Cultural stereotypes retrieval from Google Autocomplete API

An American in Rome (Alberto Sordi)
A scene from the Italian movie “An American in Rome” (1954). Nando Mericoni is a young Italian living in the early ’50s in Rome. He loves the United States (that he discovers through the movies) and he tries to live like an American.¬†The movie is a smart satire of “americanization”, plenty of stereotypes about Americans.

Stereotypes are often inconsistent generalizations based on cultural, social, sexual, linguistic, ethnic and religious differences.

Google offers an interesting autocomplete predictive algorithm that, while the user is typing, displays search queries based on millions of users’ search activities.
I developed an automatic web-based tool that allows the real-time extraction of cultural cliché and stereotypes based on Google autocomplete:

Free public APIs offered by Google and many other web services such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, can consitute a precious source of information since they allow to obtain extremely large and rich datasets that couldn’t be collected otherwise through standard means (e.g. questionnaires).

The cultural cliché and stereotypes retrieval tool aims to be a proof of concept of how data retrieved from the web can provide insights on human culture and beliefs (including but not limited to human ignorance and xenophobia). The results of our tool are retrieved in real time hence they cannot be previously moderated or controlled: take them with a grain of salt.

[EDIT January 2014: Google seems to have removed most of the stereotypes from the autocomplete features, therefore the Cultural stereotypes retrieval tool  is now presenting empty results in most of the cases]

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Alberto Betella

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