Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.
Just in case you haven’t realised, Australia has a new prime minister. Very few of us were prepared for this (least of all that bloke called Kevin who’s currently squatting in The Lodge), and it happened so suddenly, Australia still doesn’t know quite what to make of it.
To put it bluntly, by being female, Welsh, and a redhead (or a ranga, if you prefer), Julia Gillard has left us spoilt for choice. So which direction do people take in categorising her?
At this point, many people would venture into Facebook groups or Twitter, but all you’re going to find out is what a few random, vocal people are posting. Like a secret recording device, the true voice of the people is held by Google.
Every term written on the internet, in theory, is picked up by the search giant. And while for the most part it’s quite protective of it’s secrets, it can give us a bit of an insight into what we think about our new PM.
Let’s have a quick look at some Google hit results and see what drifts to the top.
Julia Gillard female – 551,000 hits
Julia Gillard Wales – 193,000 hits
Julia Gillard red – 342,000 hits
Julia Gillard ranga – 9,510 hits
Julia Gillard chick – 54,800 hits
Julia Gillard atheist – 12,700 hits
A startling number of people (including perhaps Kevin Rudd?) were surprised by the fact that Julia Gillard is indeed a female. Just to compare, the general public are much slower to point out (only 195,000 hits) that Kevin Rudd is male (apparently we had that picked).
Many ‘red’ results reveal that most people are resorting to using a hair description as a random adjective. ‘Ranga’ adds an entirely new layer to the mix, and exposes us to the comedy goldmine of Triple M (which gives us a helpful link to ‘More Rangas! Prime Gingerster’s New Cabinet’), Brisbane Times (‘From one carrot top to another: Go ranga’) and even The Punch (simply ‘Return of the ranga’).
It’s worth noting that the last two were written by people who are themselves redheads – yes, maybe we’re starting to enter that kind of society, where it’s only acceptable in publishing for those people to use that word. In fact, if we want to extend it just a bit…
ranga-in-chief Gillard – 4,940 hits
Now there’s something that she should be putting on her business cards.
Wales seems to be quite proud of the fact that Gillard hails from their shores (their vocal pride is understandable – it’s a quiet place, and Doctor Who and Torchwood aren’t currently being filmed). As for the ‘chick’ hits on Google, to be fair, some were just floating detritus from a passing Claire Werbeloff.
Most telling though isn’t what we’re saying, but what we want to read. When you start typing, Google tries to auto-predict what you’re trying to say based on the most popular search terms that people use on it. So if you type in ‘Julia Gillard is’, you’ll get this:
So there’s both ends of the spectrum there (although it’s possible for a communist to be hot – Google helped out there as well).
Type in other random letters, just for fun, and let Google show you the most popular terms.
If you actually search for any of those terms, I can’t be held responsible for what you find.
So until Gillard actually makes any kind of splash as PM, reporters, comedians, and indeed the Australian people, will have to rely on a few superficial observations and maybe her past work history to judge her on. Only time will tell. And as Google can show, it could have been much worse…