Saturday, September 22, 2007

 

The wonderful world of Google

Google is the most successful of the internet search engines, and the name has morphed into a verb (as in, "I googled for 'dystopia'") and a despicable weapon of mass destruction known as the "google bomb." But where would bloggers be without Google?

I've never researched their indexing scheme, but whatever it is, it can produce some appalling and/or hilarious results.

For instance, I've been getting a lot of hits lately from people searching for "long penises." Regular readers familiar with the staid material on this site may wonder if there isn't a secret page where I keep the "good stuff." Unfortunately there isn't. It's all the work of Google.

So when I wrote a post titled "Half a millimeter penis too long for some," I was of course discussing the censorship of a children's book. But the coincidence of "long" and "penis" in the heading has won that post a spot in the top 40 Google results for "long penis." While some might find the mismatch simply appalling, I find it charming.

Another interesting Google phenomenon is the effect of a mispelling. I noticed this over three years ago when I posted "What's that whooshing sound?" It was about an Oklahoma judge who calmed himself in the courtroom with a unique device as he went about the business of administering justice. Because of a simple typo that post brought me countless hits from those who inquire of Google "how to masterbuate." Someday I must do a post on the link between good spelling and masturbation.

But what has brought Google to mind is neither penises nor "masterbuation" but the relation of blogs to the news. Through a recent visitor I discovered an interesting link to Simply Appalling that was published in January 2006. I must have been on vacation at the time.

Jason Kottke of kottke.org surveys the internet with an eye toward journalism, literature and cyberculture. In his post "Blogs versus the NY Times in Google" he investigated a prediction made in 2002—

In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times' Web site.

So Kottke wanted to know how well the prediction was coming along in 2005. He selected the top 8 media stories of that year and began his Google search. He classified the results as "1) 'traditional' media, 2) citizen media, 3) blogs, and 4) nytimes.com."

Kottke found "traditional" media to be the overall winner but the NY Times fared poorly. But here's where Simply Appalling comes into the picture. One of his 8 topics was "the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip." These were the results—

Search term: "gaza withdrawal"

1. Top media result (Worldpress.org)
31. Top blog result (Simply Appalling)
31. Top citizen media result (Simply Appalling)
No NY Times article appears in the first 100 results.

Winner (in spirit): Media
Winner (actual): Blogs

Thank you, Jason Kottke. And thank you, Google.

And I just want to say a warm word of welcome to those who've come here in search of long penises and the proper way to masturbate—or masterbuate. While we may be short on penises and technique we hope there's plenty of material you'll find quite titillating. Please come again.

Related posts
What's that whooshing sound? (7/2/04)
Masterbuate? What does it all mean? (7/27/04)
Israel and domestic terrorism on the eve of 9/11 (9/11/07)

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