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"I Googled {insert concept here} and it had 5,783,928 hits."


How many times have you heard a speaker say that for emphasis? It is irritating and betrays a basic lack of understanding of how search works.

Duh, they should be using Google Trends — an oldie (in internet terms), but a goodie, and always worth a mention.

There, I mentioned it.

Speaking of Google Trends, I have just been terribly ill with the flu. Excuses, so many, for not blogging. I am not entirely alone, although it appears the season peaked in March. Poor Montana though. Apparently the spring thaw is rough.

So why all this talk of trends?

I was noticing repeated reference to “reset” as a concept embracing hope that we can undo all the damage that has been done in recent times, relative to what the invoker of “reset” perceives said damage to be. This is in no small part due to the Obama administration’s use of the term, including Hillary Clinton’s recent hijinks with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

And then I was curious as to whether a new buzzword was growing. Certainly the term has currency right now. But will it stick? Is it picking up steam?

So, I thought, “I should search it in Google news.” And ran into the “I Googled It…” problem, particularly since I am searching a common word.

I decided to do an advanced search on headlines only, to see if any interesting numbers popped out at me (very unscientifically, I might add).

Some sample headlines from the last month:

“Pressing the reset in the salmon debate”

“Editorial: Hitting the reset button”

“Chavez hopes to ‘reset’ US-Venezuela relations”

And some others. I also learned that “reset” often makes the headlines in reference to trial dates. All in all, I found 444 articles with “reset” in the headline in the past 30 days. And I realized I had fallen squarely into the “I Googled It” trap again. Only an in-depth textual analysis would do the job.

And then I ran into William Safire’s article on this topic, and decided to give it up altogether.

Sorry, dear readers, still boggled by the flu, and even this cat’s curiosity runs out from time to time.

2 thoughts on “"I Googled {insert concept here} and it had 5,783,928 hits."

  1. Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I wondered about the cultural origins of a hot word or phrase and been beaten to the punch by Mr. Safire…Rub some Tiger Balm all over and crawl under the covers for me.

  2. Oh, I don’t know; I Googled “Amanda Jarman” and got 769 hits. That will now have to be revised to 770, of course, with the addition of this message. Quite a variety of type in the AJs out there, too. But I think it IS safe to say that if one query gives you 2,400,691 hits and another only 14 there is a difference of some kind between the two. Isn’t that really all people are implying with such search quotes? Don’t we all realize that a ton of search results point to non-germane hits?Benboom

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