Sound Off

Simon Says: Google This

As Matt Martinez reported in The Most today, the number one search on Google Trends early this morning was the word "precocious." That's what "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell called a hapless hopeful, who will not be going to Hollywood. I guess he was referring to the fact that at the tender age of 16 she was attempting a Janis Joplin song. He didn't seem to mean it as a compliment, anyway.

But the singer didn't even know what "precocious" means, and apparently neither did a lot of viewers, who started typing the term into the ol' Googler to find out more.

My favorite thing about Google Trends is the "related searches" feature. Here's what people were typing as they tried to figure out what the heck Simon was talking about. People who clearly are not now and probably never have been precocious:

precautious, precoshus, precarious, precautions, define precocious

That's leading me to a thought—is there a contradiction in the idea that a writing-dependent medium like the internet is increasingly important in our relatively uneducated society? We Americans are generally not good spellers, are not particularly well educated, and have poor vocabularies.

Has anyone looked at the impact of that culture clash? On a micro level, how many searches are thwarted by poor spelling skills? How much information is misplaced because of it? On a macro level, is typing the best way to access this connectivity? What if we could talk into our computers like they do on "Star Trek?"

See, this is what happens to me pretty much every time I look at Google Trends. I go down the rabbit hole and don't come out for days.

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