THE DUMBING-DOWN OF HUMANITY

DATE

16th December 2010

CATEGORY

technology

Without any doubt. search engines are the heart beat of any modern economy. Think Google & Baidu, but also think youtube, Facebook and other peer-to-peer social networks as search portals. Search is the driver of news, commerce, politics and entertainment. Period. BUT, are we losing our sense of identity because of it?

Search engines are using personalized search more and more these days. So — the more a search engine knows about you, your buying habits, your past searches, and your interests as an individual, the better it becomes at delivering you your query. So it’s easy to see why search engines are in love with personalization since the more personal data they can collect, the more they can charge for targeted advertising. If you search for “bass,” are you interested in music or are you a scuba diver? The search engine that knows you will know the closest answer. Guess you could simply add the word “fishing” after “bass,” though right? You could achieve the same results that the personalized search engine delivers, and you don’t have to let the engine cyber-fingerprint your every move. Why does anyone need personalized search anyway? Have we become so lazy that typing an extra word becomes unbearable?

In all fairness I love how technology simplifies my life. Heck, I make a living off of it. But can’t it just ride shotgun? Why does it have to sit on my lap? I’m not one of those people who are all uptight about private personal data. hey if you don’t want something personal up on the web for all to see, then, just don’t put up on the web for all to see. I like the fact humanity is for once directly connected. Limitless. Connected by the freedom of the web. But I don’t like the thought that we’re all chained by it either.

But consider the dumbing-down effect of personalized search. Once the engine decides it knows what you want, your world view is narrowed further. The pursuit of information is supposed to broaden your mind, not narrow it. How many times have you found something interesting that you didn’t expect to find on a page of links from a search engine? How often would this happen if the engine scrubbed the results first by running it past your “profile”? Maybe I do like Russian balalaika!! How do you turn it off if you don’t want the personalized skew, perhaps because you’re interested in something new? More over, why turn it on in the first place, when all it does is save you from typing one or two extra words? This is all very Orwell-esque isn’t it ?

I spend over 15 hours a day in front of the computer, and can honestly say that I sometimes feel that I’ve surrendered my brain to search engines. — Can’t spell a word ..Google it…Can’t remember how to translate something to Spanish …Google it…Can’t remember the capital of Belgium…Google it. I’m sitting here laughing, but has Google replaced my brain you think? I know my iPhone already replaced my wallet. So maybe I’ve been cloned without knowing it? We can’t forgo this gift called technology. It’s magnificent and we’re all a part of it like — it or not. However, we need to be more intelligent about how its used and not let marketing blur its’ original (beautiful) significance.

You may also like