by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Google exists to help us learn about the world. Not surprisingly, however, our searches reveal who we are. Looking at the questions people ask (and when they do this and where), Seth Stephens-Davidowitz shows how we are unwittingly making confessions that, when multiplied millions of times, can reveal startling realities. Some of what we are told is obvious; for example, that surveys can’t be trusted. Our sexual proclivities are also better kept for a different kind of book (although they will make you laugh). But there is no denying the insights to be gleaned from Big Data (a concept so nebulous even the author shies from defining it) and that it is transforming social science. From the book we learn everything from the percentage of American men who are gay, and how the figure was calculated, to how national identity is formed. We learn that mainly women like to add “oo” to “so” for “sooo”, and who voted for Donald Trump: “Areas that supported Trump in the largest numbers were those that made the most Google searches for ‘n*gger’.” Although fascinating, ultimately more interesting is what numbers do not reveal. This book is worth the conversations it will start.