2009 09 01
Google Books

Posted by in: Google

Holy shit, this is absolutely scathing. I’ve mentioned some problems in the past with Google Books, but I hadn’t realized just how badly they’re messing things up. It’s unfortunate. This actually matters.

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2008 01 07
Life destroyed

Posted by in: Academia, Google

As of this writing, this site is the top hit on Google for “life destroyed by academia.”

Howls of outrage (2)

2007 10 06
Google Books: Still working out the kinks

Posted by in: Books, Google

I’ve found Google Books very helpful on occasion, but I’ve also noticed that they’re really struggling with quality control. Indeed, I think the first thing I ever looked up on Google Books had a crucial page missing, and was therefore useless to me. Some people write thoughtful articles about the problem. Me, I just take screenshots:


Update: For example, as of this writing, Google’s treatment of the Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca is a fucking disgrace. A free fucking disgrace, but still.

Howls of outrage (9)

2006 11 27
Your info, their info

I notice that Google-owned Blogger makes it very hard to switch blogging platforms. There is, for example, no export function, as on other platforms, that you can use to easily save your posts, so that they can be imported into new software. And the support forums at WordPress are filled with people moaning about the failure of their attempts to import blogger posts via a WordPress tool. Some of these complaints are because the CURL extension in php is required and it’s a bit tricky to install, but there appears to be a Blogger-side to the woes too.

Besides betraying a basic insecurity about their product – if you have to make it hard to switch, you can’t be very confident in the reasons people will have to stay – this is worth mentioning because this is a Google product. It isn’t just any old company, then, that is churlishly holding onto these old posts. It’s one of the most important data-handling companies in the world, and growing more important every day. And it handles increasing amounts of personal data, in addition to most of the internet, and a growing number of out-of-copyright books. I think that’s a bit worrying.

Howls of outrage (2)

2006 08 30
Google Books

Posted by in: Aristotle, Books, Google

Google Books looks like it’ll be very useful, since a lot of books I use for research are a) not on my shelf; and b) have lapsed in copyright. Already, for example, I’ve noticed Cope’s Introduction to Aristotle’s Rhetoric among Google’s many full-text offerings. This summer I used the Perseus Collection to consult Cope’s commentary on the Rhetoric and for easy bilingual reference to some of the texts he mentions in passing, but had missed having his Introduction. Have I mentioned that I love the internet?

One disappointment to report so far, however. Bonitz’s Index Aristotelicus is still not anywhere to be found on the internet. In a way, this is unsurprising: It’s long, with really small print, which probably makes it difficult to scan in clearly and a nightmare to manually enter. Also, many people nowadays, including me, are in the habit of using the TLG instead for word searches. All the same, I do find it odd that no one, anywhere, has done this yet. Bonitz still has his fans, and his index is often more useful than the TLG, at least for some purposes. Also, it’s really fucking expensive, and library copies of the book are few and usually not circulated.

So if anyone wants to scan about a 1000 pages of text and host it in an easy to access way on the internet, I would be much obliged. If I had time, I swear I would do it myself.

UPDATE: Bingo!

Howls of outrage (4)

2005 09 24
Google Earth and Iraq

Ah, I was wondering a while ago about Google Earth‘s satellite photos of Iraq. The Google Earth site says that the photos are taken within the last three years, which means, among other things, that we’ll gradually see pre-war Iraq photos replaced by post-war ones. According to Salam Pax, they’ve now updated their Baghdad photos. I took a peek at Fallujah, which I was wondering about before, but I would guess that AOTW they’re still using pre-war photos.

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2005 07 02
Google Earth

I’ve been trying out Google Earth the last few days and I’m happy to declare it The Coolest Thing EVAR. The program, which you install on your PC, allows you to tap into an enormous collection of satellite images and manipulate them in various ways. The program lets you angle your view, zoom in and out, and fly all over the place – your neighbourhood, the Grand Canyon, whatever. There are tons of cool features: You can measure distances, for example. One of the first things I did was fly up North to my grandparent’s cottage to measure how far my swim across the lake is (0.82 miles each way, if you swim it straight, which of course I don’t). I also spent a lot of time flying around the Mediterranean and New York City.

Eventually, I made my way over to Iraq. I was especially interested to see Fallujah. Google says that its satellite images were taken within the last three years. The Fallujah images surely predate the city’s recent troubles, since you can zoom in and see cars and trucks on the highways, and things look generally unblown-to-shit. I’m curious about when they’ll get around to updating the satellite photos of Fallujah. I’m also curious about how exactly those photos will compare with the currents ones. Or will they be old news? Are there already (unclassified) good resolution before and after photos of the city out there, and I just never heard? Anyone know?

Howls of outrage (8)

2005 03 19
Google juice

Ah, sometimes I do like the fact that we’ve got lots of Google juice. AOTW, this post is the top search result on Google for evolutionary psychology xenophobia.

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2004 11 19
Google is broken (Part II)

Posted by in: Google

Below the fold are the first ten hits in Google (currently) for the phrase, “I wish I would have” grammar. We’re number one, on the strength of a single post of Paul’s.

I think that our victory here is Google’s loss. Why in the world would Explananda be the first hit? And why would it beat The Atlantic Monthly in any test of relevance? What Google programmer’s decision about ranking algorithms led to that result?

What’s also puzzling is that the same search on Yahoo brings up nothing – or at least, I stopped looking after the 12th page of results.

I think I can speak for all of us at Explananda when I say that we take ourselves very seriously. But why would Google take us seriously?
Continue Reading »

Howls of outrage (8)

2004 10 10
Google is broken

Posted by in: Google

As everyone knows, Google is supposed to use some superclever algorithm to separate the wheat from the chaff in its search results. But I think Google is broken. I think Google is broken because this humble chaff-ridden site is showing up in an increasing number of search results, in ever higher rankings. The latest example of this to catch my eye is this search result, which is not only misleading to unlucky googlers who stumble here looking for enlightenment on a problem that I, frankly, know nothing about, but is also a bit of slap in the face from a search engine I’ve always trusted: As of right now, we’re in the number two place if you search for “chronic procrastinator”. What baloney!

I suspect that there’s a use/mention joke to be made about this little mix-up. Philosophers can add their two bits of chaff in the comments section.

OK, back to work . . . after I check my site meter and technorati profile . . . again . . .

Howls of outrage (5)

2004 05 29
Google and Me

We’re getting a lot of traffic from google searches for “Al Gore NYU”. In fact, as of this typing, that search rates our humble site 3rd in list of links. Neato!

The thought occurs to me: I’ll bet Al Gore googles himself. If he has, he has surely read my account of his speech. Read, and perhaps because it was a mixed review, both trembled with regret at my criticisms and wept with relief at my praise.

What frightening power I have attained.

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2004 04 06

Posted by in: Google, Metablog

I am proud to report that we are Google’s number one hit for “explananda”.

I hope this early victory won’t make us soft.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)