Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Better Google

Used to be, if the government wanted to know what its populace was thinking, it had to go door to door and pull you out of bed in the middle of the night. Maybe then you'd cough up everything you know on your neighbor and your wife and your friend's best friend and your counter revolutionary cocker spaniel.

But now, as this article announced a couple days ago, the US government just has to phone a few companies in Silicon Valley and ask to see the logs tallying every search made in America for the week of ... let me see, uh ...

Everyone but Google has coughed up the documents so far, and Google is probably only holding out because it doesn't want to divulge trade secrets that might be leaked to its competitors.

Well, I won't belabor this point. I could go on about how I think someone, doing nothing wrong, can easily be mistaken for a "bad guy." (I was just researching Hoover Dam, I didn't ever think about blowing it up!) I could say how people will eventually stop doing worthwhile things if they fear they'll be mistaken of terrorist activity. Which will inhibit research, development, intellectural growth, even business -- everything America puts in its advertising campaigns. Or I could just say this is a waste of tax-payer money, all this lawyering for private records and analysis of mountainous data.

But instead of doing all that, I will, in the time-tested tradition of throwing a wrench into the works, point you to two search engines no one's using in the Oval Office.

Scroogle, a Marxist search engine, is essentially Google without the ads. This may be illegal -- filtering such content out of Google's search function -- but then Google and Yahoo are no better off, according to Scroogle:

These (search) engines crawl the public web without asking permission, and cache and reproduce the content without asking permission, and then use this information as a carrier for ads that generate private profit. We are convinced that if citizens scrape Google and strip the ads, and make the scraped results available as a nonprofit public service, that this is legal.

So far, Google hasn't served Scroogle with a cease and desist. Read this for more.

Even better, and not just because it shares an ad-free environment, is Clusty, a search engine better than Google.

Look at the way it groups together various sub-categories within a search for this blog. Instead of having to scan through page after page, you know right away which links reference the Crosby, Stills and Nash song "Everybody I Love You" and which ones reference a blog entry. Pretty great, I say.

Use Clusty. They don't track you. It allows for freedom of thought. It's purty too.

If you don't like that, you can always go to Patriot Search, a search engine that sends your results, with a wink and a smile, directly to the desk of George W.