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I’ve coined a new phrase: Having a shadowfax moment. This is how Eric and I now express the frustration of going to look for something on the internet and not being able to find it because some mass media thing has diluted the search results so much that finding what you were actually after is nearly impossible.
I first came up with this phrase over a year ago when I was looking for images of shadowfax, a mythical creature that I’d learned about and fallen in love with as a child. The shadowfax is a combination of a unicorn and a pegasus, typically depicted as a black unicorn with wings. I really wanted an image of one to use as a desktop wallpaper, but there was nothing to be found.
Why was there nothing to be found? Well, it’s because of Lord of the Rings. Gandalf rode a white horse named Shadowfax, and now when you look up that word, references to and images of the horse from LOTR will be all you find. Even Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for it, their reference to Shadowfax says “a fictional horse in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.” There’s nothing to be found for the mythical creature of old.
I recently had another moment like that when I went looking for information on technomages and technomancy. It’s an actual thing, and refers to a person who combines magical practices and technology. Unfortunately, if you try to look up the word technomage now, you’ll find nothing that talks about these real magic users. Why? Because Babylon 5 decided to have a group of beings called technomages, and now that’s all you can find any information about.
I suppose I could dig through my brain and try to come up with more complex sets of terms that might help me find what I’m actually looking for, but I shouldn’t have to. This mass media burying of other information is a pain in the rump and really just not fair to the other information on the internet. This kind of thing is why teens ended up thinking that Stephenie Meyer created werewolves and that other movies were “stealing her creatures.”
I really miss the days when the information you could find via Google was more balanced. You didn’t have to be a damn genius to come up with the right search terms to find what you were looking for. You could just think of something, type it in and be done with it. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that companies can pay for various services to get higher ranking in Google. Most of the sites with actual information about things can’t or don’t pay, while the big media sites do, and then anything talking about the same thing ranks higher too, burying the rest of the content somewhere in search engine oblivion.