Helen of Marlowe's Blog

googling duckduckgo

Posted in Uncategorized by helenofmarlowe on January 16, 2012

Happy MLK day.
Today is fourteen minutes longer than January 1, and I am using my extra fourteen minutes to read Billy Collins poetry.  Of course we don't really have fourteen minutes during which the clock stands still, but even so, I consider these minutes to be welcome progress toward the long hot days of summer.

After reading a poem that I especially like, The Real Geniuses, I decided to share this poem with a local poet who is close to my heart (he's  here  ) just to enjoy the reading of it.

I’d recently seen a TED talk about google, about the search engine’s tailoring search results to our particular interests. I don’t want to see only what I’m already biased toward. I want a search engine that doesn’t care who I am or what I like, one that will give me the same results it would give my conservative friends. (Conservative seems the wrong word for those who want to destroy most of the progress of the 20th c, but that’s another post.) I'd read of a new (to me) search engine, duckduckgo, so I thought I'd give it a go. I typed in Billy Collins The Real Geniuses. No luck. So I thought I'd give it punctuation clues, and typed “The Real Geniuses” by “Billy Collins”. The first thing it returned to me was Woman Set to Become 1st Spacecract Pilot. The second on the list was Lutheran Surrealism.

So I typed the same (original, no quote marks) into google, and the first result was a text of Billy Collins's poem. On WordPress, even.

According to wikipedia, the search engine duckduckgo philosophy (found with a google search) emphasizes privacy and does not record user information. Nice. Very nice. I think. But on the other hand, if I search for a Billy Collins poem I want that Billy Collins poem, not Lutheran Surrealism. So how does that comport with wanting a search engine that doesn't care who I am or what my politics? It's hard to find a correlation between knowing who I am, and returning a reasonable response to a not-especially-esoteric search.

A friend suggests I clean mozilla’s memory of who I am. mv ~/.mozilla and then go through a few more simple steps to re-create ~/.mozilla. Worth a try. But I wonder how long it will take the new mozilla to figure out that I’m a progressive liberal pro-life (the already living) Unitarian Universalist vegetarian environmentalist linux user. My guess is less than a minute.

Must we choose between privacy and efficiency? Is that the question? I suspect privacy is a thing of the past, and I may as well go with efficiency.

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9 Responses

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  1. Joseph Gilmore said, on January 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve never heard of duckduckgo, I’ll give it a whirl. And you know, it’s funny that “googling duckduckgo” is even a real sentence.

  2. Jim Wheeler said, on January 17, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I’m in agreement with you, Helen, in not liking a search engine to try to tailor itself to my perceived interests. That would bias against new learning, it seems to me.

    I see it as something of a fun challenge to find different phrasing and synonyms when I search for something. Google itself is an awesome concept – who would have imagined a few decades ago anything so useful, and free yet?

    A quick google search reveals that Google started up in 1998, a mere 14 years! How did we ever do without it?

    • helenofmarlowe said, on January 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      “That would bias against new learning, it seems to me. ”
      And yes, it has become so much taken for granted.
      I wonder what we’ll have left, if the proposed Internet Piracy Act becomes law.

  3. trutherator said, on January 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I agree, I’m against their tailoring the thing to my persona, I don’t like it at all. It’s supposed to be for us, but it’s really for them and the ad revenue, plus they want to expand their dominance in the information-search domains, and now applications.

    Google has reached its limit I think in the economies-of-scale limits as far as how many things they can take over in a good way. Something is wrong when upstart companies that begin to gain traction think they can make more money by selling out to Google or Microsoft. Unfortunately regulatory regimes add an element of too-big-to-fail tilting of the economic environment that favors entrenched market dominance.

    Although we are getting pulled along by both economic forces and powers-that-be forces toward giving up privacy, and the Biblical prophecy in Revelation 13 makes clear there is a subcutaneous chip on its way, we can make it as difficult as possible for them. Larry Ellison said “Privacy is dead, get over it” but then he’s one of “them”, at least so he thinks. Maybe he is.

    Americans have been known for their respect for individual liberty. We should not lose sight of that. Dividing people by groups leads to tensions and war.

    Google also censors the ads. I may sharply disagree with some of the things Pamela Geller, and sharply disagree with many of the approach she uses to some of the things I agree on, but I defend her right to be heard same as me and you.

    By the way, that applies to Ron Paul, too, who is the guy the Big Brother regime is trying to censor. He’s America’s last best hope for recovering our individual liberties, no wonder big money is going to all the other guys (including Obama).

    Keep tuned to:



    P.S. What alternative is there to Google and Yahoo engine? There are other search web sites but the ones I’ve found all use on of those two as their “search engine”.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on February 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      I had to google Larry Ellison and Pamela Geller. I had a vague notion of who Ellison was, but had never heard of Geller. Another example, I guess, of how Google has become

  4. mark said, on January 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I think it would take somewhat more than a minute; unless you logged into your gmail account. Ah, following the mv ~/.mozilla path that is.

    User accounts , on your home computer, can be useful for multiple personality web use. One would still leave at least an os, browser and IP address record.

  5. Sarah Moreland said, on February 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    The problem I am finding with duckduckgo is that they censor things more than google. A good example is the ongoing controversy over the Rick Santorum listings. Google is refusing to censor the “santorum” references and I agree with this even though I think they are crude. But if you put “santorum” into duckduckgo you will not find these pages. The “santorum” pages are political discourse, as crude as they may be, they should be in our search results. Censorship is even worse than prying into our privacy in my opinion.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on February 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Sarah, I didn’t know this. As I mentioned, I had bad luck on my first duckduckgo search, and then went back to google. Certainly I don’t want either a person or a computer algorithm deciding what sites I should see.

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