The Google Age

Let’s face it, where would we be without Google?…

This weeks task, asked us to use three search engines: DuckDuckgoGoogle and Instagrok to research an item. Although I’ve googled a bazillion things over the years, when forced to research a topic, it seems that every possible word in the english language escapes me. Not to be too visceral, but like peeing in a cup at the doctors, you get stage-fright.

With this conundrum in mind, i thought of something that was relevant to my current interests. After racking my brains, I decided to research the topic: Veganism. After contemplating trying it for a week, I thought it would be an interesting and relevant topic to research.

Google

It has bought the world to our fingertips. Within seconds, one can settle an argument or solve a question. But as Yoda would put it, with great power, comes great responsibility. In contemporary society we have relied on Google as a friend, a confidant, a doctor, a teacher, a map, an encyclopaedia and a tool for communication. Yet as a result, will society become more reliant on self-diagnosis? Will we seek advice from a source that doesn’t judge, that gives us straight answers and that keeps our anonymity (to a certain level)?

Familiar with the search engine already, I found it easy to use and efficient. It lists the most popularly visted and relevant websites first, making it easy to sift through unnecessary content. The ability to search through images, news, videos, blogs (etc.) that are related to your topic, is also an obvious plus. With more content to read then time to spare, this website becomes the source of all search engines envy. Overall, Google supplied me with endless content about veganism. Listing the more renowned and popular websites first, I was able to find out the philosophy of Veganism within the first few websites.

DuckDuckGo

To begin, I found many faults within the ‘DuckduckGo’ brand-name. Where Google is often turned into a verb (googling), is catchy and easy to pronounce, DuckDuckGo isnt. It is unnecessarily long, and ultimately forces the reader to initially Google it, before they have even used it. Where people understand what you mean when you are “Googling”, they wouldn’t understand if you were “DuckduckGoing” something. We no longer search something on the web, we Google it. The brand has replaced the initial word, which i don’t feel the underdog search engine: DuckduckGo is capable of.

Firstly, the homepage of DuckDuckGo, is remarkably similar to Google. Its search results also reflect those of Google, yet were not ordered by popularity, thus causing smaller websites to be listed before larger ones( Such as “happycow.com” over Amazon and Wikipedia). The one benefit I see, is it’s ability to change layouts, by ordering your results by either definition or category. The search engine has also mimicked Google’s easy to read and simplistic layout whilst also adding a definition of your topic, at the start of the page. Unrelated to my results, was DuckduckGo’s ‘goodies’ page. Although confusing me at first, this page allows users to search popular topics by genre, such as “Conversions,Calculations and Entertainment”. Overall I feel Duckduckgo would be a more successful search engine, if it concentrated on promoting these features within its page.

InstaGrok

This search engine was remarkably different from Google and DuckDuckGo in both its results and its layout. With the use of diagrams and an interesting layout, I feel that this website is best suited to children.  Hiding most of its content under clickable tabs, this website gives more control to the ‘web-surfer’. It also has the option of ‘Quizzes’, which i haven’t seen on a search engine before. Undertaking a quick survey on veganism, Instagrok allowed me to recognise what i did and did not know about my chosen subject.

Summary

Overall I still prefer Google’s simplistic, yet informative layout. Maybe it’s just been ingrained in me after so many years, but it will remain my default homepage after this analysis. If you have found that you prefer either the Instagrok or the DuckDuckGo search engine, you can choose to make them your default homepage by selecting ‘Set homepage’ on either of the sites. Otherwise, one can select another homepage by changing the preferences on your web browser. For Safari, select safari>preferences and enter you homepage. Unfortunately, each of the web browsers still included advertising. Each of these advertisements was also tailored to the user and their results. Conclusively, I feel it would be refreshing to use a search engine, that wasn’t trying to sell you something, unless you had selected that option.

