The headline of a recent article in the Atlantic monthly is very provocative and has caused a lot of discussion on the internet. An exact search for “Is Google making us Stupid” brings up 172, 000 Google matches. However if I search the way the title was originally written: “Is Google making us Stoopid”, Google only brings up 17,900 matches. Why is this?
Only 17,900 search results for ‘Is Google Making us Stoopid” compared to 172,000 for “Is Google Making us Stupid” Note that Google failed to correct my misspelling. Apparently Stoopid is beyond even Google’s power to correct spelling mistakes
It could be that people who want traffic on their blogs know that no one searches on Stoopid–most people spelled Stupid correctly. Even Google was not smart enough to correct me when I searched using Stoopid. What is even more telling is that even the Atlantic Monthly which wrote Stoopid in the printed magazine—has changed its online title to the correct spelling as you can see below.
Original title in print version: Is Google Making us Stoopid?
The Atlantic web editors changed the heading from Stoopid to Stupid
So at least in this case we can argue that Google is making us smarter.
But what do we learn about Internet marketing from the article?
Mr. Carr basically says we are losing our ability to read longer articles and books when we spend years searching on Google. Although I don’t agree about his offline conclusions I do agree that when people search on the web they don’t read. They are on a hunt for answers. Since there is a lot of information they may have to wade through–they go through web pages fast by:
- Reading headlines
- Moving down the left side of the page fast
- Ignoring anything that looks like an ad
There has been a lot of research on this—all you have to do is search on “skimming on the web”—to see the articles. That is why I have bullets, captions, subheadings and links in this blog post—so you can skim.
The Atlantic Monthly doesn’t make their printed magazine articles skimmable when they post on the web
What is ironic is that the article itself, when it was posted on the web, is basically a copy of the printed version — not made for skimming — No subheadings, bullets or even a caption for the nice illustration. To be fair, they did add something the printed version did not have — links. It is no wonder that people complained that they couldn’t get through the article on the Internet.