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February 28, 2011 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Competitive Googling: Is there such a thing?

As a prelude to my question, here is an excerpt from Arthur Clarke's Fountains of Paradise:

There was no general purpose console in his room, so he had to go down to the lobby to get the information he required. As luck would have it, the cubicle was occupied by an old lady who took so long to find what she wanted that Morgan almost pounded on the door. But at last the sluggard left with a mumbled apology, and Morgan was face to face with the accumulated art and knowledge of all mankind.

In his student days, he had won several retrieval championships, racing against the clock while digging out obscure items of information on lists prepared by ingeniously sadistic judges. ("What was the rainfall in the capital of the world's smallest national state on the day when the second largest number of home runs was scored in college baseball?" was one that he recalled with particular affection.) His skill had improved with years, and this was a perfectly straightforward question. The display came up in thirty seconds, in far more detail than he really needed.

Morgan studied the screen for a minute, then shook his head in baffled amazement.


It's been 30 years. Is there such a thing?
posted by curuinor to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, this is rather specific, but the Ron and Fez talk radio show on Sirius XM holds a contest called "Search, Search, Hurry up and Search" occasionally that is just that: Contestants in studio with computers, competing to answer trivia via Google.
posted by shinynewnick at 5:54 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


i listen to the Ron and Fez show, on Sirius (197/202), and they occasionally do a contest called Search Search Hurry Up and Search. They run it through twitter, asking a question, and using search.twitter.com to judge who responded first. i've played a bunch of times, and this past christmas they were doing a prize a day, and i picked up a Bored to Death DVD signed by Jason Swartchzman. this is the question i won with, and here's me with my prize*

* that photo also won me another prize for happiest winner of SSHUAS :)
posted by Mach5 at 5:55 PM on February 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's working for ChaCha, which often felt like competitive googling.

Imagine being paid $.15 per question and trying to look up "In what year were the cobblestone streets in Charleston laid?" fast enough to make it worth your while.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:07 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, if it does exist, it looks like none of us are eligible...

I was just talking about this with my friend a few weeks back. I have no idea why it hasn't been done yet. Doing online research quickly is a lot easier if you have lots of miscellaneous knowledge and are generally worldly, so there's a cool element of combining human reasoning/knowledge with raw computing power, sort of like Advanced Chess for trivia. For instance, Mach5 probably got to skip a step by already knowing Bored to Death was created by Jonathan Ames.
posted by abcde at 6:39 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't believe no one googled this.
posted by lesli212 at 6:52 PM on February 28, 2011


50 hours straight of trivia by our local independent radio station definitely counts as competitive and you get nowhere without Google: KVSC triva weekend.
posted by jillithd at 6:55 PM on February 28, 2011


I won a competitive search event years ago. I beat out hundreds, possibly over a thousand competitors. It helped pay my way through graduate school.
posted by zippy at 7:01 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not just for searching skills, there are other ways to be competitive with google:

the Google Image Labeler game - where you compete against another player to help add content
and
Vennings - competitive game where you input 2 words into google and try to get exactly one page as a search result.
posted by CathyG at 7:17 PM on February 28, 2011


About half of the pub trivia events held these days come down to competitive googling.

This is not a good thing.
posted by pompomtom at 7:51 PM on February 28, 2011


pompomtom: "About half of the pub trivia events held these days come down to competitive googling.

This is not a good thing.
"

Yikes. Does the pub do anything about it? My local dive bar explicitly bans the use of electronic devices on trivia night.
posted by Rickalicioso at 8:32 PM on February 28, 2011


Rickalicioso: it varies by pub and host, hence my estimate of 'about half'. TBH I don't do a lot of pub trivia any more, partly for this reason.

Apologies for the derail...
posted by pompomtom at 9:06 PM on February 28, 2011


I participated in an Internet search event in the Science Olympiad in 1996 and 1997, but that was before google. I won the gold medal in 1996 and it was fucking awesome.
posted by sugarfish at 10:52 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not against other people, but the annual King William quiz is specifically designed to be tough to be google, on the understanding that you'll do just that - the ones you can google are there simply to hint at the category themes and thus help you get the others.
posted by piato at 2:21 AM on March 1, 2011


abcde: "Well, if it does exist, it looks like none of us are eligible...

I was just talking about this with my friend a few weeks back. I have no idea why it hasn't been done yet. Doing online research quickly is a lot easier if you have lots of miscellaneous knowledge and are generally worldly, so there's a cool element of combining human reasoning/knowledge with raw computing power, sort of like Advanced Chess for trivia. For instance, Mach5 probably got to skip a step by already knowing Bored to Death was created by Jonathan Ames
"

Definitely not in this case. I don't see how general knowledge of even google fu will help when something as basic as [bored to death sartre quote] should give you the answer in the first hit's snippet. I was personally hoping for something slightly more challenging.
posted by turkeyphant at 2:33 AM on March 1, 2011


Andrian Hon and Philip Trippenbach are running something they call Hivemind Challenge, "a pub quiz based entirely on the idea that people are supposed to use the internet to find their answers" (on twitter), questions from the first event (in Nov 2010). Looks like the next one is in March.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 10:36 AM on March 1, 2011


Awesome, Prince_of_Cups. That looks like exactly what we're looking for, except that in that one you're allowed to get the help of other people by Twitter, phone, etc., hence the name. A lot of those questions are almost totally un-Googleable, and the idea is to see if you can use social media to get a hold of someone who can read Egyptian hieroglyphs, etc. But very cool either way.
posted by abcde at 5:26 PM on March 1, 2011


Doing a Google search of the term "competitive Googling" now brings up several links to this very AskMeFi page we are on.
posted by Ellemeno at 8:37 AM on March 4, 2011


Ellemeno: That always happens. That is due to the high googlerank of AskMe rather than any paucity of net searching competitions.
posted by pompomtom at 8:32 PM on March 14, 2011


In case anyone stumbles on this thread again: last month, Google announced a new site called A Google a Day. Not quite competitive Googling, but you could certainly use it to compete with your friends.
posted by abcde at 12:10 PM on May 6, 2011


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