January 9, 2006

Me + Google = ?

If I adapt to Google, not just use it, some property emerges. Example: I played a game for New Years. The game machine gives you a word, phrase, or proper name, and you have to make your team guess it. I got "Jasper Johns" and blanked: visions of soup cans and paintings I didn't like flashed before me, but nothing I could use as a clue. I was annoyed at being stumped, so I googled Jasper Johns when I got home. I learned that he did things with ordinary objects. That left me cold. But one entry quoted him about why he did this, and that was interesting. Another entry linked him back to the artistic movement arising out of the disillusionment following World War I. That I knew a little about, because it was discussed in Toulmin and Janek's Wittgenstein's Vienna., an old favorite. Then I learned, in another little article, that John's had read Wittgenstein and had said Wittgentstienian things in explaining some of his work. I also learned, in other pieces, that he was reacting against "abstract expressionism." I couldn't immediately connect anything with that term, so I clicked on the link in the article and learned that some paintings I don't like were by abstract expressionists. So now I know that Johns is a friend of at least one of my friends and an enemy of at least some people I don't like much. We have the start of a relationship.

Before Google, my habits would have been different. I would likely not have held on to the puzzle from the game, because it was just a little irritant and because the difficulty of filling this gap in my general education would have seemed just a bit too much: finding the right reference book, dusting it off, etc. Also, if I had followed up, the article that told me, "He's one of those soup can guys, like Warhol" would have finished my research. But because Google displays 10 little articles, I looked at a couple of small accounts -- and resolved the kinks in my understanding of the explanations along the way, because that was easy to do. The result was just: Jasper Johns goes on my list of people to check out.

This is just a small boring sample of what happens when one adapts one's habits just slightly to the new technologies -- makes, for example, just a slightly greater effort to remember a name or a reference, takes just a few seconds longer to pursue a search.

Posted by shea0017 at 12:59 PM