Posted 8 Mar 2002 at 00:59 UTC by Alleluia Share This

Each time we visit Google, it is with held breath. We have seen the bold 1990s freedom of the Internet dwindle into a thousand fragmented pieces where only the strong survive. Advertisements are everywhere, intruding into our mindscape. The ten thousands of images a year we see, advertising everything from Goodyear-on-a-blimp to online gambling protruding out of your Yahoo mail, are all designed upon the principle of mindless repetition.

Each time we visit Google, it is with held breath. We have seen the bold 1990s freedom of the Internet dwindle into a thousand fragmented pieces where only the strong survive. Advertisements are everywhere, intruding into our mindscape. The ten thousands of images a year we see, advertising everything from Goodyear-on-a-blimp to online gambling protruding out of your Yahoo mail, are all designed upon the principle of mindless repetition.

It is well understood that the more times you see an image, the more likely you are to purchase its related product when you are wandering down the store aisles, wondering what to purchase. You've had the moment when you're standing in front of seven different brands of raisin brans, and you opt for one or another, little calculating that the one you purchased was simply imprinted upon your brain more times in recent advertising.

Google strides like a valiant and noble knight, a Don Quixote on a mission from heaven, to clear the mindscape of all those lurching, fragmented thoughts: "buy me!" "buy me!" "buy me!"

Like a gift from another universe, where things are cleaner, and evaluated by merit rather than popularity, Google presents an elaborate algorithm for sorting websites into fields of clarity. So insightful is their methodology, other larger search engines have bowed to this upstart. Even the mighty Yahoo, the first big engine on the 'net, has Google under the hood. So do a dozen other search engines, and thousands of sites who have turned their proprietary search functions over to the agile Google churner. AltaVista, Lycos, metacrawlers, and a few other great ones keep the American principle of competition solid, yet here we behold the miracle of Google.

We programmers watched Google come from behind, for we needed a relevance-based engine long before anyone else did: we had to have it so we could put it in the hands of others who needed our services; we were developers: we knew the information was out there, and were willing to spend hours tracking it down. Somewhere along the way, we'd stumble across this small search engine called Google, and discover that it turned up amazingly relevant searches, time and time again. No advertising. Quick.

So we bookmarked it, then we earmarked it, and finally we began to deliver the most precious kind of advertising which can be earned: we told our friends about it. And we delighted in the lack of advertising. Truly a geek's machine; sleek and relevant.

We watched the Internet bubble come crashing down around its own self- exuberance; we all know at least one programmer humbled by the rapid withdrawal of venture capital.

And so we watch Google carefully now, knowing that it is still bearing fruit for its venture capital investors, yet also knowing that our economy is continuing to draw inward, and as carefully as we form our sentences regarding the future of our welfare... we hold our breath when we visit Google each day for its wealth of free, friendly, and advertising-free three billion interrelated facets of information.

We watched Google handle the September 11 tragedy, worried that it might spark them into becoming a news portal, since their cache ability made them compete with sites like CNN which were swamped with 50,000 hits per second... and we saw Google come out cleanly, building on the crisis in a noble, not-capitalizing-on-the-crisis, manner. Now you can visit Google and find current information; it's a portal, yet ever so quietly, since there are no advertisements. Portals have become synonymous with a barrage of advertising, so what do we call this gallant creature who will not stoop to capitalism?

It's just a humble search engine: A search engine which points the way into a future with a clean mindscape. We may not all make it there; spammers prove that they'll come into such a future kicking and screaming for attention, and since we know that we all have to arrive together or else we none of us can arrive, we tolerate them.

Yes, we hold our breath each time we visit Google, lest they make that sad plunge into our noisy world instead of rising above it. And we are continually surprised by the improvements which they are making. These are not trivial improvements, simple cosmetic additions; one by one they have expanded our notion of how powerful a search engine can be, how it can nimbly reach into the deepest crevices of the Internet and produce a slew of relevant information on obscure topics. Search within groups. Search for images. Search only for images which are wallpaper sized from sites in Europe and are black and white.

The essence of the Internet, the information revolution, has somehow been bestowed upon the novel minds working for Google. We look at their job offerings, and yearn for the day when we can deserve such benevolence as to work for Google. Certainly only the best of the best work for Google (or id). They play hockey in their parking lots, and eat catered food every day. Ah, there we begin holding our breath. We like to have fun at work, but too much fun is a sign of venture capital.

