The net is a strange place. On Twitter, I said that horsesex is a bit like the Spanish Inquisition. It made sense in the conversation i was having. I meant in the sense that one doesn’t expect it, but on Google, sadly, it’s become the norm to search for something like pink lipstick and end up with a woman and a doberman.
I’d landed on a wiki page (i’m not sure what part of the whole wiki thing i was in, i just remember seeing “wiki” – i know that it saying wiki did not mean it was Wikipedia) that contained a movie of a man trying to do it with a horse (or rather, letting the horse do him), and succeeding.
The text mentioned that the short movie i was watching (with my mouth hanging open, i might add, i was stunned), was the adventures of a man quite famous in animal porn circles. (No, i’m not posting a link to illegal things. If you can’t use Google, you don’t deserve your own illegal things, besides, i got freaked and cleaned my computer after that.)
He’d managed to make this movie into a kind of snuff film too, by getting so severely injured internally that he died later (so i read). I wasn’t thinking it was a hot movie, but i’d been impressed purely that he was actually doing it with a horse. However, that bit of news took all the lustre off it. I keep telling you, some things are supposed to stay fantasies.
Okay, so that particular bit of the net, i’d rather not have slithered into, but generally I love the serendipity, the happy chances that drive my searches off into wild and wonderful places. On the other hand, for those who hate vagueness, and weird connections, there’s a new thing.
Wolfram Alpha is not a new wolf porn site, but instead a new kind of search engine that actually calculates results for you, does graphs, has algorithms, and doesn’t show you horsesex when you’re looking for politics.
For instance, if you type your first name into Wolfram Alpha, (at least this happened to me), it will assume it’s a name, then tell you how popular the name is, and show you (among other graphs and charts and scientific links) a graph of popularity of that name over the last 100 years or so.
Unlike Google, which will usually give you meanings for that name, porn stars with that name, bloggers with that name, highschool kids on MySpace with that name, and so on, Wolfram Alpha gives you bare facts. It doesn’t tell you how the name derives, for instance, but how many people were named it last year. It’s supposed to be curated data – checked by people.
Wolfram Alpha falls over pretty fast at the moment, or is very ethnocentric – i can flummox it by typing in Western Australia or Population of Western Australia, and it gives me data for Western USA. Here’s the creator’s blog about how, why and what.
I typed in Australia, and got the population of Western Australia eventually, (my home state), but it’s a tad user-hostile to my mind. Very nice streamlined-looking pages. However, i don’t know where they’re getting this supposedly-curated data, because I know Wolfram Alpha is wrong when it says literacy is at 99% in Australia.
As in the rest of the Western World (USA, Europe) – it’s around 75% for basic literacy and numeracy, (can read road signs, simple menus, and count to 100). One in four can’t read or do very basic arithmetic. Only about 50% of people can actually read well enough to understand a novel or a long blog post, or have the numerical skills to sort out their credit card or bank statement. Those are some shocking statistics.
Anyway, so despite the slickness, am not so far impressed with Wolfram Alpha – and its pretence at being the only answer or result, and the correct one, is downright misleading. It sited Canberra (Australia’s capital) some distance to the east of where it is, though that may be the fault of Google Earth which it was linked to.
Google Earth is rather notorious for not putting things where they should be, but it’s a good basic aerial map – though if you want accuracy and directions, I use Whereis.com but take into account (at least locally), that if they say 35 minutes travelling time, it will be closer to 40-45.
There are a few things that have come up with Twitter lately – things i knew, that other people didn’t. For instance, in this example, me typing to asilannax (who i’m just using in this example, not because she was someone i gave a tip to) about Gene Simmonds of Kiss….
Me, i prefer to make friends (and Valuable Acquaintances) instead. I’ve been making friends on the net (then meeting them in real life) for over a decade – i know others who’ve been doing it for over 20 years. Twitter’s just a new method, before Twitter there were chat rooms and instant messengers.
