Looking for something? Search for it. Online. Given the proliferation of online classified sites, it would see all you had to do was type in your object of desire, like a Moleskine journal or a used Toyota Forerunner, and you would be instantly matched with your object of desire. While this phenomenon does indeed happening — it is the rare search query that yields a perfect result. Most of us living lives of quiet desperation are forced to conduct deeper and deeper searches, hoping the next mouse click will bring us one step closer to that one object that will make our lives perfect.
There is no doubt search engine queries are effective. But, while they are indeed effective, there is seldom a one-to-one search to result ratio. Even Google can’t quite get it right. After all, until their algorithm can read our minds — which it may be starting to do — only we will know exactly what it is we are searching for. Our obscure search queries seem to be predicated on a blurry idea of what it is we need. We have a vague sense of knowing — so how can a search engine be any more concise?
When we’re looking for a particular item, we think a simple, descriptive phrase will suffice. They may help — indeed; sooner or later the engines do get savvy to your query and all the permutations therein. Try this — start typing in a query topic and watch Google’s auto-fill begin to predict what it is you’re looking for. They can only do this based on their vaunted algorithm. Obviously, much of the search is predicated on your past history of search. What’s that you say?
Every search engine tracks your usage, with the exception of Startpage. This may be difficult for the paranoids amongst us, but there is no doubting that we are being tracked. Ostensibly, they claim they only track our past queries to better match our future queries. This may well be the case, but the repercussions could be as significant as they are disturbing. This begins to blur the lines between fiction and reality, conjuring the chilling parallels with Philip K. Dick’s The Minority Report.
As is the case with most of Dick’s fictional worlds, the line between paranoia and profound wisdom blurs, leaving us with a cadre of psychics who are know as pre-cogs (short for pre-cognition). These beings can predict a crime before it happens. This means there is a kind of thought police waiting to nab you before you even have the inkling to commit a crime. In a way, then, the search engines are trying to pre-cog your searches. Why? They say it’s to provide a superior and streamlined search. For now, perhaps this is the extent of their algorithm. Who knows?
Despite the search engine thought predictors and auto-fillers, the optimal way to find your cherished Moleskine or used Toyota is via a search query and a viable online classifieds site. Good luck, you thought criminal, you.