Individual Work

The interactive, found poem “Solstice” by Jacqueline Goss explores cached Google searches discovered on an Internet café computer in New York. Found poems typically involve gathering random phrases or words and compiling them by different methods into a "poem." One thing that makes this found poem especially interesting is that Goss gathered the cached lists on the two solstices, December 21st and June 21st, in 2006. At the end of those days, Goss went in, located the Google search strings, and used the phrases to create her piece. The poem opens with a choice to go into either “Winter” or “Summer.” Each list of entries is portrayed on a plain background of either black for winter or white for summer. The user brings up the search strings via the keyboard. Any Google searches beginning with a chosen letter will appear on the screen. This way, the reader can control which phrases appear first and cycle through various phrases in cases where multiple search strings begin with the same letter. The phrases do, however, descend alphabetically. Any letter not attached to a search string will leave a blank space in the list. When a letter is selected, the cached search appears along with a designated sound. The sounds are different depending on if you entered “Winter” or “Summer.” Enter the “Winter solstice” and encounter Christmas and winter-themed phrases against a backdrop of a blustery, whistling wind. Head over to the “Summer solstice” and enjoy the rhythm of waves lapping against a shore while finding Google searches for beaches and getaways.

This Flash enabled poem offers a simple yet thought provoking interactive experience. Readers can compare and contrast the list of searches found on the solstices and postulate how much, if at all, the different times of the year affect the Internet users’ interest. The searches include words and phrases such as “Annoying high-budget Christmas movies” to “Cosmetic surgery Costa Rica,” “Whores for airline miles,” and “gaydar.” Readers may allow the first lines to appear and then read down the list or keep changing it by rotating through the search options available. The resulting poem may provide an amusing read or initiate deeper reflection on Internet accessibility, seasonal changes, and even computer privacy concerns.