Are we most honest with our search engines? That's the question Ben Casnocha poses, furrowing the brow of economist and superblogger Tyler Cowen. First, there's a fascinating observation about the way people use language:
When you type a query into Google it will suggest the most popular completions to the given prefix ... People who start their search "how 2" are more likely to search "how 2 get pregnant" or "how 2 grow weed." People who start their search "how one might" are more likely to search "how one might discover a new piece of music" or "how one might for the rise of andrew jackson in 1828."
But it's not just how we phrase our searches but what we search for that exposes us:
Someone once told me that there is nowhere we are more honest than the search box. We don't lie to Google. Period. We type in what we're thinking--good, bad, and ugly. There's probably no piece of information that would better show what's on someone's mind than their stream of searches.
Is Casnocha right? Is it possible that a Google search box might reveal more about us than a diary or a string of e-mails?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.