How do they do it, how do they keep going, and going, and going without losing integrity by selling ads or trying to do too much? Google quietly inspires us to consider a world without advertising. Oh, they take advertising alright, yet look at it: it's extremely targeted, intended to be relevant to the searcher. With a thick black line separating advertising and content. No advertiser images. None of this irrelevant barrage. Looking for a new ISP? Here's twenty links, and over here in the corner, ten folks who've paid us money to be listed when you search for ISPs. Google drew a distinct line between the advertiser content and their own content. And they steadfastly looked toward our needs when they tolerated no images. Text- based. Get the information into the hand of the gentleman while he needs it, and trust that he will come back later with a thank-you note in hand.

Well, here is one thank you note. I hold my breath each time I visit Google, and I use it extensively, and have for years. I was Googling when Google wasn't yet cool, and I'm delighted to see it surviving. I hope they remain solid in their condition of accepting no image-based advertisements, and pray they will continue to inspire us with clarity on the concept of what it means to serve.

The cache concept, now firmly entrenched in the way we conceive of the Internet, is perhaps the greatest aspect of the information revolution: You once published a site, but now it is defunct. Or your site is presently being slashdotted or DOS'd. No problem, visit the Google cache for the site, and there's your info, as clear and sometimes quicker than the original version. The folks at have taken this idea and run with it, yet I must admit the first time I realized how profoundly differently we were going to be processing information in the future came when I understood what Google was doing with their cache. I prayed then, and the prayer was answered, that the cache would not be shut down because of re-publishing rights issues. Now Google has enough momentum that it would take an act of Congress to shut off their caching.

Take a look at Google. Unlike most companies with bold pretty mission statements hiding inner corruption, Google somehow matches their ten operating principles with immediate proof. They do it right; they work hard for their money.

Even Better..., posted 10 Mar 2002 at 05:07 UTC by kbob » (Master)

I appreciate Google's integrity in keeping ads unobtrusive, too.

But what I like even better is how good it is at returning useful info. Nearly every day, I pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. Yes, I really do have a reference library that spans most of human knowledge, and yes, I really can look things up nearly as fast as I think of the questions.

I boldly predict that within a decade, it'll be common knowledge that Google has made the human race smarter. Within a decade, schools will grapple with the question of whether students can use Google during tests, just as they grappled with the pocket calculator question a few years ago.

The only thing that would be better would be an open source, massively distributed Google.


One point missed, posted 10 Mar 2002 at 13:52 UTC by chexum » (Master)

I'm not quite sure what the point of this article is, but I'd like to add that Google (even more after reading the corporate link above) is the new generation company where people commute by the cluetrain.

Googlebombing, posted 10 Mar 2002 at 20:53 UTC by lilo » (Master)

Interesting way for someone to use Google to ridicule or harrass the person of their choice. Amuse your friends. Feel self-righteous as you turn a search engine into a personal propaganda tool. And the Church of Scientology is still winning the Googlebombing war hands down.

Re: Googlebombing, posted 11 Mar 2002 at 01:30 UTC by lilo » (Master)

(I don't mean to be grumpy, but as the recipient of these tender mercies, I guess I don't see Google as an unmitigated boon to humankind :) :)

Rob L.

Programming contest, posted 12 Mar 2002 at 16:33 UTC by Alleluia » (Journeyer)

Just now discovered that Google has a programming contest going on. Great news for a geek like me. Now programmers 'in the wild' can contribute to the ongoing saga of making Google...


Scientology, posted 13 Mar 2002 at 16:52 UTC by abraham » (Master)

I wonder if that really is "google-bombing". I tried searching for Christianity, Islam and Catholic Church, and got only pro- or neutral sites. At least Scientology gets an anti- site as #4.

Re: Scientology, posted 14 Mar 2002 at 13:57 UTC by lilo » (Master)

Apparently they've made a concerted effort. On the other hand, maybe large organizations with large numbers of domains are supposed to be able to control their public images in that fashion on Google; they do meet the profile for prominent Google listing on their subject matter more or less automatically, as far as I can tell....

Re: Scientology, posted 21 Mar 2002 at 22:12 UTC by jLoki » (Master)

Apparently, Google caved in to Scientology's threats and removed Scientology critical websites on 03/20/2002. So much for "DMCA is wise". 0,1283,51233,00.html

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