Archives For Popularity

Way back in 2013, I followed the idea of a friend on Facebook, who had out of interest, explored the Google automatic search suggestions (G.A.S.S). My search range included Bloggers, Christians, Schools, cats, dogs, gamers, Christianity, Google, diets, faith and TV Dinners. That post can be found here: Answers According To…

I figured it would be interesting to compare the 2013 search results with 2017. So yesterday, following the same procedure I chased down the same subjects, following the same search parameters.

The 2017 outcomes were as interesting as the 2013 outcomes. The only surprise difference being the results for “Christians are.” This time around either the Google mechanic blocked that search or the search just didn’t register. The suggested search outcome was blank. By contrast, when I typed in, ”Muslims are”, the phrase “true feminists” was highlighted.

According to G.A.S.S, Bloggers are:

2013:


Bloggers according to Google

2017:

There’s a noticeable difference here. Bloggers, according to G.A.S.S, are now different to journalists and are now just annoying, not stupid. So, what did G.A.S.S think about Google:

2013:

Google according to google2017:

So, Google is no longer evil, is still your friend,is no longer god, is still skynet (Terminator 2 reference), but Google is now the best and is apparently gay.

TV dinners remain pretty much the same. Clearly, Google is no friend to TV Dinners:

2013


TV Dinners are according to google

2017

Like Google, cats are no longer listed as evil, and are instead ”the best”. Cats are still better than dogs, remain jerks, and continue to be bizarrely listed as liquid (hmmm?).

2013

Cats are

2017

Dogs are no longer listed as being “the best people”. However, they are still talking, and are better than cats. Dogs are also now, “great”, “loyal” and “family”.

2013

Dogsare

2017

The automated search suggestions didn’t vary much, when it came to looking up “Faith is”. The difference now being the absence of the biblical quote, and “like a muscle”. The additions included “breaking out” and ”the confidence.”

2013

Faith is according to google

2017

From a theologian’s point of view, Google’s automated search suggestions are still on a winning track.  Even the inquiry for “Christianity is”, took a more balanced leap forward:

2013

Christianity is according to Google

2017

The search for “Christians are”, was the most surprising. As I noted at the start of this article, the section for 2017 yielded no response.

2013

google search

2017

For the most part, the 2017 “gamers are” search stayed very close to the 2013 inquiry. The only real change was that gamers are no longer “annoying”, they’re “awesome”.

2013


Gamers are

2017

Of all the G.A.S.S. subjects, my Schools inquiry was the most intriguing. Schools are still considered to be “prisons”, and “killers of creativity” and most appear to be “closed”. From which I take “closed” to mean closed-minded etc.

2013

Schools are according to google

2017

The final comparison had the most significant changes. As it turns out, “Diets are” no longer “bad”, “fattening”, “stupid” or “useless”. Every dietitian and their program is, by Google’s automated suggested search results, exonerated.

2013

Diets are according to google

2017

The technology still rocks. It’s also encouraging to see that the changes between 2013 and 2017 are mostly positive. This could be due to a better developed and dedication to having up to date accuracy from within the algorithms used to measure ranking.

The lesson still is “Caveat Emptor” (buyer beware). Philosophically, relying on Google’s search engine, or any silicon based search platform for all the answers doesn’t replace the role of good, hard research work.

We can take some facts and ideas of consensus from the internet, however, it’s important to remember the large number of people who do not have an online presence or an online voice. Nor do they wish to. Whilst one group may dominate online, that doesn’t mean that their dominance is reflected in reality.

The internet often magnifies – and quite regularly distorts – support for something, when it barely even registers on the radar of 9-5, or around “workplace water cooler conversations.”

As Paul & Marguerite Shuster wrote:

‘Test everything….’ (1. Thess.5:21, ESV)
 ‘those who Jesus confronted most directly were as likely to want to kill him as to follow him. He seemed to not have the slightest inclination to make hearing and following him pleasant and easy…Truthfulness, in other words, is not determined by customer satisfaction surveys’
(‘The truth and truthfulness’, 2008)

 


Sources:

Shuster, M. 2008 Truth and truthfulness in Performance in preaching Childers & Schmidt, Baker Academic

Sullivan, D. 2011 How Google Instant’s Autocomplete Suggestions Work, sourced 28th October 2013 from http://searchengineland.com/how-google-instant-autocomplete-suggestions-work-62592

 

Trending Exploitations

March 2, 2016 — 2 Comments

20151024_111239 bricks

There’s inelegance to this new ignorance,

                             The pompous promotion

                             of itself as intelligence;

         “Fall into line with self-interest”

                              Pride paraded as humanitarian deliverance.

The ones who dare to disagree,

           speak from worn, but true hearts

The ones that don’t,

            “Sigh”, make noises, raise fists and tweet        d[f]arts.

From pampered platforms these boasters repress.

Roasting their enemies over the dark,

                                     widening pit of “progress

Science manipulated, is fact concocted;

             the false substantiality

                                  of a contortion of reality.

