Look, it’s not like I have a problem with Google. I keep hating on the galaxy-sized faceless soulless vat-grown bot-controlled terrifying Megacorporation of Doom only because I love them so much.
But I do find it ever-so-slightly creepy that the Monsters of Mountain View KNOW I’ve been watching Season 1 of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles this week.
How did Google find out what I’m watching on TV? Surely not by sending a little person to crouch on my fire escape jotting notes on a steno pad every time someone says “Come with me if you want to live,” which is how I’d do it. Google probably does it the old-fashioned way — by remotely activating my webcam, like a high school teacher.
Anyway, knowing that this is Terminator week at Casa Roche, Google delivered the personalized cloud computing it’s decided we’ve been looking for (but just didn’t know it yet) since the first time Harlan Ellison had no mouth and had to scream with two fingers on a manual Olivetti at 120 words a minute (poor bastard). They know I’ve been thinking to myself, “Okay, so machines are evil — but that Summer Glau chick. She‘s not evil…right?”
Ask, and you shall receive! Google delivered a fire-and-brimstone sermon to me about the dangers of letting your machines get too smart; said sermon wore a name badge proclaiming in dot-matrix letters: “HI! MY NAME IS GOOGLE INSTANT.”
That’s right. If you’ve been meaning to Google something, anything — you’re not sure what, but you’ll get to it, you guess, sooner or later — but you’re not so sure about the whole complicated pressing return at the end thing — what an ordeal! — you can finally liberate your creative impulse, leaving your pinky finger up your butt where it belongs.
Google Instant launched September 8. Wanna actually know how actually stupid I actually am? Google Instant had me scratching my head all day yesterday, thinking “Did I just hit return again, like, sort of, accidentally!?!?” I even waved my pinky in the air for a while trying to figure out if it was malfunctioning.
What Google Instant does is — yes, yes, it searches for you before you hit return! That means you get search results instantly — Google Instant, get it? Google’s reasons? Why, they’re just trying to serve you! Or, as they put it on their About Google Instant Page:
Now, see, the problem with Google’s marketing copy is that when Kafka wrote it, he did so in German, and the way verbs are placed in German sentences…well, we don’t really have a word for it, the way Kafka didn’t have a word for “Bullet Point.”
But whoever translated this stuff really did a bang-up job; much of Kafka’s sense of laughing his ass off while succumbing to absolute despair beneath the weight of crushing existential bureaucratic doom is very clearly in evidence here in Google’s post-human poetry. In fact, I believe that going back in time to source its copywriting was a good move for Google; outsourcing to previous centuries really cuts costs.
By the way, about the only thing scarier than Google’s justification for Google Instant is Google’s justification for Google Instant — on video. The insightful quotes from users really get to the heart of the product — quotes like:
“I didn’t even have to scroll. It was right there.”
“I didn’t even have to press enter.”
“It was really quick.”
“Oh, look at that. I like that!”
In fact, the sterile all-technology-is-good atmosphere of this feel-good video is so fantastically eerie that I challenge you to watch it and not feel that “Did I just see that black cat a minute ago?” chill down your spine:
The opening lines celebrating the zettabyte barrier had me stumbling back from a blast of radiant Robot Energy, having flashbacks about The Singularity.
But then the YouTube Mind Virus took over. And now I’m actually STOKED — STOKED!!! I TELL YOU!!!! — that with easy financing from Nationwide Home Loans, I can have my thoughts and feelings uploaded to Google’s Cloud, while my head is cut off and frozen for transport to the Scorpius Constellation to serve as the mindwiped brain for a giant planet-killing tank. It’ll be so much fun to whack a bunch of tall naked blue people!
Thanks, Google Instant. Thanks for everything.