Freedoms, Internet Access, and Mysterious Algorithms!?

Horse in Hespérange

Two days ago, Microsoft remotely updated and installed things in my computer, but has deinstalled my Japanese font – my mother tongue! Apparently, the problem has been well known, but they have updated anyway. At the same time I cannot deinstall the things I do not want, which is very frustrating. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Our friend Vincent says: “There are less and less free things on the Internet. If you think something is free, then you are becoming ‘the product’ itself. You see, where is your data?”

Another thing. Could you do me a favor? Could you google something and compare with the results of other lesser-known search engines on the Internet? Do you see any differences?

Recently I have come to notice the discrepancies in search results. I mostly use the search engine DuckDuckGo, given their emphasis on online privacy. In my view, Google sometimes provides a quite superficial search, despite its widespread use. Though, thanks to the Internet (including Google), I can look up to find things (e.g., someone’s email address) to email to the people whom I have never met, while I have had some people email me. Certainly, I am very happy to e-communicate with others and feel rewarded when someone writes on Japan making reference to my paper(s).

Still, the algorithms of search engines are curious things. If you google some keywords such as anti-base movement, Okinawa, etc., you would hardly find references to the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus in the first five pages. It is strange, no?

If you google, for example, “Nippon Kaigi,” the Google’s algorithm directs you to many articles except mine :-) “Nippon Kaigi: Empire, Contradiction, and Japan’s Future (2016).” Perhaps, it is getting too old, too low-quality, or what? Meanwhile, the same paper tends to rank high on other search engines such as DuckDuckGo, Yahoo Japan, Bing, Qwant, Yandex, Sogou, etc. Their algorithms generate different results.

So, we get the impression that certain articles are censored, wrongly or purposely blocked, and prevented from being read. Sporting super powerful algorithms does not mean that it comes with ensuring uncensored distribution of information!?

Photo: it was taken by our friend (thanks Rob!) last weekend in Luxembourg when we biked to the park (with lots of horses there).

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