Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NLP keyword on google

Searching on "NLP" on google seems to bring up pages and pages of stuff on neuro-linguistic programming (psychology stuff) rather than on natural language processing.

In a recent post to Amnon urges NLP people "not cede the NLP keyword without a fight". I agree with him, that this is an issue. But I am not sure how to deal with it. Even though, I believe that the abbreviation "NLP" meaning natural language processing is more scientific and probably precedes the neuro-linguistic programming use of the abbreviation (I have no definite source for this), both uses of abbreviation is equally legitimate. However, there is a big overlap in terminology used eg. linguistics, language etc.

However, it's annoying for me to have a million pages neuro-lingustic programming pages pop when I search for NLP, because I am a million times more interested in natural language processing. But google neglects this fact, although this knowledge should be derivable from my previous searches. Oppositely, it's not transparent what kind of result a given query should give me. Pagerank results in an approximation which can be compared with the lowest common denominator of query results. With gradual improvement of my query I usually find what I am looking for though, but this is besides the point.

I think there is still room for other search engines out there. I could definitely use a search engine which gave me predictable result. And a search engine that took a lot more context into consideration. But google domination (and superiority in terms on amount of indexed pages) is quite a barrier. But I think it's slowly going to happen, as the quality of googles search results deteriorates because of the exceeding amount of information. One algorithm doesn't fit all.

A scary side-effect is that because of googles domination, I think googles indexing mechanisms might have some serious impacts on the development of language and ultimately the way we think. If a search term is drowned by a more popular search term, the less popular might slowly be forgotten or loose it's place in common speak. To add to seriousness of this, it's possible to affect this by means of google bombing or similar techniques. That is what SEO is mostly about.

Until we get better search engines, I guess I might as well throw in a link to the wikipedia definition of NLP.

Natural language processing: one, Neuro-lingustic programming: zero ;-)

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