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NOTE: The criticism on this page is now obsolete (as of 2001/05/10) as Altavista has IMPROVED! A transformation has happened. So, now see the new review! (The rest of this page is being kept on show for historical purposes, unchanged except for editorial notes etc)
This page is the personal opinion of a customer. If you think something should be changed, I am open to suggestions. Please e-mail
This used to be THE place to find stuff on the Internet. But now there's been a change of policy by the company, which you should be aware of that, and to realise what the advantages and disadvantages of it are.
What happens is, if you link to www.altavista.com, you no longer get an International global search, but a restricted set which is of the country you are in. The machine sniffs out which country you are in and then puts up material which is country-specific. Well, if you want a local directory that's just great! But, what if you think the Internet is INTERNATIONAL? As a paranoid myself I'm not happy at all with the idea that you are being only fed what someone else has decided you should get according to which country you are in. I'm sure the good people at Altavista don't think about it like that, and genuinely thought they were "improving the service".
But it's not all bad news, as by doing this regionalisation business, Altavista may have turned itself into THE ULTIMATE LOCAL DIRECTORY! This can be very useful, especially when you realise you can deliberately call up regions other than the one you are in! So, for INTERNATIONAL NET searches, there are plenty of Search Engines to choose from. I now mostly use Google currently (2001/04) for global searches. But for a local search in a particular country, the sorts of addresses to select are:
http://uk.altavista.com - UK
http://fr.altavista.com - France
http://de.altavista.com - Deutschland
http://es.altavista.com - Espaņa
http://it.altavista.com - Italia
http://au.altavista.com - OZ
...etc. (More to be added here). I would guess there is a USA-Local variant too, and it would be interesting to find out what that's called.
Well, this is of course EXCELLENT! You decide where you search and you command the machine and get what you have requested. So, WELL DONE to Altavista!
(EDITORIAL NOTE 2001/05: This excellent feature has been preserved in the new improved Altavista!)
But then again, sniffing out where you are and then giving you a cut-down version, sounds like REGION-CODING / discrimination / censorship etc to me, so NOT well done to Altavista!
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not knocking Altavista - they've found me loads of good stuff in the past, and indeed loads of stuff I wasn't expecting too. But I think there is a philosophical freedom point here to be sorted out. I think you should be able to select: Uk-specific, USA-specific, [whatever country you are in]-specific, [any other country by your selection]-specific, AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, INTERNATIONAL!
(EDITORIAL NOTE 2001/05: This is precisely what Altavista has implemented now (2001/05))
It is important to be International and to be free of nation-state borders. THIS SITE (www.zyra.org.uk) is supposed to be accessible from anywhere in the world, regardless of country, browser, clock-time, or operating system. If you've got a site, yours should be too! Don't let anything erode your freedom.
Comments? Suggestions? Amendments? E-mail
And people at Altavista, if you're reading this, here's a helpful suggestion by a customer: Give the customer the choice of where they want to search, OR be truly global. Anything wrong with that? You can e-mail me if you like - I'd be happy to help.
News! 2001/05/10: THE CRITICISM ON THIS PAGE IS NOW OBSOLETE! Altavista has now IMPROVED and so here's the new review