Saw a talk today on how event-based indexing of all multimedia data ever recorded anywhere will save us from the hell that is text documents and searching for keywords on Google. I dunno, I kind of like searching for keywords on Google. I feel I know much more, am much smarter, when I work in combination with Google than on my own. And when I struggle with indexing multimedia data (say, my photos) it's the opposite problem from indexing everything: I want to be selective in what I index, throw away the unimportant photos so they don't distract from the good ones. The talk's claim that photographic data is more objective than text rankled a little as well, since I know from experience that my own photography tends to succeed when I have an emotional response to the subject, and fail otherwise. Even a fully automated webcam is set at a viewpoint which was chosen by a human for a reason, rather than achieving complete objectivity by being completely random and purposeless.

The thought of recording and accessing all human experience as video reminds me of the Borges story of the country where the mapmakers got so good at making maps that they made one at 1:1 scale. Or was it Lafferty? Probably both. Not much use as a map, anyway. And since I like doing Google keyword searches so much: the first Google search I tried finds a bunch of relevant stuff, the sixth hit from which is exactly the quote I wanted:

...In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province. In the course of Time, these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting, and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and that coincided with it point for point. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography, succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome, and, not without Irreverence, they abandoned it to the Rigours of sun and Rain. In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in the whole Nation, no other relic is left of the Discipline of Geography.

Which reminds me, I also kind of like text documents. How could I read Borges without them?


I'd be worried that Google merges with eBay and starts the Lottery of Babylon: