One evening a couple of weeks ago, my mate Neil called me. He wanted to know something specific: which of the Great Lakes drains through Niagara Falls?
This isn’t usually the sort of thing he calls for, so I was a bit surprised.
But it turned out that his girlfriend was at that very moment taking part in a pub quiz. Or more specifically, she was cheating at a pub quiz: she was texting Neil for the answers to questions, and because I’m a geography geek (among other kinds of geek) he called me when it came to the Niagara question.
Nice to know that I rank ahead of Google in his regard.
But this sort of thing happens all the time in pub quizzes. They’re supposed to be tests of how much data you’ve got stored in your head. But everyone has a mobile in their pocket, and with that, a connection to someone with internet access – or even, internet access on the device itself. The totality of human trivia is nothing more than a few thumbclicks away. You might think that pub quizzes might be an endangered species, with smartphones spreading the way they are.
But is it really relevant these days to have a lot of data in your head? I mean, it’s all out there – with a search engine and ubiquitous broadband, you don’t need to actually know a lot of stuff. You just need to know how to find stuff out.
That can be a lot harder than it sounds.
And if it’s hard, that means it can be fun – if it’s done right.
With this in mind, Adrian Hon and I have a new project going: the Hive Mind Challenge. This is a pub quiz, but it’s not like the ones you’re used to. Google is your friend. Bandwidth is your friend. And you’ll need all the friends you can get – because the sort of questions you’ll be answering just aren’t that easy to solve on your own.
We’re hosting the inaugural Hive Mind Challenge at the Coach & Horses pub in Soho on Wednesday, November 25th. You’re invited. Check out the registration page if you’d like to come, or check out the homepage if you’d like some more info.
See you there!