Friday, April 2, 2010

April Fool! Google becomes Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. — For a month, Topeka was Google. For a day — April Fools' Day — Google was Topeka.
In a nod to the Kansas capital, which unofficially changed its name to Google, Kan., for a month in a bid to become a test site for the company's planned super-fast fiber optic network, the popular search engine changed its name Thursday to Topeka.

Visitors to the company's home page,, were greeted by the name "Topeka" in Google's familiar multicolor typeface. Below it was a link to a lengthy blog posting by Google Inc. Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt explaining the move.

Topeka, Schmidt said, took its name from the Kansa Indians as "a good place to dig for potatoes" along the banks of the Kansas River.

"We'd like to think that our Web site is one the Web's best places to dig for information," Schmidt wrote.

Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten's office was inundated with calls Thursday.

"We've had a lot of fun with it. It's brought attention to our city," Bunten said. "I appreciate that they received our effort to change the name in good humor and we do the same with their change to Topeka."

Schmidt said Google users would have to get used to using "Topeka News" and "Topeka Maps" and that Google employees — known affectionately as "Googlers" — would be known as "Topekans."

The names will eventually revert back. Schmidt said there could be some confusion, even for just one day.

Bunten and city leaders signed off on the unofficial name change in hopes of landing Google's broadband project in Topeka, a city of 123,000.

"There's so many good things that are going on here. The Google thing is one of a number, and we're not done yet," Bunten said.

Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson called the name change was a well-deserved recognition, adding "Today, if people have Topeka'd 'Kansas', they've seen it's the perfect place to live, work and raise a family."

One of many contenders

Google spokesman Dan Martin was quick to note the name change doesn't mean Topeka has risen to the top of the list of contenders.

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