Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Birth of Google

Larry thought Sergey was arrogant. Sergey thought Larry was obnoxious. But their obsession with backlinks just might be the start of something big.

This Wired Magazine article, entitled The Birth of Google, tells the wonderful story of BackRub -- the revolutionary approach to search based on taking into account both the number of links into a particular site and the number of links into each of the linking sites.

BackRub is one of those classic examples of a paradigm shift in which, indeed, out-of-the-box thinking was needed in order to solve an existing problem (i.e., SEARCH) in an entirely new and better way.

The human brain is physically constrained by the magic number seven (7), plus (+) or minus (-) two (2). That's the capacity of the brain's short-term memory buffer. Humans can only attend to 7, +/- 2, things at a time. Some people can track 9 things at a time. Other people can only track 5 things at a time. The average is 7 things (hence the magic number 7).

The best predictor of a superstar programmer may be as simple as measuring a software developer's short-term memory. Many phenom programmers share a common trait of possessing great short-term memory skills.

The beauty of the brain is that each of those seven things you can attend to can be any chunk of information. It can be seven numbers, seven movie titles, seven chess moves, seven levels of subroutine calls, and so forth. This ability to abstract also means that the human brain imposes organization onto incoming information.

People are active -- NOT passive -- processors of information.
Paradigms SHAPE Perceptions

Look at the graphic below.

Do you see the Ducky? Quick, switch your perspective and look at the Bunny.

The human brain is incapable of seeing both the Ducky and the Bunny simultaneously.

The viewer imposes "context" onto whatever it is to be perceived.  Note: The picture doesn't change. Only the viewer's perspective changes.

Paradigms are the hallmark of computing.
  • batch-to-online
  • assemblers-to-compilers
  • files-to-databases
  • navigational-to-relational DBMS
  • online-to-PC
  • PC-to-client/server
  • procedural-to-object-oriented
  • plus many more...
Smart IT managers know how to ride a paradigm shift the same way surfers know how to catch the perfect spot just below the crest of an incoming wave.

Paradigms are literally what architecture is all about

People NEED paradigms. That's what defines meaningful chunks of information for attention, abstract reasoning, recall, etc.

People NEED paradigms about how to think about computing. That's what enterprise architecture is all about.


Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

Google's use of inbound links to boost page rank is nice if your idea of relevance is popularity, but it really sucks big-time when you desire true relevance or wish to see more recent contributions because you've seen all the historic popular stuff already.

It's interesting that Google News does in fact allow the user to select sorting by date. It makes no sense that Google Search fails to support either date or true textual relevance as a user option.

Their approach to page ranking has simply invited the whole gaming of page rank and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What a waste of human capability.

The "brilliance" of Google's founders is clearly overhyped. The thing they did which is most valued is keeping the screen very, very clean and simple.

-- Jack Krupansky

5:32 PM  

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