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Has Google lost its mojo?
What does this headline – Has Google lost its mojo? – mean? What is mojo?
[ 2008-08-29 11:07 ]

Has Google lost its mojo?

Reader question:

What does this headline – Has Google lost its mojo? – mean? What is mojo?

My comments:

That headline asks: Has Google lost its entrepreneurial magic? Or has Google's pioneering tricks stopped working?

In other words it questions whether Google is beginning to lose its luster, whether it has ceased to be effective, or using another parable, whether it has lost its magic wand.

A mojo is a charm, it's the thing hidden in the bag of a voodoo magician, which is either African-American or American-Indian in origin. Voodoo is originally a word for folk beliefs involving charms and spells. Nowadays it stands for anything superstitious and unscientific, such as voodoo economics. A mojo can be a spear, a spike, a nail, a stick, a stone, a pin, a needle (I find myself humming to the tune of the Waters of March) or any other object that, like the magic wand, somehow lends the voodoo master mystical powers.

This reminds me of another similar saying: don't lose your marble. Take marble as being the little round glass ball children play with in games. Imagine a boy engaging in heated and exciting battle and all of a sudden he can't find his little glass ball. Well, as a young boy playing marble, I've had it happen to me a number of times – I would get distracted for the slightest moment by something and lo, and behold, the little round ball had rolled out of my sight and nowhere to be found. And what happens when you lose your marble? You're agitated and begin to act crazy and strange.

Now you can imagine how a voodoo master feels when he opens his bag and his mojo isn't there!

Alright, here are media examples of people losing their mojo:

1. John Key outlined his party's three major themes of economy, education and environment in his first speech to a regional conference as National's leader.

Mr Key says Helen Clark has "lost her mojo, Labour has lost the pulse of the people and National has fresh ideas and will win the next election".

- John Key: Helen has 'lost her mojo', 3news.co.nz, April 28, 2007.

2. He once made grown men cry – or at least tremble at the mere sight of his name anywhere within a 6-iron of the top of the leaderboard on a Saturday or a Sunday. No more. Tiger Woods is no longer The Intimidator.

Time was, Woods was still in the hunt even when he was four, five or even six strokes off the lead. This was partly due to his magical gifts, but also because the rest of the field knew he was still in the hunt and played as if they were all shooting for second place. It's hard to swing a club when your knees are knocking and you're looking back over your shoulder.

Woods has, quite frankly, lost his mojo.

-- Tiger Woods has lost his mojo - and his mastery, sportsillustrated.cnn.com, August 15, 2003.

3. I'm trying not to be alarmed, but I think I might have lost my mojo. There might be some of you out there unsure as to what mojo is, and I'd have to admit that I don't know exactly either. It seems to be one of those words of rock'n'roll origin that describes the 'stuff' inside a person that gives them that extra bit of fizz and sparkle and swagger to get through life.

Other ways of describing 'mojo' would be 'soul' or 'chutzpah'. And it's important, this mojo thing, because it gives a person a subtle but exhilarating sense of confidence and momentum. A bit like when you're riding a bicycle and you know you're going to get up the second hill because you're coming down the first hill so fast that nothing could ever stop you.

Anyway, whatever mojo is, I think I've lost it, maybe for good. I am mojo-less. I am sans mojo. You can tell by my 'sense of style'. I popped out to the shops the other day in a T-shirt I'd slept in with a jumper slung over the top, torn trousers trailing in the dirt, skidding a bit because my boots needed re-heeling. Shuffling along, with my bed hair, I looked like a junkie in search of their morning bag of skag, and you know what's really scary? I didn't even care.

I think this sort of thing happens every so often, especially with mums. They should have a section in parenting books after the stuff about sleepless nights and potty training - Beware of Losing Your Mojo. I believe they call it 'letting yourself go', but it's a bit more important than that. People who've 'let themselves go' tend to stand screaming in front of the mirror, seemingly shocked to the core that Halle Berry isn't staring back at them. Deluded they might be, but there's still some energy there, some fight left in them.

Women who've lost their mojo are different - if they ever look in the mirror it's with this kind of dead-eyed sarcasm, this kind of 'Yeah, so?' attitude.

- Mum's mojo, by Barbara Ellen, The Observer, April 17 2005.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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