[NetBehaviour] Search term as text

Curt Cloninger curt at lab404.com
Thu Feb 18 06:05:55 CET 2010


[ http://rhizome.org/lib/rhizome_comment/threaded-popup.php?t=article-2838 ]

>Literary Remarks on the Spectral Line Cesium project
>Terms searched through Google have structure and meaning and 
>narrative distilled into at most a few words. We have all learned, 
>since the invention of the search engine, to write correctly for the 
>search box: too many words, or the wrong words, return results not 
>of little value. Whether the words entered into the search box yield 
>the correct results depends on how the search engine's algorithms 
>rank information. A badly chosen search term might yield, from the 
>point of view of the algorithms governing the search, numerous exact 
>hits none of which were the intended target of the search. The 
>algorithms behind the search are not, however, made explicit. One 
>approaches the search box with an intuitive sense of what works well 
>and what does not. "Spectral Line Cesium" is an attempt to engage 
>with this new sort of writing.
>Search terms entered into search engines are documents, texts, in 
>fact, about which very little (if any) literary theory has has been 
>written. While they are not necessarily intentionally written for 
>publication, in fact search terms are published in unique ways. 
>First, content is written into websites (tags, for example) to 
>increase the likelihood that certain search terms will attract the 
>attention of searchers. Second, the major search engine companies 
>(Google, Yahoo, Bing) publish lists of the most commonly or 
>popularly searched terms. So, while a teenager in Des Moines is not 
>intending to "publish" a phrase that he or she searches, in actual 
>practice the fact that millions of people end up searching the exact 
>same phrases/subjects leads to the terms that led the most people to 
>the "correct" information is recorded (and content is subsequently 
>developed in such a way as to conform with what is being searched).
>Our usual ideas of what an author is (the paradigm: a single 
>individual producing an original text on a blank sheet of paper) do 
>not apply to this kind of writing. Many people acting independently 
>must enter the same terms (or very nearly the same) for the search 
>term to achieve publication. I conceive of "Spectral Line Cesium" to 
>be a sort of poetical/rhetorical object that can only be written by 
>many thousands of people simultaneously. No individual acting alone 
>could author such a text, but each participant must write it for it 
>to achieve the intended status of text. It seems to me that 
>collective texts of this sort have hitherto only been written by 

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