New Search Options, New Issues?

May 13, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Posted in Technology, World of Ideas | Leave a comment
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Slashdot | Google Unveils Search Options and Google Squared.

Google has apparently unveiled a couple of interesting new technologies that will allow for slightly different angles of attack in presenting users with search results. The first would seem to help categorize the results in various ways, while the second would compile the information gleaned, rather than the websites themselves.

It’s the latter that concerns me slightly. As someone who writes stuff and puts it “out there” on the web, I cannot help but wonder whether something like that will end up stripping away any final remnant of authorial attribution? Perhaps that notion is becoming somewhat outdated anyway? I don’t know.

The other, larger concern would have to do with context. We all know that information from the internet cannot be trusted. While having a “digest” type compilation of information searched, will make some measure of corroboration a little easier, stripping the info from its original context means that we might be less equipped to assess the biases that are underlying and mediating whatever information we happen to find. E.g. some info about an archeological finding that sounds somewhat plausible, until you look at the rest of the site and find that the author is a creationist.

Of course, people who worry about that will undoubtedly click through and check the sources for reliability or plausibility (in which case, I’m not sure whether the compliation would be of much use?). BUT, those who don’t will now have little to no chance of spotting any holes–as they might, just in passing, when navigating to the actual site. Skimming through the isolated, compiled information would likely mean that the more subtle biases in particular would be obscured.

Of course, this is pretty preliminary. Perhaps they’ve already thought of this and somehow managed to mitigate it via the interface itself. That would be a Good Thing–so let’s hope that’s where they’ve taken it!

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