The Topography of Searching by Brett Tweedie

What we search for reveals something of ourselves: our interests, our fears, our curiosity, or simply what we have forgotten. And it's not just what we search for, as how we search reveals something of ourselves as well. So when viewed in aggregate, what do the searches of the State Library of Queensland catalogue reveal about the events, topics, and concerns that have been on the minds of Queenslanders over the past decade or so? Do they ask more questions in winter? Do they make more typos in January? Did they swear more in 2020? Are they becoming more anxious? What aspects are constant, and what aspects are more prone to change?

This project allows you to generate topographic maps from the words and phrases that appeared in the searches made by people using the library catalogue since early 2012. And by looking at these maps - with their peaks, their valleys, their plateaus, and their plains - we get an imperfect glimpse of the collective interests and concerns of those using the catalogue, and the ways in which they've changed over the months, seasons, and years.