“Google Poetics” by Sampsa Nuotio and Raisa Omaheimo

Screen capture of "Google Poetics by Sampsa Nuotio and Raisa Omaheimo. Google Search's autocomplete feature provides search suggestions that are oddly poetic. Text: "(Autocomplete options for the phrase 'I need to') / ...lose weight / ...know / ...make money / ...lose weight fast"
Open “Google Poetics” by Sampsa Nuotio and Raisa Omaheimo

This found poem generator has been hiding in plain sight since October 16, 2010, since it is built into most of our Web browsers and in the Google main page. It is the Google Autocomplete feature (formerly a Google Labs feature called Google Suggest), which uses one of the largest crowd-sourced data sets in Internet history— Google searches— to suggest search strings to users as they type into their search windows. Nuotio and Omaheimo explain how we can find poetry in this space:

Google Poetics is born when Google autocomplete suggestions are viewed as poems.

Google’s algorithm offers searches after just a few keystrokes when typing in the search box, in an attempt to predict what the user wants to type. The combination of these suggestions can be funny, absurd, dadaistic – and sometimes even deeply moving.

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