July 27, 2002
I'll Show You the Perfect Store

Can we talk about Google's Catalog Search? This is either the end of the world, or the beginning of it. Paging Nicholson Baker, they seem to be digitizing mail-order catalogs en masse, and running optical character recognition over them.

The result is that you can type in any word and it will find it on printed pages from all over the world, and then highlight those words on facsimiles of those pages. It's a global database in print form. If you think about this, the world becomes a little more exciting. And if you think about it a little further, and realize that all the printed pages in the database are fucking direct mail, the world becomes a little more familiar again.

Seriously, try it, enter any word you can think of. I tried vespa and meinhof and like that with predictable results. And I couldn't resist this. There was, though, one word I entered that seemed to test the limits of optical character recognition, it's that damn "rn" ligature. I wasn't looking for pom-poms, is all I'm saying.

Posted by at July 27, 2002 01:46 PM
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