Proper use of Topeka
- Good: Before our blind date I Topeka searched him.
- Not preferred: Before our blind date I Topeka'ed him.
- Bad: Before our blind date I topeka'd him.
- Very bad: Before our blind date I topeka'ed him with Alta Vista.
Source: Topeka, Inc.
TOPEKA For a month, Topeka was Google. For a day — April Fools’ Day — Google was Topeka.
In a nod to the Kansas capital, which unofficially changed its name to Google, Kan., for a month in a bid to become a test site for the company’s planned super-fast fiber optic network, the popular search engine changed its name Thursday to Topeka.
Visitors to the company's home page, were greeted by the name "Topeka" in Google's familiar multicolor typeface. Below it was a link to a lengthy blog posting by Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt explaining the move.
Topeka, Schmidt said, took its name from the Kansa Indians as “a good place to dig for potatoes” along the banks of the Kansas River.
“We’d like to think that our Web site is one the Web’s best places to dig for information,” Schmidt wrote.
Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten’s office was inundated with calls Thursday.
“We’ve had a lot of fun with it. It’s brought attention to our city,” Bunten said. “I appreciate that they received our effort to change the name in good humor and we do the same with their change to Topeka.”
Schmidt said Google users would have to get used to using “Topeka News” and “Topeka Maps” and that Google employees — known affectionately as “Googlers” — would be known as “Topekans.”
Bunten and city leaders signed off on the unofficial name change in hopes of landing Google’s broadband project in Topeka, a city of 123,000.
“There’s so many good things that are going on here. The Google thing is one of a number, and we’re not done yet,” Bunten said.
Gov. Mark Parkinson called the name change was a well-deserved recognition, adding “Today, if people have Topeka’d ’Kansas’, they’ve seen it’s the perfect place to live, work and raise a family.”
Google spokesman Dan Martin was quick to note the name change doesn’t mean Topeka has risen to the top of the list of contenders.
“We continue to evaluate the approximately 1,100 community responses that we’ve received, and still plan to announce our target community or communities by the end of the year,” Martin said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Google will announce which community will be selected to build the network by the year’s end. It offers to provide Internet connections of 1 gigabit per second to as many as 500,000 Americans, faster than the broadband connection in most U.S. homes.
Topeka isn’t alone in its efforts to woo the Google project.
Vermont produced a 2-minute video showing a college student pulling orange extension cord throughout the state, ending with Gov. Jim Douglas asking the student not to run in the Statehouse. And Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty proclaimed March 26 to be Google Twin Ports Day to show support for Duluth’s application.
Other applicants have been less audacious, choosing to stick to traditional communications touting existing infrastructure that could support Google’s efforts.
The names will eventually revert back. Topeka will be Topeka and Google will be Google, but Schmidt said there could be some confusion, even for just one day.
Billionaire Richard Branson’s co-venture with Google to launch a permanent colony on Mars would henceforth be known as Project Vireka, a melding of Virgin and Topeka, instead of Project Virgle, Schmidt wrote.
Google has used April Fool’s Day before to draw attention to its activities. It launched Gmail in 2004, offering e-mail accounts with 1 gigabyte of free storage per account, more than rivals Microsoft and Yahoo. First confused for a hoax, Gmail now has an estimated 176 million users worldwide.