Don’t Eat That; You Don’t Know Where It’s Been

According to the web logs, Googlebot found the Laboratorium sometime about a week ago and has been gradually indexing the site since then, at a rate of about ten pages a day or so -- it's fairly clear that it's doing a breadth-first search, since every time it comes through and deals with a fresh batch, they're all referred by the same one of my pages. I was kind of struck to realize, though, that Google seems to go live with the changes more or less as soon as it notices the pages -- I can turn up Laboratorium subpages on Google now if I enter the right combination of search terms. For example, my candy report page is the number one site for a Google search on "Cadbury's flake", beating out even And my media rant shows up if you look for "Rush Limbaugh mp3 vcr", perhaps because I mentioned Rush in passing as yet another media figure caught up in a fight for control over the distribution channels.

What blew my mind when reading my logs, though, was the search that turned up my old musings about search engines. The second paragraph of that mini-essay reads

The Web, of course, never content to do anything by half measures, is mind-boggling when it comes to the vast realms of mindless entertainment it proffers. Given that it probably owed much of its early existence to the sudden availability of one-click porn it engendered, it has had its feet planted firmly in the realm of the recreational from the outset. But that's old hat these days -- what floats my boat are the entirely new forms of entertainment now available, forms never before avaiable, from the dawn of time down to this blessed day. You all understand random-walk web-surfing, you understand the voyeuristic fun of reading the drivel people decide they need to present to the world, and I'm sure some of you understand the exhibitionistic thrill of writing the drivel you decide you need to present to the world -- I know I do. Here on the Internet, the very state of having no life becomes the raw material from which the lifeless carve their amusement. Well, a couple of weeks ago, some friends of mine and I, sitting around flecking bits of metaphorical mud at each other, accidentally sculpted our own little AltaVista de Milo.

Seems harmless enough, no? Well, it turns out that the mildly close juxtaposition of "exhibitionistic" (in the third last sentence) and "couple" (in the last sentence) is enough to make the page show up if you type "couple exhibitionistic" into Google. You see, someone did type that into Google, and followed the link to my page, and was, I'm sure, quite confused not to find the naked flesh of multiple people on display. What really blows my mind is the final part of the referrer string, though: "start=90" Translated out of GooglURL-speak, this means that the Laboratorium is on the tenth page of links Google turned up for that search. Hit number ninety-five, in fact, as I confirmed by typing in the search myself. Ninety-five! Confirming everyone's suspicions about Internet porn-hounds, it would seem that whoever found the Laboratorium through this rather indirect route has a bit too much time on their hands (and probably other stuff, as well, but it's best not to think about that), to be clicking through that many links. That the end result is a page about the irrationality of search engines is the detail that makes the joke.