This fortnight in Online Insights we look at web search from a new, topsy-turvy perspective, discover how towns can fake it during a recession, find out what you get when you cross bacon, bourbon and cupcake batter, and then we tip our hat to Easter with some of the creepiest Easter Bunny pictures ever. Enjoy!

Topsy

A new search engine has been unveiled that really espouses the general push towards “real time” search (I call it Twitter Fever) which has gripped Google and the other search engines. You see, since Twitter broke through to the mainstream, Facebook and Google and Yahoo have all wanted a piece of the “real time web”. But while those big three all scramble to match the transience of Twitter’s live stream, developers at Topsy have been honing their search engine to bring search results from Twitter, weighted by how fresh each Tweet is, how many times it has been reTweeted by other users, and the influential status of the person Tweeting the message in the first place.

At first glance, Topsy looks quite interesting as quirky glance into the mind of the geek-chattering class. It has its mixture of the completely inane, air-headed dribble from the twitterati (celebs who spew nonsense to satiate their fawning followers) and the intriguing mix of insights and links to what’s new in the world (especially the world of technology).For this latter seam of internet nuggets, Topsy is well worth including in your mix of search engines. Furthermore, there is also the quaint mix of novel things, for example, in running a search on “easter” on Saturday night, I got a link to the Muppet Easter clip (embedded on this page). I would never have known this clip existed (and I am not sure my life would have been impoverished had I missed it) were it not for Topsy. What I like about this service, and about Twitter, is this very serendipity – much like when you turn a page in a newspaper or listen in to talkback radio – you never know what you might learn next.

Some of the other discoveries on a simple easter search were:

  • A collection of Easter wallpapers
  • A piece on what the Easter Bunny has to do with Easter
  • Colourful Easter Egg patterns
  • And someone using Easter to rally people to buy Charity Water

Do a search yourself and mine the popular collective mind for a Topsy take on search!

Creepy Bunny

Happy Easter my lovlies

Happy Easter my lovlies

For Easter, here is a collection of the 65 creepiest, sketchiest, Easter Bunny pictures you are ever likely to see.

What fascinates me most about this collection is the look of sheer terror on the faces of some of the children sitting on or near the Easter Bunny. There just seems to be something about EB that seems more sinister than Santa, for example. Now, I know some kids get spooked by Santa too, but EB seems to have a worse track record. Even Saturday in a hardware store I saw a number of chlldren freak out when they saw EB wandering around the shop giving out eggs.

Other pics of interest are:

  • A beaver wearing Easter Bunny ears – just weird
  • Strange, zombie-looking faces on most of the EB costumes
  • One has such large black holes for eyes it looks distinctly demonic (pictured)
  • And my favourite has long eyelashes – I call that one Drag Bunny

So grab a drink and scroll through the pics, I assure you, you will feel like you have taken LSD by the time you make it to picture number 65 of these strange Easter Bunnies.

Butch Bakery

In New York, there is now a bakery that deals in manly, men-like, bakers business or, to be more precise, they make cupcakes with attitude.

And the catalyst for this venture was the owner seething after reading in a magazine article that cupcakes were a combination of everything “pink, sweet, cute, and magical”.

It seems like a fairly novel mission in life, to restore masculine balance to that delightful and dainty of baked goods, but Butch Bakery certainly goes full throttle.

Instead of just using blue icing instead of pink, and replacing pictures of flowers in the icing with golf clubs, this bakery mixes things up, a lot! For example:

  • The rum and coke – The pause that refreshes – this rum-soaked madagascar vanilla cake with cola bavarian cream filling is a knockout.
  • The home run – This peanut butter cake with banana bavarian cream & crumbled bacon is more fun than getting to third base.
  • The beer run – Butch meets buttercream in our chocolate beer cake with beer-infused buttercream topped with crushed pretzels.

I must say that none, other than their chocolate version, do anything for me – I draw the line with bacon staying in the kitchen for breakfast, not adoring my occasional sweet treat. But where there’s testosterone there’s a way and Butch Bakery looks set to be the dessert of choice for bachelor parties for years to come.

Fake store fronts

Anyone for a deli?

Anyone for a deli?

Most of us are relieved the so-called Global Financial Crisis is over, or waning, but it has left some empty spaces in the main streets of towns and cities everywhere. In England, one local council has come up with a novel solution to keep their district’s high streets from becoming ghost towns – they are installing fake shop fronts.

This story from Web Urbanist is thought provoking on a number of levels. Firstly, is this, as the story headline suggests, advertising misinformation? The answer must be no because the installations clearly promote possibilities rather than deceive, at least after first glance. For example, one shop has a potential layout for an upmarket deli with “Delicatessen?” emblazoned across its shopfront – not hard to understand.

The article explains the rationale:

The picture helps passers-by to imagine what the shop might look like if it actually were a delicatessen. The council hopes this bit of imagination-boost will help potential tenants to envision the possibilities of the space. It’s a powerful image that would certainly inspire business owners more than an empty, desolate retail space ever could. The council plans to put up more fake shopfronts to support commercial areas in several towns. At around £1500 per shop, it’s a quick, inexpensive and completely reversible way to spruce up a deserted-looking shopping center.

What do you think of the idea? Is this similar to the dappled colour seats in sports stadiums so that even when crowds are small, telecasts still give the impression that a large crowd has turned out?

You can find out more by reading the Web Urbanist article.

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