Google knows that you need help fixing that toilet

The search giant’s latest project is a reminder of all the things we can and can’t do

Google HQ

I’m not a particularly handy person to have around when you need something fixed.

I don’t know how to fix a toilet; I can’t fix a sink; I can’t figure out what’s clogging a drain pipe; and I still don’t know why my fridge sometimes makes a noise akin to what I’d imagine Cthulhu crawling out of the ocean’s depths sounds like.

That being said, what I do have at my disposal is Google — a fact made abundantly clear by the search giant’s latest project.

“How to Fix a Toilet (And Other Things We Couldn’t Do Without Search)” is a visual essay made by Xaquin G.V. — an award-winning designer of The Guardian, National Geographic and New York Times fame — in collaboration with the Google News Lab.

The website is a minimalist masterpiece, but it’s also a sobering reminder that, for many of us, our first instinct when we need to solve a problem isn’t to ask a family member or trusted friend — it isn’t to even to call an expert — but to consult the internet. Google specifically.

“We looked at what things we need the most help with around the house, from the simplest how-to-fix-a-bulb kind of fixes, to those fixes for which we know we need a professional, but our ego makes us take upon ourselves to at least try,” reads an excerpt from G.V.’s essay.

In Canada, for instance, more people are interested in fixing a wall than in fixing a lightbulb or a washing machine. In contrast — and despite their recent fascination with walls — our American neighbours south of the border seem to have a tougher time fixing doors than building walls.

The website also draws data from Google’s global search results in order to present a list of the top 100 how-to queries around the world, including “how to boil an egg,” “how to kiss,” “how to write a resume,” “how to tie a tie” and, of course “how to make money.”

According to G.V., the global data is “language-agnostic.”

“So, when someone in the lusophone world searches ‘Como beijar,’ it will show up in Google’s ‘How to Kiss’ search,” reads another excerpt from G.V’s essay.

In a way, “How to Fix a Toilet” is a not-so-subtle reminder that, in spite of differences in culture, language, religion and political beliefs, we all still need help figuring out how to fix basic things.

And, if the search queries are any indication, we can rest assured knowing that we’re all united in silently knowing that there’s a lot we don’t know how to do.

Source: Google