14 October 2015

spiders online

Technology has pulled many new words from other fields, especially nature. I was looking through a book by Sue Thomas called Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace. It got me thinking about terms we use in new ways from technology. An example is the digital version of an ecosystem. Like a tree, that system has branching directories which all sprout from a deeply buried root folder.

Another reworked term from nature is the online use of spider. A spider is a program that visits Web sites and reads their pages and other information in order to create entries for a search engine index. All the major search engines on the Web use these program. They are also appropriately known as web (more spider references) crawlers. (Also known as bots.)

lycosa tarantula
The origin seems natural if you consider the emergence of the World Wide Web (the www of many web addresses) from the Internet. But I find it a bit more interesting that one of the first search engines was named after the Lycosa kochii, or wolf spider.

That engine, Lycos, still exists at www.lycos.com/ in a very different incarnation. The engine was designed to imitate the spider’s habit of catching its prey by relentless pursuit.

Lycos, Inc. was established in 1994, spun out of Carnegie Mellon University. Lycos expanded, like many search services, to include email, webhosting, social networking, and entertainment websites. Lycos was the most visited online destination in the world in 1999, with a global presence in more than 40 countries. In 1996, the company completed the fastest IPO from inception to offering in NASDAQ history and the following year it became one of the first profitable Internet businesses in the world.

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