OPINION | Hitting the limits of the web

Yesterday, my faith in one of the foundations that undergirds my very existence was shaken to the core.

I tried to find something on the internet and IT WASN’T THERE.

Umm, what? Does the world wide web contain the sum of human knowledge or not? Simple question. Turns out the answer is, surprisingly, no.

This upset me quite a lot, because am I accustomed to turning to Google for answers to questions as diverse as “Kmart, opening hours” to “What’s this sudden pain in my left arm?”

Okay, so my quest was on this occasion a little less specific but that’s not unprecedented. I recently found an article I swiped past two weeks ago about a man with a beard who had written a book. I literally knew no more than that, and even what I thought I knew was wrong (he was Australian, not American). But by chasing a few vague leads, I tracked him down.

I’ve been known to suss out the court records of total strangers and I can’t watch a movie without falling down the IMDb rabbit hole of every single cast member.

So when an old school friend was trying to track down a poem we studied, I thought it would be a cinch. She didn’t know the name of the poem or the poet, but no matter – she had a solid idea of the subject.

But it turned out to be far harder than I expected. Poetry publishers take copyright seriously (who knew?) and don’t splash poems freely around the interverse in the way, say, newspapers splash articles. I do hope that translates into actual income for the poets, but I digress.

And I was also gobsmacked to realise that poetry is in itself not discussed much these days. At least, not compared to, say, Thermomix reviews.

Without reading the poems themselves I was dependent on titles (super misleading) or references in academic essays. While not exactly the dark web, poetic analyses are pretty fringe.

As to the result, I think I found it. But to know for sure I’d have to order a physical book. Pffft. So last century.