It's true, it's true! The Internet really doesn't know everything. A Brooklyn-based artist just proved it with the word "parbunkells." Earlier, I told you about the 10 most overused buzzwords on the Internet. But this is just the opposite. Artist Julia Weist set out to find an actual word that was not yet anywhere on the Internet.
Do you think that would be easy? One recent estimate claims there are about 15 trillion webpages on the Internet. We can only guess how many sextillion words are written on all those pages. But of that nearly incomprehensible number, nowhere was the word parbunkells - until this month. Follow along and I'll tell you what happened, plus what parbunkells actually means.
Earlier this month, Weist uncovered the obscure 17th century word and managed to get it posted on a billboard in Forest Hills, New York. At the same time, she also used the word on her blog, fairly confident that it was the first time the word had ever been published on the Internet. In an interesting quirk, she set up a lamp in her apartment to turn on every time her site was visited.
At first, the lamp flickered slowly as curious New Yorkers Googled the unusual word and landed on her site. But as it happens so often these days, the word went viral and spread faster than a Taylor Swift selfie. On Thursday, a website picked up the story and in no time, parbunkells had its own reddit thread, Twitter handle and hashtags galore.
According to a 1627 publication in the New York Public Library’s Rare Book Division, parbunkells is an old English word that means “coming together through the binding of two ropes.”
It's not that a word that describes tying two ropes together is such a big deal. Instead, it is a dramatic demonstration about the difference between the incredible amount of information at our fingertips and the untold words, stories and ideas still hidden away on dusty shelves.
These days it is far too easy to believe that everything we need to know is instantly available on Google. I hope Julia Weist's parbunkells project challenges you to look beyond the Internet to learn even a few more things. Meanwhile, I wonder when her lamp will finally turn off.