I’ve previously written on the power and potential of technology and crowdsourcing in Nigeria. Another example of an important use of crowdsourcing power comes from Google. Almost as significant as the answers we get from Google are the questions we ask Google. These searches reflect the collective interests and priorities of a nation. Greg Tkacz, an associate professor of Economics states that Google trends “can potentially quantify what had previously been non-quantifiable”. Evidently, Google even predicted the global recession up to three months before its outset and can predict flu outbreaks. Do our searches say a lot about who we are and where we’re headed to in the future? Most certainly.
According to a study in the Scientific Reports, Internet users in countries with greater socio-economic health are more likely to use Google to search for information about the future than about the past. Clearly, a correlation exists between citizens who productively search on the Internet and the nation’s industriousness.
Are we Nigerians expending our technological resources effectively and productively? Let’s find out from this infographics.
From the infographics, our main interests on the Internet seem to centre on Football, Search, Social Networks, and the News. I’m not sold on the productivity of these search groups, apart from Search and News. And even then, it’s hard to determine if what is being searched or the news being read are in any way productive. After all, Kim Kadashin’s visit to Nigeria counted as news. The same applies to Football and Social Networks. As much as I love football, the knowledge of it cannot be categorized as useful. The knowledge of football players, their heights and what they eat in the morning only becomes beneficial if one was a paid sport pundit. So overall, the top searches since the start of the year have not been incredibly productive.
Google also has the ability to show rising trends (searches that are rapidly becoming popular). On the rising trends for Nigeria, the main searches are:
- Jamb (Students sweating blood as they check their JAMB results)
- Whatsapp (Nigerians ditching their laggy Blackberry phones in droves are moving to Whatsapp)
- Linda Ikeji (sigh…more Nigerians wasting their time on gossips)
- 2go (not sure who uses this, but a lot of people do…apparently)
- ASUU (students who schooled abroad searching for the meaning of ASUU)
- Gmail (Nigerians are finally realizing how archaic & terrible Yahoo Mail is)
- News (less people are watching NTA?).
Again, our searches aren’t terrifically constructive. I’ll admit, this is a simplistic measure of productivity, but it does show an undeniably accurate trend. From the trends, an alien would postulate that Nigerians love chatting, gossip, and football; are on strike when in school and desperately in need of a job when out of school. It’s a fascinating picture that shows a disconnect of interest and present conditions: interests remain superficial, while conditions stay dire.
So should Internet search solely be on productive stuff? Nope. There’s certainly a time for leisure, but when that’s all the Internet is used for, we’re wasting another resource – much like we’ve wasted our oil. In the midst of ignorance, mediocrity and stagnancy, our greatness might just be a click away. What’re you using the internet for?
NB: Btw, to emphasize the power of a productive search, the infographics in this article was created thanks to a simple Google search.