Here’s the deal. The other day my friend and I (his name is Ian but he wants to remain anonymous, so I’ll just call him Fred) were conversing on the telephone when the subject of author attractiveness came up. I posited that one need not be attractive to be a writer (citing myself as an example) and we started to do some research to determine whether or not this was true. Which then became an exercise in comparing relative attractiveness of authors. Fred asked me who I thought was more attractive, Dave Eggers or Some Other Guy Whose Name I Already Forgot.
(Side note: As best we can determine, both Fred and I are heterosexual men – this does not mean we are incapable of assessing the attractiveness of a man. I’ve never quite understood the level of homophobia that makes so many guys balk at the very notion of trying to determine whether or not a man is good looking. I could hardly be less interested in red carpet fashion, but show me two dresses and I could tell you which one I thought looked better. I don’t see any particular connection between what one fancies and one’s ability to assess aesthetic value. But maybe that’s just me).
Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Author attractiveness. So, then, in an effort to prove my original theory, I typed “unattractive author” in the Google Image search box. This is when I learned that Google Image search is very accurate when you provide it with a specific noun…and very inaccurate when you provide it with a generic noun and adjective. Here are a few of the actual top images that came up for “unattractive author.”
None of these, to the best of my knowledge, are authors. And none of these, with the possible exception of all of these, are unattractive. I don’t understand why the great and powerful Google can’t provide any images of unattractive authors. (And, no, Dave Eggers wouldn’t count – that guy’s a total hottie).
So, in the interest of science, I said goodbye to Fred and tried an independent search to verify my results. I tried another random noun and adjective, this time I typed in “unreasonable librarian” (which is completely unrelated to my mother who, by all accounts, is a very reasonable librarian). And here’s a sampling of what Google gave me:
Look, just because an armored horse would have trouble calculating late fines doesn’t make it an unreasonable librarian. And, sure, the toddler probably doesn’t know the Dewey Decimal System and couldn’t help you find the newest Dave Eggers book (wow, is that guy good looking), but these simply aren’t unreasonable librarians. And Mary Poppins is certainly not unreasonable. She’s delightful. And practically perfect in every way.
So, how am I going to do it? How will I help Google improve their image results? How will I teach this monster search engine to distinguish between a librarian and, say, a pile of yarn. I’ll be honest with you, this is a tough one. I don’t know if I can do it alone. This time, I need someone to help me. Someone smart. Strong. With chiseled, welcoming arms…I wonder what Dave Eggers is up to?