How to Search for Lyrics

Being who I am, I've seen alot on the net. I've been on the front lines fighting junk, unsolicited commercial email. I've set up graylisting. I've shut down black hats. Mostly, I've been involved with trying to make the net work better. I was a member of a focus group that was set up by the US Postal Service - to decide whether or not they should try to put together a stamp for email. I told them not to do it.

I've also seen the search landscape change. Some for the better, most for the worst.

Much of the change in search, has occurred as a result of thoughtlessness. I say this carefully, because there are alot of different people looking for alot of different things. Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia are examples of people looking for things should probably be sought after. A teenager using the net to cheat on their French homework, isn't. Things tend to get lost in translation. The best type of internet user is someone who, every time they use it - thinks at least a little bit about how to give something back.

One of the things that my friends and I used to talk about - was the "leech". A leech is someone who uses your site, or the network in general - as a means to simply take things and never give anything back. Don't be a leech.

When you're looking for something, it's important to realize that the act of looking affects what you and others will see. Many people don't realize this - but more especially the younger generations.

So here's a word or two about the kids. They generally don't seem to understand, now, that the internet isn't a magic lamp that they can rub to get the answer. Kids have been connected to the net ever since they were able to read. As a result, reading scores have suffered. Here's a neat experiment. Go ask a teenager or a twelve year old what magazine subscriptions they maintain. When I was twelve, I had a subscription to Scientific American, Thrash and Surfing Magazine. Your twelve year old will likely have a subscription to nothing at all.

This isn't because magazines are outdated. If you think about it, a magazine is a full resolution, 10,000 pixel display graphics platform that runs on solar power. It's 100% mobile and wireless. It doesn't support Flash, but then again - does your iPad support Flash? The battery on a magazine lasts a lot longer - because there is none. We still don't just curl up in bed with a good Tablet PC. Those who read, still read books. And yes, sometimes - even magazines.

So how is this relevant? Because search engines are founded on the idea that if an article is relevant, it is one that will get referenced and read by others. This is a crucial thing to understand, when you're searching for anything - but more especially lyrics. If you are thoughtless, in your search pattern - and you simply take whatever results show up - this will act as a kind of vindication or verification of whomever posted whatever results you received. It will serve to increase their page rank, and ultimately - their visibility.

So, thanks to the kids who really don't care, what we've seen across the net are search results getting worse. We'll get back to how we can kill that (the search engine companies can't).

To search for a lyric, the simple thing to do is to type in a part of the lyric itself and the name of the artist. Put the artist name in full quotes, so that you don't look for "tom" or "petty", but "tom petty". That's the easy part.

But then, as the inevitable search result returns a long list of lyrics... be very aware of what is being returned. There are repeat offenders in the lyrics business. People who have set up websites dedicated solely to catching someone looking for lyrics and simply - reading them. What, you say - would you otherwise do with them? The answer is - you would want to use them as text. The appropriate form of lyric should be clear text or a type of text that lets you cut a snippet out to think about, or maybe even include in an article you're writing.

But the selfsame offensive and repugnant types - who spam up the search engine - will work very hard to disable the right mouse button. They will put things up like "share this on facebook" and "send this to your cellphone"... etc. etc. Why? Two reasons. First, because they will get a paid, 10 cents per click through if you click anywhere other than a copy/paste. Second, because they don't really care about the quality of lyric or the presentation of that lyric made by the artist (and much of these lyrics are in fact translated by people who are non native speakers of the language, to save money). They simply want the click through. The only thing they care about is that they're page ranked.

So. The next step in searching for lyrics - is to remember who will spam you if you click on them, then go down the page looking at the URL of the returned result and look for someone who is either carefully rewriting the lyric, or someone who has something to offer on the lyric in commentary and form. Bloggers are great, because they tend to be people who will keep the lyric intact. They are also usually native language speakers. This is important - because a lyric is a work of art, and the word choices that were made in the lyric bind it exclusively to the language in which it was written. Translating poetry, requires not only a person who speaks fluent language in either the source or target , but also that this person is in fact , a poet.

So ignore the spammers. Things will get better. Search as carefully for something as if you were adding a member to your own family each time you do it. And treat each link you share or follow as if it were a member of your own first circle of people you love and know.

Finally, pick something you can search for at random - something that you will never compromise in its result - and one day just search for it. For example, you might want to search for images of , let's say - stamps. Don't ever click through someone who has tried to commercialize stamp collecting and make it a junk experience that exists simply to keep him or herself up in the search results. Make it a labor of love. Search for things you like. And then click through, carefully. Abandon any site that tries to shut down your ability to cut, copy or paste - because the integrity of good data on the internet - relies entirely upon the internet remaining an open platform. And simple, decent search habits can help shape that environment for you and everyone else.

Now. Searching for your old girlfriend*. That's a totally different matter. I mean seriously. Don't you have anything better to do?

* (yer so bad!)