Monday, September 6, 2021

Google Search: Bing Edition: Why Does It Matter?

P.T. Phronk
A post by P.T. Phronk,
of Forest City Pulp fame
It’s my turn to do a Google search, which is when you do a Google search then write a blog post about it.

Sometimes scientists are not sure if a new finding is a universal truth or just a quirk of a particular culture, so they will conduct the same experiment in various countries and see if they get the same results. I wonder if we can do the same thing by looking at the auto-complete results of various search engines and seeing what commonalities crop up? Because those must be the most important concerns that people frantically type into search engines, and that all algorithms prioritize, whether you’re visiting good old Google, the much-maligned Bing, or the scrappy do-gooder DuckDuckGo. Maybe the comparison can help figure out what’s important and relatable, whether you’re doing a scientific study or research for your next novel.

Let’s start with the big questions. What matters, and why?


I see three things that come up repeatedly: religion, politics, and the environment.

Across all cultures (as defined, poorly, by search engine choice), the environment is right up there with life’s big, eternal questions. I think that says something. The end of the world has always been a topic of inquiry, but now it takes the form of specific questions about our planet, and perhaps they’re worrying questions, if it’s common to wonder why it even matters if forests, dunes, and entire species disappear.
I remember in 2003, a blackout hit us here in London Ontario, alongside much of the Northeastern chunk of North America. Apparently that was caused by a single tree touching a single power line in Ohio, which led to cascading errors across a complicated and fragile human-created system. If one falling tree can do that, think of what many burning trees, many floods, and many entire missing links in the food chain will do. The Internet is not a universal and eternal part of nature. It’s a breakable thing that one species cobbled together with its opposable thumbs, and that species may regret coming to rely on Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo for answers to life’s big questions when the shit hits the fan, or the tree hits the power line.
Hey Google, how can I dig a well in my backyard? Google? Please, I’m thirsty.
We know this is coming, possibly in our lifetimes. Some of our leaders care about doing something to prevent what we can and prepare for what we can’t. Some leaders don’t. Another question that came up across search engines: “Why does it matter to vote?” Sometimes asking one question provides the answer to another.

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