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Google

People know they want to connect with other people and they’ve acknowledged, by signing their souls to more and more accounts, that the Internet is the way to reach this goal. This is why, when I opened up my Gmail account yesterday and saw the Google+ invite sitting pretty in my inbox, I signed up, all the while applauding myself for setting myself ahead of the social media curve.

Of course, I came here 20 years ago, when I was 21 and it was amazing — cheap and filled with freaks. Now it’s freakishly expensive and all those young ‘uns? They work for Google (or Apple or Yahoo or Genetech; there is an endless parade of corporate buses barreling up and down Guerrero headed to or from the Peninsula on a daily basis).

On one hand, we use the internet in a very public way. We tweet pictures of our food, send work emails and talk with our friends. A lot of what we do is meant for public consumption. On the other, the internet is also used to indulge in our most private fantasies.

I spent the next few hours in my version of a K-hole, which was watching Kate Bush’s music video for “Babooshka” 8,000 times while listening to Pedro talk about Belle & Sebastian B-sides. Despite the lackluster ambience, I was still excited. After all, my plan appeared to be working.

It is no secret that Google and Facebook – the two websites that are quickly becoming what I think the collective psyche is beginning to treat simply as ‘the internet’ – use algorithms to determine how relevant content is to individual users. But at this year’s TED conference, MoveOn.org executive director Eli Pariser pointed out some unfortunate side effects to such personalized content streams.

Jon Rafman is a lucky man for at least two reasons: (1) his priceless sensibility is a veil through which he sees a more beautiful world, a precious one that reaches such a state through the very aesthetic of non-preciousness; (2) he, through scouring the near infinite territory of Google street views, is statistically even able to consistently find universal moments of “condensed being” which would make the greatest haiku poet weep.

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