February 1997
s m u g
net worth
by Leslie Harpold

Youth wants to know

maine coon cat
nurse practioner
nude pictures
witchcraft curses
women of star trek nude
amatuer radio
diamond mining in canada
free adult clips
kerosene heaters
cellular telephone
large breasts
uncut penis
solo balloon flight

What do these 20 items have in common? Well, maybe if they were preceded by these words, it would make a little more sense to you:

Below are 20 randomly selected real-time searches that users like you are now performing on Magellan. This page will automatically refresh every 20 seconds if you are using Netscape 2.0, otherwise click the reload button on your browser to refresh the display.

That's right kids, it's Search Voyeur, and if the nice people at Magellan had answered my numerous inquisitive emails, I'd have more facts for you. All I know is somehow I found it, and now, like the first time I heard Gang of Four's "Entertainment!", it's all I want to consume right now. I just hit the page, and watch the searches roll on by. It has inspired the genesis of a whole new inner lingo in my head, pertaining to how I define the unknowing searchers just trying to find a decent collection of free money shots or information on rail travel in Europe.

One of the interesting things is that if you go to the main Magellan search page and search "voyeur" in either the categorized or the rated sites, the only result returned that has anything to do with the URL is some college punk's lame review of the site. Magellan has no links of it's own to the page, as far as I could tell.

So, I see the words coming up, and the meta-refresh feature keeps me from having to do any of that pesky clicking, and the participant observer construct takes on a whole new life. I watched to see what people wanted to know. Guess what the people want? Porn, it would seem, travel information and lots of things pertaining to rock bands. I started assigning fictitious qualities to the searchers by the keywords they chose - and either rooting for or against them.

Let me take a moment to say I consider myself a search engine master, priding myself on knowing when to Yahoo, when to Lycos, knowing when to AltaVista and knowing when to run. While watching the voyeur searches go by I found myself rooting for some of the searchers, and having a very strong desire to help them in their quest. I also assigned all kinds of characteristics to the people I felt were doing the searches for the keywords that flashed across my screen. The 17 year old wannabe hipster looking for info about "Can the Band" for example, I wanted to whisper Ege Bamyasi into his ear - those album titles with obscure words sure do come in handy when you're at the search engine. To the man who was searching "white supremacy" I wished a pox on so fierce it made me feel a little unclean. To the woman who was searching for menopause, I thought - I hope it goes well for you. You feel this weird connection to the people after awhile, especially after seeing a word come up misspelled, then spelled correctly, or a search for a simple concept get expanded as keywords are added to narrow the field. As for the myriad people looking for money shots, well, somehow I just think that's funny.

I want more. I want a voyeur site for Hotbot, Excite, and AltaVista. I want to interact with the users. Never mind that the words that come upon us on the Voyeur site are clickable, so you can see their results if you're so inclined (f-prot? I always wanted to know more about that!) It makes me feel pathetic but not the least bit unclean. It's kind of a peek into the psyche of the people on the web, in no way to be confused with regular people. I do, however think of Magellan as sort of an "entry level" search engine, like Yahoo!, so I think it might be more interesting to be able to eavesdrop on one of the more complex engines. Not to see more people looking for things like "server push animation's" or "formatting linux partitions" but to see the search geeks, and now I have to step forward and admit I'm one of them, doing searches with at least six keywords. I think it would give so much more insight into their souls.

I can stop anytime I want to....

So, I guess this makes me a sort of search engine pervert, further proving that there's something out there for everyone, no matter what your inclination. I always thought that my only secret shame URL was Kaizen's Celebrity Slugfest. but it seems we have another URL to add to the list of places I better never go if I have to get anything done. In a way, this is almost more fun than people watching at suburban malls because you get to look inside their head first, and then construct their persona, the converse of the in person people watching, and with so much less risk of getting the weird "Sale at Chess King" mentality on you. Of course, I can stop anytime I want to.


back to the junk drawer

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