Monday, January 30, 2012

On the show this week...

These were the two songs I brought in to my Absolute Radio show this week:

Good Morning Freedom by Blue Mink:

That's a corker isn't it?

And then, in a completely different vein, but bloomin' lovely all the same, Counting My Fingers by Maz Totterdell:

We spent much of the show discussing stories that could end with the words, "but I was only trying to help..." and, as usual, our listeners had some corkers. If I learned one thing it's never ask a child to feed the goldfish if you're not absolutely sure they know where the fish food is. I was particularly fond of a tweet from Alex Mcaleer who told us that "as a young girl my mother decided it would be nice to light the candles on the Xmas tree for when her parents came home"... if only because it was followed by the perfect final line: "As you can imagine, it went up like a Xmas tree".

We had most of the usual regular features (Danielle's obsession with Michael Fassbender is becoming worrying, mind) but also introduced something new that I think we'll return to every now and then - The Autofill Quiz.

This started because I tried to google the word Dentist on Friday night while being slightly distracted by other things. (Not toothache, as it happens).
I've never really paid much attention to Google's autofill suggestions before. I know it always tries to guess whatever it is you're looking for, I've just never paused to see what those guesses are. But on Friday I did. The first guess when I'd typed in just a 'D' was Debenhams. With an 'e' added it was still Debenhams, obviously,... but when I added the 'n' it became Denise Welch. Google thought it more likely that I was searching for Denise Welch than Denzel Washington. Well, she had just won Celebrity Big Brother. Apparently.

It made google seem like a living, breathing entity. Something that not only tried to finish your sentences for you but changed its guesses according to time and place. It knew I was in the UK, it knew that Denise Welch was arousing unusual levels of curiosity at that time and so it must have adjusted its guess accordingly. (Surely, it wouldn't have offered up the same guess a couple of months ago, would it?)

So I tried typing in some questions and found myself growing interested in the assumptions it was making. Do that many people really want to know if you can adopt an adult? Or yawn in your sleep? It seemed like a nice way of randomly generating 26 questions - questions that, according to google, lots of people must ask. (Can you a... gave me one question, can you b...... gave me another and so on through to can you z...)

And the result was, well, an Autofill Quiz. It made sense at the time. Like I say, I think we'll revisit the idea in the future - changing the start of the question to generate a different quiz - so if you think you might want to be on the show and take part on the phone, then email us here.

The podcast was full of the usual extras - and there's more in the Someday Podcast too. You can get the latest podcast here, or for you non-itunes folks, here.


Willi said...

Can you play an Autofill Quiz in Skyrim?

Dave Gorman said...

@ Willi: Arf. A lot of questions about what you might or might not be able to do in Skyrim do crop up. I allowed myself to select any of the 4 that were offered as a way of avoiding them.

Rob said...

Too bad Google is all personalised now, so it's trying to make guesses about what you want, not what we all want. Seems less fun that way, somehow. Thanks a lot, Google!

Emma Spreadbury said...

"What is..." as a starter is nice. 'S' gives you the option of "What is Skyrim" and "What is spooning". How sweet, a nerd's dream.

Steven said...

Some of the suggestions it comes up with can be odd, I have it switched off though.

winterwold said...

Well we all know what a "denzel washington" really is. So that means that google is listening to your show as well then? :D

Anonymous said...

Autofill makes me sad. Type in, "why am i" and you'll see why.