Call me an old romantic, but being a practical sort of person, I have to admit that when I first saw this picture, my immediate thought was 'I wonder what happens to the sewage from the toilet of the place - it must have a toilet'. Anyone reading this who may have eaten there might be able to answer this question for me - it's a public health issue which I need to resolve before I make the booking.
Right. Back to reality.
It has come to my attention (a phrase which my headmaster was fond of using just before he publicly selected a boy for a flogging) that certain software exists which - once installed - will put on screen before you any blog which contains certain words which it has been pre-programmed to pick up on, and it automatically finds these words by sorting through the millions of blogs which are posted - worldwide - every day, and it takes the program about a quarter of a second to do this.
As you would expect, this software is generally used by corporations or institutions who have an interest in what others say about it, and has probably been used to bring lawsuits against bloggers who thought that they were talking to themselves, or just a small handful of loyal followers, like I think I do most of the time.
I always suspected that a system like this which is a lot more sophisticated than a general search existed, but recently I have seen it work first hand, which has not helped my ongoing treatment for paranoia one little bit.
A company (we will call it the Acme Sausage Company - I'm not stupid!) not too far away from here has a floor-worker who takes what some might think to be an over-zealous interest in the firm, and has installed this software on his own machine, simply asking it to look for the phrase, 'Acme Sausage Company'.
Blow me, within a matter of weeks the alarm bells went off on his Dell, and he was directed to the Google blog of a customer of the Acme who lives in the same town as him, and this customer happened to mention in an otherwise innocuous post that he didn't think much of the way Acme's sausages are produced, though the sausages themselves were quite good to eat.
So the worker went to the managing director with this information, and the M.D. has sent around a couple of P.R. men to the blogger's address to re-educate him about Acme Sausages, as well as giving the rest of the workers a bollocking about the perfectly valid points the original blog made about some short-falls in production techniques.
I don't know about you, but I find this sort of technology somewhat threatening to the notion of free speech and free enterprise, and it throws up the old and futile argument about whether or not the internet should be policed, and if so, by whom?
Nobody would argue that extremely unsavoury websites should not be targeted by spyware to help catch child abusers, etc. but who regulates the regulators? The older I get, the less anarchistic I become in one way, and the more in another. I'm still a crazy, mixed up kid at heart, but try telling that to the 25 year-old bar-maids that sell me beer every night.