walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Relentlessly irrelevant

Is that self-referential subject line? Absolutely! But I was actually thinking about bing when I wrote it.

I checked in at Nate's blog this morning, then wound up at Foner Books (a consistently Sensible writer), and from there, I tried out bingiton, the Pepsi Challenge of Search Engines. Well, I tried, too, but I was on an iPad, and I got a Coming Soon Page. Huh. Okay. I got up, walked over to the laptop, sat down again and tried bingiton on the iPad. I don't drink much soda, and when I do, my current preference is for dry soda cola and I only really get that at Nashoba Baking Co., but to the extent I have a preference in the Pepsi Challenge, I've always picked Coke. And no, I didn't have any trouble telling them apart -- I chalk other people's surprise up to the fact that Pepsi is sweeter and R. says it has more vanilla.

Anyway. I luuuuurrrrvvve the idiosyncratic behavior of showing-me-what-other-people-clicked-on-when-they-did-searches-like-yours that is Google's primary offering. I really do. It's mostly obvious when you do the Pepsi Challenge of Search Engines which one is google and which one is microsoft, because the microsoft one (a) has an otherwise inexplicable tilt towards Seattle, (b) relentlessly prefers "official" sites and (c) if it can identify a geographical preference on your part, it will take wide-ranging searches and narrow it down to your area for No Clear Reason.

Here is how it works in action. If you search on Mennonites, Bing will point you at the Seattle Mennonite Church in its results. Google, duh, won't. DUH! WTF! I'm sure the Seattle Mennonites are amazingly cool people, but still. So that's an example of (a). If you search on Jehovah's Witnesses, google will show you sites run by ex-members; bing doesn't -- that's (b), and in this case, more or less the opposite of what I would argue should be the case. Finally, if you search on "ocean", and you are in the Boston area, it will give you a bunch of Boston specific sites, again, no obvious reason. That's (c).

These are clear examples, but far from the only ones I encountered. There are probably more trends than I have described. There are differences in handling images. There are differences in handling x-rays of blogs. And then there's what happens when you search on the word odd. Both results will give you a bunch of O.D.D. results, and dictionary definitions of the word odd. But only google will link to news sites that do "Odd News", which I would think are what one might be interested in, if one were to type "odd" into a search engine.

If you are a regular reader, you know I didn't pick these just to be An Ass. I picked these examples because I thought they would expose the Heavy Hand of I Know What You Want that is so characteristic of bing's efforts to improve on google's I Am Agnostic, Here's What Other People Clicked On approach. Also, every last one of these examples is one of current and/or ongoing interest (I also ego-surfed me and my husband, and searched on autism spectrum and dsm v -- those searches were draws for me).

I used to use Yahoo's directory-like approach to finding things on the web, a million, er, 15 or so years ago. It worked for me, but AltaVista kicked its ass (and Lycos'). I moo-ed along with everyone else in the Great Switch to Google. I tried Ask Jeeves or whatever that thing was, but lost interest rapidly. I've tried Duck Duck Go, but didn't really care enough to continue. I tried mocavo a few times. But I won't ever use Bing, and I'll tell you why.

Not because I hate the Squish with a passion that knows no bounds.

Not because I know people who worked on that thing, and I kinda don't like them, either.

Not because bing thinks it knows what I want better than I and/or the herd do.

No.

I won't use bing because that fucking background is so distracting it's actually difficult for me to remember what I was about to search on. I had to _close my eyes_ for a few seconds to remember long enough to type it it. And believe me when I say, I do not have ADD. I'm on the spectrum. I have mood and personality problems. I have attachment problems. I do not, however, have ADD -- but that background makes every thought in my head exit swiftly. It is horrifying.
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