Much has been said about the lamentable quality of sl search and, although i’d love to leap to its defence and say how wonderful it is and that people are merely jumping onto the ‘moan about the Lindens, because they can’t do a thing right’ bandwagon, we all know that when it comes to search there are few things more borked on the planet than the strange and arcane search system that sl has foisted upon us.
Now, please don’t try and defend it – i know that i’m famous for taking all things Linden to task when they don’t come up to scratch, however i do try to stay objective, (honestly!), and give praise where it’s due; i also try to be pragmatic – there’s only a certain amount of bells and whistles that can reasonably be expected. With search though, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s hopelessly and horribly badly executed. Don’t believe me? Then how about this beauty that i was presented with recently?
Yes that’s right, there’s absolutely nowhere in sl that you can find ‘clothes’ – no wonder every single noob you come across has a pick for ‘Paradise Nude Beach’ – what choice do they have if there’s nothing anywhere in sl to wear?
Seriously though, some years ago Heineken, (probably the best lager named Heineken in the world), made a series of ads with the strapline, ‘if Heineken did…’ Can you imagine sl search in the same context? If sl search did Google… the web would almost certainly come to a grinding halt; If sl search did maps… you’d end up in Bratislava when you only wanted Birmingham, and; If sl search did dictionaries… sdje sdfhdsfd ewlfth hiiit sdhs.
The trouble is, we’ve been well and truly spoilt by modern technology – we’ve come to expect miracles from the most mundane of things. To be offered a ‘phone, for example, that merely allows us to send and receive telephone calls would be unheard of in these progressive times – ideally we want something that does calls, texting, connects us to the internet, plays music, shows videos, takes our blood pressure, feeds the cat, brings world peace and manages to do all this and still be slim enough to be practically invisible when viewed side-on. Similarly, we’ve grown so used to being able to find out everything about anything simply by typing in a search query that we’d be quite aghast to find that there’s nothing on the web to be found about “socialising peas”, (don’t forget the quote marks!). (Unless of course you happen to take a look on this blog… quite simply, allow them to grow up together and you’ll find they socialise very nicely, with no interference – although never leave then unattended for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, or they might commit podicide).
This worries me because i don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing. We’ve subtly progressed from a world where education and knowledge represented power and learning to a world where information and guesswork has taken the place of the former. Any fool can publish whatever they fancy on the web and, in the absence of proper peer review or any real process of validation, any information can be taken at face value as being accurate, correct and inviolate. Take my ‘socialising peas’ example from above – it’s clearly nonsense and claptrap but i can guarantee that there is somebody, probably thousands of somebodys, out there in the webiverse who, in the absence of any other comparative data will quite happily accept my words as gospel truth and waste the next 20 years of their lives trying studiously not to interfere too closely with their young peas, but never straying more than a few feet away, lest the 15 minute threshold be reached. To those people i say, try singing ‘Waltzing Matilda‘ to your cucumbers – it’ll encourage them to go walkabout, thereby giving them the perfect amount of daily exercise.
There’s the problem in a nutshell – we’ve become a unquestioning, undiscerning consumerist society when it comes to information; we don’t question it and, as long as it appears on the first couple of pages of search results, (ie. before we get bored), we accept its veracity as beyond question. Which is why the web is spawning a generation of nerds who can find out everything there is to know about anything under, in or around the sun, but when it comes to creative thought, they are pretty much paralysed – it’s one thing to be able to spout what somebody of unknown credentials says about any given subject, (and they probably looked it up on the web in the first place too), but quite another thing to to be able to demonstrate the facts of the matter by empirical research, deduction, critical analysis and free-thinking – i can’t help thinking that in some ways the world is doomed!
Thank goodness for sl search – here, at least, we have something that we know for sure is inaccurate, untrustworthy, unreliable and, usually, nonsensical. Whenever we attempt to use it, we do so in the full knowledge that whatever results – if any – we’re presented with, taking them at face value is the last thing that we’re ever going to do. So we analyse, test and consider the information that we’re given, weighing up the possibilities, the plausibility and the validity of the results that appear before us and – only when we have reached a logical and reasonable conclusion – do we accept the information that we’re given.
So, who would have thought it? SL search – inept though it is – is ultimately good for us. Whilst the web rots our brains and destroys our rational thought processes, sl search keeps us on the straight and narrow of proper scientific enquiry… it makes us think.
Told you i try to find the good in things, didn’t i?
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For