free html hit counter Google Registers Political Action - John Battelle's Search Blog
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One thought on “Google Registers Political Action

  1. JG says:

    Ok, I just have to stop and shake my head for a bit here. See, this is one reason why I really don’t have much faith in “wisdom of crowds”. Take a look at the second highest article, above: “The Oldest Websites Still Alive”. Look at the page it points to. Do you see any problems? Here is hint #1…the page says:

    “But did you know that the first website was created on march 15, 1985?
    And from March 15, 1985 – August 5, 1986 there were only 20 website created. These 20 website were the only websites you can surf before. I don’t know if they still exist today.

    Now, this is really interesting, because Tim Berners-Lee does not claim to have created the web until 1989.

    Ok, so it is obvious that whoever wrote this “first website was in 1985″ thing got confused about the difference between “the web” and “the internet”. The two ain’t the same thing, as we all know. “The web”, or HTTP, is just one of many protocols running on top of IP (“internet protocol”) in the network stack. Other protocols that run on top of IP include FTP (file transfer), SMTP (email), NNTP (news — by the way, does anyone here remember when Google bought 20 years of Usenet archives? As far as I saw it, that was the moment Google really first established its geek cred.), and so on.

    Ok, so it is clear that the web did not actually exist in 1985. So what is this author talking about, when he says that these are the oldest websites still alive? Could he mean that these are the oldest internet (IP) sites still alive? Well, take a look at what he lists:

    15-Mar-1985 symbolics.com
    24-Apr-1985 bbn.com
    24-May-1985 think.com
    11-Jul-1985 mcc.com

    But this is just silly! TCP/IP came into full force in 1983, when ARPAnet computers switched to the internet protocol stack. (IP itself had been around since the 70s.) I simply cannot believe that for two years, not a single one of these ARPAnet computers had a human readable (text string) domain name. Am I really to believe that DNS sat unused until symbolics.com came along? That, with all these ARPAnet computers, there were no .gov or .mil sites around? That UCLA, which had been the very first node on the ARPAnet in 1969, hadn’t bothered registering its .edu address until after all these .com addresses had been registered?

    If you scroll down further on this page, you’ll see that the rest of the domains in this list are ALL .com. Finally, mystery solved! What this person said was that this is a list of the oldest web sites still in existence. What this person meant to say was that this is a list of the oldest internet domain names with a .com extension still in existence. There were undoubtedly many .gov, .mil, .edu domains that predated all of these.

    HUGE difference.

    I’m on a rant tear here tonight, because I’m tired of reading stuff like this. I’m tired of the lack of history and perspective. And I’m tired of the fact that the “wisdom of crowds” votes this crap up to the top.

    With Web 2.0, we collectively forgot that “tagging” used to be known as “labeling” or “manual indexing” thirty years ago. So we reinvented “tagging”.

    With PageRank, we forgot that around the 1960s, Eugene Garfield invented the concept of citation indexing, or counting the number of scientific papers that cite (“link to”) a paper as an indication of the specificity (“relevance”) of that paper. And so I have had to read every other day for the past 8 years in the tech news about how Google “invented” link counting.

    And with “wisdom of crowds” we get a list of websites that supposedly existed four years before the web even existed!

    We forget so many things. We reinvent so many things. I’m really tired of it. What I really want to know is whether this new era of search that we are in is going to help stop this from happening. Will search engines help remind us of all these things we collectively seem to have forgotten? Will search engines ever be able to bring our collective understanding onto the same page, if you will? (Pun was really not intended – though it’s a good one, eh? :-)

    Anyway, now that I have probably succeeded in offending everyone.. Battelle for introducing SearchMob, Melanie for posting the story, and the rest of you for voting for it…I humbly apologize. I just.. d’ya know what I am saying here? What good is search, if we forget the questions we should have been asking? At the risk of sounding pretentious, I care passionately about the role that search does play and will continue to play in our society. And while these examples above are tiny gnats of little significance amongst the larger problems we face, if we can’t even get those right, how can we expect search to have an impact on anything else?

    Ok, that’s enough. I hope most of you stopped reading this long ago.. :-)