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Do I love Google after all?

When my post vanished the other day, I e-mailed Trevor. Why, I said, was there only an early version saved under WordPress and couldn’t he somehow rescue my wee bit of prose. (This is not the first time Trevor has had to retrieve files for me.) He wrote back that it wasn’t saved in WordPress but, “Google indexed the original post but obviously they didn’t cache (archive) it so you can’t get the whole post like you can with other postings. But if you can remember other keywords you may be able to piece it together.” This is such a strange and interesting aspect of what search engines do that I’m going to explain it, or show it, here.

Here’s the original beginning of the post:

Barry Wellman, that able proponent of and participant in online communities, has connected me with the fascinating World Internet Project, based at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This effort has a huge amount of information about Internet services and usage in China.

I’ve had no trouble getting online on this trip–I even picked up free wifi at Hong Kong airport (and, as usual, was one of the last to board the plane). Internet usage is hugely important in China, and a lot of people have broadband at home as well as at their offices. (It’s a little ironic to think that quite a few towns near my home, Egremont for example, are still on dial-up; it’s funny and strange to hear how second home owners from New York manage their downloads.) By the way, both the BBC and Wikipedia are accessible now in China, as they were not in September.

Being in a hotel room for weeks on end is a strange way of life, and feeds my addiction to e-mail. It’s always there! Because I don’t shut my computer down, ostensibly justified by the fact that I like to listen to Ella Fitzgerald (my biggest iTunes indulgence) last thing at night ((Gregorian chants in the morning, jazz at night. I’m trying out this footnoting system, and I promise to use it for proper annotation one of these days)). E-mail at least is silent, unlike Skype; last night I woke up about two when Trevor pinged me. And it is what keeps me connected to home and friends, and my online communities.

Then it broke off.

Here are the snippets (those little bits of text you see in your list of search results) we retrieved by going to Google Blog Search and putting in words I remembered from the rest of what I wrote:

Barry and Benjamin Barber, too, author of Jihad vs. McWorld and a resident of the Berkshires, use the term “glocal” and “glocalization.” Not particularly appealing in the mouth, somehow, it’s a word coined to describe new experiences and endeavors that …

But in my life, glocal best applies to being online with the gang at Yoga5 in Great Barrington. Lots of emails to the listserv group, and I’m in regular touch with a number of people there, discussing practice and a book project and miscellaneous …

My other important online community is completely different: the steering committee for the Software & Information Industry Association’s Global Information Industry Summit in Berlin in September. I was on a conference call with them at …

I’ve become good friends with several people in the short year since I joined the Content Division board, and during the conference call a couple of us were also using Skype to IM chat, and make plans for meeting up at the SIIA Content …

I have only a few days left in Beijing and they are packed with meetings–and also a shopping trip, by subway, with new expat friends who say they have ‘gone local,’ and want to show me what that means …

My post went live, was crawled by the search engine, and somehow indexed in snippets. Then something happened to the blog database and the full text vanished into ether. But little bits of it remained in Google. You have to admit that this is quite amazing. It’s also worrisome, and my misgivings about Google (explained in a couple of articles I wrote for the Google Debate in the U.K.–sadly, the link isn’t working) aren’t allayed. It didn’t help that when I needed the link to Richard Charkin’s blog yesterday I typed “Richard Charkin” into Google and after the first hit, the logical one, his main page, the second was an entry from when he was blogging from GIIS in Amsterdam last year ((Kneeling to type at a low table in the reception area—now there’s devotion to his readers!)) and got me to write a comment. All I can figure is that the Google search had also picked up my name—but how? Can anyone explain this? Big Brother is watching.

One thought on “Do I love Google after all?

  1. I’m a media blogger at Under The News and I am becoming more and more fascinated with search engine issues, not from a commercial standpoint but from a social networking and cultural-artifact perspective.

    I am intrigued at what words (Googled, Yahoo’d or Jeeved) cause paths to cross, and why.

    I blogged about that issue today at Keywords in a Bottle at my site. I welcome more comments on this fascinating subject.

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