November 26, 2005

There is no here here

When Google calculates its search results it gives considerable weight to the phrases used to link to a given page. If millions of people decided to hyperlink the phrase "retard" to this site, it'd probably show up first in a search for this word. While the process is occasionally hackable, most famously in case of "failure" which returns George Bush as its first result, for the most part it works well. Unless that is, you are interested in "here".

Here falls apart online because it actually means there, as in "anywhere but here". If a shopkeeper says "you can find it here" it means "stay", or if you are talking over a network "come". If a webpage says "you can can find it here" it means go, follow the link, bye. Here is the generic hyperlink, a word that can be used to send you anywhere on the internet. But most hyperlinks have meaning, and people tend to use those meanings as the link text. Here represents those links that people don't feel the need to vest with a meaning, but perhaps want to vest with some force, they want you to "go here" (or really go there) rather than be interested in what the link actually means.

Googling here of course returns an ordered list. A list of the most popular web plugins it turns out. Adobe Acrobat comes in first. Is it because they are the most popular, or because pdf files are distributed throughout sites, where as something like Flash (number 3) only stops you at the gates, you get one chance to download flash per site, all or nothing at all. Real Player takes second, a testimony to their fierce propagation of incompetent software. They are popular because media companies are afraid of what is possible here on the internet. If here and there mean the same thing, where does the media company intercede to make their profit? Apple comes in forth with their QuickTime software, they actually understand that here and there are indeed the same place, its called your computer and if you want to make a profit the best way is by controlling the hardware. It is only at fifth place, with MapQuest, that here becomes meaningful, an actual result. Netscape and Internet Explorer, come in sixth and seventh respectively. Netscape I suspect gets more links because it has more need to get there; IE is already here, installed with the operating system. Like Apple, Microsofts power lies at the root, the ability to be both here and there online.

Google, like the internet itself draws its power from being neither here, nor there, but inbetween everywhere at once, immanent. There is no here there, only results, only meanings.

Posted by Abe at November 26, 2005 12:41 PM


It's the finger and the moon. We also say 'here' when pointing at a map that's in front of us. On the network the territory and map collapse, we only have to think of it, and it's 'here'.

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