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Google Analyzes & Interprets Worldwide “How To” Search Data

Google’s powerful search tool is used by people looking to learn how to do things every day, and so Google has partnered up with designer Xaquin Gonzalez Veira to create a “visual essay” that explores the data. The data visualization tools on offer in the essay stand in both stark contrast and in close companionship to Xaquin’s words on the various subjects. The essay explores not only search data, but the societal tropes, emotions, and other factors behind them. The kicker with the data visualization tools is that they are all interactive; hovering your mouse over an animated square in one of the graphs, such as the romance category seen in the gallery below, will net you some more exact numbers, as one example.

The data is somewhat interesting in and of itself, revealing trends that people may not often give any thought to, such as the fact that many former Soviet countries’ citizens tend to aspire toward fixing their own washing machines, while other appliances take that same place in other regions. Search patterns also show priorities shifting as people come of age, with popular searches like how to kiss leading up to things like how to tie a tie. Searches on fixing toilets and using chopsticks seem to follow similar trends over time, another strange anomaly in the data that points out a bit about cultures that people may not otherwise pay attention to.

Data indicates that people are increasingly either forgetting or not learning some fairly basic things, like how to boil an egg or how to write a letter, and are instead looking to search engines to keep the information handy so that they can devote their brain power to other pursuits. Some of the less basic queries included things like drawing a rose, playing the guitar, multiplying fractions, calculating a GPA, and play poker. Naturally, how to lose weight was one of the top searches with some measure of consistency, and that one fluxuated with the seasons, showing an urgency to get the summer body ready and a relax around the holidays each year. These are just a few interesting ways that search data can be interpreted and analyzed.


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