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The United States of Autocomplete

Posted by Josh Rothman  December 9, 2010 08:30 AM

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Dorothy Gambrell of Very Small Array has made a clever map of the United States in which each state's name has been replaced by its associated Google autocomplete suggestion - "The United States of Autocomplete."


Image from Very Small Array (click to enlarge).

Massachusetts, for example, is labeled "Massachusetts Bay Colony" - the first autocomplete item to appear beneath Dorothy's search box when she types in "Massachusetts." California is "California Prop 19"; Oregon is "Oregon Trail"; Kentucky is "Kentucky Fried Chicken"; Louisiana, "Louisiana Purchase."

Dorothy's map is actually different from the map you would draw if you repeated her exercise, since Google's autocomplete feature takes into account your own past searches (assuming you're signed in to Google) as well as what other people have been searching for recently. Google also suggests more local search queries, so that if you're in Massachusetts you're more likely to see "Massachusetts RMV" than "Massachusetts Bay Colony."

Unsurprisingly, Google's autocomplete has been a fun toy for the curious ever since it debuted as "Google Suggest" in 2004. It's a quick and easy way to peer into the slightly senseless search-engine universe - witness the "Top 10 Funniest Google Search Results," and PC World's equally enjoyable "Fun with Google Suggest." From PC World comes this inspired suggestion:

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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