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Search as Art

It's sad to think that search might be political or profitable. If you feel that your life is incomplete and you should look for that which might complete it, doing so is a personal and (hopefully) private journey. It's sad to think that if your search is conducted online, you are consequentially dangling from some search engine system as though you were a piece of hardware to be analyzed based on the keywords that you type. Dangling also for the profit of someone else, who cares about the micro-market segment into which you fall but who doesn't want to know you as an individual, under the pretense that your privacy is their concern. That's dehumanizing.

Fortunately, the web is not the center of our beings—if we want, we can go outside and play. In fact, the tale of the naked German is not to be found anywhere on the web, despite hours of search on my part (I welcome corrections). I had to go to a library and use a newspaper microfiche database to get anywhere with it at all. Libraries are nice places to search in, and the best search engine in the world is still a librarian. Those of us who are cautious will also note that searching is not a very well-paid job. Most people with "research assistant" in their job titles are far from wealthy.

Like a word processor, mere use of search is no road to success; it's what you do with it that determines how well you fare. We all have friends who use computers just a little; their technical lives may be less rich, but somehow they still manage to fill their days. If search engines become more commercial, that might encourage us all to use them less—and that could be a good thing.

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