Books

What The @#!* Is A Googlewhack?

A new book by Dave Gorman describes the author's adventures with the online search engine game

What may sound like a web-based hitman service is actually a game in which you type a two-word phrase into the popular search engine seeking to find one and only one hit in return. It's harder than you think. ''Dork Turnspit,'' ''Pomegranate Fillbusters,'' and ''Hydroids Souvlaki''? All Googlewhacks. ''Prosthetic Vassal''? Nope -- it yielded about 40 sites.

Googlewhacking might have remained obscure but for British comedian Dave Gorman, who became obsessed with the game while procrastinating on writing a novel. Following a drunken New Year's Eve wager, Gorman, 33, set out to meet the owners of 10 Googlewhacked websites, including a Columbus, Ohio, prog-rock enthusiast whose site (mysteriously) includes the words ammonite and googolplex.

Gorman traveled over 90,000 miles in eight weeks, producing enough material for an off Broadway show (opening next month) and the book Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure.

Gorman is no stranger to odd global treks. For his 2002 book Are You Dave Gorman? (also inspired by a drunken wager), he headed to 7 countries in search of 54 people sharing his name. And he hasn't sworn off future alcohol-induced travel books. ''I'm trying to work out whether...to give in and do these things because they are successful and I appear to be good at them, or to try harder to move away from them,'' he says. ''There's a few friends who won't be invited next New Year's Eve. I'm going to make some changes right there.''

Originally posted Sep 17, 2004 Published in issue #784 Sep 17, 2004 Order article reprints
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