M.I.A. Escapes From Google

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As the world's information becomes ever more digitized, a growing number of people and businesses are preoccupied with search engine optimization, or SEO--the cluster of tricks and strategies that help certain results show up higher in Web searches. (These strategies, for example, are what inform virtually everything published by Associated Content.) But M.I.A., the London-born dance-pop artist who laces her tracks with political provocation, seems to have recused herself from that competition--or if not herself, at any rate, certainly her new album.

Later this year, M.I.A. will release her third album, which is called /\/\/\Y/\--a title constructed mostly of forward- and backslashes, meant to approximate the name Maya, which M.I.A. uses when not performing. However, as Carles points out at the indie-snark blog Hipster Runoff, the album title is essentially invisible to Google--try to search for "/\/\/\Y/\" and you'll just get a bunch of hits for the letter Y. Google can't search for slashes.

"Did M.I.A. 'eff up' by giving her album an un-google-able name?" wonders Carles. Everything that appears on Hipster Runoff is nested in a few brackets of self-aware irony, but Carles raises an interesting point about the artist and those who consume her work. In the hail of half-rhetorical questions that closes the post, he gets in a few pointed barbs at just about everyone:

Will M.I.A. be forced to change her album name when people can’t google it / search iTunes for it / search Amazon for it?
Will M.I.A. go on an 'anti-google twitter tirade' within the next 2 months?
Do you feel like your core fan base will buy/DL the album no matter how difficult it is to get to, but you have to make sure that 'new markets' of lazy fans can easily find your album?
Are 'special characters' too gimmicky to be utilized in album names?
Should blogs be 'pissed' at M.I.A. for not making her new album more google-friendly?
If M.I.A.'s album doesn’t sell well, can she blame it on Google for failing to index her progressive album name?
Is SEO 'bullshit'?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.