Today Google users had a little shock to their system with a new look and new name on Google’s home page.  Rather than the familiar “Google,” the name “Topeka” was prominently displayed.

A little confusing without the back story.  At first, I didn’t make the connection to April Fool’s day.  I was thinking, “Is this supposed to be a cool spelling for Topica?  As in search for topics?”

The official Google blog had an explanation:

Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google. We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.

Topeka’s name change is Mayor Bill Bunten’s attempt to spotlight the city of Topeka as a contender for Google’s “Fiber for Communities” project.   Google plans to install ultra fast broadband networks in up to 50,000 communities in an experimental project that will deliver connections at up to 1 gigabit per second.

Bunten is not a huge techie himself; however, he does realize the vital role the internet plays in business and commerce.   He sees the project as a way to ensure the continued growth and economic vitality of Topeka for the upcoming generations.

The submission period has ended.  The project page displays a map of communities that applied.  The response was overwhelming and staff at Google noted:

If one message has come through loud and clear, it’s this: people across the country are hungry for better and faster Internet access.

No kidding!  I wish someone would tell Suddenlink that.  For the past month, I have been battling dropped connections and dial-up level speeds even though I pay through the nose for the highest internet package available.  Do you know how long it takes to upload graphic files for print at that level?  It’s a nightmare. Since Hurricane Ike, the internet connection has been horrible and our electricity goes out every time a squirrel sneezes.

That 1 gigabit transfer per second would almost be enough reason alone to relocate.

It will be interesting to see if Bunten’s stunt pays off.  Personally, I think it would be a shame not to reward that creativity.