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Everybody wants to rule the world

Web Seer is a beautiful illustration of the ways in which search engines are becoming a reflection of our collective unconscious. My friends Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg took advantage of Google’s “suggested search” feature, which offers common searches when you begin typing a phrase. “How can I” quickly prompts you with “lose 10 pounds in a week”, “help Haiti” and “get pregnant”. Playing with the feature, many people have discovered that the results can be different and revealing when you change the wording of questions. (Comparing “is my wife” and “is my husband” is particularly stark.) Web Seer allows you to compare two searches quickly, and shows where the two overlap.

I was thinking about the Google in China situation last week and wondering whether there was any truth to the “Google as a new superpower” narrative. Web Seer tells me that the future’s even more dramatic and bleak:

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