Two more Holy Crap moments courtesy of Google

My reptile brain holds the following pieces of information about google

  • Good search innit? You can find anything
  • Didn’t they buy a wifi station or something?
  • Their server farms use 5% of the earth’s electricity

I know they’re useful, big… and over there somewhere —->

Actually they’re everywhere. They’re the face of the internet . That old maxim “anything too big to fail is too big to exist” certainly holds true with Google. This is what the end of the world looks like:


Google have integrated themselves far more tightly with the fabric/structure of the internet than Microsoft have done with desktop PCs – it’s become a part of our brain-architecture. The same way that cellphones mean we don’t need to remember phone numbers any more, we’ve gotten kindof used to the idea that we can find a pretty good shot at the answer to any question, pretty much all the time.

But anyway, the reptile part of my brain still thinks of Google as a text box in the middle of a page… so every once in a while I come across something that makes me go “Holy crap, they can do that?” – and there have been a couple recently

1) Similar Image Search.

google-similar-images1 (clocks)

Can this do facial recognition (which has serious social/privacy ramifications)? Maybe not, but it’s step on the way. Maybe. I’m not sure how they’re doing this… it isn’t purely image-similarity… if you look at rep-rap similar images you tend to get a lot of pictures of Charles Darwin (the name of the orginal Reprap being Darwin) so there’s something other than pattern recognition going on there. Still… it’s fairly impressive

google-similar-images1 (Jennifer Connollys)

I mean this one isn’t just returning images of Conifer Jennily – it’s getting those, but also focusing on the mood of the picture (only movies) – so there’s also Blade-Runner, Train-Spotting, Star-Wars, Phenomena (which has Jennifer Connolly, but she’s not in the photo) and Alien vs Predator (the page title being Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem: ‘Predator Arrival’)… and the first JC photo is from Reqium for a Dream (hence the Trainspotting link: Heroin)… so in addition to image-recognition smarts, there’s also word-linking smarts. And they’re smart smarts.

2) And the other thing is this O3D:

A 3D rendering plugin for browsers… which would be even more impressive if I could get the fucking thing to work, but my graphics card (on a 1 year old Toshiba Laptop) isn’t supported, so that’s that. What this is, is a memosphere. And Every Single Web 2.0 App That Ever Succeeded Was A Memosphere.

So anyway – looking at these caused me to look into what else google are doing in the app-space – there’s a hell of a lot… they seem to be able to do all this stuff by stealth. I mean the video above is on Youtube that they own – which in its 4 years of existence has become the second biggest search engine on the web… and I think it is (semi) single-handedly changing the way people watch television. That’s ~ 200,000,000,000 (us: pop~ 300,000,000) brain-hours a year, that’s now doing something slightly/profoundly different.

Google. Privately owned. Can you imagine it working if it was publicly owned? Nope. Can you imagine it working if it’s decisions came under the democratic control of its stake-holders? Nope. Is it a law unto itself, and can do whatever it wants without fear of some sort of embarrassing backlash? Nope. Not yet anyway.

Still, I can remember when Yahoo was “the only” search engine, and now they seem to be constantly under threat of being bought by Microsoft.

Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky, man.