Overall I feel i would use these search engines in this order:

  1. Google- simple, classic search engine that i am familiar with
  2. Instagrok- remarkably different layout of information from Google, kid-friendly and fun to explore
  3. DuckDuckGo – similar to google, yet has less options to choose from. Offers nothing substantially new or interesting
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The Browser Wars

The Internet: “you don’t know you need it, until you start using it”-Browser Wars

Download: The True Story of the Internet- Browser Wars, documents the birth of the worlds first internet browser and its consequential battles with the power-hungry Microsoft. Aside from the extensive use of cheesy metaphors and over-dramatic use of music, this doco presents a simplistic view of the events that occurred during the 90’s browser wars.

Over-emphasizing every word, whilst continually bobbing his head, the presenter of this series; John Heileman, does become an irritating force. Often distracted by these elements, one might also be distracted by the plainly bias stance the text takes. Constantly demonizing Microsoft, with dark reenactments and suggestive comments, the documentary appears more like a Hollywood production, than anything else.

All criticisms aside, I do have to admit that the simple lay-out and over-glorified editing did spice things up a bit. I’m assuming that telling a story about guys who sit at their computers all day, whilst making it engaging, is an arduous task. Especially if the audience isn’t lingual in either html or javascript.

Essentially, the internet was created in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee. Recognizing its revolutionary nature, students at the University of Illinois created the original web browser; Mosiac. Seeing its potential, Entrepreneur’s Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen joined forces with the creators of Mosiac and created Netscape in 1994. Monopolizing around 87% of the web browser market in 1996 (Journal of business ethics 2005), Netscape was quickly becoming a recognized brand-name. No longer were consumers searching through a web browser’, they were searching through Netscape. Netscape had therefore achieved what every company hopes to achieve, making their brand name a propriety eponym.Just like Hoover, Coke and Astro-turf, consumers associate the original word with its brand-name.

Wholeheartedly Netscape believed that their web browser “had the potential to become a universal interface that would tie the networks of the future together”, but unfortunately Microsoft was not going to let this happen.In the bitter feud that resulted, Microsoft created its own web browser; internet explorer. Yet its questionable tactics ultimately led to the governments antitrust lawsuit.

The Supreme Court Economic Review (vol.7 1999) outline that the Department of Justice believed ‘Microsoft has unjustifiably bundled its internet explorer (IE) web browser with its windows operating system and entered into unlawfully restrictive contracts with internet firms. In the process it has allegedly prevented the evolution of Netscape’s browser’. Even more interestingly, the review states that ‘The case poses fundamental questions about the role of antitrust enforcement in technology markets’. With Microsoft owning 95% of the intel-based PC processors (The Supreme Court Economic Review ,vol.7 1999), this monopoly disregarded the fundamental principles of a competitive capitalist market.

Controversially, Microsoft seemed to escape from this hearing, relatively unscathed. Yet its creator, Bill Gates, did not have the same fate. Rumored to have suffered from a nervous breakdown, Gates began to dedicate more of his time,energy and money into charitable organizations.

Conclusively, this series is extremely relevant when examining the current economic market. With Apple now holding the monopoly of the market, ‘the monopoly has become the rule rather than the exception'(Foreign Policy,1999). But is Apple any better than Microsoft? probably not. If anything their worst, if such a simplistic comparison can be made. What’s frightening about Apple is it’s advertising and marketing schemes. What makes Steve Jobs so extraordinary and inspiring? yet makes Bill Gates appear so power-hungry and manipulative? Marketing. Where the Apple brand is associated with words like ‘innovative’ and ‘trendy’, other companies haven’t been so lucky. Think of the common conceptions of McDonalds and Coke for example, and compare them with Apple.

RSS News- The Bechdel Test

Unknown to me, the Bechdel Test was developed by Alison Bechdel in 1985 as a way of classifying movies. In order for a film to ‘Pass’ the test, it must contain 1 extremely simple thing:

1. A conversation between two or more females….that isnt about men.

Sounds ridiculous right?

