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Friday, September 30, 2005

Was.Wir.Wissen (What We Know)

The German “Was.Wir.Wissen” (“what we know”) by popular author Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre is a collection of knowledge of our times acquired by posing questions to a search engine. The book contains trivia from all kinds of sources answering questions like “What’s true even though it’s a clichee?”, “What didn’t do any bad to anyone?” or “What won’t win you any awards?” Answers are spread out on 224 pages and are funny, boring, or plain confusing, as German RP-Online notes.

Because the web is a dynamic medium, Stuckrad-Barre told German ARD, a hundred of years from now we can’t simply perform a search and get today’s results – so he wanted to do a sort of “back-up” of current knowledge.

Stuckrad-Barre became famous in Germany for his book “Solo album” and is currently living in Zürich, incidentally, home to Google’s European Engineering Centre. Stuckrad-Barre seems to be fascinated by the world Google opens; he once said during night-time he’d look up a rude swear word* along with his name in Google, finding depressing criticism of his work.

*New Joerg quotes Stuckrad-Barre as interviewed by German Spiegel: “Manchmal habe ich mich nachts hingesetzt und habe bei Google die Stichwörter Stuckrad und Arschloch eingegeben. Da findet man einiges – und wird natürlich schnell sehr, sehr traurig.”

Update: Also see the German explanation “Wie Was.Wir.Wissen funktioniert.


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