Gone (To The Party) Girl: How Life Informs Search

There are two things I’m wildly attracted to: smarts and celebrity gossip. 

I attribute the latter to my lacking awareness of cultural happenings. Reading People magazine happens primarily at O’Hare and I’ve failed miserably at my New Year’s resolution to watch more television. So, when I know anything at all, especially something involving real Hollywood, I get giddy. And I know something now that you may not!

One of the activities that stands between me and reality TV is reading, and I found “Gone Girl” to be un-put-downable. At our neighborhood block party, I chatted with an old friend who turns out to be related by marriage to the author, and guess what I learned?! 

[spoiler alert]

The book is already being adapted for the big screen, and Reese Witherspoon is slated to star as Amy. IKR?!

OK, does this road have a search tunnel? Well, sort of. If you posed the question “Gone Girl” to Google, the “answers” about the big screen adaptation and Witherspoon’s role are available below the fold, if at all. Unfortunately, with most searchers unaware of the movie plans, Google does not autocomplete this thought today, seemingly unaware of a movie in the works. Also interesting -- on page 1 under “News for gone girl” was, “Jury adds $20M punitive damages to slander verdict against ‘Girls Gone Wild’ founder…” Tough times for Joe Francis apparently, but I digress.



What about Bing? Any insights gained via the Social sidebar featuring Facebook/Twitter on either the book or movie?  Not for me.

Lack of awareness about the movie is one thing, because not everyone is actually six degrees from Kevin Bacon, but the book also commands minimal online chatter as compared with the latest trilogy to sweep the nation, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  This may be due to its relative newness but the delta in social signals is staggering. On Facebook, for example, “Gone Girl” has 444 Likes, while “50 Shades of Grey” has more than 200,000, and 6X the number of reviews on Amazon.

Different publishers may account for a percentage of the discrepancy, and at 450x the likes, someone from Random House should sneak into Knopf’s next marketing meeting! It seems a tie on online author presence – for, as a friend harshly commented, “both are terrible. I'd blame the website but third rate indie rockstars have better webpages than Flynn and James.” Well, we can’t all be the American Judge.

This is the type of information traditionally considered news; curated news. The Search box yields a list of sites with the most linked to (relevant) information for your search, regardless of date. Oddly, Google News has no information on the film, and my “Gone Girl movie” query resulted in more “Girls Gone Wild” fodder.

Years ago, I was told of a friend’s challenge to give up Google OR Facebook for a month.  The friend to whom the gauntlet was thrown was a habitual Facebook user  -- BUT, while she was able to forego her posting habit, living without Google was not an option. This speaks to me not simply because the channel consumes my 9-5 (a.k.a. 7-10:) but because Google is efficient, and efficiency is smart!

Still, when I enter “Gone Girl” into my search box today, Google suggests I search for “gone girl book,” “gone girl Gillian Flynn,” “gone girl spoiler” and “gone girl ending,” with no auto-complete mention of the movie or Ms. Witherspoon. This reminds us all that as much as the engines help us, we and our searches make the engines smarter.

Bottom line: sometimes we can learn faster than the engines. Unless we get out from behind the computer once in a while, we may not be able to scoop our friends on the important issues of the day. So talk to real people about what’s on your nightstand (I’m old school) or Kindle. You never know what you might learn at your next cocktail party that will ultimately inform the engines.  

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