Billboards

There’s some strange text on billboards around New York. I passed these four this weekend:

THE ALGORITHM CONSTANTLY FINDS JESUS
THE ALGORITHM KILLED JEEVES
THE ALGORITHM IS BANNED IN CHINA

THE ALGORITHM IS FROM JERSEY

It’s clearly a viral marketing campaign and seems to be by Ask.com. I like puzzles like this, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to go anywhere — if you Google it, you just get blogs talking about the odd billboards. That’s not really very much fun.

It occurs to me that the sort of people who would be curious enough to go to Google and type them in are probably the sort of people who would like xkcd, so maybe we should create a twist in the puzzle. For those of you who have blogs or other sites, feel free to create links to xkcd.com with those billboard lines as the link text. I put the phrases at the bottom of xkcd.com so it won’t be filtered out as a Googlebomb.

340 thoughts on “Billboards

  1. I figured out the connection to new jersey two of the men that invented the algorithm were from new jersey oh and there was a guy who pretty much played 6 degrees of separation with google so you put in a search and within I think ten references you can get to jesus he also did it with wikipedia but either way this is just a really clever ad for google and ask.com

  2. @Steve: I can’t think of anything that makes me want to listen to your podcast LESS than seeing a link to it shit out in commentspam. Maybe at least *try* to relate it to the article first…

  3. You’re probably right Matt – I just felt it would be quite ironic to have a page that gains hits purely by people wondering wtf

    THE ALGORITHM CONSTANTLY FINDS JESUS
    THE ALGORITHM KILLED JEEVES
    THE ALGORITHM IS BANNED IN CHINA
    THE ALGORITHM IS FROM JERSEY

    means link to another thing. I should of created some mystery around it perhaps. Thrown a few lines out then linked them on my site, I dunno. But from the looks of it a couple of people visited from here so thats something I guess?

  4. Just for fun I took all the first letters of each word in this statement.
    WTJTJTCTJTJTT I noticed that there is a twice repeating pattern “TJTJT”
    So I did a search on that and ended up at this site:
    http://www.keyr.com/analysis/tjtjtj.html
    where they are doing a survey to find out why people do searches on the string “tjtjtj”.
    So I filled out the survey.
    Just FYI.

  5. THE ALGORITHM
    Is a algorithm developed by ASK.com as the ultimate decision engine.
    (sound familiar? The me-to! company ripped it off and launched BING)

    the billboards are pretty self explanatory however here are the keys:
    THE ALGORITHM CONSTANTLY FINDS JESUS
    One of the top topics found on the internet
    THE UNIBOMBER HATES THE ALGORITHM
    He hated all things high tech
    THE ALGORITHM KILLED JEEVES
    askjeevs.com is now ASK.com (Jeeves retired)
    THE ALGORITHM IS BANNED IN CHINA
    What isn’t…
    THE ALGORITHM IS FROM JERSEY
    The lead developers are in Jersey

  6. Admiring the time and effort you put into your website and in depth information you offer. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  7. maybe it would be a good idea to put a link(in same font setup as the “the algerith” text) at the bottom of the page so people who frequent xkcd and wonder wtf that random text at the bottom is can find a quick answer

  8. @dormito, Nah. As a long-time and confused-by-the-algorithm reader of xkcd, I enjoyed the “challenge” of searching around until I found this page. I think most people who read xkcd regularly would probably enjoy it, too, though perhaps that’s an unfair they-must-all-be-like-me generalization.

  9. I think i’ve got it. The graffiti is seemingly resultant of paranoia, internal strife, and stock market dominance (hence why it is in NY). The graffiti could be by various investors and former workers referencing the search engine algorithm,how either it was not made by them, or just paranoia crap based on the algorithm’s sheer pervasiveness and power in the market. i think it is literal, not cryptic. but the people tagging the billboards are likely unibomber-esque techno conspiracy theorists. This article is what sparked the idea.

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/08/technology/google_algorithm_change/index.htm

    oh, and yo mommas fat.

  10. I have to say, this didn’t take to long to figure out. I didn’t have to think much, just do some Google searching. So then yes, it was a pretty good advertisement.

  11. R.e. Apr 21: I love the fact that many URLs and billboard ad campaigns have a shelf-lives on par with eggs and milk, but google search incantations live forever…

  12. Just curious – why has the font size of the algorithm changed? I remember it used to be so small I couldn’t read it…. had it been filtered as googlebomb b/c the font was too small, and increasing the size stops that from happening?

  13. Well, now if you search it, it just shows a bunch of blogs asking, “Did you see that on xkcd.com?

  14. Now, if you search for it, you just get a bunch of forum threads asking, Did you see that on xkcd.com?

  15. I don’t think this works anymore – people now see the ALGORITHM text in the lower part of xkcd.com and google it just to find out that they were supposed to read it on a billboard, google it and to reach xkcd as a consequence.

  16. Seemingly eternal, this shows me that xkcd has hit a critical meme mass.
    I’d be fascinated to know how many active readers that threshold is, and when it happened.

    Presumably more than the 40 readers I get each day…

  17. Ah, I found the text at the bottom of xkcd, and then googled it’s entirety, only to find the answer back at xkcd. I was working on the assumption that the phrases were an esoteric appeal to math/science nerds with an inclination towards the argument of intelligent design. Wishful thinking I guess.

  18. “Sebastián on October 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm said:

    I’ll be damn: I just read those lines today.”
    You and me both.

  19. This past week I’ve used it successfully to find my way around towns I don’t know, and we even used it while driving to navigate to an out-of-town destination.

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