You won’t find me on Facebook!
Or Twitter. Unlike the President of the United States of America, I choose not to share my every random rant with anyone who will listen. I save my rants up for occasions like these, and for audiences like this. I am not certain, but from this website’s statistics, I think that I am the ONLY person who ever reads these bits.
Google, won’t you tell us how your search and sort algorithms work?
Ah, and I confess, I have used ‘the Google’. I am very much aware that somebody’s algorithm is tinkering with my search results, however. I live in Victoria, British Columbia. Google knows that, and if I search for something in Victoria, or about Victoria, the Google serves me up information on Victoria, B.C. I never get results about Victoria, in New South Wales, Australia (at least I think it’s in NSW – my apologies in advance if I’m wrong). Google’s algorithm assumes that I wouldn’t want to know about Victoria in NSW, and so all of those results are filtered out.
If the Google algorithm filters out results on a geographic basis, one can assume that it also has the power to rank the results I see when I search, based on some undisclosed set of rules. Invariably, Google gives me a few ads first. I always ignore these. Then the algorithm serves up all sorts of other things that may or may not be useful, usually by omitting one or more of my search terms. The point is, however, that the power to filter and rank search results gives Google the power to control the information that I can access through it. Fair enough, but why doesn’t Google tell us how it filters and ranks search results – specifically. The transparency would be refreshing.
Amazon uses algorithms too!
Amazon does the same thing. For example, when I search the term “electronic evidence” on Amazon.ca, my book, “Electronic Evidence in Canada” is the 18th result (and it’s on the second page). The first 17 results are a mixture of books about evidence from the UK or the USA, or other titles that Amazon thought I really meant when I searched for ‘electronic evidence’, including a book called “Guilty as Sin” – apparently something about Hillary Clinton. I’ve been bumped off the first page of search results by Hillary Clinton! I despair. Mr. Amazon, if you read this, you know what to do.