Saturday, November 28, 2009

Google sees your deepest secrets

That the internet brings out a weird side of people is no breaking news. It suffices to say that porn material is responsible for about 50% of all internet traffic, and the adult content industry was a major sponsor behind the development of technologies for compression of media files for easier distribution. Yep: that MP3 of yours? Thank it to San Fernando Valley and those girls with names like Axxxley.

But what has Google to do with this? Well, it is by far the most popular search engine in the world and, as such, its aggregated data on searches offer a pretty accurate picture of people's interest for specific subjects.

First, try Google Trends. Search for "American Idol". From the results, you learn that the show starts in January with a small peak in interest. You also see that the show seems to be particularly loved in the Philippines.

But the most interesting insights come from the suggested searches. When you're typing search keywords, Google normally makes suggestions based on the most popular searches (although their help page does not explain exactly how they decide what to suggest). What comes up in the suggestions is really funny, and really scary.

Try typing the following:

- are aliens
- can a girl
- Obama is
- is it a sin

Scary stuff, isn't it?

But, hey, why don't try it yourself? Feel free to post your results in the comments.

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