Last week the web spent about five minutes going totally loopy for a pair of very brief YouTube virals. One is a six-second clip of a yellow Porsche driving down a cobbled street in Italy. The other is also a six-second clip of the yellow Porsche driving down the cobbled street in Italy, from a different angle. That's it: no commentary, no explanation. And they'd both been watched by over 150,000 people in less than 48 hours.
What's the rush? Well, the clips are amateur footage of a scene being shot for New Moon, the second movie in the Twilight series, which stars Robert Pattinson as teen vampire Edward Cullen. You know you've arrived when you've got an internet nickname. For reasons of brevity and my own amusement, I shall henceforth address Pattinson solely by his: "RPattz".
At the Cannes Film Festival's annual Cinema Against AIDS benefit, RPattz auctioned two kisses for $28,000 each, to be planted on the cheeks of the daughters of the winning bidders. Naturally, he's also a musician (with, one grown-woman colleague assures me, "the most beautiful voice in all the world...").
Certain sectors of the internet should only be approached by teenage girls, like netball courts or Topshop; and Edward Cullen/ RPattz was created specifically to drive that particular demographic wild. He's moodier and manlier than Zac Efron; too dangerous for a Dad's comfort, a natural killer who must suppress the urge; oh, and talking of suppressing urges, he can't have it off with his girlfriend as he'd get carried away and start sucking her blood.
I'm sure teenage girls won't be the least bit interested; but boys, I'd like to recommend a healthier relationship role model than this. He's called Nick, he's played by the fine young comic actor Michael Cera, and he's one half of the charming teen couple who give their names to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, due on DVD shortly.
The story of a single night on the Manhattan music scene, Nick and Norah is resolutely undramatic yet, for my money, a lot more romantic than Twilight. Nick and Norah are a pleasantly eccentric pair who, thanks to their wit and likeability, never tip over into the forced quirkiness that afflicts so many movies nowadays. They drink, they like music, they have sex. Nick doesn't glitter like diamonds in the sunlight. But he smiles occassionally, and tells the odd bad joke, which is more than can be said for boring old Edward Cullen, whose idea of fun is playing baseball with his parents.
There's a fresh verb about to enter the lexicon: "to Bing". As in: "Could you Bing me the best route to Berkhampstead?" or "I spent most of last night Binging Vanessa Hudgens." Bing.com is the new search engine unveiled by Microsoft last week. Expected to go live on Wednesday, it's being sold as smarter than Google.
Then again, they said the same about the supposedly revolutionary Wolfram Alpha search engine when that made its debut in May. Rather than simply select links to other sites, Wolfram answers questions with the help of a complex algorithm. But be warned: it's a lot more useful for learning about rainfall in Chad than for finding pubs in Kensington.
Moreover, a small San Franciscan nerd collective with $15m just launched Topsy, a search engine that sifts Twitter users' tweets and links, rather than the wider web. Topsy, say its creators, is designed to demonstrate what's hot on the net right this very second.
As search engines get smarter, choosing your favourite could be the same as buying a car: perhaps we'll all just pick the best vehicle to get us where we want to go. If I search, say, "New Moon" with Wolfram Alpha, it soberly explains that the last new moon appeared at 1:14:33 pm GMT on Sunday, May 24. A search for "RPattz" draws a blank: "Wolfram Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input."
Google's top responses to "New Moon" are more my thing – the IMDB and Wikipedia pages for the movie; while Googling "Rpattz" helpfully yields its urban dictionary definition, with an example of usage: "RPattz FTW!!!"
So will search engines eventually fragment along anthropological lines, or will a giant like Google or Microsoft create one clever enough to cater to everyone's taste at once? Given the same search terms, Topsy returns two blog posts entitled "OMG! New Moon Pics!"; and "Breaking! Robert Pattinson takes his shirt off!" It has, I suspect, a good chance of becoming the teenage girl's search engine of choice.