A Zen Koan by Google: Why Is Brooklyn Called Dumbo?


Wow. That’s like asking: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Oh, wait, no it’s not.

Brooklyn’s not called Dumbo, stupid. It’s called Brooklyn.

Blogger Renee DiResta’s posted a piece on her blog No Upside examining what Google thinks about each state. There’s an awesome interactive map where you can roll over your state and see what the top search results are when people type in: Why is ____ so?

The results are pretty much what you’d expect in most places. People want to know, why is New York so great? so populated? so expensive? so big? And Oregon. Why is Oregon so liberal? So weird? So rainy? So boring?

This got us thinking about how Google views Brooklyn.

What do Googlers want to know about us???

We did it a little bit differently. We left out the word “so.” In case you’re wondering, people want to know why Brooklyn is so popular? So expensive? So ghetto? And so great? But those questions are all pretty much a matter of opinion. We don’t know? Brooklyn just IS all of those things.

Anyway, we wanted to know the factual questions that people are curious about. Here’s the thing. People ask stupid questions. They want to know things like, why is Brooklyn called Brooklyn? Why is Brooklyn so expensive? (people apparently REALLY want to know this) Why is Brooklyn called Dumbo? Why is Brooklyn called Crooklyn?

We’ll take these one at a time.

Brooklyn is called Brooklyn because the British anglicized the shit out of the Dutch word “Breukelen” which is the name of a place in the Netherlands.

Brooklyn is so expensive because it is the best place to live and nice things cost money.

Brooklyn is called Dumbo because, oh, wait, it is NOT called Dumbo. That’s a stupid question.

Brooklyn is also not called Crooklyn.

And now you know everything there is to know about Brooklyn.

You’re welcome!

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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