Recently we in marketing were trying to come up with a trivia question for our new consultant newsletter. Seemed simple enough. Create a difficult, but not impossible question for our brainy IT consultants, let the recipients sweat over it a bit, and ultimately give away a $100 prize to the winner.
Well it took us days to come up with something that you couldn’t easily Google. OK, so maybe we didn’t try super hard, but you try it sometime. Pit your knowledge of esoteric facts against the power of the almighty Internet. Try and come up with something that nobody has thought of before.
TV and movie trivia – forget it. It takes work to come up with a famous or non-famous line that has not already been Webified and Indexed. Sports, TV, music, same thing. Jokes, riddles, state flowers, composition of the moon ( basically rock, not green cheese). You name it, its one click away. You could even ask a question about yourself that people could find from LinkedIn, like what University you graduated from.
Ultimately we came up with “What famous TV show that ended the same month and year that MATRIX was founded?” This at least required two Google queries instead of one. But somebody still came up with the correct answer in about …. two minutes (answer Feb 1983 and MASH)
PC world says “Google can’t find everything”, and calls out images, speech, public databases, printed literature, and online books as examples of media types that have not been indexed yet.
Well ok, so we could have asked some really meaningless trivia like, “what is the first sentence on page 54 of Strunk and White’s “ The Elements of Style” 3rd edition, paperback? But that would have been too devious.
It could get a little bit depressing thinking that the Internet is already filled up with all the facts, but looking at it another way, it becomes a challenge to come up with some unique “subjective” queries. Like “what is the fastest way to I-85 south from Dunwoody at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon?” Or then there are questions that have no answer like The Mad Hatter’s famous riddle “why is a raven like a writing desk?” Of course then we have to set up a judging panel to choose the most clever answer. And our marketing department is already overstressed with projects.
On a positive note, there is also some evidence that Googling can boost your brainpower. According to Bupa International,
“The researchers suggested that this increase in brain activity could be because online searches require your brain to multi-task. Not only do you have to hold important information in your working memory when you search online, but you also need to extract important points from competing graphics and words.”
I am the first to agree that Google is a great resource for lost memories. It can also make you appear smarter than you are. As we all get older and forget how to do something , or vaguely remember an important event, or date or name, Google can snap us back to that time and place instantly. If I suddenly remember of a great movie, often I will Google it up so I can revisit the plot. Or connect one of the actors with other movies they have been in. Or while going to a baseball game and want to know something about the starting pitchers so you sound intelligent to your companions, Google it on your Blackberry while riding the train to the game.
Hmmmm. Maybe the power of Google isn’t so bad after all.