18.744 Zeitgeist metrics

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2005 07:26:18 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 744.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2005 07:13:27 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: Zeitgeist metrics

Some of you may know that Google gives us a week-by-week, month-by-month
and, since 2001, a year-by-year portrait of the wired Zeitgeist, at
http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html. I suppose nothing shown by the
face of this ghost, uttered by this oracle, measures our distance, or at
least mine, from the central concerns of our online world -- where it's
happening, man -- than the consistently high ranking of Britney Spears. I
take it (as a matter of something closer to pride than shame) that out of
the 10 top queries for the week ending 18 April,

> 1. boston marathon
> 2. amityville horror
> 3. britney spears
> 4. vida guerra
> 5. nelly
> 6. irs
> 7. lance armstrong
> 8. pontiac solstice
> 9. ufc
> 10. wholphin

I recognize only 3 without question, am in doubt about 2 and haven't a clue
as to the remainder.

So much for ignorance on our, or perhaps just my, side. How about ignorance
on the other? It is said that in England now a large percentage of the
young think that Churchill is a dog who sells insurance. (Only those who
live here will laugh knowingly; everyone else has to infer that there's
such a commercial, but will get the point.) It is said that in Ireland many
university students cannot say what event Easter celebrates. If (as I
believe) one cannot understand historical literature of the West, and
therefore its culture, without knowledge of the Bible, what sort of a
cultural fix are we really in? Is the truth in Raymond Williams' fine and
stirring phrase, "culture is ordinary", enough to see us through?

Now here is something to test our resolve to communicate with the world at
large! We must do it, but how? Or must we?


[NB: If you do not receive a reply within 24 hours please resend]
Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7 Arundel Street | London
WC2R 3DX | U.K. | +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax: -2980 ||
willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/
Received on Wed Apr 27 2005 - 02:35:23 EDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Wed Apr 27 2005 - 02:35:24 EDT