Friday, July 18, 2008

Tales Worth Telling

One thing I am, is curious... about a lot of different things. Some of my very best work has been the result of following my curiosities. I've always hoped that various great thinkers are right, that "curiosity has its own reason for existing" (Albert Einstein), that it is "one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind" (Samuel Johnson), and that "curiosity is the key to creativity" (Akio Morita).

Whatever else can be said of curiosity, certainly it's true that curiosity is a sure cure for boredom (Dorothy Parker). Her assertion that there is no cure for curiosity probably explains the extraordinary amount of time I often spend in the black hole of the internet.

Alastair Reid has his own views on curiosity and whether it may have killed the cat - "Only the curious have, if they live, a tale worth telling at all." Reid's poem, Curiosity has remained one of my favorites over the years.

Since I spend a fair amount of my time indulging in my curiosities, perhaps there can be some benefit from sharing my curiosity-driven investigations and travels. Who knows, it might be as simple as shortening the time you spend satisfying curiosities of your own, or maybe it will provide further fuel for investigations that may take you someplace new and wonderful.

News and current events make me curious. Popular culture makes me curious. And I'm finding the Google Hot Trends in searches are an endless source of fascination. I don't know that I'd want to spend all my time sharing what I learn about what searches people are making but it certainly would make the time spent chasing down that stuff a bit more worthwhile. We could always give it a try anyway to see how well it works.

A sampling of a few of today's hot search trends on Google...

Starbucks is closing 600 stores. People apparently want to know more about that, especially which ones are on slated for closure (thanks to West Seattle Blog for the link to the full list). Hopefully your favorite one isn't on the list. If it is, the one across the street will probably do just as well, don't you think?

And while lots of people know Salma Hayek, the producer of Ugly Betty and Oscar-nominated actress in the movie, Frida, apparently they're not so familiar with her now-ex fiance Francois -Henri Pinault. Or perhaps it's just that it's easier to find news of their broken engagement by searching on his name instead of hers. Celebrities' lives are always wildly exciting for the general populace for some reason, and I'm not always sure why.

The Science Friday searches are apparently two-fold. On the one hand, people could be wondering more about Earthrace, the bio-fueled boat profiled in today's Science Friday broadcast that recently completed an around-the-world trip in 60 days, 23 hours, and 49 minutes, breaking the world record. Or they could be searching for more information about the announcement that NPR will be drastically reducing funding for the popular Science Friday. Or both. Good news and bad news sometimes travel together.

One search that was hot earlier in the day and is now in the process of being eclipsed by more recent topics of interest is CDARS. The Certificate of Deposit Account Registry program allows you to invest up to $50M in certificates of deposit at one bank, bypassing the standard $100,000 FDIC-insurable limit by allowing banks to apply their own interest rates to CD's purchased from other banks through them. I believe that's how it works anyway, based on what I've read so far. I wouldn't recommend taking my word for it.

In any case, with the current status of banks and the mortgage industry causing some people such concern that bank runs are even making the news, it's no wonder that increased protection is of such interest today.

Bite of Seattle is the one that truly has me puzzled though. Is Google Hot Trends showing me what geographically proximate people are searching? Or are other people really that interested in our annual summer food festival? And if it's somehow the latter, how are they hearing about it? Seeing that people are now suddenly much more interested in the Aquatennial of Minneapolis (trust me, you do not want to click on the blog that proclaims itself to be the official website for the festival without a rock-solid virus-scanner installed) and a collapsed crane in Houston, I'm thinking maybe The Bite really is that well-known outside of Seattle (or there are just htat many of us here asking the question). Go figure.

So that's as much patience (and time) I have for tracking things down today. Clearly it's always a moving target, so I have to draw the line somewhere. It will be interesting to see how far this thread travels. In the meantime, feel free to comment on whether you think it's an idea with legs or not.

What makes you curious?