Random Walks In Webspace

Firefox has a “feature” whereby if you paste text which isn’t a URL into the URL bar, it does a Google “I’m Feeling Lucky” search on it. This means that, for example, if you accidentally paste your clipboard into the bar and hit Enter, you get taken to a random web page.

This is most fun with totally innocuous sentences. I accidentally pasted in “Wrote up document on the volume problem.” and ended up here, a page with no obvious semantic connection with the original sentence. Serendipitously, I had been shown the film about the basketball players and the gorilla (more cool demos like that) during the “Mind Hacks” talk at EuroFoo only last weekend. Weird.

Anyway, this opens up some exciting possibilities for “random walks through webspace”. Here’s the procedure:

Random Walks In Webspace

  • Start Firefox at a particular page. Any page will do – even this one.
  • Find the most boring sentence (three words or more) on the page and
    paste it into the URL bar.

  • Press Enter.
  • Read the new page with deep interest.
  • Repeat.

Post interesting results in the comments. There’s a prize for the sentence and web page pair which bear the least relation to each other.

5 thoughts on “Random Walks In Webspace

  1. Another option is to play competitively. Count the number of steps in your walk. If you hit a 404 or pick a phrase which takes you back to the page you are on, you lose.

  2. Sadly, this feature doesn’t work when your ISP decides to do the SiteFinder thing whereby invalid domain names take you to the ISP’s search page. What is worse is that this is done at the DNS level so if I try to ping say thismightexist.mozilla.org, it will be successful no matter what.