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November 27th, 2006
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The dark side of magical search
To: "CB Fox" <cbf@feralnet.net>
From: "claw n fang" <redwolves@therimail.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2006, 16:07:46 GMT -0800
Subject: Meanwhile, with my new DWIM membership


Hey, vix!

Sorry I haven't gotten back to you -- I got unexpectedly busy. I've been falling a little behind in my Search & Rescue qualifications. I kept meaning to take care of that, but Kev finally managed to corner me about it, and I couldn't put it off any longer. I've just spent most of the last two days on my WFR re-cert, (because if I did it next week like I was planning I'd have to miss the glacier refresher).

In the meantime, the MagiTech Input Sphere (tm) I ordered on Sunday arrived! I didn't get a chance to set it up until this afternoon, (blew off work for an extra day, since if I'd hit the office this morning I would have been a zombie), but I've been playing with it for a few hours, and it's an incredible piece of technology.

On the other hand, I'm not convinced about the 3T Thought-to-Text Translator (tm) yet. I'm trying it out now, but things like the creepy brand name auto-correct feature are throwing me off. The manual says it'll take me 2-4 weeks to fully adapt to it; so far, it's too prone to following my mental sidetracks, (and there must be some glitch in the programming, because it's making grammar mistakes I would never make). Like just there -- it's littering my thoughts with stray parentheses!

In a way I'm glad Claw's not here to see this. I feel silly enough talking at the screen, (it'll be a while before I've mastered it enough to subvocalize), ... ! (There's those parentheses again -- ~~~

To heck with that, back to the keyboard. :-P

Anyway. I did have something really important to ask you about. (Which reminds me: Sunday should work. I'll give you a call the night before.) Before I fiddled with the speech-to-text thing, I was giving DWIM a try. One of my search results was downright creepy, so creepy I had to stop and walk away for a while, and I wanted to know just how concerned I should be.

It started when I decided to experiment with just how good this thing is at uncovering secrets. After all the rumors about it, who wouldn't? I wasn't sure what to expect out of DWIM, so I started with "Who killed Matthew Gold?" Maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised that the top link was to the Gold Commission Report. The DWIM excerpt quote jumped straight to the "unknown therianthropes ... motivated by revenge or intimidation" part. I figured, hey, that's comforting. If it doesn't know a fact at least it's not going to guess its way through your question. The other top results were the usual assortment of rumors, GCR criticisms, conspiracy theories and (refreshingly enough) a page thoroughly debunking that one group that claimed responsibility. But nothing we haven't heard.

Of course, once I got into the conspiracy stuff it was hard not to worry about Claw. The next thing I asked was "Where is the Discovery," figuring that if I could find it that way, I'm not going to be the only one. But again, nothing came up we haven't heard -- in fact, the top result was an encyclopedia site's map of the South Pacific. ;-) Interestingly enough, the second result went to the SnapShotz page of a couple on vacation in Micronesia -- they were out on the sea for the day on a fishing trip, and they got a bunch of pictures as the Discovery came steaming by them into port. That was four days ago! Imagine any other search engine turning THAT up. Incredible ... but still not yet creepy.

What WAS creepy was the next search I ran. Remember that little throwaway bit in Vanity Parade where Claw said the government hadn't tried magically searching for them lately? Tell me I'm not the only one who recognizes what that means.

I tried cornering Claw about that last time he was here. He got real evasive. He just kept telling me it was nothing to worry about. I managed to make him promise that he hadn't gotten in any magical fights, but by then, things were running pretty hot, so I had to drop the issue.

We haven't talked about it since. So I asked DWIM.

I don't know how to say this without just giving you the links. This is my search results for "Why isn't the government magically searching for the Discovery?": totp://dwim.mag/search?type=saved&user=redwolves&id=3DLw1aItP9zmm7&authas=justthefox . (I don't know if you'll get the same ones, so take a look at these as well as your own.) The top link is to a news article behind a really stupid subscription wall so I'm copying and pasting it below.

I really, really need to know what's going on here. I'm trying to figure out whether to feel betrayed or not. This search result is so ... well, scary isn't the right word, but it's a good start! How the hell did DWIM determine this was related? Is this actually linked, for sure, and anyone else searching gets the same result? Or is it telling me what it thinks I want to hear? If so, how can I trust anything I see on DWIM? But if it returns this result for anyone, how does it make this link, and who or what decides that this is the real reason? As you can see, I'm running in circles with questions here.

The important thing is, I have to know the truth. Did Claw lie to me? Because, one way or another, either he lied, or DWIM is wrong. I don't know which one is more disturbing.

And why was DWIM playing Sherlock Holmes on THIS question, but not the other two? Is it the way I asked? If it can make this link, then what's to stop someone from searching for, say, "the current latitude and longitude of the Discovery" and being taken to a page that just so happens to contain the correct numbers?

For the first time I'm beginning to understand what has people so scared about DWIM's privacy implications. How deep does this go? If my skeletons aren't safe in my closet, then maybe the safest thing I *can* do is go join Claw's band of deep-sea rebels.

Which scares me most of all.

- Fang




 Naval Academy Journal
 Annapolis, Md.
 September 24, 2006

Professor Injured In Weekend Explosion
Journal Staff Report

A freak accident on Saturday in Washington, D.C. left nine people injured, including an Academy naval history professor.

Cmdr. Ryan Jackson was taken to the hospital in serious condition after what the Defense Department described as a "natural gas explosion" in the Douglas MacArthur Memorial Building in Washington, D.C. Jackson suffered second- and third-degree burns over large areas of his body, broke three fingers, and fractured a rib. He was released from the hospital on Monday evening.

Defense spokesman Tim Adrian said that an underground gas line apparently was leaking into a room where Jackson and others were holding a private meeting on the Academy's 2007 outreach programs.

"We did detect the leak, closed off the pipe, and were taking steps to evacuate the area for safety," Adrian said. "Unfortunately, something sparked off the gas that had already been released. The whole department's thoughts are with those injured in the incident."

Jackson teaches post-WWII history, post-Changes history and the interdepartmental class "The Changing Face of The Navy." He was chair of the school's Department of Magical Studies in 2003 before the short-lived department was closed.

Jackson assured students he would be back in the classroom by the end of the week. Substitutes will handle his lectures until then.

Current Mood: tiredwritiful
Current Music: Groove Armada, "Edge Hill"
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