Saturday, July 17, 2010

Going Historical on the Pakistan Google Trends Thing

I remember the mini-meme of Pakistan being first on some weird google trends from at least the summer of 2007. Some American on Orkut (yes an actual white American who used Orkut, shocking eh?) was using these weird Google trend results to hassle on some Pakistanis on a forum.

And then there's NB's hilarious take on this, and the original post from Karachi Metblogs that seemed to start it all. Interestingly the author of the metblog post dates from early 2007, and also mentions that he saw this google trends assertion on some page that talked about Muslim countries. And that American troll in Orkut was going off, on a forum talking about Muslim countries. So maybe the author of the metblog piece was on Orkut too?

That's irrelevant. What is relevant is that the comments section of the Metblogs piece seems to go into some sort of detail about the mechanics of how this search trend might be calculated and where statistical errors creep in.

If it's statistics you want, here's a bone anyone can use for any inadvertent Dawn bashing. The Dawn Counter Article, smells. Beyond the lousy editing, they make the assertion that there are only 8 million Pakistani internet users quoting the ISP association. XYZ on the other hand has pointed a case already with the ISP's reluctance to report or ban porn as one example where these people have been willing to fudge facts just to make money. It would be reasonable to expect that they probably under report their consumers to fudge on taxes, but the ISP's are probably right . The reason I have reluctance with their numbers is because, The World Bank, the CIA Factbook and multiple academic sources put Pakistan's internet user number at somewhere around 18 million. However there are rumours that they have just swallowed whole without verification the number of 18 million, because an Islamabad bureaucrat told them this number. So maybe the ISP association number is the closest we have to a verifiable value.

But beyond that, a Google spokesperson really admitted that the Pakistani search trends were inaccurate. A lot of Pak-clone news blogzines have picked up the Google-admitting-google-trends-screws-up story, but the one company that does not show up on my google search for the story is, Google.

An off handed defence I have heard is that Pakistan only constitutes a small portion of the global internet using public, so this is not possible. And what is possible is that Pakistan's main undersea cables for the internet pass from Karachi to Mumbai and Karachi to Dubai, so maybe they're carrying info from India that gets conflated with Pakistan. India also seemed to be strangely very high up in these searches.

Maybe the new cables like SE-ME-WE-4 allow discrete information from Pakistan, but since, to be honest, this is a story that's been kicking around since *AT*LEAST* 2007, this might be an aggregation of old data that passed through SE-ME-WE-3 and SE-ME-WE-2.

Speaking of which, I'm trying to find some info on SE-ME-WE-2 but *google* seems to be failing me on this. Maybe I'll need to someday troll through the scholarly articles for info on SE-ME-WE-2.

Update: OK I found info on SE-ME-WE-2. Where? On the website for SE-ME-WE-3. Here's what it says:
" Further to the success of the Sea-Me-We 2 ("South East Asia Middle East Western Europe 2") submarine cable project started during the late 80's, Singapore Telecom and France Telecom started in 1993 some preliminary studies for a follow-on high capacity cable linking Europe to the Asia-Pacific region."

So Goddamn SE-ME-WE-2 is 20+ years old. God knows how much misdirection must have taken place. And this info was on the website for SE-ME-WE-3. And that has been replaced over just the last few years with SE-ME-WE-4.

It would be interesting to hear Google analyse the interaction of Software and Hardware on their Google Trends app, and how their interaction produces results.

Postscript: It appears someone at the Daily Times systematically took apart Fox News's research "methodologies" (or lack thereof), and reached a partial conclusion on these searches being erroneous, because Pakistanis, with their lack of grammatical skill in English, entered two words with no adjoining words in between. Whereas if you search "sex with x" ("x" here being any animal, which I'm not going to type because I don't want to skew my own search results), the United States would generally top that ranking on google trends.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nobody was Talking about the Karachi Killings Officially for Two and a Half Months. Until Now.

Save for the yeoman effort of the "Let Us Build Pakistan" collective newsblog, which is run more as a supporter effort than a professional communications effort, no official media group has tried to parse the killings that have been going on in Karachi since the beginning of May.

Until Dawn bought it up here.

My personal opinion was that the MQM was killing off Pashtuns to scare the new wave of migrants driven by the war in the North from settling in Karachi. They were probably sure that they can't scare off Pathans who have been living in Karachi for decades (cause if any long time resident was going to flee, with all the violence, it would have happened by now), but to prevent a new wave of Pathan migrants into Karachi. And relating to the targetted murder of Shia professionals in Karachi, LUBP has a rumor of Pakistan establishment spawned religious militants, showing their sectarian stripes and not being reeled in by the Establishment.

Aside from the sectarian angle I'm quoting, the Dawn article fingers the three way smoldering struggle between the MQM, ANP and PPP in a fit over demographic changes. How the sectarian killings could fit into it would involve Interior Minister (and all around incompetent) Rehman Malik's "third force". If he means India or the US it's just more Rehman Malik BS. Nobody thinks JSOC shooters are hunting down Shia doctors in Karachi, nor is Indian intelligence involved with this new generation of MQM shooters (who I vouch, do exist, but are not visibly active) the way Indian intelligence was involved with MQM militants in the early to mid nineties.

If you do want to account for a "third force" to account for the dead Shia Doctors (Observe LUBP's true but provocatively titled post Kill a Shia Doctor a Day) the only force you can think off is Al Qaeda. But let's again get serious, there are hardly any Arabs sitting in Karachi planning murders of Pakistani Shia Doctors. For the money those type of fuckers could command, they could probably afford to hire ten Pakistani Doctors, have them called to the Gulf and then off them as they please. No, we have to look at somebody who is not local to Karachi, but close to Al Qaeda to follow their sectarian chaos theory of killing as many people as possible for maximum political impact. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi anyone? And yeah the video that LUBP post starts with is from January 2007, when this problem was more or less dormant.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Conflict is Good for Originality and Creativity

That's why I think if people tried, they could get some really good stories, movies, serials, paintings and poems out of these current conflicts plaguing Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Iran and Iraq.

It's a chance to do something original, to get out of the old hackneyed artistic tropes, and maybe even alleviate the mental pain.

Why do you think so many blogs started after 07 & 08?

God knows, it'ld improve on the current tripe dripping out of Hollywood....