Google Blogoscoped

Thursday, October 9, 2003

What’s In a Search Engine Name?

The SearchDay newsletter (today, by Chris Sherman) explains the meaning behind search engine names:

*Tom Kreitzberg writes: “Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975) was an English humorist who wrote novels, short stories, plays, lyrics, and essays, all with the same light touch of gentle satire. He is best known as the creator of the irredeemably dim and unflaggingly affable Bertie Wooster and his invincible valet Jeeves”

**From the official Yahoo! History: “The Web site started out as “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” but eventually received a new moniker with the help of a dictionary. (...) Yahoo! itself first resided on Yang’s student workstation, “Akebono,” while the software was lodged on Filo’s computer, “Konishiki” – both named after legendary sumo wrestlers.”

***Ed Nieuwenhuys writes: “The female spider [of the family Lycosidae] is a creature with a variable temper. Notorious for her rapacious activities, she displays solicitude for her eggs and young that can scarcely be met by any other spider. Her egg sac, attached to her spinnerets, is a precious thing she will defend with her life. Her instinct is very powerful but she also can be easily fooled. When her egg sac is changed for something artificial, like a piece of cork or a wad of paper or cotton, she also will defend the artificial sac with her life."

Leli, Google Answers Researcher

Everything you always wanted to know about Helen from Edinburgh, who’s researching for Google Answers as Leli-Ga. (“Helen was taken . . . so I just typed in a family nickname. Now I wish I’d paused and thought of something more thrilling.”)

After nearly 300 questions, Leli has an average rating of 4.81 out of 5 stars on Google Answers. These are typical user comments to Leli’s answers:

“Nice work, Leli. I’d rate you 6 stars. Thanks.”
– Butch13-ga, German synthetic oil-producing company

“Wonderful job; I am completely satisfied. Work like this is why tips were invented.”
– Luckydave-ga, Idomatic Italian

“I am utterly amazed by your response!”
– Kyraeh-ga, African-Caribbeans in Scotland 1800s


What’s your profession?

Most of my jobs have had a teaching angle of some kind since my first “professional” post as an English teacher. My first job ever was pushing a tea trolley round Thames TV in London – for one week only.

On Google Answers

What would be an especially fun question for you to answer?

I have a soft spot for writers wanting us to research background details. So give me a question like, “Please help me build up a picture of life for an 18c Pyrenean goatherd”.

What were some of the most interesting discoveries you made during your research activity?

It’s good when you start out looking for something straightforward – a name, a date – and end up discovering far more.

This “war-time France” Q led to stories of life in troubled times, though it seemed at first to be about a line on a map.

Some questions about Palestinian refugees gave me new understanding of their lives.

Can you give an example of a question where you think the road of discovery (or the ways to get to the answer) was highly unusual, funny, or interesting?

Quirky rather than highly unusual – the key to this answer was finding the Estonian word for shopping cart/basket.

Hypothetical Musings by Leli-Ga

If an omniscient deity would be a Google Answers Researcher, which question would you ask?

I’d be speechless with awe.
Or – I’d ask for evidence of her existence to show to sceptics.

Which famous person, dead or alive, would make a great addition to the Researcher team?

Since we don’t actually need any more people answering questions, I’d like Jung to come and give his perspective on how GA fits into the scheme of things. In fact, I’d like to know what he’d say about the internet in general. Google’s zeitgeist thingie touches on the kind of global moodswings which would interest Jung, but it doesn’t dig deep.

What do you think would be the one question a being from another planet would be most interested in having answered upon arriving on earth, and spending one day with us humans?

Can I go home now?

Helen’s Favorites

What are your favorite research tools, on- and offline?

A good old google is my main standby, backed up by a few dictionaries.
Also dig around in library catalogues – love those great meta-catalogues – and newspaper archives – and genealogical storehouses and: UT’s map collection.

Researching in a library is an escapist pleasure for me, but I haven’t answered many GA questions using books other than dictionaries.

You are in charge of the Webby awards next year – who’s winning for which category?

My heart says Project Gutenberg must win a prize, so I’ll make up a category where it has to come top:
“Best Grand Yet Simple Vision from 1971”

Which is an example of a Google Answer another Researcher provided which really opened your eyes on something and made you go “Wow, I didn’t know that"?

My eyes are opened daily on GA.

“Wow” to insiders’ expert discussions of worlds new to me, for instance:

And hundreds of other answers by my amazingly intelligent and talented colleagues. Not an auto-remark, heartfelt.

Leli’s Spare-time

What are some of your favorite books, movies, and music albums?

Favourite? Must I choose? I rarely watch a film twice and like the excitement of reading something new.
Only with music do I keep playing old favourites.


Two recent pleasures:

Two past pleasures:

Enduring pleasures:


Recently enjoyed:

Enjoyed more than once:



It was Researcher Missy’s idea to include the Friday-Five question, and here goes your set:

1. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never have?

Visit China, from the Forbidden City to everyday life.

2. When someone asks your opinion about a new haircut/outfit/etc, are you always honest?

I believe in honesty, but shirk telling the whole truth when I want to be “kind”.

3. Have you ever found out something about a friend and then wished you hadn’t? What happened?

No. I like my friends just the way they are.

4. If you could live in any fictional world (from a book/movie/game/etc.) which would it be and why?

It would have to be a world I loved as a child.
So I’d choose Narnia, and set out on an adventure of cosmic importance – with guardians like Mr & Mrs Beaver to keep things cosy
I’d have moved to Narnia when I was six, if only I’d had the right kind of wardrobe . . .

5. What’s one talent/skill you don’t have but always wanted?

I wish I could draw.

Final words

Who would play you in a movie on your life... and what would the tagline on the movie poster be?

My beloved children can choose after I’m gone – no movies in my lifetime, thanks – too disconcerting to see oneself re-interpreted and blown up on a cinema screen – if any audience could be persuaded to come. (Rather unlikely)

Anything else you might want to say?

Think of all the books being written with help from GA research. I long to read them all – even more so if I’ve worked on them! Fiction, non-fiction, plus at least one play and one TV script using GA research. Articles too. Please, authors, let us know when you’re publishing.


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