A Couple of Random Items on Web Surfing

We don’t write much on this site about our medium, the internet. It is, however, endlessly interesting. One thing we’ve found is that some posts have unintended consequences. For example, four years ago, in August 2004, I did a post titled Deacon, Phone Home!. The title referred to the fact that Paul had gone AWOL for a couple of days; I went on to say that I’d been watching the Olympics and had discovered the sport of beach volleyball:

One of the great things about the Olympics is that it reminds us of obscure sports that we wouldn’t normally follow. I mean, everyone knows that the Twins have a 4 1/2 game lead in the AL Central. But not everyone is up to speed on beach volleyball. Especially, women’s beach volleyball.

I posted three photos from that year’s beach volleyball competition, most notably this one, about which I wrote:

I’ve long been aware of volleyball, but I had no idea what a cerebral sport it is. The girl in this photo isn’t just adjusting her shorts, she is signalling a play to her teammate:

It was one of those jokey posts that you don’t think anyone will remember. But the law of unintended consequences kicked in. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one who liked that photo. For the last four years, every time anyone searched “women’s beach volleyball” on Google Images, this photo has been one of the first to come up. If you search “beach volleyball,” another photo from the same post ranks near the top.

So over the last four years, my throwaway beach volleyball post has led many thousands of web-surfers to Power Line. What they made of us, I have no idea. Four years later, with the Olympics on again, beach volleyball searching is at a peak. In the last 24 hours, more than 3,000 surfers have found their way to Power Line via “women’s beach volleyball” image searches. We can only hope that they stuck around for a while.

And now for something completely different: this site has gotten a lot of notoriety lately. Using your browsing history–actually a thin slice thereof–it evaluates the likelihood that you are a man or a woman. Glenn Reynolds took the test and linked to the site; the result was 50/50. Ann Althouse took the test, and the result was a 91% probability that she is a man. (I know Ann slightly; this is obviously computer error.) Megan McArdle took it, too.

I thought, what the heck: if the result is dubious I’ll keep it to myself. It came back 96% male, 4% female. My wife tried it: 100% female. No gender-bending here.

Just a couple of examples of the web’s endless entertainment value. And that’s without even getting to Mary Landrieu nude.

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