Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The questions everyone is asking

You may have seen the new TV ads for Ask Jeeves, the internet search engine which invites you to ask it a question so that it can trawl the web for answers. According to the ads, Ask Jeeves now has improved answering capabilities - although, in my experience, it is not quite as infallible as Bertie Wooster’s famous valet. If you start to type a question into Ask Jeeves, like ‘how is’ or ‘what are’, it offers you some ‘suggested searches’. These are presumably the most popular searches, either for all time or just for that day. Either way, these are the questions everyone is asking. Here are some of the suggestions it offered me:

Why is the sky blue?
Why is Hotmail not working?
Why is the sea salty?
Why is a yawn so contagious?
Why do women have smaller feet than men?
Why can I not log into Hotmail?
Who is the Stig?
Who am I?
Who lived in my house?
Whose telephone number is this?
What benefits am I entitled to?
What is a blog?
What is the meaning of life?
How much is my car worth?
Where can I see pictures of celebrities?
Where can I check my Hotmail emails?
Where can I buy wallpaper?
Whose fence is it?
Whose phone number is it?
What is a geek?
What is a prime number?
What are Nigella seeds?
What are the continents?
Who are the Big Brother winners so far?
Who are you?
Who are the 25 members of the EU?
Who are the villains in Spiderman 4?
Who are Atomic Kitten?
How is pasta made?
How is acid rain formed?
How are shadows formed?
Where is Emmerdale filmed?
Where is the nearest Primark store?
Where are your kidneys?
Why is teamwork important?
Why are pretzels shaped so weird?
Why are we here?

As a peek into the collective consciousness of 21st-century homo sapiens, these questions suggest that we alternate seamlessly between mundane musings, existential dread and an unlikely obsession with one unfortunate email provider. I can only marvel at our restlessly inquisitive species and its endless search for the fruits of knowledge. As ever in life, though, there are more questions than answers.


  1. Google of course will respond to any (well most) requests. I wonder how the launch of WolframAlpha will go (prseumably ) Does anyone have any experience yet? Anyway everyone knows that pasta grows on trees and is then humg up in the sun to dry.

  2. My spelling is no good after a glass or two and it's still early in the evening.