Last Wednesday, Slate.com announced a new writing contest. The subject of this contest was Google’s Hot Trends. Google’s Hot Trends is a list of the twenty most popular search phrases being used on any given day. The challenge: Write the most deadpan, objective, AP-style news item using as many simultaneous Google’s Hot Trends as you can, in six-hundred words or less. Unfortunately, I never got around to writing an entry and the contest’s deadline was on Monday, but I did spend sometime “researching” the topic. So here is what I learned.
The contest was announced last Wednesday, January 27th. This coincided with Apple’s announcement of their iPAD, so about half of the hot trend search terms were related to that story. This would have made for a pretty easy article to write and I could have interjected some of the feminine hygiene humor that has gone around, but this seemed too easy and really not quite sponge-worthy.
The next few day’s hot trends were all dominated by searches for obscure (at least to me) sports or entertainment figures. Occasionally there was a search term that peaked my interest. On Thursday, Sarah Palin created the word mandation and everyone and their brother wanted to know what that word meant. You’ll have to ask Sarah though, because it doesn’t appear in any dictionary. Thursday, was also the day on which J.D. Salinger died. This event garnered more than a few of that day’s hot search terms and looked promising.
On Friday, the word codswallop popped up twice. For some reason on that day people wanted know what was meant when someone said, “That’s a load of codswallop!” Unlike mandation whose origin is clear, but whose meaning is unclear, with codswallop it is the meaning that is clear and the origin that is not. The following are a few more hot search terms that I found intriguing:
- Rhotacism means that pronouncing the letter ‘R’ is hard to do. i.e. Elmer Fudd “I am huntin’ Wabbits”.
- Notehall is an online marketplace that allows college students to buy and sell lecture notes and study guide materials to fellow classmates.
- Wolf Moon, a moniker dating back to Native American culture and the notion that hungry wolves howled at the full moon on cold winter nights, is the name for the first full moon of the year.
So far I’ve discussed only one form of Google’s Hot Trends. This is the compilation of previous day’s hot trends. Every day you can watch that day’s competing hot trends duke-it-out. During the day, on an hourly basis, Google’s Hot Trends are evaluated for their hotness. Every hot trend is rated, from mild to volcanic. I predict that Groundhog’s Day will do well in Google’s Hot Trends today. This form of Google’s Hot Trends most clearly tracks the geographical context of the different search terms. Most of the hot trends are amorphous, but some pertain to particular locals.
Google’s Hot Trends are like a glimpse through Alice’s keyhole. It allows us to see ourselves as we really are. It also offers a glimpse at the database about us, that Google has assimilated. So far Google has exercised this database only to garner ad revenue, but knowledge is power and every time you ask a question, Google learns. The ancient Greeks feared their Oracle, should we?
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