Google Blogoscoped

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Nigritude Ultramarine Countdown Has Started

[Nigritude Ultramarine]

The Nigritude Ultramarine SEO contest will end on July 7th, when the “Stayers” prize will be awarded: a 17” LCD flat screen. Though I’m not the most active participant anymore and dropped to the fifth rank at, don’t forget in case I win I will pass on the monitor to whoever links to this blog using link text “Nigritude Ultramarine” (and sends an email to let me know about it).

The Sony Screen awarded by Darkblue

Added to the main win, here are the bonus prizes which will be awarded Wednesday:

Jimmy Jumps

Search Engine Optimization is just one way to bring in visitors to your site. Another is to print your homepage address on a shirt and run across the field during the European soccer championship 2004 final, which is what – with “his aim to be known and objective to be famous” – did tonight. Here are videos of his other guerilla marketing* stunts:

Catwalk | Award show | Formula 1 | Dance interruption | Football

*Guerilla marketing, coined by Jay Conrad Levinson, is defined as “unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources.”

4th of July Logos

Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, Google and others are celebrating 4th of July with special logos.

Googlebomb Cartoon

The Joy of Tech has a Googlebomb cartoon.

Ease of Information Retrieval

Information retrieval has become as natural as the air we breathe. And just like most constant stimuli we stopped taking notice information is around us. We just expect to find what we are searching for.

But what did you do a decade and a half ago when you were looking for information? There were no search engines, blogs, wikis, no World Wide Web.

There were computers, and an Internet, though the former was limited when it came to information retrieval, and the latter hadn’t yet sunk into culture’s subconscious. The idea of the Web as we know it today yet had to be thought by a man sitting at his desk 10 kilometers away from Geneva, Switzerland. (This man was Tim Berners-Lee. Incidentally CERN, which turns 50 this year, is all about particle acceleration, not Information Technology.)

Air is ubiquitous, and so is information on the Web. But 15 years ago you were probably much more conscious about retrieving information, because you went to the library to get it. You might have had to wait a day for it to open, then take the bus, or your car, or whatever mode of transportation – but it was infinitely slower than traveling to another web site.

Back at that time, most facts were stored on your book shelve, on paper, on an encyclopaedia. If it was one of immense size you were lucky enough to have it answer the most trivial requests for you. Any fact hidden aside the main-stream was literally out of reach.

I remember at my grandfather’s house I was first exposed to personal computing*, and later on to the Web. I couldn’t help but print out all the information on all the things I was interested in. Things which so far couldn’t have been answered by even the library. But on the Web, they were all there – plenty of information nuggets convinced me I had struck gold.

*The first thing I did on a Personal Computer was playing games, and the first game I played was a green-on-black Batman on Schneider PC. This game remains one of the most thrilling I’ve played since – however I could never find any information on it again. Some things it seems are lost, or I just can’t find the right words to bring them back via Google.

Today, we do not care to print things out. More often than not we won’t even put up as much as a bookmark. Sometimes, hitting on information, we might even forget about it. Or not look for it to begin with – after all, it’s out there anyway, and if ever the question pops up we can just google it. We stopped being grateful for this world of information, a mere decade old, because it just feels so natural. (Google today plays a large part in making it all feel so easy.)

Taking instant information for granted isn’t a bad thing. Of course we might accept less and less information isn’t fee in the Real World*. Because this helps to move on, as opposed to just stand still full of awe. We think about the next steps to take. One of the next steps was reacting to the information we read, and we wanted to react close-by** where the information originated.

*Think your local newsstand – I can speak for myself when I say it takes longer and longer to convince me to buy a magazine if I don’t feel it completely satisfies my information hunting needs.

**It should puzzle us all that to this day we don’t have a “Comment” or “Edit” button built right into the browser, but that we have to rely on individual webmasters to implement this system – and if they did, we still have to search for the buttons and understand how this system works, what syntax is allowed, and possibly register ourselves for the 1000th time. (Isn’t it crazy I’m required to create new passwords all day long?) And why is even a Wiki page so different to a document opened in Word, where we can – without a mode change – just start typing over the text as it is presented to us?

On the ’Net we don’t just read all day, but we comment, email, praise or complain, and in general, constantly interact. Which also became so natural we might feel the interaction itch whenever we now read a book and disagree with the author’s point of view. (I often find it harder to read non-fiction books these days; just reading without immediately starting to talk back to the author. I guess it’s a lot easier if I don’t have anything to say on the subject.)

Sometimes when we stop paying attention to something we also loose direction.

At times I have to sit back and I think wow – I pretty much have my own TV station here. (Of course I don’t have a studio or millions of viewers, or pretty actors. But I do have the power to put up a video in any of my blog posts. All of us with Web access do.)
Not only do we have a TV station, we have a newspaper, a book, a comic book or daily cartoon, a music label, a magazine and all sorts of media in our hands. All it takes is a little empty web space, and a little time (and energy) to fill it. And even then I’m only working within the system I was given*.

*Still it’s a virtual system and nothing in the world says we can’t expand it. Whatever happened to senses other than sight and hearing? What about touching, smelling, tasting a web page? What if a web page would feel more cold when it’s old, and more hot if it was just updated? What if a really large web site would smell of lemon, and one without only several pages would smell of cinnamon? Wouldn’t those features help us put things in context like we do in good old meatspace?

When we do pay attention, we are overwhelmed by the multitude of options.

Next time we wonder what we should do, can do, or will do, we ought to take a deep breath, fill our lungs with air, look up in the sky and let our mind reach out for something that was out of reach when we were younger. And once in a while, we might even visit the library again, trying to retrieve a book we haven’t been searching for. If we are lucky it will inspire us to do something we didn’t even want to.


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