Your Letters: Google-Tripping Host Liane Hansen plays along with a bit of a search engine popularity contest that started on NPR.org.
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Your Letters: Google-Tripping

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Your Letters: Google-Tripping

Your Letters: Google-Tripping

Your Letters: Google-Tripping

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/112150468/112150447" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Host Liane Hansen plays along with a bit of a search engine popularity contest that started on NPR.org.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Now to your letters. Last week, we spoke to two friends who were driving across America virtually. They're using Google Maps to see the country. Marc Horowitz, one of the digital travelers, said he had a better time visiting the Petrified Forest in the virtual world than he did in real life.

And here's what Judith Anderson of Montrose, California, had to say about that. She writes, I too have been really to the Petrified Forest, and have flown via Google from place to place. But how can you get a sense of a place using only one of your senses? What happened to smelling the desert after rain, tasting the local cuisine, feeling the grit of the sandstone and even tasting it when the wind blows, smelling the creosote bush, hearing the eagle cry? Sensory deprivation is considered cruel and unusual punishment. Seeing the big sky, the panorama of stars undimmed by light pollution, and feeling the press of the wind against my body were a big part of the experience.

And speaking of Google, it seems there's a bit of a search engine popularity contest going on. It started with this song:

(Soundbite of "The American in Me")

Ms. PENELOPE HOUSTON (Musician, The Avengers): (Singing) It's not what you can do for your country. It's what your country's been doing to you.

HANSEN: That's "The American in Me" by The Avengers, with front woman Penelope Houston. We heard it last week during guest host David Greene's visit to the Archive of Contemporary Music in New York, where he asked archivist Bob George to play some of his more obscure recordings.

Mr. George said The Avengers were a Los Angeles band. Several of you informed us that they're actually from San Francisco. And one of you, Jared Poore(ph), also thinks The Avengers are more popular than we gave them credit for.

On npr.org he wrote: They are hardly obscure. A Google search of the terms Avengers and Penelope Houston returns over 100,000 results. The Avengers' place in Punk history is cemented by their opening for the Sex Pistols at their infamous last show.

Then, Archivist Bob George went online to defend himself. This brings up a larger issue of popular, he wrote on our website. If you put Penelope Houston in quotes and search, there are 48,300 hits. Miley Cyrus returns 44 million. Consider that the most popular TV show in America can barely draw 10 percent of the population. Notions of popular, obscure, and forgotten present a wide range of difficulties.

Now for the record, searching for Liane Hansen on Google gets more than 300,000 hits. I guess Miley Cyrus wins that popularity contest.

(Soundbite of song, "Best of Both Worlds")

Ms. MILEY CYRUS (Singer): (Singing) You get the best of both worlds. Chillin' out, take it slow, then you rock out the show...

HANSEN: Leave us a note. All the popular kids are doing it. Just go to the new npr.org and look for the Listener's Comment section on every story. You can also send me a message on Twitter. My name is NPR L-i-a-n-e. The Twitter name for the rest of our staff is nprweekend.

(Soundbite of song, "Best of Both Worlds")

Ms. CYRUS: (Singing) Yeah. You go to movie premiers...

HANSEN: This is NPR News.

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