Friday, July 19, 2019

Autocomplete - Cities Edition

I've updated the Autocomplete Map so that it now also shows what Google thinks of American and UK cities. On this interactive map country, state and city place-name labels have been changed to show Google's autocomplete suggestions for different locations. For example when you type "New York is ... " into Google the search engine suggests "New York is Killing Me".

Google autocomplete suggestions have a strong dislike for a lot of U.S. cities. According to Google lots of cities are dumps, boring, ruined, dangerous or a ghetto. But you shouldn't blame Google. Google's autocomplete suggestions are based on the previous searches by other users. In other words the autocomplete suggestions are what most users type into Google when searching for those cities.

Google autocomplete makes lots of weird and surreal suggestions. According to Google 'Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler's List' (a collection of short stories by Michael Martone), 'Albany is Eggscellent' (apparently from a t-shirt slogan), 'San Diego is Spanish for Whales' (a misquote from the movie Anchorman - "they named it San Diego, which of course in German means ‘a whale’s vagina"), and 'Madison is Banquo' (from a line in a song from the musical Hamilton).

Methodology: The autocomplete suggestions used on the map are based on searching Google in England. You may get other suggestions depending on which country you search from. I have tried to use the top autocomplete suggestion for each city - except where the suggestions are too repetitive (for example '(city name) is a dump' appears as the first suggestion for many, many cities). I may also have ignored the top autocomplete suggestion when another suggestion was more interesting. If a city is missing from the map then it is probably because Google had no interesting autocomplete suggestions for that city.

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