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Digital Voyeurism: Question Suggestions

Cultural peep shows, modern fixations, and why everyone is looking for the appendix.

You know those drop-down suggestions that pop up every time you begin typing a search into Google? Much of the time, it seems to know what you want — kind of like a very low-stakes game of Wheel of Fortune. Most people tend to just search with keywords, not bothering to fully formulate a question. But what if you went in with an incomplete Ask Jeeves-esque query and let the Google algorithm try to suggest how to finish it?

A new blog, called Questions Suggestions, does just that.

Questions Suggestions, the creation of web designer and developer Justin Talbott, presents us with screen shots of search queries along with the given suggestions — with results ranging from humorous to baffling. Assuming that the suggestions are loosely based on the most popular searches, the site offers not only amusement but also a look into what the internet community at large is searching for.

Not surprisingly, as in the example above, many of the results expose prevalent fixations of modern culture: love (or sex), money, and celebrity gossip — we’re grouping “Dubai” under money here, and the “appendix”, true to its nature, stands alone.

One of our favorite quirks is the difference in suggestions given to those who use “you” and those time-strapped individuals who use “u.” Compare this example…

… to this similar search:

If you ever thought you might be brave enough to pick the collective teenage brain, here’s your chance.

Questions Suggestions provides a somewhat voyeuristic look at what everybody is searching for — a worthy, and often very funny, piece of cultural anthropology. And while the site itself offers no commentary, we bet you won’t have trouble coming up with your own.

Meghan Walsh has a degree in Anglo-Irish Literature from Trinity College, Dublin and is finishing her thesis on J.P. Donleavy at NYU. She is currently working on two art exhibitions in New York City. For more of her writing check out her cooking blog.

Published July 29, 2009




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