AE Monthly

Articles - February - 2006 Issue

"A" is for Amazon!

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Now let's try "William." "William" is a common name. What chance does Shakespeare have, even if he is the most famous author ever? The answer is, he does quite well, coming in third for "William." But at the top, with almost four times as many searches, is William Hill. Who is William Hill? I haven't a clue. I look him up, but there are many William Hills, none of whom seem that important. Then I realize. William Hill runs an online sports betting site. The Bard hasn't a prayer against this guy for our attention. The only other William to beat out Shakespeare is William Morris, of advertising agency fame. Or is it 19th century British socialist writer William Morris? We have no way of knowing.

Of course, Google knows, since they know which links were clicked after the search was completed. They know whether you were interested in reading about the socialist writer or the capitalist ad agency. But they aren't telling. No wonder the government is trying to force all of this data out of Google's hands. If you were the president, wouldn't you want to know whether I was a follower of William Morris the communist or William Morris the capitalist? Of course you would. How else would you know whether to tap my phone or hit me up for a campaign contribution?

Actually, you might think Google Suggest is the answer to the government's prayers. They said they needed to search through Google's records to see what type of pornographic sites people are looking for in order to protect our children. Google Suggest should provide their answer. Despite my natural fear that my searches could lead to a visit from the FBI, I decided to play the courageous reporter and see what happened if I tried some risky, or risque, searches. So I typed in "por." Guess what came up on top? Pornography? No. Portugal! More internet searchers are interested in Portugal than pornography! Sure they are. Pornography is nowhere to be found. I think I have the Chinese version of Google Suggest, the one where they eliminate the sites the government doesn't want you to see. Try "se." Do you think the most commonly searched "se" word ends in "x?" Not according to Google. The most commonly searched "se" word is "search" itself. Who searches for "search?" Try one billion, two hundred twenty million people, according to Google. And they also search for Sears and Sesame Street, but no "se" words ending in "x." Come on. More people search the internet for Sesame Street than sex? Now I know that one of the main features of Google Suggest is censorship. I guess maybe our government has done as good a job of intimidating Google as has the Chinese. These answers are about as accurate as a politician's.

So this leads to another fascinating exercise. What if we enter just one letter? What is the most searched for words or phrases for each letter? We are about to construct the world's most up-to-date alphabet book. Book lovers will like the way it starts. "A" is for Amazon, and I don't think those 214 million searchers were looking for the river. "B" is for Best Buy, but only by a hair over the BBC. Then come cars, Dell, eBay, flowers, games, http, images, jobs, king, love, music, news, orange, pubmed, quotes, ringtones, Sony, Target, UPS, virgin, weather, xml, Yahoo, and zip code. You can carry this out to further levels if you like, from "aa" for the AAA, to "zz" for ZZ Top. Or how about numbers: 1040, 24, 3 mobile, 420, 5+22, 67, 7 11, 89, and 9 11.

AE Monthly


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