Albino Blacksheep » Text Files » Automation: A Way of the Past

 Automation: A Way of the Past by Sners

Note: Amazon has changed their pages including the book covers shown in this article.

Amazon bookstore wants you to look up a girl's skirt. Yahoo! Search Engine is not responsible at all for their own site. Guinness wants you to break the record for most people killed in a terrorist attack.

I'm not at all kidding. These were, and some still are very real claims. Each of these major companies - Guinness, Amazon and Yahoo! left the content to their website to be created in the process of automation.

For every book in the Amazon bookstore, the Amazon site allows the viewer to either "look inside" or "search inside" the book. This convenient try before you buy offer is presented by a picture of the book's front cover with a man's eyes and fingers peeking over from behind to the top of the book's cover accompanied by a large arrow curving around to the front of the book.

[Search Inside] [Look Inside] This is fine and all, until this image of the man's peeking eyes, fingers, and arrow is drawn onto the cover of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The book's cover is photograph of an underage girl's legs with the angle looking slightly upward towards her skirt.

So, would you "look inside"? If you do click on this option, you get a much larger picture of the cover with an option to then "Zoom in".

Still, no big deal, really. The one person who looks at this little mishap will keep it to herself. After all, it is her fault her mind is in the gutter, but the Internet works a little different than that.

Jeffery Zeldman and Another Pointless Dotcom each posted that little Amazon gag on their blogs, and it was not long before people familiar with other book covers featuring crossed legs gave their suggestions.

[Look Inside] Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed is even more graphic, and the girl on the cover is wearing no clothes at all.

Even if Amazon knew about how people were abusing their "look inside" logo, would their completely automated system be able to handle changing only those books and not others? Will they hire a review staff to look at book covers, or will they completely give into automation, where no eyes need be involved?

I will also not tell Yahoo! Search Engine about their "cache" flaw. This cache feature allows you to view the saved version of the web site you are searching for. This is a very useful feature. Perhaps the website author has changed her content since the last time the Search Engine did, and you want to find the content that was deleted just yesterday. Click on cache, and you will see the version Yahoo! is hosting. Of course, if Yahoo is going to host others' content without even looking at it, a disclaimer would be smart. Theirs says, "Yahoo! is not affiliated with the authors of this page or responsible for its content." Poor, poor souls. Did they ever consider someone would search for content on their own site? It is such a relief to know, "Yahoo! is not affiliated with the authors [of Yahoo!] of this page [] or responsible for its content". Yahoo is not the only site with this cache feature problem, but they are big enough to take a look at a tiny flaw.

Guinness World Records was one site that did consider exactly what they were hosting on the web, and made necessary changes. The record for "Most Individuals Killed In A Terrorist Attack" is 2823 people according to one page on Guinness' site. Guinness has a feature were you can apply to "Break this record", and this option was placed on every page that contained a record. Unfortunately, due to their database of world records being automated, removing the "Break this record" feature from one page required the feature to be removed from every page. Now, you must enter a separate page to break a record and specify exactly which record you want to break instead of clicking within the page containing the particular record. I thought automation was supposed to make things simple.

I decided to write about these three accounts for two reasons, and both are related to me being a Web Designer. First, I get tons of mishaps sent to me to show off on the Internet. You wouldn't believe how many Microsoft problems I have been notified about. The second reason is that I had to make the decision to automate my own sites' content or not. I am administrating quite a few Web Sites now. I have a reasonably sized handful of misspellings, broken links and categorization problems to deal with. I chose that instead of automating the organization of content that I will instead allow it the human touch. It is more time consuming and not at all perfect. Even humans make mistakes, but I know there are benefits that my human visitors will appreciate from a human Web Designer.

(c) 2004

[06:03] <Jim> wait i dont get the title
[06:03] <Jim> why a way of the past?
[06:04] <Jim> why not a why of the future
[06:04] <Jim> that would be my title
[06:04] <Jim> or Automation: Humanity is doomed
[06:04] <Jim> or Automation: because we're just too lazy