Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Monday, October 18, 2004

Google Whack, Anyone?

If you already think you're wasting too much time on the computer, don't read any further. It could be dangerous to your sanity. If, however, you like to be on the cutting edge of everything, and consider yourself an adventurous soul, google whacking might be just the thing for you. Don't be afraid -- step in a little bit closer while I try to explain.

Forget about jigsaw puzzles, trivial pursuit, or any of those passe games that were once the way to while away your time and, maybe, just maybe, help you stave off the potential ravages of Alzheimers. Google Whacking has all of the positive attributes of gaming, but, admittedly, it does have one big negative -- it is hopelessly addictive and might just drive you crazy (to say nothing of getting you in trouble at work).

It all started for me when I noticed a book in the library that at first glance offended my sense of design. It was a garish blue and white color with some red and yellow letters that resembled neon graffiti spray. On a predominately blue background (like a blue screen) a ginger-bearded young man was riding a computer mouse as if it were a bucking bronco. The title of the book was Dave Gorman's Google Whack! Adventure (The Overlook Press, 2004) and it looked like some sort of novel shaped gaming manual. To tell you the truth it kind of repulsed me and I'm still not really sure why I picked it up. But pick it up I did, and, well, life hasn't been quite the same ever since.

You see Dave Gorman is some mad Brit, actually a stand-up comedian if he's telling the truth. This crazy adventure started for him when he got a seemingly innocent e-mail that said: "Did you know that you're a googlewhack?" Of course he didn't, but being the adventurous and daring soul that he obviously is, he got sucked into this dangerous diversion that has the potential to be just as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or, well, even book collecting.

After getting that cryptic e-mail, Gorman did the absolutely worst thing he could have -- he sent an e-mail asking, "What the hell is a googlewhack?" Obviously this is a question you are now asking so without further ado, I'll point you in the right direction. Googlewhacking is a brain teaser that is played on the Google search engine ( The bare bones of this idea is to pick two "real words" (they must appear in Your goal is to get a search that results in only one hit, that is, only one website that contains the two words you've chosen. An example given in the book is "coelacanth sharpener." Since I have two books (temporarily unavailable for research purposes) in my library about the coelacanth (a fish hitherto thought to be extinct), I responded to the coelacanth reference and began trying to find my own googlewhack using coelacanth as one of the words. The results were nothing like what I expected though.

Since the coelacanth is a fish, it's quite natural that you'd get quite a few hits using those two words and you do get a respectable 14,500. I tried coelacanth sushi and got 190 hits. I thought I had a good one with coelacanth phlegm but still found there are 30 websites where these two words appear. I got down to 20 with coelacanth malted, and thought I had a winner with coelacanth spitoon which returned only one hit. When I went to to authenticate my googlewhack, I quickly found that something was wrong. There was only one website that mentioned those two words but that website made the same spelling error that I had. Spitoon should be spelled spittoon and coelacanth spittoon yields a frustratingly close seven hits. Now I was getting desperate and wracked my brain and finally came up with what I thought would be a sure winner, but coelacanth pierogi produced two hits. Many more frustrating tries ensued before out of sheer desperation, I used a word that should not be uttered in proper coelacanth circles. Sorry ladies but the word is tampon. I was pretty damn confident that coelacanth tampon would do the trick but unbelievably it yielded a perverse nine hits. I won't tell you how many more I went through before I found a combination with only one result, but I will tell you the words coelacanth stevedore only come up with one result. I am however by now so shellshocked that I don't want to "authenticate" it, preferring instead to think that I have won one small battle. In truth it wasn't quite as hard as I made it out to be, but it is a hell of a lot of fun, as is Gorman's book which I'll mention again later when I finish it.

So, without further ado, gentleman (and ladies), start your search engine! P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I don't own any Google stock.


Blogger Bill said...

Hey, Andy J. Welcome to the blogoverse!

6:37 AM  
Blogger Cap'n Bob Napier said...

A question on the rules. I treid "incanescent spaghetti" and got 2300 hits, But when I did an advanced search and asked for the exact phrase I got one hit. Is that legal?

2:59 PM  
Blogger Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Next time I'll check for typos. I should have said I tried "incandescent spaghetti," etc.

1:40 AM  

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