From The Side of the Road… imagine a bluegrass Google

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Chris Jones

Whenever you search something or ask a question of the Almighty Internet gods (whose names are Pete and Roscoe) on your computer, the usual procedure is to type a question in the search bar at the top of your internet browser. Have you ever paid attention to the choices that come up when you begin to type your question? As soon as you type in a word like “why,” your search engine will give you a list of completed questions beginning with “why,” based on the most common searches.

Naturally this will make you a little concerned, or at least curious about our society. When I typed in “why” just now, the top five suggestions were: “Why is the sky blue?,” “why am I always cold?,” “why do cats purr,” “why am I so tired?,” “and “why do dogs eat poop?” First of all, I didn’t make any of those up. Second of all, it’s kind of endearing that enough people are gazing into the sky wondering what the heck they’re looking at, to make “Why is the sky blue?” the number one choice. Also, animal lovers can be proud that both cats and dogs made it into the top five, though admittedly dogs don’t come off quite as well as cats do in these questions. Finally, a lot of people are just tired and cold.

“Where . . .” yields the following: “Where am I?”, “Where was Togo filmed?” (chalk that up to my search engine’s Alberta bias, which may also explain the “Why am I always cold?” above),
“Where did the Titanic sink?”, and “Where is my ride?”

“Why can’t I . . .” is fun: “Why can’t I sleep” (because you’re staring at your computer!), “Why can’t I focus?” (ditto), and the rest are devoted to secretion issues like, “Why can’t I cry?” and “Why can’t I pee?”

In addition to search suggestions based on the most common questions in your area, tailored questions also come up as choices, based on your own searches and on information you were hoping Google didn’t have about you. This got me thinking about search suggestions for bluegrass musicians and fans. Here are a few of the most common ones:

“Why . . .”

“Why are banjos so heavy?”

“Why am I still in this band?”

“Why is our festival set time so early?”

“Why did Amanda Gilbreath’s brother stab the guy in The Hills of Roane County?”

“Where is . .”

“Where is Rosine?”

“Where is this gig?”

“Where is the nearest Waffle House?”

“Where is our fiddle player? We’re on in five minutes.”

“Where is my capo?”

“What is . . .”

“What is bluegrass music, really?”

“What is the deal with the sound?”

“What is the third verse to Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

“What is a coffin ready-made for a horse?”

“How do I . . .”

“How do I sing the baritone part?”

“How do I tune a mandolin for Get Up John?”

“How do I tune a mandolin at all?”

“How do I get a song to end at a jam session?”

“How do I talk someone else into carrying my bass?”

“How do I go back in time and stop Wagon Wheel from being written?”

“Who . . .”

“Who is Cedric Rainwater?”

“Who is ‘Little Willie’ and why are young women still going anywhere with that creep?”

“Who hacked our web site?”

“Who is supposed to be paying us?”

“Who is singing so out of tune?”

Happy searching.

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