. Here's the article: http://hatsandtats.blogspot.com/2013/02/february-19-american-league.html

As it turns out there isn't a viable Web site that had any of the dated information on the particular hat that I was writing about, so I had to conduct my own sort of informational puzzle. Even the Baseball Hall of Fame was a dead end. I got about 3/4 of the way done when my girlfriend asked if there was anything she could do to help. I let her know what I needed and she quickly went to work. Within about 3 minutes she was able to find the last 3 videos/photos I was looking for. This was quite frustrating/perplexing as most of her Google-related searches hover primarily around the medical field since she's in Med school, but she's also a big baseball fan. Despite my best efforts and a wide knowledge of the subject, Google still made things difficult for me, but easy for her for reasons I can't explain.

If what my searches yield is a result of some greater alogrithm, then Google needs to put an end to that nonsense. The idea that what I WANT to look for might not necessarily be what I find is quite a frustrating concept to grasp a hold of, especially considering that Google is supposedly the best place to look for something on the internet.

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