Friday, July 18, 2008

No Lolita

I don't know how it happened, but Google got set to "use strict filtering" on my computer. I was preparing a new version of my "there's no catalog like no catalog" talk, this time to illustrate the question of open access to library data. So I did my usual search on "lolita":

The word "lolita" has been totally banned by Google under its "strict filtering" option. Curious, I decided to try some other literary works that have stirred controversy. How about "Lady Chatterley's Lover"? Not only did Google do the search, it corrected my spelling:

I was able also to find the works of Henry Miller (whose "tropics" appear higher than the actual earthly ones), and the Marquis de Sade. (Warning: DON'T search on "sadism" and click on Google images if you don't have filtering on. I think I'm going to have weird nightmares for a while. Ick.)

We all know what is going on here, and it's an interesting phenomenon: Lolita is much more than a book, it has become such a part of our culture that it has become a word for a particular forbidden desire. That said, when I did a search on Lolita with filtering turned off I didn't find anything questionable in the first half dozen or so pages of hits (which is all I looked through). Google's ranking seems to favor the book, the movie, and a few businesses with Lolita in their names.

If your library has computers with filters turned on, try the Lolita search and report back to me. Thanks.

1 comment:

Alain Pierrot said...

A cognate issue: some speech synthesis software, with politicaly correct control, will prevent 'reading' The Merchant of Venice, replacing the word 'Jew' by a bip...