For months I’ve been switching between different search engines wondering:
‘what’s happened to my Internet search results?*
‘Why are search results off topic?’
‘Why did you do that Google?’
‘Literal search, please‘
and of course the obvious:
‘Why is Internet search broken?’
The responses have been about as disconnected from the words I literally, actually used to pose my question as everything else has been lately, including whole pages of ‘why search is actually great,’ when it isn’t, and for what seemed like ages, I was none the wiser.
As an excellent speller, who doesn’t need #ChatGPT to write and research what I want to communicate, it’s puzzling to have correctly spelled words, people’s actual names, double quotation marks and boolean plus signs make no headway whatsoever into what a badly designed update to a previously anthropomorphic co-worker would now prefer me to look at.
But I digress.
It seems as if the Internet has suffered a catastrophic stroke, or else is in a new relationship that I’m not in, and worse than this, decided that I don’t really know what I want, or what I’m actually doing, which is bad enough when breathing humans do it.
(As a Melbournian, I’ve literally dumped two different people, years apart, for messing with my coffee order.)
How do you break up with the Internet?
Or it with you?
This week, after consulting the Magic 8 ball for the umpteenth time pleading with it to tell me ‘what’s wrong with Internet search?,’ up popped an article, at the top of the pile where it belonged, that was well written, plausible and seemed to have the answer.
So here it is, for your viewing pleasure and my future reference.
Yes folks, the reason this once brilliant repository of answers to every obscure question, from a company that’s supposed to know everything there is to know about me, that it’s possible to know, (if one confines ‘everything’ to meaning user generated data gleaned from:
1. apps I use,
2. spyware I’ve downloaded
3. times I have my phone with me
4. some sample biometrics indirectly measured
5. cross referenced with all the times my voice assistant has lit up in response to a loud outburst of exasperation about the ‘Internet becoming a garbage dump with the curb appeal of an unrenovated strip shopping mall’ and I’ve accidentally clicked the wrong thing by mistake.
Why Google has chosen to ignore the potential of the data it has and could be using to reduce me to seeing things it ‘knows’ I already opt into, in favour of hemming me in on all sides with paid posts and the personal ramblings and undercooked opinions of a plethora of attention seeking nobodies posting listicles, (whose most salient feature seems to be their lack of production values, lack of intellectual pedigree, talent for SEO and capacity to pay for Google ads) turns out not to be privacy or SEO related.
Instead, it transpires that I’m not average or popular enough to be of any interest to a volume biased algorithm, and instead I’m rather flatteringly an Internet search ‘power user’ and fairly accepting of my massive nerd status.
What do you think?
Are you a power user or one of the popular search pack?
* To give you some sense of the severity of the problem dear reader, at one stage I resorted to Bing, in a bid to restore some kind of normalcy – by which I mean, ‘search results that you’d expect to see completely dominated by widget sellers and sales outlets’ instead of anything useful.