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Saturday, May 31, 2003

Umberto Eco’s Information Overflow

Umberto Eco on hypertext and World Wide Web ...

“Wanting connections, we found connections — always, everywhere, and between everything. The world exploded in a whirling network of kinships, where everything pointed to everything else, everything explained everything else ...”
-- Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco, 1988

... Google Answers ...

“The abundance of information will be such that either you have reached such a level of maturity that you are able to be your own filter, or you will desperately need a [professional] filter (...)
So once again you will ask somebody... an information consultant... to be your gatekeeper!”
A Conversation on Information: An interview with Umberto Eco, by Patrick Coppock, February 1995

... PageRank ...

“If you don’t have a filter, you are unable on the basis of a single message to understand that Smith has to be taken seriously. (...)

There can also be internal filters. You can look at one hundred messages on Peirce and see that each of them is quoting Smith. At a certain point you feel that Smith probably has a certain... importance, or something to say, considering that everybody is quoting him. But OK, it is once again this art of filtering and choosing that becomes a very complex art.”
A Conversation on Information: An interview with Umberto Eco, by Patrick Coppock, February 1995

... search engine queries ...

“There’s for instance a book on Descartes, and obviously in the book on Descartes you will certainly mention, let’s say Pascal, or Gallileo. There are some immediate links, because Gallileo and Pascal are highlighted, and so you can immediately identify the possibility of there being links there. There is no pre-established link between Descartes and Caravaggio. Why? Because they had nothing in common except he fact that they lived in the same century. But I wanted to solve, or to answer this question: “Was it possible that Descartes met Caravaggio?” Descartes travelled pretty much. So, I have a function that allows me to ask about Descartes AND/OR Caravaggio, and I found I had the possibility of detecting that that meeting was impossible, because Caravaggio died when Descartes was 14. So, I established my own links”
A Conversation on Information: An interview with Umberto Eco, by Patrick Coppock, February 1995

... and warblogging:

“Patrick Coppock: ’But again, you can’t get away from this idea of trust and community. Because, obviously, if you want to find out things, then normally, in everyday life, you go to people that you trust, who you think have a fairly good overview, and you ask them, “Well listen, there’s too much here, can’t you give me a pointer.’

Eco: ’Yes, that is a possibility. But you know one of the first great events on the early nets was the story of George Lakoff, who wrote this beautiful article on the Gulf War. He understood that it was too late to have it published before the war. He didn’t know anything at the time about the Net, but he gave the article to a friend who had “connections”. The day after, people were xeroxing this article in Bologna, in Amsterdam, in Sidney, all over the world! The article propagated because of a network, but more than that. It was because the opinion of a man called George Lakoff was [worth reading].’”
A Conversation on Information: An interview with Umberto Eco, by Patrick Coppock, February 1995

I don’t speak Japanese, so I’m mildly curious what the page mentioning “gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle” is all about.

Search Engine Comparison: Download Size

Here’s a quick size comparison of Search Engines, Meta-Search Engines, and Search-based Portals:

#SE-NameKBExternal CSSDocument Type28.8 KbpsISDN
4AskJeeves27.5YesHTML4.01 Transitional11s5s
5HotBot33.5YesXHTML 1.0 Strict14s6s
6Excite34.1NoHTML 4.0 Transitional14s6s
7AllTheWeb36.6YesXHTML 1.0 Transitional15s7s
10Lycos94.6YesHTML4.0 Transitional40s18s

Judge dismisses suit against Google

“An Oklahoma judge quashes a suit filed by ad network company SearchKing that alleged Google manipulated query results."
– Stefanie Olsen: Judge dismisses suit against Google (BusinessWeek), May 31, 2003

Kieren McCarthy writes of a new contender to Google’s crown, search engine My test will have to wait as Turbo10’s announcing: “Our search function is currently disabled. We are experiencing a large load. Please come back later.”


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