One thing – maybe a difference due to age (am 48) – i don’t consider people i know on the net ‘real friends’ until we meet in real life. Until then, no matter how much i like them, i’m aware that they may be misrepresenting themselves. Like i said, i’ve been meeting people in real life for over a decade – weirdly, some people lie a lot. I’m better than i used to be at picking the really fake ones, but i still get fooled sometimes.
It’s always a relief when i meet someone in real life who’s pretty much as they are online – nothing worse than a ‘life of the net-party’ person who turns out to be so shy they don’t speak, or is so different from who they pretend to be online it’s hard to see it’s the same person. Like they’re shorter and heavier than they said, and a redhead not blonde, wearing a wedding ring when they said single, and so on. The online pic might be them, 10 years ago.
I am who i am in real life. Yep, bossy, loud-mouthed, (or if i was a man, i’d be assertive, lol), and with a tendency to know the answer. (And not too proud to Google when i don’t.) It’s funny, but i’ve been abused for knowing the answers to questions – the ignorant and the stupid really are the ignorant and the stupid.
Being the Queen of Darkness – which is not a hereditary post, i have to work for it – isn’t all beer and skittles. I have to listen to my subjects – Mr Whatsit gets cranky if i don’t pay attention to him at least once a day.
Other Twitter tips? We all know that if you’re quoting a Tweet you put RT @personsname, right? Just checking, as i’ve seen a number of what looked like attempts to ReTweet that made it look as if a person was typing a reply, not quoting. So if i say “sod off” and you RT that, it’s
RT @stinginthetail sod off.
That also means, if i say RT @username what is the weather like in Rio? that means @username wants to know – i don’t. So don’t send the info just to me, or i’ll have to RT it on your behalf to the person who asked.
With some Twitter clients, you’ll see (via @username) when someone’s quoting another person – which is the rather stupid way it shows RT’s – stupid because there’s an accepted format, and it’s not sticking to it.
The changes to Twitter mean that unless you’re following whoever i’m typing to – when i put @ on the front of the post – you don’t see that post unless you click on my name to see all my posts.
I sometimes put a character in front of the @ (like .@) if i want all following me to see it, if a conversation i’m having involves several. Don’t do it all the time – people who preferred the old option to not see all posts will unfollow you.
If you want to see if anyone’s replied to a question, perhaps it’s been there for 30 minutes, and you know the answer, but don’t know if it’s been answered, click on the name to see if they’ve perhaps answered someone that you can’t see. Alternatively use the Search on the right of the Twitter home page. Paste the person’s name in, click Search, and you’ll see all @replies to them.
Yes, basic stuff, but I keep running into people who haven’t figured them out. Not all of them were apparent to me when i first started using Twitter. It’s like any program, some people find functions, others don’t.
Once people figure out the basics, many stop learning how to use the program, or they misunderstand what commands do. And most are still convinced that somewhere on the keyboard there’s a button that starts the computer’s Self-Destruct sequence.
I’m getting used to Twitter’s changes, and can see the advantages, but i still like to see all the tweets of people i follow – i follow them because i’m happy to put up with all they say, even if some of it is not of interest to me. I only follow people i can stand reading. Gosh, i’ve rambled on a bit, time to prune this post and wind it down.
A last thought on Wolfram Alpha – if i hadn’t Googled “funny fascist” and ended up on Jenny The Bloggess’s blog, (she was calling her vet a fascist) my world would have missed a lot of what’s made me laugh hard in the last six months or so. I also wouldn’t have been sure that i’d be alright out on the net, and might have instead stayed blogging only on a site where everyone was supposed to be adult.
It would also have taken me longer to join Twitter, which i basically joined so i could read more of The Bloggess. Yes, i too am a sad stalker, but everyone on Twitter is – the one thing we all have in common.
I love how Twitter and Google bring the chance of synchronicity (meaningful coincidence) – showing us what we need to see, instead of what perhaps we were looking for.
Though i do wish Google had a more filtered search option than just Safe Search On or Safesearch Off. Sometimes it would be nice to put
“no snuff films, pls, Google, kthxbai.”