Sleep Googling

15 11 2007

The other night, I dreamt that I was Googling. I forgot what I plugged in each time, but I remember sifting through volumes of pages that came up as results. What Freud called secondary elaboration (which is more or less the brain’s reluctance to recall dreams) stands in the way of remembering exactly what my unconscious searches sought, but I imagine porn was somehow involved. What’s important, though, is that my mind used Google as a metaphor for its own search, I’d assume.

Such a dream seems to me to be a testament to two things: the depths and abilities of our brains and the penetration of Google into our lives. I’m going to avoid interpreting dreams here and stick with the second part. If dreams are metaphors, Google isn’t too much of a conceit. Our minds are really a whole lot like that wonderful program: A small but intrepid thought gives way to a deluge, a cache of stored information that, barring alcohol or other intervention, arrives just as quickly as any Google search.

But there’s also something ominous to this all. Google has become synonymous with searching, utilizing, if you’ll allow me, an ultra-powerful brain to sift intelligently through nearly infinite amounts of information. But does the brain know too much? Those smart ads that have made the company richer and more famous — the ones that crop up on the sidebar with an site devoted to NASCAR jackets when you search for cars online, or burlesque shops when a Gmail e-mail has ‘Lower East Side’ in it — also involve a measure of voyeurism.

The company’s spreading around the world like the Macarena, and it really does have the capability of matching searches and e-mails to IP addresses. Are we talking about something that could become a Big Brother? Something to be feared?

Then again, being able to search your endless reserve of e-mail is pretty sweet.

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