Google fights xeroxing

xeroxing:  process by which a brand name becomes so ubiquitous that it becomes the generic term for something.” (See e.g. “scotch tape,” “magic marker,” “thermos,” “kleenex”)  (Also see the WG post “FaceTime Me.”) (Note I am coining the repurposed use of “xeroxing” here, so if it catches on, don’t tell Xerox corporation’s lawyers where you read it first. Apropos of all that, does Xerox still even make copiers?)

Google wants none of that. According to this article from the BBC (among many articles–this story has been all over the internetosphere):

The Language Council of Sweden wanted to include “ungoogleable” – or “ogooglebar” – in its annual list of new Swedish words. But it defined the term as something that cannot be found with any search engine.

Google wanted the Swedish translation to be changed to refer only to Google searches, and the Council opted to remove the word altogether to avoid a lengthy legal battle.

“Ogooglebar” — sounds like something you could buy in oatmeal-chocolate-chip and blueberry-acai crunch. But anyway… doesn’t this seem like a losing battle?  Google’s victory is that “google” long ago became shorthand for “to search for something online.” (Nobody says “Yahoo that.”)

Back in the Time of Darkness, which is to say when I was still on dial-up and paying $30/month for 10 hours of AOL***, a friend from graduate school said to me one day, “You should try this new search engine Google,” and, as I recall, it was not all that terribly long thereafter when I read an article mentioning the term “ungoogleable”** meaning “can’t be found though an online search.”


**More on that term in the post below.

***And gather ’round, my children, while I tell you the tale of my first mobile phone, which came in a bag the size of a 6-pack cooler, had to be umbilical-corded into the cigarette-lighter outlet (I’ll explain that later), and tapped me to the tune of $30 for 30 minutes of local-only calls. And lo, 20 years—which is several times the lifespan of the Universe in internet years—and how many phones later, I still have the same number.


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