Allegiances, that political commodity,

               is

brought and sold for approval and vain popularity.

Like sex, it sells and makes

                 “all experts [have-to] agree.”

Such is the trending exploitation

                                    of tolerance by a minority,

When finding outrage is all the rage,

                                                   Pride legislated spite

                                                   hijacks true civil rights .

                  Feelings over thought;

                  Appearances vs. deeds

Society remolded by neo-Stalinist greed.

         “Convert, pay lip service or pay the ultimate price.”

These new cultural laws;

                 create justified outlaws.

Responsible freedom and fair speech,

          locked up behind gates,

are sent to camps

                 both labelled bigoted and hate.

Yet, these bold political prisoners of war

continue to solemnly state,

                    nowhere in, tolerate,

                    is there the command, to celebrate.


(RL2016)

The Rise of the TechnocratIn ‘Augustine and the Limits of Politics,’ political scientist, Jean Bethke Elshtain lamented:

‘Albert Camus’ work, ‘The Rebel’ is understudied and underestimated.’ (p.115)

Elshtain’s work is peppered with references to Camus. Her affinity with the French agonistic and “existentialist” philosopher is easy to observe. Elshtain sees a good amount of Camus’ questions and conclusions as relevant to contemporary discourse.

That is of course, where dialogue and dissent are allowed, which to the keen observer like Elshtain and Camus, are things fast being forced into private. This is because the pathos in post-modern monologues (such as: facebook rants, easy likes, mob put downs and whip statements) are taking over. (It was from this that Elshtain later wonders whether or not, ‘democracy can survive social media and the rise of the technocratic class. See: ‘‘State Of Democracy’)

Earlier in her book, Elshtain provides some commentary on  a post war lecture Camus gave in 1946 at Columbia University:

‘To what was no doubt a hushed auditorium, Camus went on to enumerate the clear symptoms of what he called a ‘crisis of world-dimensions; a crisis in human consciousness.’ He described these as a rise in terror, following upon such a perversion of values that man, woman or historical force is judged today not in terms of human dignity but in terms of success (consider here: doing and saying whatever makes you popular – or gets the most likes). The crisis is based, as well, on the growing “impossibility of persuasion.” Human beings live and can only live by “retaining the idea that they have something in common,” a starting point to which they can return […] Camus noted two other symptoms of the crisis. One he called the substitution of the “political” for the “living” person.’ (p.70)

Citing Camus, Elshtain then points to the unhealthy ‘growth of bureaucracy.’ – ‘For what counts now is whether or not one has helped a doctrine to triumph, not whether or not one respects a mother and spares her suffering” (ibid). All these, Elshtain asserts, ‘can be summed up in a single tendency – the cult of efficiency and abstraction.’ (ibid)

Camus’ conclusion is then highlighted:

 “That is why the man in Europe today experiences only solitude and silence; for he cannot communicate with his fellows in terms of values common to them all, and since he is no longer protected by a respect for man based on the values of man, the only alternative henceforth open to him is to be a victim or an executioner.” (Ibid)

What stands out the most, though, is Elshtain’s own conclusion about what Camus was on about:

‘Camus lays the crisis squarely on the doorstep of an unchecked will-to-power. And from that flows the terrible notion that one can cleanse the world, purge the old, the tired, the imperfect, though terror.’ (p.71)

Directly connected  to this is a post-war assessment made by Albert Camus in 1948:

‘Between the forces of terror (coercion) and the forces of dialogue (persuasion), a great unequal battle has begun. I have nothing but reasonable illusions to the outcome of that battle. But I believe it must be fought, and I know that certain men and women have resolved to do so. I merely fear that they will occasionally feel somewhat alone, that they are in fact alone, and that after an interval of two thousand years we may see the sacrifice of Socrates repeated several times.’
(Camus, A. ‘Resistance, Rebellion & Death: Essays’ pp.73-74)

I agree with Elshtain, Camus has the potential to wake The West up from its slumber; to bring technicolour back into focus and persuasively correct the current politically correct technoblur. He names that which should be named and wasn’t afraid to address what needed to be addressed. It’s also helpful to note that after he published,’The Rebel’, French communists (among them was J.P. Sartre) labelled Camus, who was one of their own, a reactionary et.al. Simply because he questioned the ideology and where that ideology landed. He disagreed with them and spoke out against it. As a result he was threatened, ridiculed into submission, excommunicated and disowned by his friends. Which, for the Christian who participates in these realms and seeks responsible dialogue translates into:

‘You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.’
(Jesus, Mark 13:13)


Sources:

Camus, A. 1960 Essays: Resistance, Rebellion and Death, Vintage Books, Random House

Camus, A. 1946-1947 The Human Crisis, pp.20-24

Elshtain, J.B 1998 Augustine and the Limits of Politics, University of Notre Dame Press (pp.70-71 & p.115)

The image used here is my own.