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Friday
Oct122012

Objets Trouvés

 

What on earth is everyone looking for? Cooking recipes? God? Snow tires? Love? Big questions. I'll suggest not all these things can be found online. Whatever you are looking for, you must not have it or you wouldn't be looking.

 

Here's some news: humans have a rapacious appetite for online information but fewer are looking now than were looking a year ago. A big shift has occurred in the digital space, a development that offers a foreshadowing of what's next. Core organic searches across the Internet dipped four percent year over year, representing the first decline in total search volume since such data was first collected in 2006.


Novelty and serendipity

This dip in organic search queries demonstrates a remarkable movement away from our use of desktop platforms to mobile apps. And lazy, but naturally curious beings that we are, we allow some of these smart and beautiful mobile apps – Prismatic comes to mind – to do our searching for us, via algorithm, based on our interests. I love Prismatic, by the way, for it's smartness of form and function, for its consistent relevance, and for its continuous provision of novelty and serendipity. It's the general interest magazine of the future, customized to my idiosyncrasies.

 

Marengo

Google though, which answers more than a billion search queries daily, remains my workhorse. When I want to know the population of Ouagadougou, who played the mellotron on King Crimson's album Lizard, the action of a prehending monad in the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, the route of the Austrian advance in the Battle of Marengo, or why I am hardwired to deceive, I consult Google, Google scholar, Google blogs and G+ where the returns are consistently useful, multiplicitous and give me some confidence in their accuracy – although not entirely - and this is an important issue for another day.

 

When I want to have fun, indulge, goof off, or just enjoy the many varieties of driftwood and objets trouvés the digital ocean delivers to my little stretch of beach, I use Prismatic.

 

Does the shift to mobile mean that search is ultimately a declining business? Should the robots and crawlers of Bing, Dogpile, 你就知道 or Mamma.com put down tools?

 

A decline in overall organic search requests could simply mean that four percent of humans who were looking for something a year ago have found what they were looking for. And so they have consequently stopped searching. Or maybe they are still looking but with reified technology at their disposal.

 

Here and there

Most people, it seems, are just searching for Justin Bieber anyway. And that is fact which, in itself, says much about a lot. If you reside in Aleppo, or Mogadishu, or if you are a native of Burundi or Burkina Faso with low internet penetration, or your income is akin to the average Bangladeshi, then you likely have neither time nor inclination to search for much of anything beyond the next meal.

 

For the rest and blessed of us, if we are looking for insight into digital democracy we go here. If we want to see how the 10 best skies in art relate to the Wine of Silence we can read that here. If we crave an unusual restaurant serving two-headed fish we will find a link at the bottom of this thing, here. And if we want to know something about the Higgs Boson, coon hunting, or how it feels to be taken in the rapture, then go here.

 

But what if we are looking for something still deeper? The hero pursues his quest, ultimately, for no reason other than to realize his destiny. What if we want real answers to serious questions? Where do we find enduring happiness and meaning? Who are we, with the wind blowing on our face? Where do we go when its time to engage the luminous in the eye? This is when we put the iPhone in our pocket, power down the desktop or laptop, pat the dog, count our blessings, hug our beloved and find that all we seek is already found.

 

(Top Image: Objet Trouvé (Found Object) 11x15 watercolours and India Ink by David Roberts

Lower Image: Nothing Exists Alone 24x18 watercolours by David Roberts)

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Reader Comments (1)

Hello David,
I really enjoying your blog musings. Your conclusion to this one is satisfying to myself, and probably like many others, that is what I intend to do more of. In the meantime I sit in front of the screen with the mouse in my hand more often than I should. Thank you.
Jim

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim

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