Friday, December 11, 2009

Digital pollution

So I'm looking in on niq's blog to see if he's had any more replies to his latest whinge, which is about an unabashedly pro-middle-class tax break in the UK, when I happen to notice the "Possibly related posts" that Wordpress has selected for this one. There are two shown: New Jersey Property Taxes Useful Facts, and Tax Advantages of Live/Work Properties.

The second of these titles promises perhaps the dullest article I've ever read, but the first at least has the appeal of being geekily specialist. And besides, useful facts are always useful, nicht wahr? Lacking anything better to do for the next 30 seconds or so, I click on it.

The first sentence is quite promising:
You see, we should be very thankful that we are born in this modern generation because of the existence of the Internet.
Indeed, I thank my parents daily for delaying my conception until a mere quarter-century before the invention of the World Wide Web. How farsighted they were! Tell me more...
With the Internet, every information (whether about new jersey property taxes or any other such as raised, pennsylvania property tax, property tax laws or even business property tax) can be found with ease on the Internet, with great articles like this.
Hmm. Actually, I have to say that my interest in all of those subjects was never very high, and is now evaporating with each letter I read.

What follows is, as far as I can tell from about ten seconds of careful scrutiny, a perfectly serious and deathly dull article that looks as if it's been generated by some kind of automated broken-English script generator.

My curiosity piqued, I click on the latest posting for that blog:
I am sure your quest for bexas county property taxes has come to an end as you read this article.
Too right it has.

It looks for all the world as if some wannabe tax advisor has set up a script to produce post after post of bland, tedious waffle, far too vague to be of any real use to anyone, while giving each one a title that they hope will exactly match someone's Google query. Each post is prefaced with a generic statement of how great the Internet is, presumably in the hope that anyone Googling this sort of thing is predisposed to think that way already. And for some reason, the raw phrases and sentences they're using are written by someone who speaks English only brokenly as a second or third language. And they ran this script for one day last November, generating seven posts for a random selection of states, counties and circumstances across the USA.

I know my posts may not be the best-written or most intelligent materials around, but I like to put a little effort into them. I like to think I am contributing something to... something. But these gits... It's as the elitists and purists said all along: blogs have made it too easy to make noise. You don't even need a human being any more.

Does anyone else feel ever so slightly creeped out at the sight of a machine using the pronoun "I"?

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