Sam Burne James: Google Poetics - the charity edition

Internet searches can offer some interesting insights into what the public really thinks about charities, writes Third Sector's reporter

Sam Burne James
Sam Burne James

You might be familiar with Google Poetics – a website and Twitter feed showcasing ‘poems’ created by the autocomplete function in the Google search engine. The premise is this; if you type the word ‘David’ into Google, it’s likely to give you autocomplete suggestions like ‘Cameron’, ‘Beckham’ and so on. Try it with all sorts of things, and the resulting poems are funny, bizarre or even disturbing.

This is thanks to a tool called Google Instant Search, which predicts what you’re about to look for, based, Google says, "on what other people are searching for and the content of web pages indexed by Google" – i.e. you’re getting a sense of what the rest of the internet’s users have been looking for already.

What Google Poetics also does is give a pinch of insight into the sorts of thing internet users ask, think, or want to find or be told. Check it out – it’s quite amusing. I’ve put a link to the website at the bottom of the page, so you have to read mine first, because I’m sneaky like that.

I logged out of Gmail, cleared my cache and my search history (not sure if all that was necessary, but better safe than sorry). We’ll start from the top:

Not great news. It’s not all bad, though…

You might not expect fundraising to turn up great results, so this surprised me:

Okay, this is something of a sitting duck, but what do we imagine the internet thinks about chuggers?

Individual charities sometimes don’t fare well – the internet can after all be a dark and conspiratorial place.

Draw what conclusions, or none, that you will from all of this. And, as promised, here’s the original Google Poetics website.

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