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June 19th, 2008

June 19th, 2008
07:03 pm
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Renee Decart, white courtesy phone*
Google gets closer to DWIM every day.

It all started with an innocent typo. I mistyped Lewis Carroll as "Lewi Carroll" in Google while looking for his birthday.

... And Google cheerfully returned the results for the author without so much as acknowledging the misspelling.

This struck me as unusual. After all, with most errors -- such as Nancie Kerrigan for the figure skater Nancy -- Google will pester you with a little "Did You Mean:" line at the top of your results, showing you what you probably meant to type but returning the searches best matching your exact wording.

But search for Louis Carroll, and the results go straight to Lewis' Wikipedia page and several repositories of his works. None of the results' sample text even quote "Louis" until at least halfway down the page.

A little experimentation with other writers confirmed this wasn't a fluke. For example, the immortal words of Bill Shakespeare stand atop English literature. (Note, however, that Billy Shakespeare is someone else.)

Nor is it confined to the prose disciplines. Actors? Larry Olivier. Artists? Peter Mondrian. Musicians? Axle Rose.

And of course philosophers, like the suave and enigmatic Renee Decart.

Found other interesting "canonical" misspellings? Submit your own in comments!**

--
* DEAR GOD, the PHILOSOPHICAL MONISTS. </ObInJoke>
** Rules: Name has to
1) NOT produce a "Did You Mean" message;
2) NOT contain top references to a different person;
3) return substantially similar top references as the original.

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