But to tell you the truth, the lack of female characters is apparent in some of the worlds biggest blockbusters. In The entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy, there is not one conversation between two females!

Other popular blockbuster films that fail the test are:

  1. The Social Network
  2. Run Lola Run
  3. Avatar
  4. The Tree of Life
  5. Dear John

Is it just a coincidence that out of 2,500 movies that were tested only half passed the test?Why do we have such a strong preference for male-lead films? If films reflect the socio-cultural values of their time, than what does this imbalance say about our current position on gender equality?

Check out the original article, its eye opening: Link

Popular Culture

When setting up a few Google alerts last week, i was half expecting a large influx of pointless news and spam. But instead my somewhat typical topics, such as ‘travel’, ‘television’ and ‘films’, returned with a great variety of information.

Of course what struck me first when opening my recent ‘travel’ alert was the title ‘Vietnam airline fined for in-flight bikini show’…. sounds like a joke, but….no? Although i find the idea utterly hilarious, one has to wonder whether the human race is actually evolving? One can joke about.. and ask ‘what are they going to do next, have a strip club on-board?’… but to tell you the truth, they’re probably putting in the shiny golden poles as we speak. I’m sure you will have to read it to believe it.. so here’s the link… if that doesn’t quench your thirst, then there are rumors of a video uploaded to YouTube.

Funnily enough, my other alert seemed to again prove the theory of ‘dumbing-down’ society. A new TV series by NBC, that seems as intellectually stimulating as watching girls fight in jello- is Animal Practice. A TV show centered around a hospital, which has an actual monkey playing the doctors assistant. Driving in a tiny ambulance, and working on patients….. there’s nothing this monkey can’t do. Under many layers of cynicism i have to acknowledge that this show (if it intends not to take itself too seriously), may actually be funny….

After enjoying my ‘guilty pleasure’ TV shows: such as Scrubs, How I met your mother and Community. I understand that there will always be a place for TV shows that ultimately inject you with entertainment. Plus, after a hard day at uni, i want to avoid the concept of ‘analyzing’ in every way shape or form.

The xx

Like most, i am eagerly anticipating the titillating new album from The xx-coexist.

Yet after leaking two tracks off the new album; both Angels and Chained, will their other songs have much to offer? I’m thinking yes.

Although these new tracks have offered little diversity from the last album, they are sure to please diehard xx fans. For me, i hope the rest of the album offers a little more risk-taking. But for now, I guess I’ll just have to enjoy the beautiful, brooding yet remarkably similar tracks they’ve already released.

How do i become more popular, you ask?

Aside from becoming best friends with One Direction…. update your Google RSS feed and join socialmouths blog.

In one of their most recent posts, they compiled statistics on Facebook consumers commenting/liking and sharing patterns…

Now although I personally don’t care who comments on what, and how popular that makes me. Business’s do care. and hell, if my savings were in jeopardy of how many likes or comments i received, i would to. So whether you own a business or quite simply your ego has no limits …

ABIDE BY MY: HOW TO BECOME MORE POPULAR LIST: (because every good blogger should have a list….I’m told… by better bloggers than myself)

  1. Post a Sexy photo -it doesn’t reallllllly have to be sexy, it could just be what you ate for dinner or your dog, but statistics show that people are more likely to share/comment/like photos.
  2. Embody Tom Cruise– (figuratively) statistics show that  self-centered posts including words such as ‘i’ and ‘me’ are more susceptible to likes. (because ‘likes’ keep you warm at night)
  3. Make sure everyone knows how much you hate your life- because people are more likely to comment and like your negative posts rather than your positive/neutral ones.
  4. Take your phone to dinner– because between 6-8pm, it be rainin’ comments
  5. Never post on a Thursday- because everyone’s happier on the weekend.

For a more serious breakdown of statistics, visit my inspiration for the blog: click here

And always remember:

“You are what you tweet.”

– Alex Tew, Monkey Inferno