There’s a report ‘Fuzzy maths’, on Google in this week’s Economist (13 May), pps 83-85, which is worth reading for an analysis of the company’s strategies and ‘click-per-view’ business model, its rivalry with Microsoft and the founders’ faith in their mathematical genius.

What struck me first though was its opening paragraph referring to a ‘recent’ billboard, greeting drivers in Silicon Valley, which sought answers to a cryptic question about a “10-digit prime”. I’d seen some nice adverts myself in San Francisco and have included some (see below) in my book, Digital Nations in the making, so wanted to find out just what the Economist was talking about.

Advert for Java software in San Francisco. Billboard in San Francisco in 2002.

Thanks to, its tagging technology and modernemily’s photo (see below) I was able to discover just what the advert said and found that her photo had been posted way back in July 2004! It remains though a tricky question – definitely for geeky mathematicians.

The upshot of all this? Well I’m starting a competition today to find the coolest or funniest ads or street art on an IT or learning related theme, to be seen on either side of the Atlantic. If you’re a tutor and have some learners on a course, why not ask them to go hunting with a digital camera for good examples? The six best entries will be published on this blog at the end of July. Images should be sent to me with information about location and context.

Spacer only. Advert from Google in Silicon valley in 2004.