Will Google’s Pagerank collapse itself?

So I'm cruising around town the other day, doing what I often do while I should be paying attention to the road — thinking.

Google uses something they call Pagerank to rate website popularity based on how websites link to other websites.

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”

Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query.

But with Google's increasing success, I often find myself linking to a Google search for a subject I'm writing about rather than a particular website with information about the subject. (i.e., if I'm writing about salt-water aquariums, I can link it to a Google search of salt-water aquariums rather than a particular site about salt-water aquariums )

This isn't a big deal until Google's success reaches a critical mass and more websites start linking to Google searches of the subject rather than a direct link. Then the Pagerank system will not be able to use the direct links to judge the usefulness of the sites in question.

I'm sure the great folks over at Google have thought about this and have alternate methods in place, but it's something that makes me think.

Wallace Falls

Hiked On: December 29, 2004
Weather Conditions: Rain and approximately 40°F
Elevation: 650-1500'
Distance from Seattle: 46 miles
Pictures: Too much rain for the camera
State Park: Wallace Falls State Park

Diann & I picked up this hike also based on a recommendation from the same book as we used in the last two weeks' hikes ( Winter Hikes in Puget Sound & the Olympic Foothills: Mostly Snow-Free Trails from Lowland Forests to Summit Views , ISBN 1570611491). The hike was approximately 6.6 miles round trip on a moderately difficult hiking trail and a very level and easy former rail grade. The trail splits about a mile in and allows you to choose to follow the more difficult hiking trail or the rail grade. The rail grade is quite a bit longer than the hiking trail, but is a very light walk. We walked the hiking trail up to the falls, and followed the rail grade down. The trail follows the river up and has three awesome views of the various bits of Wallace Falls — Lower Falls, Middle Falls and Upper Falls (obviously creative waterfall namers here). It took us approximately 1 hour to get to the trailhead from Seattle and about 3 hours of hiking to do the round-trip.

More Political Irony

While reading the new George Carlin book I bought yesterday, I stumbled across this very fitting quote by Herman Goering:

Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

Incidentally, Mr. Goering said this while on trial for war crimes at Nuremburg. And it's true, as per snopes.com.

Why George Carlin Rules

So I was reading up on CNN about George Carlin going into rehab and it mentioned some quotes from his last appearance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas:

In his last performance at the MGM Grand after four years before 700 paying customers, he reportedly said: “People who go to Las Vegas, you've got to question their f—-g intellect – traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to essentially give your money to a large corporation is kind of f—-g moronic. That's why what I'm always getting here is these kind of f—-g people with very limited intellects.”

A woman shouted, “Stop degrading us.” Carlin replied by inviting her, in two words, to perform a sexual act upon him.

He said he was eager to get out of “this (bad word) hotel” and back east “where the real people are.”

Anyway, that's one of the reasons I really admire George Carlin. He's not afraid to call it like it is.

Good luck in rehab, George. Can't wait for you to get out.

Update: While visiting Barnes & Noble this evening, I stumbled across the new book, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops (ISBN: 1401301347) and bought it. More gems by George.

Lake Twenty-Two

Hiked On: December 26, 2004
Weather Conditions: Fog in Higher Elevations, approximately 43°F
Elevation: 1000-2460'
Distance from Seattle: 60 miles
Pictures: Here
Forest Service: Trail #702, Darrington Ranger District

