Sunday, May 04, 2008

Why googling is more than just creepy part II

In Why Googling is more than just creepy, I took objection to a columnist saying that Googling a celebrity was 'worse' (more obsessive) than throwing rocks over their home's wall and leaving.

She said,
After all, Googling John Cusack turns up close to 3 million search results. We know that reading every one of them is less potentially dangerous than loitering outside someone's gate, but who's more obsessed -- the person who spends countless hours wading through Web entries or the person who tosses a bag of letters, rocks and screwdrivers over the fence and calls it a day?

I said,
Um, nobody reads three million of them, of only for the reason that there aren't three million unique ones. Clearly she's never even thought about how this all works. I'm sure she has a researcher who looks up all the facts she needs to know for her purposes. [I mean "if" only, of course.]

I had some spare time today, so I checked. As she says, Googling "John Cusack" returns a statement that there are "about 3,000,000" results. If you actually page through those results, there are 826 that Google considers unique (and not all of them are, but for the sake of argument let's assume they are), and for the rest it says, "In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 826 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."

It's still a long time to spend on John Cusack, but I think my understanding of Google is slightly better than Meghan Daum's. In that case, maybe I should start telling people what to do with their spare time.

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