Topeka unofficially rechristens itself 'Google'

The Kansas city is one of a handful in the running to be a test market for Google's fiber-optic broadband Internet. And it really, really, really wants to win.

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There's a "Wizard of Oz" joke to be made here: The city of Topeka, Kansas has unofficially changed its name to "Google" in an attempt to get on the Mountain View tech giant's radar as a test bed for new fiber-optic technology that would bring it Internet connections at top speed .

The Topeka Capital-Journal wrote that Mayor Bill Bunten signed a proclamation Monday that designates the town as "Google" for the duration of March, in an attempt to make it a more palatable choice for a test market than some of the other cities in the running--like Grand Rapids, Mich., and Baton Rouge, La. It's not intended to be as permanent as the Oregon town that actually renamed itself Half.com in exchange for some cash, free stuff, and mockery.

The town can't legally change its name if it intends to change it back, and then there's the fact that Google owns all sorts of intellectual property pertaining to its brand name. But the Capital-Journal says that there is technically no legal barrier to the issuance of a proclamation gently encouraging people to refer to Topeka as "Google." You know, it's sort of like when you're a little kid and you wish your name were cooler so you start telling everyone to call you by a new one of your choice, and the blitheness of childhood prevents you from noticing the smirks that ensue every time you politely ask an adult to start referring to you as "Jethro Skywalker."

And in Topeka, there is precedent. As the Capital-Journal explains:

"(A local TV station manager) told the council Monday about how Mayor Joan Wagnon in August 1998 issued a proclamation temporarily changing Topeka's name to "ToPikachu" in recognition of the nationwide kickoff here of the 'Pokemon' media franchise, which features a fictional species of creatures named 'Pikachu.'"

Um, wow?

As for what the local media really thinks, let's just make note of the fact that the Capital-Journal listed an Associated Press version of the story explaining the Google proclamation under its "Strange" category, alongside "Florida man allegedly calls 911 200 times" and "Ohio police officers get drunk on purpose."

But hey, if this campaign actually gets the city a super-fast Internet connection, I'll stop laughing.

 

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