Dec 19

Information and Usefulness

I just Googled myself and the results are inter­est­ing. I did not expect to find any earth-​shattering infor­ma­tion but I was a lit­tle sur­prised at what I did find.

First I just typed James Keesey in the Google search. The third item on the results page was indeed mine but it is my TWiki home page. I reg­is­tered for this in April of 2005 and I haven’t touched it since. I only reg­is­tered so that I could get some infor­ma­tion for work (which uses TWiki). That job passed to anoth­er so I have not touched it. Yet this is the only item that is relat­ed to me on the front page. Google sure knows how to deflate an ego!

Next I typed “James Keesey” in the search. Now the first two (three if you count the sec­ond item which is a sub-​item of the first) relate to me. The first item is a web page that was cre­at­ed by one of my teach­ers at SJSU to show off a project I did for his class. Now I got a good grade (A) for the project but still it is an under­grad­u­ate project and hard­ly rep­re­sents me, my life, or my accom­plish­ments. The sec­ond item is that sil­ly TWiki page again.

Next I typed “James L Keesey” in the search. Now things get inter­est­ing. There is only one result on the page. This result does relate to me and in fact points to one of the four patents that I have been award­ed as inven­tor or co-​inventor. So just search­ing for James Keesey puts on the first page a TWiki home page but not a ref­er­ence to a patent? BTW I’m try­ing to sug­gest that my patents are hyper impor­tant (they are not) but Google has no way to deter­mine this–at least I don’t think they do. Even more inter­est­ing is that there is a link on the page which says that very sim­i­lar hits have been hid­den. I click on that and now there are two items both of which are my patents. Why would Google hide one also matched item that is for a dif­fer­ent patent? Strange.

Next I typed “James Louis Keesey” (which is my full name) in the search. This finds one item as well which is anoth­er of my patents. But only one item is found. This is bizarre.

So depend­ing on what vari­a­tion of my name I type in I get dif­fer­ent answers and none of them show all of my patents nor the three patent appli­ca­tions that are in the sys­tem. You can find these through per­se­ver­ance at the Patent Office pages but it takes many dif­fer­ent search­es just like these.

So appar­ent­ly the most impor­tant infor­ma­tion about me in Google’s eyes in that I once reg­is­tered with the TWiki site. I find this strange and a lit­tle dis­turb­ing. With the way that the world is mov­ing, it seems as if Google is the major infor­ma­tion source for just about every­thing, but as this lit­tle demon­stra­tion shows, Google is very selec­tive in what it records in its data­base let alone what it reports. When we do a search, how are we to know just what infor­ma­tion is left unfound? Given the size of the Google data­base just how can we be sure that we are find­ing rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion?