Democratize Search?

Note: this is a living article, published as a draft, and hopefully to be worked on some more. Consider it part of my digital garden.

Illustration by Anna Kaplan

The following is a collection of a stream of conscious thoughts on search engines and old-school directories.

You ever watch Halt and Catch Fire? I’m a big fan of this show, but I’m specifically referencing the fourth season, where Gordon’s daughter builds an index that she dubs Hailey’s Comet. It alludes to the early days of the web, during the nascent times of search engines. According to the show and to actual history, during the early days of the world wide web, many “hand-made” directories came to life.

I pose the question, are human directories better than mass searchable search engines? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for.

I found this person talking about their project to build an anti-SEO index. They are trying to make those sites that are least likely to fall at the top of your search results, #1. I think it's fantastic.

Link to reddit post within the /oldinternet subreddit

We should be thinking of novel ways to search and be willing to use a variety of tools to do so. Let's avoid a future (which seems like the present in many ways) where one company can decide what we see on the web. Even if Google is personalizing our search results, they are still the ones building the algorithms to do so. Let's embrace creativity in how we find information and democratize the tools we use to do so.

Let us not fall back to the comforts of google. If we do, we make ourselves easy to be taken advantage of. We make it easy to hide things from the world, since we are frequenting the use of one door, and so it has become the main entrance.

Even more importantly let's make it normal for google not to be our fallback comfort. I can’t simply say “let us not fall back to the comforts of bla bla”, then I sound like a righteous hypocrite. I’m not out here using any other search engine. The force seems strong in the google-o-sphere that innovation and experimentation are pulled to its center of gravity.

Software Engineer & Artist