Diann & I picked up this hike also based on a recommendation from the same book as we used in the last two weeks' hikes ( Winter Hikes in Puget Sound & the Olympic Foothills: Mostly Snow-Free Trails from Lowland Forests to Summit Views , ISBN 1570611491). The hike was approximately 5.4 miles round trip on some improved trails. The aforementioned book claims it is a “moderate” difficulty hike (compared to last weeks “easy / moderate”), but I disagree. Compared to this hike, the last week's hike was a cake-walk. The USFS claims it is a “More Difficult” hike. The elevation change (approx. 1400' in 2.7 miles) doesn't seem like much, but I'd guess that about 25% or more of this hike was flat. The slopes were relatively steep, with the most difficult being several switchbacks up and across a talus slope. Thankfully, Diann & I picked up new hiking boots and other miscellaneous keep-yourself-warm gear at REI last week. This hike also demonstrated to us the wonders of layering clothes. At the trailhead, we started in gloves, hats, jackets, sweaters and scarves. By the time we hit the top, only the sweaters were left (well, and pants/socks/shoes/etc., of course). Lake Twenty-Two is a bit of an experiment for the US Forest Service — in January 1947, it was deemed off-limits for logging/development/touching to study the long-term effects of unmanaged vs. managed forests. Going to Lake Twenty-Two is definitely a step back in time — old growth forest, tons of huge Western Red Cedars, beautiful waterfalls throughout the climb, etc. — and proves to me that managed forests (managed by logging companies with interests that fly against the concept of a forest) have nothing on unmanaged ones. The trail follows Twenty-Two Creek the entire way up from the trailhead to the lake. Unfortunately, when we got to the lake (at the top), it was fogged in where we couldn't see beyond 10' or so. The climb down made the entire trip worth it — the fog cleared and we saw several peaks in a nearby range (maybe this will teach me to pick up some of topo maps soon so I can identify these peaks, but I believe it's Three Fingers and Liberty Mountain). This was the first hike that we've actually encountered other hikers on the trail — we even encountered a few heading up as we were reaching the trailhead as dusk fell; several websites claim that the trail is extremely popular in the summer, and it looks as though it gets its share of use in the winter as well. It took us approximately 1 hour to get to the trailhead from Seattle and about 3.5 hours of solid (and exhausting) hiking to do the round-trip.

We Are IT

Colleague at work pointed me at this. Interesting (and long, hit read more to read the whole thing) narrative written by an unknown author (unknown to me at least, Googling for it doesn't seem to turn up the original source).

A song of the discarded

Hello, Corporate America. Do you know us? Do you remember?

We are I/T.

We are the men and women who helped you build the 21st century.

We flocked to the new technologies, taught ourselves the skills we needed when colleges could not, and forged the tools you asked for.

We signed up willingly, knowing that of all professions, ours was the one where todayÂ’s knowledge would be tomorrowÂ’s obsolescence, where last weekÂ’s skill is worthless now, and where falling out of touch with progress is career suicide.

And we knew, some of us, that ultimately it would be impossible to keep up with the pace of change – but we tried anyway.

We are I/T.

Continue reading “We Are IT”

Big Four Ice Caves

Hiked On: December 19, 2004
Weather Conditions: Low Fog, Occasional Rain & Sleet, approximately 40°F
Elevation: 800-1000'
Distance from Seattle: 70 miles
Pictures: Here
Forest Service: Trail #723, Darrington Ranger District

Diann & I picked up this hike also based on a recommendation from the same book as we used from last week's hike ( Winter Hikes in Puget Sound & the Olympic Foothills: Mostly Snow-Free Trails from Lowland Forests to Summit Views , ISBN 1570611491). The hike was approximately 2.5 miles round trip on all improved trails (approximately 0.5 miles of wooden-plank boardwalks and occasional bridges, the remainder was pebbled). There was a long footbridge going over the Stillaguamish River, which is a beautiful (and presumably glacially-fed, based on the color of it) river. The actual ice caves themselves are formed by snow/ice debris falling off the rock face of the Big Four Mountain and packing at the bottom; the waterfalls flowing under then melt out the bottoms and create the caves. The US Forest Service indicates that entering the caves or climbing on the ice pack is subject to extreme danger, so we didn't do that… yet. It took us approximately 1.25 hours to get to the trailhead and about 1.5 hours of easy hiking to do the round-trip.

Deception Falls

Hiked On: December 12, 2004
Weather Conditions: Overcast, approximately 40°F
Elevation: 2200'
Pictures: Here
Forest Service: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Diann & I picked up this hike based on a recommendation from a book ( Winter Hikes in Puget Sound & the Olympic Foothills: Mostly Snow-Free Trails from Lowland Forests to Summit Views , ISBN 1570611491) that said this was a short hike, approximately 0.5 miles round-trip. The hike was nice, with obvious trails to follow and a great helping of old-growth forest. Just before the hike, we drove up through Steven's Pass to introduce the car to it's first bit of snow and below-freezing temperatures. Took us about 2 hours to get out to Deception Falls from Seattle, and only about an hour of slow walking through the half-mile looking at the sights.