Monday, 27 January 2014

Europe According to Google Autocomplete

A map was doing the rounds on the internet last week that was a variation on a theme seen before:

The Atlantic ran a (flimsy) piece on the map, and what it says about America's national psyche.  It also made reference to other maps that had been done in the past, using the same format for Europe, for example.  I checked them out and they were a bit dated in terms of their results, so for your entertainment and delectation, I repeated the exercise, using two different formats:

1) To match the map above, "why is [insert country] so...?"

and then

2) "[Insert country] is..."

The results of the interrogative were, to be honest, pretty predictable: one of poor, rich, expensive or happy covers pretty much more than half the continent; of the remainder Ireland is green, Britain is great, Russia is big and France is gay.  No surprises there.  That people want to know why Turkey is dry is hardly shocking either (top tip: deep fry it to keep in the moisture), though Lithuania and Greece threw up a couple of curve balls.

The second version was much more fun, and came up with a lot more interesting answers: from the helpful to the nonsensical to the funny.

The U.K., Italy and Slovenia are all countries, whereas Slovakia is Not Slovenia.

Nonetheless, that's still one up on Belgium, which is Not A Road.

Portugal will be disappointed to be In Spain and Ireland annoyed to be Part of Great Britain, but at least these are understandable from a historical perspective.  Why Bosnia is Part of Ukraine is quite another matter.

When it comes to Scandanavia we run the whole gamut: Norway is Awesome, Finland is Depressing and Sweden, for some reason, is Not Overpowered.

A hop over the sea reminds us that Estonia is Not A Nordic Country, though its neighbour is getting its Latin vibe on because Latvia is The New Argentina.

We get references to the historic (Poland is Not Yet Lost), and statements of fact (Moldova is A Small Landlocked Country), as well as more controversial claims: Macedonia is Greece and Hungary is No Longer A Democracy.

All of which are fun, but not necessarily fun enough to have warranted an hour or so of my time.

But then we get to the real treats:

Russia is Gay.

France is Bacon.

And last, but by no means least, Greece is The Word.


P.S. Spare a thought for poor little Montenegro.  Neither search came back with any autofill suggestions.  Nothing.  It just gave up, as if to say "Montenegro? That's a new one on me…"

UPDATE: Someone on Reddit has suggested that Montenegro has fallen foul of the 'Scunthorpe problem', and that Google's naughty word filter stops it auto-completing. 

Also, the hilariously surreal 'France is Bacon' thing probably merits an explanation.  Apparently some guy confessed on Reddit to having misheard a quote: "Knowledge is power, Francis Bacon", and the rest is interwebs history.

As to why Spain is Not The Emperor, it is apparently a joke connected to some strategy game, Europa Universalis, and is really funny to its geeks fans.

I repeated the exercise for Asia and the Americas here.

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The World According to Google Autocomplete by Chris Connolly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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