In 1999’s Bowfinger Steve Martin knew how importance was defined.
The paradigm has shifted. Our new arbiter is Google¹.
Because of Google’s methods popularity and/or importance are finally accurately quantified. It seems so wrong to take emotional concepts like important and popular and make them the output of a series of mathematical equations, but that’s exactly what happens!
My ‘aha’ moment came earlier this evening. I was trying to learn how to scoop data from an online database and massage it to produce a webpage. Actually what I wanted to do was unimportant because I only got as far as typing in “how to.”
Google was now working ahead of me, anticipating what I might type next. It unfurled a list of the most popular “how to” questions.
- how to tie a tie.
- how to kiss
- how to get pregnant
- how to lose weight fast
- how to cook a turkey
- how to solve a rubix cube
- how to make a website
- how to download youtube videos
- how to write a resume
- how to lose weight
I am surprised tying a tie has reached this level. Look a the competition it’s knocked off. Maybe I’m jaded because I tie one every day (Double Windsor knot), but I didn’t think there was this level of demand.
Considering “how to lose weight” appears in two different forms (normal and panicky) it probably belongs higher on the list.
Cooking a turkey and solving a rubix are both surprising entries, but just barely.
I’m not sure what’s more surprising–that there’s nothing truly weird or that the list is really so pedestrian.
Is this all we really want to know “how to” do? Can’t we get a little more creative?
¹ – I know Google is the authority because if you enter “Geoff,” I’m the sixth result. On Bing I didn’t show up in the first six pages of results. Yahoo! doesn’t list me through ten pages.