TITLE: Rescued by Google
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: October 14, 2005 6:11 PM
DESC: Delete a file you need? No problem -- Google has a copy. Or is it a problem?
Okay, so I know some people don't like
They are getting big and more ambitious. Some
folks even have
about Google. (If that link fails, try
But, boy, can Google be helpful.
Take today, for instance. I was scping some
files from my desktop machine to the department server,
into my web space. Through one part sloppiness and one
part not understanding how scp handles
sub-directories, I managed to overwrite my
with a different index.html.
What to do now? I don't keep a current back-up of that
web space, because the college backs it up regularly.
But recovering back-up files is slow, it's Friday
morning, I'm leaving for
at sunrise tomorrow, and I don't have time for this.
What to do?
Following the first hit doesn't help, because it goes
to the live page. But click on
link takes me to Google's cached copy my index. The
only difference between it and the Real Thing is that
they have bolded the search terms Eugene
and Wallingford. Within seconds, my
web site is as good as new.
Maybe I should be concerned that Google has such an
extensive body of data. We as a society need to be
vigilant when it comes to privacy in this age of
aggregation and big search tools and indexes of God,
the universe, and everything. We need to be especially
vigilant about civil rights in an age when our
governments could conceivably gain access to such
data. But the web and Google have changed how we think
about data storage and retrieval, search and research.
These tools open doors to collective goods we could
hardly imagine before. Let's be vigilant, but let's
look for paths forward, not paths backward.
Another use of Google data that I am enjoying of late
a web-based tool for tracking visitors to web sites.
I use a bare-bones blogging client,
which doesn't come with fancy primitive features like
comments and hit counters. (At least the version I
use didn't; there are more recent releases.) But
gVisit lets me get a sense of at least where
people have been reading my blog. Whip up a little
from which people have read Knowing and Doing, where
I choose N. I love seeing that someone from Indonesia
or Kazakhstan or Finland has read my blog. I also
love seeing names of all the US cities in which
readers live. Maybe it's voyeurism, but it reminds
me that people really do read.
No, I haven't tried
yet. I'm still pretty happy with
and then there's always the latest version of