Monday, November 06, 2006

Bombs Away

Today, there was an interesting story in The New York Times about "Google bombs" or the practice of deliberately skewing search engine results by linking with particular collectively agreed-upon catch phrases. Thus "miserable failure" brings up the biography of the current president, and "waffles" brings up the official website of John Kerry on the first results page. "Gaming the Search Engine, in a Political Season" describes the collective intelligence that must be deployed to bring off a successful bombing effort. The story includes grim assessments of the media literacy habits of average Americans who rarely go beyond the first screen of results or use advanced features on a search engine. Apparently, citizens also have difficulty distinguishing between paid and unpaid appearances on their screens.

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