It all began with a simple typo! Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not good at checking my work. The version of WordPress that I use does have a built-in spell-checker and I do avail myself of its services 90% of the time but in this instance it would not have mattered. The first person to notice or perhaps just the only one to care was my son Ian. Of course, he took delight in pointing out the fact that when I recently wrote of our trip to the UK, I told readers that they could check back for the next instalment in our continuing sage (meaning saga, of course).
For a couple of days, I just let it go. However, every so often, Ian would needle me about it. I decided that I should at least correct the error on my blog. The thing was, I didn’t feel like having to read the entire blog to hunt for the exact place. Now, fortunately for me, I knew that Google does a good job of cataloging my pages so I duly entered ‘continuing sage’ into my search bar and fully expected that I would be on the first page if not the very first entry. I knew enough to enclose the words in inverted commas so that I did not get spurious results which simply included the two words but not contiguously. Imagine my surprise to discover that not only was I not top, nor on the first page, I did not even find my own gaffe within the first half a dozen or so pages. Not surprising on reflection, since Google recorded ‘about 4670 results’.
I thought that perhaps Google had neglected to spider this particular page, so I re-entered my search but now added ‘w3junkie’ as a search term as well. Voilà! I was now the ONLY result. By now, this whole episode had really got my attention. I went back to my original search and started really looking at the entries. Finally, I found my own entry inauspiciously tucked away at the bottom of page 19. I thought perhaps I would find that, in many instances, writers were referring to either ‘sage’ , the herb, or ‘sage’, the wise man and that the sentence construction included the word ‘continuing’ as a modifier. No such luck! There were indeed a very few entries where this was the case but probably less than one percent. Even more troubling was the fact that most of the entries did NOT appear to be typos!! A large percentage of the population seems to believe that the word sage is synonymous with the word saga! My typo was paired up with some pretty auspicious company. There were public, corporate and academic sites all apparently believing in the reality of continuing sages.
It is really a sad comment on our education system and the state of the English language that such a volume of erroneous written material abounds. Of course, the Internet has done a great deal for making general knowledge on a wide variety of subjects available to the public. However, this particular exercise has caused me to wonder just how much of that information is completely useless. Unfortunately, there is not yet a ‘commonsense filter’ that allows the unsuspecting reader to sort the wheat from the chaff. I am now convinced that there is a not so small segment of the population who will keep looking for the balance of the continuing sage…..
Out of desperation, I went to dictionary.com just to be sure that I was not in the dark as to a new meaning for the word. My search reassured me that a sage was: 1) a profoundly wise person; a person famed for wisdom. 2) someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience. Not a single reference to epic stories or anything like it. However, upon reading the correct definition of the word, it suddenly occurred to me: “Why, that describes me to a T!”
And thus, W3Junkie, The Continuing Sage is born!
P.S. I am willing to bet that within 24 hours of posting this blog entry, you will not be able to recreate my search results since Google will have gobbled up this content and re-ranked both this and the original entry pushing them much higher in the relevance of the search term.
P.P.S. Within 30 minutes of posting, I was already in position #2 😉