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California according to Google users: Great, awesome, liberal

August 20, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • A light dusting of snow covers the mountains beyond the Los Angeles skyline viewed from the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.
A light dusting of snow covers the mountains beyond the Los Angeles skyline… (Mark Boster/Los Angeles…)

California is clearly the best state in the country. Mountains, ocean, deserts, forests, celebrities -- we've got all the best stuff. 

And apparently people who start queries on Google with the phrase "Why is California so ..." agree.

When I typed in "Why is California so ..." just a few minutes ago, Google's auto-fill function suggested I might want to complete that phrase with "liberal" or "great" or "awesome."

I hear you Google!

Google's auto-complete function is based on an algorithm that relies heavily on the collective wisdom of the Web (i.e., what other people have typed before), but that also factors in geography and past searches. So, as a Google spokeswoman points out, what I get when I ask my query is not necessarily what you will get if you ask Google the same first half of the question, but is probably based on what other people have asked before.

Renee DiResta, an associate at O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, tried this experiment in Google auto-fill for every state in the Union and then created a map on her blog "No Upside" that shows the top three results for each state. 

According to her research, people wonder why Nebraska is so humid and boring, and why Florida is so weird and trashy.

My fellow Angelenos may be interested to know that while my Google auto-fill had positive things to say about California, when it came to Los Angeles it got very dark. When I typed in "Why is Los Angeles so..." the engine wondered if I wanted to know why my beloved city was so dirty, expensive, big, great, populated, ghetto, cold, violent, polluted or cold this summer.

Nope. I want to know why it rules!

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