Sunday, September 18, 2005

Where Is Google Going?

"We do not know how long the task took, a million years, perhaps- but what is that? In the end our ancestors learned how to analyze and store the information that would define any specific human being- and use that information to re-create the original." -Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars, 1956

Are we, the blogging community, in the vanguard of a certain type of immortality because of our use of the internet to display and store our thoughts, sights and sounds? Will a future scholar (or just a snoopy idler) be able to re-construct our lives with just a click or two on his or her laptop (or palm top, or phone or just by pure thought) and have the a vast, intelligent server (Google) fashion a reasonable facsimile of our lives, in all their glories and mundaneness? Outside of the obvious question ("Who would want to?), the idea of a person's personal information (or a group of peoples' information), being "mined" to recreate an era, fashion a historical novel, or some other creative use is a heady concept. Millions of people already have a lot of content stored in this global database, imagine what could be gleaned from a lifetime of such information?

But how, one may ask, could any person wade through the chaff and make any meaningful sense out of this haystack of data? This is the traditional role of biographers, who often devote years of research to a particular individual. But a program with sophisticated algorithms could do the job quite efficiently, especially when the links between important data are taken into account. After all, isn't that what anyone who uses a list of regular links in their blog-surfing routine does already? The cross-cultural implications of this are certainly understood by most people who have done any amount of blogging, just looking at my site-tracker reveals visitors from over forty-five countries in only the past three months! Imagine when all this information is accessible for the past 100 years. Or for the past 1000 years?

So, has Google become a permanent extension of our collective intelligence, a true consciousness-expanding mechanism? Or will it become just a sea of digital noise, overwhelmed by torrents of meaningless data? Will the great novels or screenplays of the twenty-second century be "self-assembled" from a thousand blogs, or will we become so self-conscious that our inhibitions will shut down any personal expression on the 'net? Any of these scenarios are possible, it seems to me, and perhaps some aspects of each will come to pass. It is clear, however you look at it, that something has changed, and unless there is a complete breakdown in society (chaos theory) it will be as big a revolution in human development as language and writing had been.

By Professor Batty



3 Comments:

Anonymous z said...

"Google," as a..."permanent extension of our collective intelligence..." How provocative an idea, and how completely true. It is intriguing how Google has also, by its cross-referent tendrils come to show how deeply intertwined our thoughts are. Thank you for writing such a well thought-out piece.


Blogger Georgias Maximus, Feline Esq. said...

Thank you for sharing your personal reflections in this public forum. Your posts never fail to give me excellent brain taffy on which to chew and pull. (I like the next post up, too, but don't want to clutter your comments.)


Blogger Professor Batty said...

...thanks z, are you djz or some other, unknown z? ...and Georgias, your feral cousins say hello!

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