Google and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 5 July 2003

There has been a lot of press coverage and web chatter about the funny 'Google' joke about weapons of mass destruction which has gone - dread using words - viral via email in the UK over the last couple of days.

I think it has been a really interesting example of how Google has developed what I have heard described as a "brand halo" - the appearance of a halo in a work of art conferred divinity on the subject, the recommendation by Google confers authority on the recipient. But that transference also implies in the first case signing up to a belief system that is being reinforced by adorning saints with a halo, and in the latter case a belief system that credits Google with the good things you found on the web.

If you received the link via mail or read the news articles it seems the public perception is that Google have done something funny with their "I'm feeling lucky" button. The fact is they are ranking that site #1 for that search term, and the "I'm feeling lucky" button is doing exactly what it always does. And they are not the only search engine ranking www.coxar.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk #1 for that phrase, and the site has been around a for a while. But that has become inconsequential. The story is about Google.

I finally have a real world example of the user who said in our comparative search engine testing that "I booked my holiday through Google".

13 Comments

Yes, I agree: here is an example of Google's integrity working against it -- it's almost like this WMD thing is a Google "Easter Egg"!

i,m feeling lucky

apparently they ARE MAKING A FILM ABOUT THE WHOLE SITUATION. sEE

http://www.worldbydesign.com/playerama/pictures.php

fOR THE POSTER!

I don't get it- I'm trying to find the article...
I'm feeling lucky??? Can you comment??joke???ca sheril

you type in the WMD text and then click I'm feeling Lucky, so should then see it.

hUH~! (-_-) ```

I think that kost people circulating the "joke" perfectly know that by thus doing it helps keeping the hoax site in #1 position.

I see that as a (slightly) active form of spontaneous social criticism which allows to, of course, have a laugh, reaffirm non-naievety about this year events... and use google (which is a basic AI tool) creatively.

can u help me find a back root to that site, i wanna view it but i can't. i even tried pinging it and it didn't work.

Thanks for supplying the link John - but when I tried to access it I got subjected to a load of casino pop-ups. It could be because I am on a public computer, but I have had no trouble with other sites so far - so use the link with caution folks.

Looks like the author of the page is now trying to make it pay by linking through to some cafepress t-shirts: http://www.cafeshops.com/wmd404

Fair enough, the bandwidth must cost, even though it's only 4KB.

Try the same thing with "french military victories". It's great. Post any others you've heard of.

The site's hosted on blueyonder, which is a UK ISP - the person who wrote the site doesn't pay bandwidth.

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