We Have the Power
Mark Liberman writes at Language Log:
By now you must know that if you go to amaztype™, you can see the word of your choice spelled out in letters made up of thumbnails of the publications whose titles contain it. (You can also ask to collect the works by authors rather than titles, or use thumbnails from the covers of music CDs or video/DVDs rather than books.) But now, amaztype™ zeitgeist lists for you the most popular requests.
Observing that the top 10 only have between 172 and 2529 hits each, he encourages his readers to get involved:
However, the most striking thing about this list is how small the current counts are. Look, people, more than 3,000 of you read this weblog every day*! If ten percent of you went to amaztype™ and asked for "language", it would rank higher in the amaztype™ zeitgeist than PHP does! If all of you did it, language would outrank sex...
They've done it, and right now language is ranked third with 568 hits, behind only sex (2572 hits) and fuck (1127 hits), and ahead of such stars as porn (464 hits), Harry Potter (435 hits), and cat (278 hits).
Well, readers, Liberman isn't the only one with such awesome power. In addition to searching for publications on amazon.com, as Liberman did, amaztype™ also lets you search on amazon.co.jp, amazon.co.uk, and amazon.ca. For amazon.ca, the top 9 searches (as of 22 apr, 18:30 GMT) are:
sex (15 hits)
nude (11 hits)
flash (11 hits)
language (7 hits)
gay (4 hits)
molten (3 hits)
cowboy bebop (3 hits)
art (3 hits)
jakob (3 hits)
Does anything strike you about this list? Look, people, more than 10 of you read this site every day*. If one third of you went to amaztype™ and asked for the same word on amazon.ca, it would appear in the amaztype™ zeitgeist top 10! If all of you did it, we could pass those 7 Canadians who read Language Log!
I've already tried searching for Blar and for Blargh, but apparently no authors have had the good sense to include either of those words in their title. So I decided to go with "internets". Three searches have already put it in the top 10, right behind gay (which is why I just gave you the top 9 - didn't want to spoil the surprise). I also searched twice for music by the artist Kweli (in honor of this post), and that's put him squarely on the list, ahead of one hit wonders Elvis Costello and U2 (sorry).
So if you're interested in changing the world, head over to amaztype™ and search for internets on amazon.ca. If you have any other great search words to suggest, you can leave them in the comments.
*At least, according to the number of distinct visitors that sitemeter registers on an average day. As I understand it, they count visitors in terms of distinct IP addresses within certain time windows. This is an imperfect measure, since some ways of accessing the internet may channel many users through the same apparent IP address, while in other cases, a single user may show up from different IP addresses at different times.