Dangerous, Humid and Expensive: What Google Searches Say About D.C.


Discovering what people think of a city can be a pretty tricky proposition. Ask people on the street, and they may try and be polite. Solicit complaints from a tourist board, and you may get too much negativity. But what about from behind a computer screen? The things people put into the Google search engine may be a revealing way to track attitudes about a city.

For those not familiar, Google uses an autocomplete feature, which attempts to anticipate one’s search query by filling in the blanks with the most popular searches and terms frequently addressed on web pages. A list of autocomplete stereotypes was compiled by blogger Nate Shivar for the top 50 cities in the country.

The results for Washington D.C. are quite telling. From a search for “Why is Washington D.C. so ____” at WAMU headquarters:

Why is Washington D.C. so dangerous
Why is Washington D.C. so humid
Why is Washington D.C. so democratic
Why is Washington D.C. so expensive

Read the rest at WAMU.org.

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