Sunday, August 22, 2004

Link of the Day

And so already I am stealing. Or perhaps it is simply an homage. Link of the day is a feature of my friend Peg's "Palmyra Sliver." I hope I do it justice.

The same guy that did the Random Image routine that runs in the left margin has a whole page of fun things to do with Google. While I worry that perhaps too much of this person's life is spent playing with computers, I am sure that within a few years he'll be able to buy and sell me and so I should probably just keep that thought to myself.

So here is the link:

What it does is pretty neat, or at least pretty interesting. You enter a phrase and then it has google check the web for occurrences of that phrase and picks the most popular next word. If you enter "Four score and seven" it will in all likelyihood find "years." After it completes, it drops the first word, adds the new word to the phrase: "score and seven years" and looks again. And then madness ensues...

I've found a couple of ways this can be fun. First is sort of like a magic eight ball. You enter a short phrase like "Dick Cheney is" and see what google returns - in this case "a robot." Similar fun can be had with George Bush, Colin Powell, Ralph Nader; someone did "Osama Bin Laden is hiding" and got a very likely location. Now why hasn't the CIA thought just to google him?

The other way to use it is to pick a distinctive phrase and see how long it takes to stray. This way I found that the Gettysburg address is likely more often correctly published than The Lord's Prayer, that another brick in the wall strays to "we don't need no stinkin -badges-." That the language of the pledge of allegiance turns out to be fairly run of the mill and that the inscription of the Statue of Liberty has a lot of words not used in ordinary speech. The longer the phrase you enter, the longer it stays on track, but not always. When you stump the net for some reason it returns "did did did," I'm not sure why.

But I have to say, my favorite so far has been "The seven words you can't say on television are" which comes back nearly letter perfect and would, I guess, indicate that there are a whole lot of George Carlin fans in the world.

The site sometimes slows down. I guess developers have a limited number of searches, and this requires a bunch of searches for every trial - and who knows how many people are playing with the thing at any one time. Have fun.

By the way, for those that are interested, The Palmyra Sliver, and a more reliable selections of Link of the Day postings can be found at:

1 comment:

Peg said...

If imitation is, in fact, the sincerest form of flattery, then I am one flattered woman (although I do think you give me too much credit with the quality of my links -- they're so narcissistic). I'm thrilled that you're blogging. Hopefully you guys won't seem so far away. I have one request: stop the "why should I write about..." and keep writing about it. If it's important to you, even in some small way, then write about it! It's your blog! The work stuff, I can understand... students' privacy and all... but yes, I really DO want to hear about Trinity's progress or the latest little house thing or something funny Marisa said. Or you thought. Or whatever. That's why I've bookmarked your blog, and I'll be following it. xo.