Have you ever walked around with a good joke or pun in your back pocket, just waiting for a situation where the punch-line is appropriate, waiting until someone happens to say the right phrase? That recently happened to me. A couple months ago, I was reading the AOL coverage and I was struck by the “jump the shark” meme going around. At the time, I was thinking about giving webmasterly advice about how to attract links. I wanted to make that point that link attraction is sometimes simply a matter of putting in some elbow grease to collect data or pull a lot of different pieces of info into one place. I decided that to demonstrate that point, I’d collect a few other allegations of Google jumping the shark.
- In December 2005, Siva Vaidhyanathan says Google is jumping the “fair-use shark.” As you may know, the fair-use shark swims around and quotes small excerpts from other sharks.
- Also in December 2005, Battelle wonders whether AOL will cause shark jumpage.
- The Agency Blog concludes in October 2005 that Google has “officially jumped the shark” because of a collaboration with NASA that will include research and real estate.
- ReveNews asks in September 2005 whether Google Blog Search is the occasion for a shark to watch as Google jumps over it.
- August 2005: Google jumps the shark on muni-nets. What’s a muni-net? I’m not 100% sure. If a company jumps a muni-net shark and no one really notices, has it really jumped that shark?
- In May 2005, Physics Geek reads about a change that attempts to improve the scoring of Google News and interprets that to mean that Google will slant its news toward big media. For variety, the shark jumps over Google this time.
- A Usenet poster in May 2005 suggests that the personalized home page is when the Google logo should be displayed leaping over a shark.
- SickJokes.net believes in April 2005 that the introduction of a line of GoogleGulp beverages marks the instant of shark jumpage. The author apparently did not notice that GoogleGulp is an April Fools Day joke.
- Ben Hammersley contended in the Guardian in March 2005 that Google may have vaulted over a member of the superorder Selachimorpha because of increased mojo levels at the Yahoo!-plex.
- Battelle speculates in December 2004 that Froogle may hop a shark if Froogle starts to collect commissions on sales.
- Stupid Human Programming states in September 2004 that Google has jumped the shark. Why? Because of speculation that Google is developing a browser.
- Freethinker’s Paradise wonders in January 2004 whether Google-provided email would be the sharkiest of jumps.
- Bill de hÓra ruminates on the general nature of GSJ (Google Shark Jumping) way back in January 2003.
- My personal favorite is a February 2001 Usenet post stating that Google definitely jumped the shark when it acquired data from DejaNews.
What’s the takeaway lesson, other than the shark-jumping meme may have jumped itself? Personally, I learned the most from the earliest reaction, when Google acquired data from DejaNews. At the time, Google was working hard to bring not just the Deja data back online, but also to bring up a large chunk of Usenet data going back twenty years or more. In the mean time, user support was getting royally flamed by angry Usenetters–and you haven’t really been flamed until you’ve been flamed by Usenet folks. I remember Wayne Rosing saying something like “Look, there are situations where you do the best you can, and outside people won’t know all the work you’re putting in. That’s how it is sometimes.”
Along with the memories of those emails from Usenet people, that notion from Wayne has stuck with me. I figure that if Google keeps doing the best we can, things will turn out alright in the end. Plus getting flamed doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.