Monday, March 01, 2004

He Just Keeps Rollin'....

(sung to the tune of Ol' Man River)
Here we all search 'long the Amazon 'site
Here we all search while the computers play
Searchin' them pages from the dawn 'til sunset
Gettin' no rest 'til the judgment day

Jus' look up, jus' look down
You don't dare make that AI frown
Search the Subject, use quotes instead
Push that Search until you're dead

Let me go 'way from Microsoft IE
Let me go 'way from the searches redone
Show me that page called the "Page 1 of 1"
That's the ol' page that I long to see

Ol' Man River, that Ol' Man River
He don't say nothin', but he must know somethin'
He just keeps rollin', he keeps on rollin' along

He don't find authors and he don't find titles
And then what he does return are not vitals
But Ol' Man River, he just keeps rollin' along

You and me, we sweat and strain
Eyes all achin' and racked with pain
Find that phrase that unlocks the grail
At the pace of an electronic snail

I gets weary and sick of tryin'
I'm tired of living but I'm scared of dyin'
And Ol' Man River, he just keeps rollin' along
Ol' Man River...
So I'm using Ol' Man River Amazon to find the books of William Maxwell. I type in the words "William Maxwell" and I think I am clever when I tell it to limit the search to only Books. But, as in the paraphrased words of Dorothy Gale, "Why, I'm not clever at all". Sit down my friends and look at what I've found:
All Music Guide to Soul: The Definitive Guide to R&B and Soul
by Vladimir Bogdanov (Editor)
The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2004
by Editors of World Almanac
Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius
by Michael Michalko
Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing
by Michael Meyer
All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (3rd Edition)
by Vladimir Bogdanov
Set in Darkness : An Inspector Rebus Novel
by Ian Rankin
Everything You Should Know About Chelation Therapy
by Morton Walker, Hitendra Shah
Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President [ABRIDGED]
by Robert Dallek
The Cambridge Companion to Tennessee Williams
by Matthew C. Roudané
The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia (3rd Edition)
by Michael Jordan
If I knew nothing of William Maxwell, from these titles I would assume that he was a creative R&B musician/basketball star that wrote plays about chelation therapy in the Johnson Administration in the style of Tennessee Williams. Which he may have, I don't claim to know a lot about William Maxwell. But the William Maxwell I was interested in was the editor of the New Yorker for about 50 years and wrote several novels that I wanted information about.

So how hard could it be in Amazon's Brave New World to have the default search give Titles and then Authors that match the search? Instead we get random books that have absolutely nothing to do with the search terms. For a lark, I went through all 57 results and found that NONE of them had anything to do with William Maxwell. You can find them by doing an advanced search under author. But that seems stupid! Why is finding a book by author an Advanced Search and returning books that happen to have both "William" and "Maxwell" in their texts the default? IT MAKES NO SENSE!

But that Ol' Man River, he just keeps rollin', he keeps on rollin' along....


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