There seems to be a trend lately of using cumulative data to get a general sense of what each state in the nation is thinking. And while you’d think this might bring detailed insights, it’s instead boiling everything down to single words that might tell us more than we really wanted to know. It also might be breeding too many critical assumptions that can’t help the occasionally bitter rivalries between states and their developed philosophies.
One of the worst examples of the above was in a recent digital map compiling stereotypical words that we supposedly Google when searching for information on a particular state. This was done through the Google autocomplete results that fill in a word most users are apt to type in. We found out words like “expensive” were used in California, “cold” used in northern states, and “poor” and “racist” used in southern states.
It was an infographic that gave some painfully biased reveals about America directly from Google and through a company called Amazing Maps who compiled the data. Whether you really wanted to see such brazen honesty about our country again, it was inevitable someone would try something similar using Google search results. The latest is a compilation of the most Googled terms in every state to give a taste of what people are searching for across the nation.
While it may not show direct bias in this latest compilation, it still gives some hilarious and perhaps painful truths about what’s on the minds of each state’s population. Compiled through an organization called Estately, you’ll find some words that almost make you scratch your head in what they truly mean. In my home state of Oregon, for instance, “Allah” is supposedly the most Googled term here when we’re not really known for having a strong Islamic culture.
In places like California, we’re learning how many vegans there are there based on “Meat is Murder” being their top Google term. In New York, “Sniffing Glue” was one of the top terms, which seems to indicate there’s a wide dichotomy on what the adults and kids are doing there.
Are these facts going to help us gain more insight into U.S. states, or are they only going to create more biases? Much of this is the early results of big data, even if we’ll likely be seeing a lot more detailed information as big data becomes used plentifully in companies around the world.
What More Will We Learn About Each U.S. State?
While big data is one of the most exciting advances in compiling information to help us better understand people and situations, it can also show information that should arguably be kept private. Showing more detailed information about what people are thinking about in each state could end up influencing mass opinion to a point where it could affect state economies. When it comes to biases, most people prefer it be tucked away rather than rear its ugly horned head. We’ve found this out recently when certain notable people ended up airing their views on race that showed us the underlying ubiquitous problem of cultural misunderstanding.
Will big data reveal every possible honest thing about us in each state for the media to pick up on? Don’t be surprised to see more Google compilations, including very prurient ones to show just how many vices America has when using Google. Any potentially good news in all of this is we’ll find out just how many are in communion on being far from perfect when using Google in private. Making a choice about where to live may have to come down to which of those biases and vices seem the less offensive, or perhaps fitting your own, even if you don’t want to admit it.