2015-05-27 / Features

Internet in Bloom For The Layperson

By Ted J. Bloom

This semester, in addition to my various college library responsibilities, I taught over 50 students Information Literacy--a course that did not exist before the Internet did.  Molding our city's young minds, once again reminded me that many of us, college educated or not, believe that virtually any source on the Internet is a valid, credible plethora of knowledge waiting to be plucked like low hanging fruit from the world's finest orchards.  Really?

Moreover, try the following experiment.  Please keep in mind that this test will work regardless if you pay for the Internet or not.  Select a common search engine, such as www.Google.com.  Google is a commercial, advertiser supported, popularity search engine, meaning it bases your results on popularity of use, while it also displays advertisements paid for by outside sponsors.  Google states the user will only see ads if they are related to the search performed. 

By the way, www.DuckDuckGo.com is also a commercial, popularity search engine yet is does not display ad banners, nor does it track user use, as Google does, so not all search engines are the same.  Type "movie trailers" in the blank search field in Google.  Quotations around the search terms force the search engine database to locate only the instances where the two words appear, in the specific order you typed, therefore, you will get more effective results.  For this search you will get numerous website hits.  Consider a few: www.TrailerAddict.com.  One of the first results, this site sounds harmless enough except, it took me many hyperlink clicks to locate the desired trailer.  I had to view several screens of multiple ad banners first.  Thus, I do not consider this site to be user-friendly.  Once, I got to the window that had the trailer I sought, I was forced to watch a thirty-second car commercial.  However, the website software did allow me to view the trailer full screen after clicking on the correct icon.  Conversely, www.IMDB.com is my preferred site to view trailers on and was listed towards the bottom of the second page of results on Google.  In just a few mouse clicks I was watching my desired trailer, full screen, without being made to view a commercial first. 

Furthermore, why wasn't IMDB listed on the first page of results?  According to Google, it is not as popular, meaning more users view TrailerAddict.  This logic escapes me because, surely I am not the only person who watchers movie trailers on the Internet.  Do web users really prefer using TrailerAddict over the IMDB?  IMDB stands for Internet Movie Database.  The title TrailerAddict indicates searchers will be more likely to find movie trailers than a four-letter acronym, such as IMDB, that one must decipher.  However, over time services with acronyms have become very successful, like the famous restaurant chains, KFC's and TGIF's or merchandise brands, such as HP printers or BMWs.  Not to mention feared government agencies such as the IRS, FBI, CIA or the even the IDF.  IMDB has been online for many years.  This logic begs the question: Is Google using ulterior motives in their user search result placements?  If so, what are they and what other web services are also questionable in this fashion?  What about the use of pay-to-play biased listings here?  Is that legal for a public search engine online?  Only time will tell...           

Ted J. Bloom, MLS., MSEd., CPL.,CKMI., has been a published columnist in New York since 1999. A college librarian and professor in Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan with two graduate degrees, some of his credentials include, creating and running a career preparation computer lab for at-risk youth through the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as being a SUNY Communications Instructor, a YMCA Director and a Certified Krav Maga Instructor.  His first book The Librarian's Guide to Employment in the Information Age is now available on Amazon.com and iTunes.

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