The NFL has been tackled with criticism for its replacement referees and their inconsistent calls, inspiring a new website that might just illustrate the frustrations of players and fans best.
It’s called Replacement Google and it imagines a digital world in which the NFL has taken over Google and locked out the real results.
Visit http://www.replacementgoogle.com, type in “J.K. Rowling,” and it will return results for an aardvark. Type in “Barack Obama” and you’ll get a lot of information about Dino Bravo. Mitt Romney? Lots about Spiderman. (The results will vary for different users since it uses a random script for results.) You get the point very quickly: Google’s algorithm has been replaced with one that, well, just doesn’t work the way it should.
“With the lockout, you saw what happens when things don’t work the way they’re supposed to. I started wondering what would happen if other things out there suddenly didn’t work as they have always,” Erik Johnson, the creator of the site, told ABC News. “Replacement Google popped into my mind and I went home on my lunch break and put it together within an hour.”
The site went live on Tuesday afternoon and has had over 350,000 unique visitors since. Not quite the numbers that Google.com gets, but it’s a pretty sizable audience for a site in its first 36 hours. When Johnson isn’t working on his new popular site, he is a webmaster at a development firm in Vermont.
Of course, now that the NFL and its referees have reached an agreement, Replacement Google might seem a bit less relevant, but Johnson says he’s happy it caught the attention of the Internet and of Google. (Google tweeted a link to the site on Wednesday.)
“It’s cool that people have checked it out,” he said. “But I’m really happy about the truce.”