I love really good quotes. I’m not talking about the ones that the plumber gives you whilst he’s scratching his stubble, drinking your tea and ‘examining’ a leaky pipe (no-one likes those quotes), I’m talking about the sort that I have a feed for on my iGoogle. I’m a bit of a square, and I like to have someone famous or respected direct something moralistic or thought provoking in the morning, it kind of sets me up for the
day, or baffles and confuses, either of which is fine by me. Most of the time I have no idea who that person is or what they are on about, but the sentiment is there all the same.
I came across a quote this morning that made me think a bit about search, and the way that information is used and organised. The quote comes from 18th Centuary English writer Samuel Johnson:
"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." – Samuel Johnson
Whilst this quote is a bit heavy going for a Monday morning, I thought it was particularly pertinent to the discussions that we have a lot these days around search engines – and shows that the relationship between knowledge and integrity probably hasnt changed much over time – only that the boundries have now shifted as to where the scuffle between the two takes place. Whenever any major search engine does something cool and new, there are always the sceptics amongst us (or maybe just the sensible) who question what is going to happen to all of our sensitive and personal information. Racking my poor brain (as obviously my memory is a bit clogged up remembering all these great quotes), I seem to remember Sergey Brin having an opinion on this, and after using his search engine to find his quote, this is what i found:
"Some say Google is God. Others say Google is Satan. But if they think Google is too powerful, remember that with search engines unlike other companies, all it takes is a single click to go to another search engine."
It takes quite a lot of confidence in your own product to say that, I would imagine.
I’m not going to settle any battles regarding the search engine or personalisation knowledge vs integrity debate here – otherwise I would probably be one of these people getting quoted on iGoogle in the morning. I just never realised that Samuel Johnson was a Search expert…
Some less thought provoking quotes from elsewhere, related or unrelated to search…
"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning." Rich Cook.
"The Star Trek computer doesn’t seem that interesting. They ask it random questions, it thinks for a while. I think we can do better than that."
"No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer."
Bill Gates, early 1970′s … Bill, Bill, Bill..