Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tales Worth Telling 2 - What IS That?

I keep up pretty well with current events - at least the sort that make it into the newspaper and broadcast news anyway. So a lot of times I understand what some of the hot searches are all about. Google Hot Trends searches are also a great way to catch breaking news, such as the crane collapse at the refinery in Houston the other day.

Then there are those entries in the top search list that make me scratch my head. I have no idea what they're about until I go look. Sometimes I'm sure I don't want to know or that finding out will simply be feeding some prurient interest. Sometimes I worry that by following the links to learn more, something bad might happen like I'll be placed on some government watch list or something. Of course, if it's on the Hot Trends list, in all probability I'll have lots of company there.

Today, there are a few of these. The first "Wha-aa?" is at the very top of the list, Green Gulch. On investigating, though, it turns out just to be one of those "I know what you're watching" things.

It seems that CBS News Sunday Morning profiled Green Gulch, and it must have sparked people's innate curiosity to learn more. Of course, Voice of America did a similar piece on Green Gulch nearly a month ago and I don't recall seeing that kind of spike in searches. Best guess(es)? CBS got the idea from VOA and more people watch CBS Sunday Morning News than listen to Voice of America.

For a while, I was confused about what that story had to do with "stone by design", considered by Google to be a related search. Then I discovered that Lew French's Stone By Design had been profiled by CBS News Sunday morning back in November. A-ha! Mystery (probably) solved.

Lake Placid Ironman competition - seems pretty self-explanatory. I'm not sure I'm all that curious about it or the results.

From the looks of it, not as many other people are all that curious either. As I write this, that search has dropped to number 17. The occasional spikes in searches on the Lake Placid Ironman probably have to do with coverage from CNN or people wanting to find out more about race results. And, having looked into it a bit more now (see there's that curiosity thing again. Really, the internet is a black hole), I can imagine that thunderstorms today and an expected finish time of midnight for some really would pique a bit more interest.

Roomsaver, pass. Probably featured in some news report and people are even more interested than usual right now in saving money. The most interesting aspect of this hot search item is that I can't seem to get to the website at the moment. That tells me they may be pretty new, perhaps not yet built for scaling, and some news piece grabbed enough people's attention that they're overwhelming the site at the moment.

Which brings me to my favorite on the list. Katie Holmes and her purple hands. Why would I care about Katie Holmes in the first place? And why in the world are her hands purple? Should I care about that?

Guilty pleasure or not. Inquiring minds want to know.

Investigating that one pays off with interesting stuff. Google Hot Trends searches are indeed helping create news. I'm not the only one finding out new things because of what other people are searching. Are her hands really purple? And if so, is it because of some kind of Scientology ritual?

You know what, after finding out that much, suddenly my curiosity has died. It's really not something I care about after all. There are way better things to think about than whether or not some celebrity's hands are purple, and why.

Update on the Roomsaver website - it finally loaded. It's a website (who'dathunkit). It helps you save money on hotel rooms (surprise!). They provide coupons for saving on rooms such as you might find on road trips. Okay, not a bad idea. Not super sexy either, but hey, who am I to judge? Saving money is saving money. Just remember to keep the coupons in the car.

Huntington Bank is a little trickier. It could be a bank robbery, but that was back in April and the most recent news story on the subject was three days ago. It could be because of recently posted profits when we're all feeling a bit skittish about the viability of some banks but again, that story came out Friday and none of the other banks mentioned in it are that high in the searches. Hmmm, still no joy. Time to give up for now.

On the creepy side of that search though, my concerns about randomly following links from the Hot Trends list may not be completely unfounded. It turns out there is a website called Businessuu that seems to operate by taking some of the text from top searches like these and then turn them into something vaguely... icky. I can't tell for what purpose, but surely it can't be good. I'm not linking to it. Trust me, you do not want to go in there. And if you ignore that recommendation and decide to go look for yourself and come across something unseemly or contract some gross virus, don't say I didn't warn you.

On that note, it's time to turn my back on the moving target. So, no storm chasing with Tropical Storm Dolly. I'm going to perhaps indulge in some voyeuristic tendencies and check out the Danica-Milka video of some exchange/fight they apparently had recently while trying real hard to ignore some of the idiotic comments by others. And then I'll see if The Long and the Short of It family can manage to combine some bicycling and ice cream to celebrate National Ice Cream Day.

Happy Sundae!

What puzzles you?