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April 15th, 2000

The Internet: Source of All Evil

I guess it’s something I should expect: when a new media form really becomes popular and commonly used, it falls under the scrutiny of the old media. In this instance, the Internet and television. I’m here to share with you my all-time favorite technique for "reporting" on TV news.

Let’s say that the news decides to do a piece on bombs, and specifically, how to make them. Of course this information has been available for roughly 8,940 years, but because of the net, it’s all new. The next scene almost always happens: cut tothe reporter in the newsroom, in front of a PC. He or she says something like, "You won’t believe how many pages we found about bombs on the Information Superhighway. Look at this!" The person points to the screen, and you see something like 8.5 million pages on bombs.

Ever look closely at the search box? The search box usually just says "bomb". That’s it. Search engines don’t take into account context, of course. Sure, you will get relevant results… but look.

Google search on "bomb": 245,000 results
Alltheweb search on "bomb": 834,690 results
Altavista search on "bomb": 408,600 results

I highly doubt that these pages all have to do with making bombs. It’s like looking for sex. Altavista pulls up a whopping 9.6 million (!) results. Alltheweb chimes in with 1.9 million, and Google gives 1.2 million.

The news will interpret this as meaning that everything on the net has to do with bombs and/or sex. Is it true? -pm

Posted in Technology

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