Want to build a better world? Google’s 2017 Year in Search shows us ‘how’

“How” is the theme of Google’s 2017 Year in Search video, the search giant’s annual breakdown of the year’s search trends. It’s a video that celebrates humanity’s constant need to question, to discover, and to help.

But given so much of what’s happened this year, the video doesn’t begin on such an optimistic tone. The Californian wildfires, the troubles with North Korea, the devastation wrought by hurricanes … the video starts by highlighting searches that probed the year’s disruptions — how do hurricanes begin? How far can North Korean missiles reach? How many refugees are there in the world? Google’s search trends have always shown our fears and our need to better understand the world.

But the video’s tone shifts as the music changes from its initial foreboding drumbeat. Instead of questions about natural disasters, or international politics, the searches become questions with more concrete answers. From questions on how to board up your house during a hurricane, or how to calm a dog during a storm, the queries move on to more positive messages of hope. “How to help flood victims” isn’t just a search query — it’s an unspoken pledge of assistance. It’s a rallying cry that no matter how hard things get, we will always band together as a group to help, to support, and to rebuild.

It was also a year of change — social, political, and personal, and the video includes scenes from protests around the world, of newly elected political leaders, and the #metoo phenomenon. Google’s video reminds us the world is constantly changing, and that change can be for the better if we’re willing to go out there and effect it ourselves.

Google has separated the searches of the year into specific categories, which you can view over on their Trends section. It’s no surprise that the big events of the year are present in the search trends. Hurricane Irma sits high on overall searches, while the sexual harassment scandals from the year dominate the searches for people and actors — though Meghan Markle’s engagement to the U.K.’s Prince Harry puts her high on both lists.

The “how to” section of the search results reveals the resurgence of “slime,” with millions searching how to make the goopy substance, while the solar eclipse takes up two slots, with questions on how to view it, and how to make eclipse glasses. In tech, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X were unsurprisingly top of the list, with the Nintendo Switch and the Galaxy S8 following.

The categories are numerous, with some more serious than others. You can check out the full list on Google’s trends website, and see how Google’s Simon Rogers breaks down the data in Google’s blog.

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