Google Search Results & Web Discourse

One of this website’s strangest developments is that a throwaway blog post I made in December has become a bit of a support group for people to complain about Ohio. This has happened because, apparently, I am the number one Google result for the term “Ohio Sucks.”

I pretty much approve any comments that come through on that entry. I grew up in a number of crummy impoverished suburbs. So I can understand the need to vent. But the thread has transformed into something that has revealed reasons for why people stay there, with various people contemplating its identity and why they continue to stay there. The phenomenon is not unlike what was once described in this New Yorker item. Could it be that Google search results actually empower people to communicate in a constructive manner and that the resulting discourse (framed, I might add, within an information structure) causes people to find meaning rather than engage in another pointless flamewar? Maybe this is the phenomenon that Wikipedia has tried to latch onto: given a textual context, Internet communication becomes meaningful and orderly in a Howard Rheingold kind of way.

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