Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the power of the Internet

Before I started this blog a little over a month ago (happy onemonthaversary to me!), I struggled a little to find a catchy title (seeing what I came up with, you might not be surprised to hear that I struggled). When the word “giraffability” struck me, I googled it to make sure it wasn’t already a word that I simply had missed out on – one of those huge vocabulary glitches that sometimes just happens. Google came up with one hit, directing me to a soccer (sorry, football. Must. Not. Turn. Completely. American…) fan site, discussing a player that was tall and lanky. There is absolutely no chance I have visited this website before, and thus I can say with 100 % certainty that I came up with this word quite separately from the football lover. As long as there were only the two of us out there that had made up this word, I was fine with it. I took giraffability to my heart and used it in my blog title.

Now, for some reason I decided to google "giraffability" again today (this is the sort of mindless thing you’ll find me doing when I am avoiding the fact that there is a great big master’s thesis waiting for me to write it). In 0.11 seconds google came up with "about" 388 hits.

I must admit this surprised me a little. Yes, I made my blog googlable (a word I did not make up – or rather – I did, but I assumed someone else already had, and true enough – if you google "googlable", 0.5 seconds later you’ll get "about" 65 500 hits, including one that directs you to a Wiktionary page complete with etymology). I made my blog googlable, but I didn’t expect this to have much more impact than the fact that if you google “The Giraffability of Digressions” you would get a hit (in all possible meanings *snicker*).

Many of the 388 hits (I didn’t check them all, but I did look at a few) are indeed links either to this blog, or to blogs of people who have been so generous as to include me in their blog roll. One hit took me to a neat little page I didn’t know existed – Networked Blogs apparently lists all its blogs according to topic, and mine is number one of the “Top 50 blogs in: giraffes” (though in total there only are three, so I’m not sure the accomplishment is all that great…). One of the hits still leads to the football site.

But then there are about 300 others that I couldn’t quite figure out why would pop up in that search. They led to everything from fraggle rock merchandise stores to a website for pictures of pirate ships. I looked at a few of these pages, but could find no reference to “giraffability” on them. Then it occurred to me that there was one common denominator – these websites all displayed google ads. Apparently, google advertizes my blog on websites with subjects similar to those I address in the blog. Since the ads change quite quickly (I assume), they are not displayed on the actual websites anymore, but searches still find the original locations. This explains why my investigation stranded on assumptions instead of hard evidence. I am pretty sure I am correct, though. Now all I need is to figure out whether I think this is totally awesome, or whether it just freaks me out.

The fact that anything is googlable in 2009 is both amazing – what a resource! – and scary, because it does give a sense of lack of control (science fiction is, after all, best appreciated when it remains fictional). You can find details about everyone and everything on the internet (which my friend, Galen, pointed out with a warning yesterday). Even my 86 year old grandfather – which has never been online in his life, and for whom the Internet is only a vague idea he has no desire to grasp – is googleable. I spent some time this summer looking into some family history, and in the process I stumbled across records of my grandfather’s birth, confirmation and marriage, plus a video of him speaking at a local, public event. When I showed this to him he was astonished, though I doubt it made him appreciate the Internet.

Regardless of my grandfather’s lack of conviction, the power of the Internet really is quite impressive. It makes me feel like challenging it , or rather, challenging you (ironically this challenge goes out with the help of the Internet) – is there anything left that can’t be googled? And don’t say "owiueuowihgew" or something like that (which should be googlable within short time, since I have been spreading it all over the net before finishing this sentence. Just trying to prove a point…) – I mean something real. Any takers?


Watery Tart said...

I think you've done BRILLIANTLY in branding yourself, my dear. When somebody tries to find you, they ought to be able to, and it seems now they CAN. if you'd gone for the slug impulse (which I'm sure you would have, had it not been for the episode we avoid mention of) you would probably be harder to find.

It is a little freaky to know how easily others can track you down... Do you remember the episode of Natasha pulling up the pic of Tara's father in law? Without even a name, I think... but at the same time, as writers... this is our tool... so well done!

You win!

Cruella Collett said...

*ignores the slug incident*

The track-you-down thing definitely is freaky, and just thinking about it makes me want to go edit my facebookpage radically (not that I have that much revealing stuff up there, other than my credit card number and a few other essentials, but you know). But then again, the people who really *want* to track you down, will be able to do so almost no matter what precautions you take.

For marketing purposes the Internet is clearly a resource (though in all earnesty I still don't think it is terribly important that I do that yet - no book to promote, remember... The branding - well, yes, that I can agree is something that never can be done too early, so I guess if anything there I am late...). But glad that you approve - your efforts in the same department is, after all, one of my role models :)

And yay! I win! What do I win? A cake? Is there cake? Where's the cake? Cake? (Squirrel!)
I am pleased to notice that owiueuowihgew is winning too - now it can even be found on YouTube...

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Owiueowihgew! Greetings! :)

It really is kind of creepy. That's why I've kept my kids and family separate from my internet efforts.

The marketing aspect is great, though. The number of hits my name gets or my book's name gets on Google is so much higher since I started working on my online promoting.

Mystery Writing is Murder

M.J. Nicholls said...

I couldn't resist. I googled owiueuowihgew.

This blog came second out of three results. Ha! The first enrty was a comment on a website from someone whose username was owiueuowihgew, but who also for some reason, included owiueuowihgew in his comment. Hmm. The web page is a cartoon of a mother/father comparing boobs.

The third result was a video of Rowan Atkinson aka Mr. Bean doing a funny stand-up routine. Thanks for that. See, even random gibberish can be entertaining!

I'm sure "The Googliffability of Digressions" is ungooglable. Until now.

Cruella Collett said...

Elizabeth - I think it wise of you to keep some distance between the "public Elizabeth" and the private one, especially considering your family. I am essentially a very private person too, so there are a number of things I would never even consider putting in a public blog. It can be easy to forget, though, that in theory anybody can read what I write.

M.J. - the reason owiueuowihgew included owiueuowihgew in the comment was of course that (s)he wanted to make absolutely sure that the word would be picked up by google ;) And maybe (s)he should have picked a better cartoon to comment on - Wulffmorgenthaler can be hilarious, but this one was merely mediocre.
The rest of them is me too, of course. I put more out there, but so far they are not showing up on google (I guess that is an indication that some things are ungooglable after all). The one I am most disappointed didn't become googleable can be found here: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Undictionary:O

And you're right, the "Googliffability of Digressions" is ungooglable. But that is cheating - it's not real, now is it? (Unlike owiueuowihgew...)

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