Google Searches and Pigeons Pecking

Years ago, Google had a rather funny page (which happily is still available!) about the design of their search algorithms. It seems that even today, Google searches are powered by an algorithm called "PigeonRank™"! This allows us, the pigeons, to exert a great deal of control over how search terms are entered, and what results rise to the top, based on the words we type into the search box, and which link we click on as being the most likely to inform or entertain us. This algorithm was very rough and ready when it first was put into use, but has become a rather smooth and easy way to find almost any page on the Web. It grew exponentially, from just another search engine that could barely hold its own against its competitors, to almost being the definition of searching the Web.

Pecking Harder to Get More

Now, we find ourselves struggling again, not to find the information we want, but to define ourselves (or at least our personas) on the Web; to have some others find out a great deal about our true selves, and to have others know next to nothing, even of our aliases. We have to dig for information on other people, who are just as determined to remain unfound and undisturbed, or turn down the volume of those who choose to shout their names and business from the rooftops for all to hear. Passwords, usernames, links, bookmarks, apps, browsers, extensions, settings in the tens, hundreds, thousands, all vying for our attention, can make or break our experience and even our relations with other human beings. It's almost enough to make you rip your feathers out! But it is getting better. Just as all those searches eventually produced a finished product that sometimes seems scarily prescient of what we want and need, all this pecking and picking will (hopefully) produce a set of interfaces and methods that make everything seem easy and intuitive. It will be like someone read your mind, but it'll just be the result of millions of decisions, carefully shaping how these options are arranged.

Beyond the Pigeon

Whenever you can muster the patience, give the designers and programmers the feedback they need, as this may make the process much easier and faster. The more frustrating the experience you've just had, the more your real, human input is needed. The pigeons on the other side are pecking as hard and as fast as they can, right alongside you.

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