Go, Duck

I don’t trust Google. There is something pernicious about all these companies that live by collecting our personal information. Companies that analyse our searches in order to deduce the most efficient ways of manipulating our behaviour as consumers.

Unfortunately, Google retains certain monopolies. YouTube is inescapable. Google Office is the only decent way to collaborate on an online document. Their mobile phone keyboard is light years ahead of any other for iOS or Android.

For three months, I resisted using Google’s search engine; I opted for DuckDuckGo. But it’s still not good enough: there is a crucial flaw for anyone who uses the internet for serious research. That’s the ability to filter results over the past year.

Search engines give priority to what is new – too much, even. Even so, as a general rule, when doing a search, if we do not set a maximum limit for the age of the results, we will get outdated knowledge.

But if we use filters too biased towards recent results – a week, or a month, as DuckDuckGo allows – we run the risk of receiving a bunch of garbage data that was crafted to earn clicks. There is a content creation industry that has to be always spitting out articles without regard to their quality.

When serious research is to be done, the ideal filter is one year – things are not old enough to be out of date, and it is a sufficiently large temporal arc to allow for finding quality articles and not just the latest garbage to be displayed in the internet’s public square .

Unfortunately, only the search engines that subsist on advertising have this option. So I’m back to Google. For a while.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk Flickr via Compfight cc