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What does Kansas City want to know? Google it

“What is Ebola” was the top what-is search on Google in the Kansas City area this year.
“What is Ebola” was the top what-is search on Google in the Kansas City area this year. Associated Press

Google this, Kansas City: What did Kansas City Google the most this year?

The ubiquitous search engine on Tuesday released rankings of the area’s most-searched subjects. It confirmed that, yes, we all became baseball fans this year.

But it also showed that — surprise — searches for soccer trumped football.

According to Google searches, we wanted to know “how to draw” more than how to do anything else. The loss of celebrities Robin Williams, Joan Rivers and Philip Seymour Hoffman put them atop the area’s most-searched-people list.

News about Ebola, Ferguson, Mo., Malaysia Airlines and Boulevardia showed our wide-ranging sense of what’s important to know.

Google’s Year in Search weighs more than a trillion online inquiries nationwide. Its rankings, 10-deep in five categories, are a virtual mirror we can hold up to know ourselves a bit better, through our likes and our interests.

“I am a social studies teacher, so I’d love to see politicians and government people on this list,” Center High School’s Alec Chambers said of the list of the top 10 people searched from Kansas City. “But it’s all entertainers and athletes.”

He noted the exception, slain Ferguson, Mo., resident Michael Brown, who was No. 10. on the local list. Brown was No. 3 on New York’s most searched people list this year, if that tells us anything about us or New Yorkers.

Google’s list shows that you, average Kansas Citian, are frankly rather crafty. The top four “how-to” searches included drawing, crocheting and knitting.

Or, it may be that reading these results can be tricky.

For example, our search for “how to knit” may simply mean we’re social, said Deborah Smith, head of the sociology department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Smith said knitting circles are becoming popular, the way book clubs were made popular by Oprah Winfrey and investment clubs by the stock market boom in the 1990s.

“Literally, I have a friend who was in the investment club then, and now she’s in the knitting club, and it actually might be the same people,” Smith said. “It’s something to do to bring us together, face to face.”

Los Angeles and Minneapolis also Googled “how to knit” a lot.

Kansas City also frequently asked Google “how to coupon” and “how to shoplift,” which Smith said was fair to read as evidence that times are still tough five and a half years after the Great Recession ended.

Smith said that to the extent Google’s exercise tells us about Kansas City it provides an incomplete picture. Googlers probably skew younger and more affluent than the metropolitan population as a whole.

“You have to think about who doesn’t have access to the Internet,” Smith said. “The people who aren’t hooked up have less money.”

What’s missing from the Kansas City top-searches lists is as interesting as what’s there.

The Kansas City Chiefs are noticeably absent from the Kansas City lists, but World Cup soccer had our attention — No. 5 trending topic search and No. 5 news and event search — maybe because there were two Sporting Kansas City players on the U.S. men’s World Cup team.

University of Missouri football player Michael Sam, who announced publicly in February that he was gay, landed on New York’s top searched people list, but not Kansas City’s.

Other cities shared some of our top-searched topics. Like Kansas City, Jacksonville, Fla., wants to know “how to coupon,” and Minneapolis wants to know “how to draw” most of all.

And they showed their differences. Jacksonville wants to know “how to longboard,” and Seattle wants to know “how to regram.” Which, by the way, has nothing to do with weighing legal marijuana.

Want to know what it does mean?

Google it.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @mdkcstar.

Kansas City’s top searched...

Trending topic Kansas City Royals

How to draw

What is Ebola

News and events Ebola

Person Robin Williams

Kansas City’s top 10 Google searches this year

Top trending searches

1.

Kansas City Royals

2.

Robin Williams

3.

iPhone 6

4.

Ebola

5.

World Cup

6.

Joan Rivers

7.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

8.

Black Friday 2014

9.

Tony Stewart

10.

Detroit Tigers

Top news and events searches

1.

Ebola

2.

World Cup

3.

Black Friday 2014

4.

Ferguson, Mo.

5.

World Series 2014

6.

Malaysia Airlines

7.

Olympics

8.

NFL draft

9.

Boulevardia

10.

ISIS

Top people searches

1.

Robin Williams

2.

Joan Rivers

3.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

4.

Tony Stewart

5.

Jennifer Lawrence

6.

Tracy Morgan

7.

Ray Rice

8.

Adrian Peterson

9.

Renee Zellweger

10.

Michael Brown

Top how-to searches

1.

how to draw

2.

how to crochet

3.

how to meditate

4.

how to knit

5.

how to coupon

6.

how to solder

7.

how to contour

8.

how to dance

9.

how to shoplift

10.

how to kiss

Top what-is searches

1.

what is Ebola

2.

what is ALS

3.

what is ISIS

4.

what is gluten

5.

what is photosynthesis

6.

what is polenta

7.

what is love

8.

what is bitcoin

9.

what is Mormonism

10.

what is Alibaba

Source: Google Inc.

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