This workshop was designed to examine the technical mechanisms of Internet "search engines", along with historical backgrounds and effects on society generated through their capacities as media.
Utilizing search engines for "searching" information has become an everyday activity in today's society. While algorithms determining the order of displayed search results are having significant impact on business activities, the emanation and searchability of personal information on the Internet has made us increasingly aware of the growing importance of "searching" in daily life, including the obvious risk of being individually monitored and censored.
Participants in this workshop played several different games simulating the processes of a search engine's integral functions of finding websites that match the respective search keywords, and determining the display order of search results. While gaining an understanding of the mechanisms of search engines through the experience of these games, the participants developed a panoramic view of the correlation between searching and social life.
Duration: 3 hours
Number of participants: 10-15
Age group: Fourth grade elementary students up to adults
- Basic explanation of the workshop
- Orientation: Searching Game
- Pattern Matching Game: Studying the mechanisms of search engines
- Classification Game: Studying the history of searching
- Ranking Game: Studying methods for obtaining appropriate search results
- Tricky Ranking Game: Studying ways of censorship and surveillance
Pattern Matching Game
In the "Pattern Matching Game", shapes created by participants by arranging cubical building blocks are analyzed using originally developed image analysis software, and subsequently searched from an extensive database of patterns included in the software. Players of this game can visually understand how, and how fast the matching process - a procedure that humans need large amounts of time for - can be done on a computer.
In the "Ranking Game", cards with twenty different types of images including portraits, landscape photos and abstract pictures, are distributed among the participants. The players then evaluate on a scale of 10 how well adjectives such as "gentle" or "dangerous" included in a preliminarily assembled list of keywords match the images on their respective cards. After the end of the game, all players' evaluations are collected, and converted into a numerical rating scale to show how "gentle", for example, a specific picture looked to the players. Through the experience of this game, participants learn about the ranking mechanism that determines a search engine's user-friendliness.