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Thursday, October 23, 2003
Amazon adds full-text search
The book cover to the right should get an award of some kind. The author is the same guy I mentioned here some time back (maybe last year, maybe last week, who can tell about these things) who also wrote The Anatomy of Disgust -- perhaps you will recall the cover where a dog is taking a shit right next to the table at a formal dinner party. However, neither disgust nor faking it are directly related to the substance of this post.
Rather, I wanted to alert you to new search feature that Amazon introduced just today. (No, the company isn't paying me for this, though it should be, dammit!) Now you can search the FULL TEXT of more than 120,000 books -- "all 33 million pages of them" says Bezos in a letter on the site's front page at the moment. And he's right to be excited about this news. I sure am. The search pulls up a set of hits (if any), which hyperlink to imaged pages anywhere in the book! This is some powerful shit for any kind of serious motherfucking scholarly research. [More info here.]
For instance, I just searched for "narcissism" in The Myth of Self-Esteem and got nine hits. Opening one of them took me to page 133, where I read the following. Yeah, I had to crunch TextPad down to smallish slot overlaying the Amazon page and copy the text out by hand, but hey, that's a lot better than not knowing it's in there -- even if I do own the book, which in fact should arrive tomorrow or so. Not all publishers are comfortable with offering so much of their wares online, but this is only because most publishers are bone-stupid about a) intellectual property, and b) marketing. The publishers who have put those 120,000 books into the system are going to sell a lot more of them, no question in my mind. This is significant news not only for Amazon, but for the web in general. More words! As Doc told me last week that someone once told him: "Information doesn't want to be free. It wants to be $6.95!"
Anyway, here's the sample I typed out...
"If people define themselves and seek self-esteem only by looking inside them, and connect to the social world only by a sense of alienation from it, then in a certain sense they do not have selves at all. The worst fear of the critics of narcissism would seem confirmed.... If there were widespread agreement on [the meaning of self-esteem] -- and especially if that meaning were the one intended by many of the conceptual entrepreneurs -- then there might be cause for alarm. For in its purest expressions, the myth of self-esteem does encourage a socially disconnected, solipsistic, narcissistic experience of self."
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