Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How People Find Blogs:
Tales of Booze, Electronic Information Retrieval, and Women

The images below are screenshots from actual searches conducted yesterday - searches conducted by Google users in which this very blog turned up as the No. 1 retrieved result.

That, my friends, is some funny shit.

It also demonstrates one of the biggest mysteries behind information retrieval. No matter how much a person - be they blogger, book or journal author, musician, or other content creator - tries to control their content, one cannot truly anticipate why that content will be found or what sort of individual search strategies go into locating information.

Sure, we can gather a shitload of valuable quantitative and qualitative information to make educated guesses as to how people - collectively - locate information online And, sure, that information can be used to design better and more accessible resources.

But individually? For every human being on this planet, there are an infinite number of ways a person can stumble across various online resources...

This weekend, I had a chance to spend some quality time with a recent MU alum/reader, in town for that institution's Reunion Weekend.

I won't say too much about it, but, apparently, there is some good that can come from blogging in a small, often fucked-up college town. The person in question went through a horrible last year in college...we'll leave it at that. I guess the ol' ZenFo Pro provided some comfort to this woman on more than a few long, lonely nights.

While out for drinks, and after we were both shitfaced enough to speak with a little less awkwardness, I asked her how she found my blog.

This young professional woman just stared into her umpteenth Jager Bomb of the night when I asked. She was visibly embarrassed by the question, so I did what I normally do when I ask something uncomfortable - I keep asking more questions.

Was she bored in class? Did she just stumble across the site while taking a break from writing a paper? Did she learn about it from a friend?

The dance club/shitty college bar we were in made it very hard for either of us to hear. The alcohol probably didn't help either. We stepped outside for a moment, to get some air, and she was able to put "zenformation-seeking behavior" into context...

Here's the gist of it:

One night, sometime during this woman's last Fall semester in college, she went bar-hopping with a few friends from class. At Skippers, some very cute but half-retarded frat boy quasi-stalked her. At the Stadium, she made the mistake of making out with some guy simply because she'd had too much to drink and, well, sometimes that's how you get guys to buy you free drinks.

Despite the attention, she couldn't find a single damned guy who talked to her like she was a human being - just a series of pick-up lines and less-than-subtle indications that she could get her groove on if she wanted.

But she still felt sad. So she left her group, made up some lie about how she wasn't feeling well, and wandered across town to my library - one of the only alcohol-free spots open late at night.

She did a bit of Facebook stalking, checked her e-mail, and just surfed the web for random shit.

She realized she didn't like going to bars and getting hit on by random guys. Sure, it was occasionally fun and could be rewarding. It was, well, boring...

After she prefaced her response, she blushed, giggled, threw in a few "Oh my God you're going to think I'm such a loser" comments, etc. I wrote down what she thought was the search phrase she put into Google to find my blog...

Hey, I'm a dork, drunk or sober. You would not believe the bizarre looks we were getting from drunken middle-aged alums or the Summer Session kids as we both swayed outside this bar on the sidewalk, leaning into one another and talking about search engines.

But I learned something.


Not to sound arrogant, but I don't think I have any problem whatsoever with being the No. 1 returned result using this sentence.

As an information professional, I know this isn't the best way to find information using a search engine.

As a guy, however, well, that's just fucking badass.


Cowgirl said...

Ok, I can't really figure out what the hell to comment on, so I am going to say hi. Because anything else that I type here seems wrong. ;)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol...see, you got the non abridged version ;)

Wrong? Lmao...

Hi back atcha, chica :)

cooper said...

ha ha

A Middle-Aged Alumna :-) said...


What kind of "comfort" did you provide exactly? Did it happen to fall under special projects or duties as assigned?


shayna said...

LOL... yeah... I have had a lot of searches where I am in the top 10 returns on "flushing condoms"... and "sex toys"... don't ask!

LibraryTavern Liz said...

note from a disorganized blogger/IMer...
I forgot to identify myself in the IM earlier, and then I may have added you to my friends list under the wrong ID. Oops. yes, that was me.

Casey said...

Hey! You're smart guy at Mac & Joes! I know what you look like now!

Saw you tonight with my girlfriends but you were in like some deep conversation with the big redheaded guys. Figured I'd say hi and if you noticed a silly brunette [blue halter tp and white skirt] looking at you funny, that was me. Just saying hi and you rock :)

I'd go hook up with you here in a heartbeat man. Smart sexy and kind of like Kerouac.

Smurf said...

It is. I think I may have briefly talked to her on your Yahoo messenger when I thought it might have been you. She ... if it was her a night or a few nights ago said you were asleep on the couch. How neat J. So are you two an item officially then?

Miz BoheMia said...

That's sweet! And sweet, after some of the screwy searches that lead people to me so yeah I can relate, is just refreshing!

snoopdon said...

Hey dude!
So, when are you going to write a movie about you before someone else does it?