Episode 66 – The End of Big Search As We Know It?

22 February, 20117 comments

In this edition of the podcast Tom, Amanda, Dan, and Mills considered whether recent news stories about spammers gaming the Google search engine algorithm herald the end of big search as we know it. Is it really the case that Google engineers are being out-coded by their counterparts at “content farms” and other spam generating locations? And if they are, what does that mean for educators, students, and cultural institutions like museums, libraries, and archives? We also looked at Q&A site Quora (we weren’t bowled over) and Google Art Project (everyone but Tom was bowled over).

Running time: 37:09
Download the .mp3

Categorized under digital humanities, Google, Twitter

7 comments to “Episode 66 – The End of Big Search As We Know It?”

  1. Derek Bruff : 24th February, 2011

    I’ve spent more than a couple of minutes on Quora (as I’m betting some of you have now done), and, while I’m still not sure how valuable a resource it is, I do find it a little addicting. Y’all mentioned that one of the selling points of Quora is that one can follow other Quora users. I see that, but I think the real value is in being able to hear multiple perspectives on questions. When I see that an interesting question has, say, a dozen different answers, some of which have been voted up by other Quora users, that’s the kind of question worth exploring on Quora.

    It’s a nice complement to Wikipedia. Wikipedia emphasizes facts and makes it a little difficult to see who contributed what. Quora emphasizes opinions and perspectives and makes it very clear who’s saying what. As I said, I’m not convinced it’s a game changer, but it’s certainly an interesting model to me.

  2. Victoria Leachman : 26th February, 2011

    After your discussion on Google Art Project I was wondering what Digital Campus thought of art galleries and museums collections online services? Where do you want or think these should go in the future? Tom said he wanted a “new kind of gallery space for the web”. I’m really interested in hearing what you have to say about this. Not just for art museums but museums with art, humanities, and natural environment collections… There are many even quite large and significant institutions just starting on getting images of their collections and basic metadata online. A lot of institutions are trying different things to make finding and browsing through their collection easier. Cultural institutions are getting together to bundle collections into projects like New Zealand’s Matapihi and also NZMuseums, Europe’s Europeana, UK’s Culture Grid etc. Is access across collecting institutions the major thing humanities scholars what or do you want something else?

  3. Tom Scheinfeldt : 28th February, 2011

    @Victoria — Thanks for listening! I’m absolutely supportive of efforts to get collections online and to make them more accessible, especially projects that aim to federate metadata and make discovery easier for researchers. Our own Omeka, Omeka.net, and Omeka Commons project aim to do just that—help smaller institutions get their collections and metadata online and then provide a centralized portal to allow researchers to discover and use those collections. But I don’t think our work is done when we get a digitized image of a collection item online. We also need better ways of interpreting collections and telling their stories on the web. By now we basically know how to put high resolution images of artwork online. I would like to have seen some of Google’s unparalleled resources and creativity devoted to helping us explore how to make the experience of high resolution artwork online richer, more engaging, more critical, and more educational.

  4. Sherman Dorn : 1st March, 2011

    Okay, time to use Google Art Project to do things “in” a museum that you never could. Remember Steve Martin’s character roller-skating through the L.A. County Museum of Art in “L.A. Story”? (Okay, probably not, but imagine it.) You can now look at your favorite art with popcorn in your lap. Or more…

    I hereby issue the Google Art Project Improv Challenge to Tom (and anyone else who wants to take this up): in a public space such as a classroom, challenge people (including yourself) to do wild and wacky things right next to famous art in famous museums. Write various activities on index cards. Shuffle cards. Have a “player” come up and navigate to ANY piece of art in the Google Art Project. Then the player must take a card from the deck and respond IMMEDIATELY to both the card and the piece of art (from improv’s rule to accept all suggestions). My initial suggestions for what to write on cards:

    The Illuminati

  5. Cate H : 3rd March, 2011

    The link to the “recent articles” about Google didn’t work for me. I found something at the Washington Post here: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/blog-post/2011/01/is_google_getting_less_reliabl.html. Is this the one you’re referring to?

  6. Matt MacArthur : 11th March, 2011

    Just listened to this, was interested in your take on Google Art Project. I have nothing against what Google is doing, and clearly there is attraction for some. However, I’ve never been enamored by attempts to re-create a physical gallery experience online. This may be partially because such an attempt makes less sense for the kinds of exhibits and galleries we have in a history museum. But you’re right, museums are manufactured spaces, and the museum experience is mostly about being in the space and in physical proximity to artifacts, which obviously is impossible to duplicate digitally. The attempts I know of to create virtual museum “spaces” or even allow users to create their own galleries have generally fallen flat.

    In any case, we continue to see that behaviors and expectations of our online audiences continue to be quite different from the physical visitors. Relatively few of our online users come for an “experience” or to meander as they might in the museum, but for usable, reliable, on-demand information on a topic of interest. The one aspect that seems to unite both audiences (or at least some of them) is a desire for interaction as part of the experience, whether with museum staff, family and friends, or less often fellow visitors who share common interests. In that regard, I think the Smithsonian Commons project we’re trying to get off the ground (http://www.si.edu/commons/prototype/) is a much more interesting model for how to reinvent the museum online and take advantage of the unique qualities of the digital medium.

    P.S. Have you checked out the Adobe Museum of Digital Media? (http://www.adobe.com/adobemuseum/) Another interesting experiment in this regard – have heard very mixed opinions.

  7. Bryan Alexander : 31st March, 2011

    I wonder if Google Scholar searches have been hit at all by the content farms and spammers.

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