Bulb burnout: The trouble with mnemonic URLs


So it’s Thursday night, kids are in bed, we’re watching the science channel and along comes the most brilliant Philips light bulb commercial we’ve ever seen. The screen fills with blue-and-white melting icebergs, then a young baby boy floating precariously on a shard of frozen H2O, and just when we expect Al Gore to nasally intone the world is ending, a warm narrator’s voice implores us to save the future by buying a Philips CFL bulb. The web site URL flashes on the screen.

We’re smitten. Yes, those old incandescent bulbs are wasteful. CFL bulbs — which look like spiral ice cream cones — burn 80% less electricity, and have come down in price from $25 a pop to a buck fifty. If every home in the U.S. swapped out just one light bulb, we’d save enough electricity to power 500,000 homes. Even Jeffrey Immelt is pitching this stuff, and he ought to know, he works 100 hours a week selling GE aircraft engines. We must join this cause!

So we march to the computer, start to punch in the URL … and dammit, we can’t remember it. The web site name sure was catchy. Something like www.lightupthefuture.com or www.savechildrenonicefloes.com or www.philipsprofitsfromyourguilt.com. Arg! Help! Somewhere, a baby boy on an ice shard is drowning. We could save the world, if only offline-online response mechanisms weren’t so difficult to remember.

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