Friday, November 12, 2004

Searching for the Meaning of Life

The other day I was talking to Gdog about some obscure actor and the previous films he'd been in. I told her to look him up in the Internet Movie Database, and casually opined (good word, don't you think?) that the answer to any question could probably now be found on the Web.

This episode prompted me to wonder how effective the Internet would be at answering the most fundamental queries: like "What is The Meaning of Life", for example. My decision to use Google was not at all influenced by the latter's ownership of (honest).

A standard Google search for Meaning of Life and The Meaning of Life produced 19,300,000 and 19,900,000 pages respectively: not too helpful if you want to avoid repetitive strain injury in your mouse-clicking finger! Doing an advanced search for the same things as exact phrases narrows things down to a mere 1,080,000 and 768,000 pages respectively: still a bit of a needle in a haystack. Restricting the last search to pages in English only reduced the number to 728,000. I won't go on: the main point is that searching for The Meaning of Life in the 21st Century may be harder than I thought.

The lists include the inevitable links to the Monty Python film and an excellent Wikipedia article on Douglas Adam's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". There's also a rather intriguing link to FAQ about the Meaning of Life! I've not chased up all the leads yet, but as Captain Oates once said "....I may be some time." .