Does death really happen? Can we prove that we’ll go to Hell if we don’t pray in the right direction? How can I look my best when I eventually reach Nirvana?
These are the questions that people have been attempting to answer for centuries and one that’s no doubt shaped the way that millions of people have chosen to live their lives – but, when it comes to this big divisive issue, have we all been just wasting our breath?
Now, it’s probably best that we come clean straight away – the answer to this question is that no one really knows.
Whilst the question has been rigorously researched, debated over and tossed from one side to the other, like the only steak in a den of lions, no one has really got any closer to confirming definitely whether or not there is an afterlife.
The main issue that people are coming across, when trying to ascertain the truth to this eternal question is the whole death thing.
Here’s a universal example that you should be able to relate to…
An elderly relative of yours is reaching the end of their long and fruitful life.
It’s a sad time, but almost bitter sweet really – Nan has had a rich and rewarding life, you’ll always remember her distinctive cackle and flaccid Sunday Roasts; and who could forget her trademark scolding flannel that she used to use to get unwilling school kids out of bed – many members of your family still carry the signature scold mark on their foreheads?
On your last visit to her bedside you realise that if anyone can answer your questions about the great unknown – it’s Nan. You tell her to call you from heave as soon as she’s died and she dutifully agrees, before whipping out a hot flannel and nearly tagging you on the forehead. She might be dying, but she’s still surprisingly spry…
Nan passes during the night.
No one is surprised, your Mum even seems a bit relieved – you can tell because the mark on her forehead is not as red as it has been in the last few days – and you wait patiently for a call from heaven.
The funeral comes and goes, still no call from Nan and you start to seriously consider that she might have gone to Hell instead. You raise this query with your Mum who quickly zings you with a hot spoon she was hiding behind her back, it’s her own spin on Nan’s classic burn but it leaves a more vivid white-scar, she looks pleased with herself and then suggests that just because Nan hasn’t called from Heaven doesn’t mean that she’s in Hell.
“It could be that she’s in Heaven, but just not able to get to the phone. It could be that she’s in Heaven but they simply don’t have phones to contact us, which would explain all my unanswered prayers”, her wry expression suggests that she’s telling a joke, but you don’t get it.
Keeping one eye on the spoon you slowly pace the room, considering her answer. If there’s no way to know if there’s even phones in Heaven, how could it be possible to know if people are there…how is it possible to know if heaven even exists?
You stop and consider the oblique nature of death and the afterlife, before you feel an affectionate zap on the back of your neck as your Dad gets home. He’s grown fond of carrying a stun-gun on his person at all times and he’s rather proud of the effectiveness of his new toy.
As you jerk spasmodically on the floor you decide that the nature of death and the after life is perhaps not worth worrying about so much, especially when there are so many things to worry about right now – like how to cover up the inevitable patchwork of scars that you’ll build up when the rest of your family comes back for Christmas.
Search engines – how do they really work? Should we trust everything they give us? And, if not, who can we really trust?
The internet is a downright mystifying place, when you stop to think about it. Millions upon millions of web pages are created (and destroyed) every day, in a never ending world of birth and death that can be hard to keep track of.
With all of this constant change, we should really be grateful that search engines exist to give some kind of order to the whole mess.
But, in handing over the sorting and organising to the big corporations (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft), have we sacrificed our freedom to access the information that we really want to see?
Most people like to think that Google is like one big friendly computer that takes your questions and then tries it’s very best to answer it as truthfully as possible.
Unfortunately, Google is not a big friendly giant. It’s a big giant corporation, the same as Coca-Cola and McDonalds, that has it’s own ambitions and motives, both overt and ulterior.
This corporation may want you to find the information you’re looking for, but it might also want you to see something else before hand, like an advert maybe…
Google (and all other search engines) work using algorithms – which are basically really long, complex series of mathematical rules that need to be followed in order for the right answer
Search engines are notoriously secretive about how their algorithms work as these are what gives them the edge over their competitors.
The purpose of each search engine should be to respond to the user’s query with a list of results that are ordered by relevancy. Unfortunately, due to the monetisation of the internet, the motives of these search engines have changed somewhat in recent years. Whilst User Experience (UX) is still vaunted as the number one priority for the search engines, there are now many fingers in the search pie and millions of individuals who are intent on taking a slice of it.
At some point, in the last ten years, the search engine space changed from being a place to find the things that you were looking for, to a place where you are shown what the engines think you’re looking for.
These are two very different things. The way that users interact with Google hasn’t changed: type in a search query, receive results. But the way the search engines interact with the users has changed significantly.
The search engines were once shining examples of internet freedom, a place where you could make sense of the mess of sites and directories that clog up the world wide web.
Today, though, they exist as glorified advertising spaces with millions of users willingly accepting them and countless businessmen and women taking full advantage. On the one hand, an SEO in Liverpool is now able to advertise his services out to millions of people, who otherwise might not have heard of him. On the other, there will be thousands of other people who will no doubt lose their businesses, because the simply don’t know how to keep up with times.
Search engines are the landing page for millions of internet users all over the world.
They’re fully integrated into our lives, as essential to us as our phones, email addresses and social media accounts.
Before you casually type another search query into one though, have a think about the answers you receive and if they’re necessarily what you were looking for in the first place…