November 16, 2003

How would you like to be Whacked?

No, I'm neither threatening nor chastising. I'm talking about the fine art of Googlewhacking. It's a challenge wherein you try to input two words (and only two words) into the search box at Google and get precisely 1 result - no more, no less – 1 website unique and wonderful enough to include both terms in its normal discourse with the reader. There are rules about syntax and some websites are excluded, but the basic idea is to identify a completely unique concept in two normal (to reasonable linguaphiles) words. It's great fun to try, and some combinations I tried returned many more matches than I'd have tought. For example:

After a few tries, you can get under 50 pretty easily (using “accordionist” as one of your terms is an effective limiter), but it’s VERY hard to get below 10. I’ve been at it for weeks and never got below 6 without resorting to metallurgical terms for the appearance of particular cross sections of the microscopic structure of stainless steels, and I’m just not geeky enough to consider these normal words. Close, but no austenitic cigar (a surprisingly high 52 hits).

So this got me thinking: Is it possible to define a Googlewhack for myself? Are there two words that, taken independently, might completely define my life or my work? I took some guesses at words that, combined with “poet”, might uniquely deliver people to this website – words that specifically and distinctively describe what I’m trying to accomplish here.

And in doing so, I found I’m not all that unique. Observe:

Wow. There are almost 2,000 websites that include both “poet” and “accordionist” in casual conversation; I find that amazing. And more amazing is that if you put in 6 common nouns from the first sentence of my bio (“father, husband, poet, engineer, accordionist, baseball”), you still get 17 hits. SEVENTEEN HITS.

So I’ve learned that I’m not quite as idiosyncratic as I thought (“idiosyncratic Jerseyan”: 5 hits). I also learned that there are more people who might be interested in what a father, husband, poet, engineer, accordionist, and baseball fan from New Jersey has to say. But that still doesn’t satisfy my original quest: to come up with two normal words that uniquely describe me and my work. I still don’t know how to Googlewhack myself.

How would you like to be Whacked?

David Vincenti
Advisor, Center for the Performing Arts at DeBaun Auditorium;