Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This, I Love

This story requires no introduction, which is all well and good since I can't seem to think of one to do it justice.

Google Trends: The mind of Utah
Curious, entertaining new search tool also might offer insight into human nature
By Bob Mims
The Salt Lake Tribune

Want a peek into Utah's psyche? Click onto the Google Trends service, type in a collection of terms and brace yourself. You are about to gaze into a digital mirror to see Zion's cyberspace ghostly double - the mundane, bizarre, ribald, homey, gluttonous, addictive and slightly perverse and surreal world of your Web-surfing friends and neighbors. Google Trends (http://www.google.com/trends) charts the frequency of search words or phrases as entered in different nations and languages by users since 2004, and ranks cities' entries accordingly. The results can be both confirmation of, and contrary to, regional and cultural stereotypes. Consider that predominantly Mormon, family-friendly Utah leads the nation in searches on such terms as LDS Church President "Gordon Hinckley," "Jesus," the "second coming," "scrapbooking," "baby names," "potty training," "quilting," "Barbie" and the sappy 1980 romantic movie "Somewhere in Time." Utahns also apparently are hungry, and guilty about subsequent feasting. Salt Lake City ranked No. 1 in the nation searching for "Twinkies," "smores," "cookies," "chocolate" and "fry sauce" . . . and for "bulimia" and "anorexia."
The Beehive State also loves professional basketball, ranking No. 1 nationally for the term "NBA draft," and its sports jones extends to the nearby slopes of the Wasatch Range: Salt Lake City is No. 3 for "skiing," trailing only snow meccas such as Denver and one of its suburbs. But explanations fail for some other search entries for which Salt Lake City computer users take top ranking: "Sponge Bob Square Pants," "sheep," "earwigs," and "boogers." Utah's capital also has a strange interest in "gerbils," second only to Cincinnati. And there apparently are more than a few Utahns looking over their shoulders as they troll the Internet realms of the salacious and fetishism. Salt Lake City ranks No. 1 for the term "panties," loses out only to Detroit for the voyeuristic "up skirt" search, and is No. 3 - runner-up to first place Meriden, Conn., and No. 2 St. Louis - for "masturbation."

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