Google search trends highlight America's digital divide

While the rest of us were out frolicking in the sun, The New York Times' Upshot blog spent the early part of the summer sussing out which counties in the United States were the easiest and hardest to live in. After a little extra prompting from Google's chief economist, editor David Leonhardt and the Upshot team used Google Correlate to dig into what these groups on either side of the digital divide were searching for online. Some terms -- the like "Oprah" and "Super Bowl" - are searched for by just about everyone. As you might've guessed, though, those search terms ultimately diverge... pretty wildly.

In the so-called easiest locales (which scored best when it came to education, median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity) the terms that correlate most strongly with easy living locations include "elph," "jogger" and "nb-4l". Apparently those who live in well-to-do areas had plenty of questions about Canon digital cameras. And the top three search terms for those living in harder areas? "Free diabetic," "antichrist" and "38 revolver". The list speaks to a dramatic difference in what people concern themselves with when their life circumstances skew in one direction or another. It doesn't take long to notice certain trends popping up, either -- technological tidbits pepper the rest of the easy life list, while religious references figure prominently in its rougher counterpart. These particular rabbit holes run deeper than you might think, so it's definitely worth checking out the full Times piece for more.