Dispatch from the Google fringe

Inside the wacky world of people using -- and abusing -- Google

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Google this week rolled out plans to broadcast (via YouTube, of course) a kind of weird "infomercial" highlighting the "hottest searches" on Google in the past week. Called Google Beat, the series presumably ignores the scandalous searches (searches for sex tapes and so on) and the competitive searches ("Hotmail" was a major recent trend that went unmentioned). I guess the idea is that people can participate in search trends? "Ooooh, everyone is searching for salmonella. I think *I'll* search for salmonella!" I don't get it.

Iran announced plans recently to create an alternative to Google searches and the Internet itself with a new service called "Oh Lord." Set to launch in 2012, the "Oh Lord" service would serve as a kind of national intranet, offering Mullah-friendly content and political news that supports the governments positions. Oh, Lord!

According to the Geographic Travels blog, when you type "Lincoln Memorial" into the Google search bar, you get a map pinpointing the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

A Google Street View car was pulled over and searched yesterday in Paris, France, by agents of France’s privacy regulator, the National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties. They did so to make sure Google wasn't still collecting private data from peoples' Wi-Fi networks. Sounds like a populist, easy-politics political stunt to me.

If you're a Google Search fan, and a "Goth," you're in luck. A site called the Goth Engine lets you use Google Search without the candy colors and white background. Instead, you'll see the "Goth Engine" logo in flaming red, with a suitably depressing black background and hard-to-see blue lettering.

One third of Brits have "stalked" celebrities using Google Street View, according to a dubious study by a publicity-seeking home improvement company in Scotland called the Scotland Joinery. Some 34% of respondents say they've used Street View to look at celebrity homes. Steve Jobs' home comes in as the #3 search (after Barack Obama and Hugh Hefner) and Bill Gates comes in at #6.

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