You might remember the map of Presidential campaign speech keywords we highlighted on the blog a couple months back. Well, a new tool lends more credence to the claim that where you live affects the vocabulary of what you talk, think, and care most about.
A website called StateStats
combines results from Google’s
Insights for Search tool with
data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Now
keyword searches tracked by Google are tied to location or “georeferenced” and
compared with information from the Census.
An example is the search-term “mittens.” States with high activity for “mitten” searches
are those at high northern latitudes that experience frost and chilly
temperatures like Vermont, Maine, Minnesota, and Alaska. It’s a bit obvious that where there is cold, there will be
mittens, but what if we try another popular winter-weather search?
The keyword “skiing” is frequently
searched in the states of Vermont, Montana, New Hampshire, and Maine; again states in high latitudes with a lot of frost. But StateStats
also shows that these states all have similar incomes, average ages, percent of
high school graduates and political leanings.
On the other hand, obesity, infant mortality and violent crime seem to
have a negative correlation, or opposite relationship, to the search-term
So can we conclude that anyone who searches for “skiing” is
a skinny, wealthy, high school graduate from a northern latitude?
exactly. While this is a great tool,
even the creators of the site warn visitors to take findings with a grain of
salt, since there are many external factors that can impact results.
Regardless, StateStats is a great site that uses technology
to explore geography in a fun way. Try
searching other geo-terms like “map”,
“travel”, “culture”, or (of course) “geography,” and see how
your predictions match up with reality. Maybe even make a game of it and pit
your guesses for geographic distributions against a friend’s. Then, let us know
what you find!