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October 1, 1999 Mindjack Magazine technology & culture magazine

Books / Digital Culture:
The Last Page
by Rachel Singer Gordon

Search engines, Internet buzzwords, and google.com

Novel:
vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

Selected Past Articles:

Technology:
Emulation Revisited
by Donald Melanson
A look at video game emulation
04/20/1999

Culture:
The Daddy-os and the Swingers
by Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Lounge culture vs. Diner culture.
06/24/1999

Books:
Cryptonomicon
by Neal Stephenson
reviewed by Shawn FitzGerald

Movies:
The Blair Witch Project
reviewed by Joshua Ellis

The Last Page
by Rachel Singer Gordon

 

So, they're saying that even the most thorough search engine only indexes some 16% of the web.

And you're surprised? Not only is the number of web pages continuing to grow at an exponential rate, nearly every search engine out there has changed its focus from thorough indexing to becoming the "portal" of choice for the most millions of eyeballs.

Before "portal" became a buzzword, you'd only hear it thrown around as a preface to the phrase: "to hell" -- delivered in appropriately sinister tones, of course. Evil cackle optional.

Not to equate using a portal site with selling your soul... But really, given half an hour and a crack at their wysiwyg editor of choice (or the neighbor kid down the block), just about anyone could create themselves an ad-free, cleanly loading page that would point to their favorite variety of sources for stock quotes, weather, news, and whatever else struck their fancy that day. What if you prefer Yahoo's stock quote service, yet are enamored of CNN's weather page?

Maybe once microdisneyaohoo figures out that neither portals nor the Internet itself will ever be the cash cow of their dreams, they'll back off and leave the playing field to the rest of us again.

The next contender for overused term of the year is "online community." Use of this phrase is really very clever on the part of Internet marketers who have picked up on the fact that what really grabs people about the net is the potential for communication. When anyone first gets online, the application of choice is email -- to talk to the grandkids, to swap family photos, to write a favorite author, you name it. About as far away from "e-commerce" as you can get.

But email (avalanches of spam aside) doesn't make anyone any money. And merely slapping forum software into an online store does not community create, let alone creepily keeping track of what everyone in your town or company has bought.

Lest you get the idea that my crabbiness is both endemic and irreversible, let me direct your attention to Google, a little gem of a search engine created by two Stanford PhD students that has just come out of beta. Unfortunately, Google will be launching its own advertising program in the near future, but hopefully the philosophical commitment will stand firm as the money begins to roll in.

And if Google should fail you, take heart. A new study shows that any page on the web is only 19 degrees of separation away from any other -- so all that clicking is bound to take you somewhere serendipitous.

Rachel Singer Gordon is a computer services librarian with an affinity for both books and technology.

Send comments and suggestions of review materials to: rachel@mindjack.com

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