Short Term Search Engine


By Becky Wreski

My short attention span gets me into trouble. I’ve perfected the “nod and stare” technique while I listen to dramatic monologues from uninteresting acquaintances, but no matter how often I practice, it only takes one person to blow my cover and catch me off guard with a question I can’t possibly answer. It’s a problem. But coupled with the fact that I am innately curious, this makes my five-second attention span a really big problem, maybe even a character flaw

Quick fix Google searches are my go-to problem-solver. Who’s that Asian dude in the Brandy version of Cinderella? Answer: Paolo Montalban. Can club soda really remove a red wine stain from my ugly living room rug? Answer: Maybe. Need a synonym for intelligence? Google spits out acumen, and I didn’t even have to open a new website.

Read that last sentence again and realize how ridiculous that sounded.

I guess I take comfort in good company. We, as a generation, are obsessed with the “gist.” We need just enough time to retain just enough information without reading a single fucking article.

It seems ridiculous, then, that we contributed to the rise of e-readers. We have no issue devouring books and magazines; it’s those daily curiosity crunches that render us seemingly unable to retain information. Those Bing commercials seem that much more intuitive once you take a look at your own search history and see the tangled trails of Wikipedia pages, blog rolls, and Yahoo! answer pages.

I grew tired of the gist mentality, so the next time I needed a Google fix for a burning question (How do those damn hummingbirds fly backwards?), I decided to read several articles to satiate more than my quick curiosity.

I know, you’re dying to know the answer. Basically, hummingbirds move their wings in a figure-eight motion, much like the way we move our feet to tread water. Yeah, impressive. I learned much more about hummingbirds from the articles than you can follow, so I won’t bore you with the details. More importantly, I think I actually retained my hummer-knowledge well past the first page Google spit out at me.

But this experiment didn’t exactly break ground on my own short attention span rule. I’d be lying if I said the Google makeover stuck. I’ve found a new blog to read instead.