Daily Archives: November 12, 2007

sdrawkcaB ssA, sdrawkcaB

I started blogging actively about fourteen months ago. Within the first week I discovered a curious phenomenon, The Future is Now

An example of it can be seen in my first “Puzzler,” posted just over a month later, WWP Puzzler #1: Four one-dollar bills. It was followed a day later by the answer, TTWP Puzzler #1: Solution.

While this follows the usual order — question, then answer — all the blogging software I have seen, including WordPress, presents the most recent posts first, so that if you were to read my blog after I had posted the answer, whether on the same day, or several days later, then you would see the answer before you saw the question. This also applies if you were to use RSS to read my posts.

We are about to witness another instance of this strange phenomeon, courtesy of Redmonk’s Steve O’Grady, who earlier today — in yet another example of using blogging to simulate a GPS locator — informed the world that he is about to make his annual return from a summer in Maine and Massachusetts to Denver: [1]

Best case has me in Denver at some unholy hour on Wednesday, but it’s more likely that I’ll roll back in midday-ish on Thursday.

Steve even provides a map so we can trace his travels! True master of his little technical ecosystem, that Steve.

And he also has posted a picture of a big road sign that says:

1/2 Mile

So let’s assume — as we all know he will — that Steve keeps us up to date, via blog or via twitter, as he journeys with his faithful cat, on the road, listening to Simon and Garfunkel, singing Homeward Bound:

  • Monday: Write a blog post saying I’m heading home to Denver on my long annual drive. I am looking forward to few months of blizzards in Denver. I even posted a picture I took last year of a big sign that says “Denver 1/2 Mile.” Hope to drive several hundred miles today.
  • Tuesday: Only one more day left. Less than five hundred miles to go;
  • Wednesday: My cat peed all over the car the last several hours — reminding me of a talk on SOA I heard last week — but I finally made it home.

Now let’s retrace the journey the way readers who don’t read Steve’s blog until Thursday or later will find it descibed:

  • Wednesday. Steve gets in his car, starts driving away from Denver, his cat starts peeing.
  • Tuesday.Steve goes five hundred miles further away from Denver, yet claims he is driving to Denver.
  • Monday: Steve says he is leaving, puts up a picture of his destination, and has just spent two days driving away from it.

Steve reports he is traveling East to West, forward in time; yet his readers will see him going from West to East, backwards in time. We can see him now, pedal to the metal, sitting on his rear, thinking he is going forward, yet he is getting farther and farther from his destination every day.

Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? Come to think of it, you might even say:

Steve O’Grady is traveling “sdrawkcaB ssA, sdrawkcaB.”


1. It remains an open-question why Mr. O’Grady heads West from Maine towards Denver’s not-so-balmy winter clime, instead of South towards the beaches of Florida. He probably slipped on the ice at Williams College many winters ago, and hasn’t been able to think straight since.

On Libraries: On Searching for the Meaning of “Sabbath Kristallnacht”

I write this on the second night after I spent a night in my Synagogue’s Library and then wrote a blog post, On Libraries: The Library of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester noting that Friday, November 9, 2007, was unusual in that is both the anniversary of “Kristallnacht” and also a Friday, the Holiest Day in the Jewish Calender, and thus a “Sabbath Kristallnacht.”

I just searched for the phrase “Sabbath Kristallnacht” on Google and found my post is now the first hit!

I find this very surprising, and somewhat troubling.

Am I now the world authority on Sabbaths that occur on an anniversary of Kristallnacht? [1]

I sure hope note.

Or is the fault in Google? I suspect Google prefers recent mentions of a phrase over older ones.. This makes sense, but one of the problems with Google is that its search algorithms are its crown jewels, just as Windows and Office are Microsoft’s crown jewels.

That is, none of these jewels is ever going to be open for public inspection and modification in a meaningful way. (If you accept this, then you can stop reading all the blogs and press articles about Microsoft’s opening up its data forms for Office in what is called “OOXML.” It ain’t going to happen.)

I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between, but I sure don’t know it.

I wonder if our libarians are thinking through impact that search engines will have on their profession?

If not, they should start searching for a solution themselves.


1. See An Authoritative Opinion on Libraries and Authoritative Opinions for some more thoughts on the meaning of “authority” in today’s world of the web.

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