Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Language Limits Search!

The Korea Times last week published an article entitled "Search Engines Dig Deeper, Wider." The article noted, in part that "The so-called ``specialized searching'' is the hot trend in the Internet search industry here. Due to meticulous demands from Internet users and fierce competition among Web sites to win advertisers, portals are continuously upgrading their searching techniques into a level that excels Google and other foreign engines, at least for Korean-language sources." The last three words, "Korean-language sources" are crucial for an understanding of the whole article. On the one hand, the amount of Korean language content on the web is increasing, and being made available in a format that users can appreciate. On the other hand, this article underscores clearly how language places limits on use of the internet and search activity. While Koreans may enjoy having more content available in their native language, they need to appreciate that these "deeper and wider" searches by Naver and Daum do not constitute searches of the "World-Wide Web." Instead, they search only one province of the web, that which consists of Korean-language pages. For many purposes, Koreans might want to go beyond this and explore what people from other nations and cultures have posted on the web. Those seeking such a more comprehensive search would be well advised to use Google, with the understanding that its translation services are only a rough guide to the real meaning of web pages in English and other languages.

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