Algorithms. Who can understand them? I’ve been having some trouble with searches lately. Not on the internet in general, but on specific websites (including this one). While Sects and Violence in the Ancient World isn’t a particularly media-heavy site, I find it difficult to find images by searching. For some reason, even when I put the title of the image in the WordPress search bar, it doesn’t always come up with the answer. Well, given the time of morning I suppose I might’ve misspelled something. Then I went to Amazon. I’ve been working on my author page and wanted to update something. I tried typing the distinctive title of my most recent book (Nightmares with the Bible—it is apparently the only actual book with that title [and titles can’t be copyrighted, in case you’re interested]) and found that it didn’t show up on the first three pages. They were filled with books with other titles. Algorithms.
Now granted not a lot of people seek the book on Amazon (I’m a realist), but if you type an exact, and unique title in the search bar and it doesn’t come up, isn’t something wrong with your algorithm? (By the way, algorithm is one of the many words English borrows from Arabic. It’s named after a ninth-century mathematician, al-Khwārizmī. You could do worse than to have something so useful named after you!) I’m not so naive as to think Amazon isn’t thinking to throw better selling books at you first—if you’re like others you’ll buy those before you’d consider shelling out a Franklin for mine. But still, isn’t searching made easier when what you enter is what you want to find?
The internet’s primarily about selling you stuff. Some of us look up sites for information or entertainment, but then someone tries to sell you something. (I’m not trying to sell you my book here, by the way—it’s not priced for individuals, or even mortals—I’m not even putting a link to it on Amazon here.) I’m just wondering why, if you tell websites exactly what you’re looking for they can’t find it. You have to wonder if we’ve reached the level of too much stuff. There’s a lot of sorting to be done and new webpages are added every day. Even though I’ve been writing here a dozen years now, there are far older blogs and many more newer ones. Finding things is an important exercise, and maybe if we sit down with al-Khwārizmī for a while, we’ll be able to figure something out.