Simple questions for complex matters?

An enquiry into Swedish Google search queries on wind power


  • Björn Ekström
  • Elisa Tattersall Wallin



information seeking, wind power, renewable energy, environmental information, search engines, search queries, information practices


Renewable energy sources have emerged as a current subject matter in Sweden amidst discussions regarding energy costs, climate change and development of energy production. This study explores how Google Search is used for seeking information about wind power and how utilised search queries contribute to the understanding of this energy source. Adopting a practice theoretical perspective, the study explores search queries as doings and sayings, and understands search engines as an established part of everyday routinised information seeking-activities. Data collection was carried out in a trace ethnographic vein through the automatic retrieval of search queries enacted between November 2021 and October 2022. Through a digital methods approach, the search queries were analysed and visualised according to their prevalence and character string composition. A qualitative, multiple coding approach was moreover used for the identification and interpretation of themes and subthemes. The results show that geographical locations, wind power functions and small wind turbines comprise the most prominent subthemes of the search queries. This is replicated also in the search term frequencies, providing further insights to queries related to wind turbine’s efficiency as well as subthemes of advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, the study shows the tendency to phrase search queries as simple questions for complex matters, with nuances being lost in the pursuit of austere, uncomplicated answers. Altogether, the results contribute to a wider understanding of how environmental information seeking is conducted today.


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How to Cite

Ekström, B., & Tattersall Wallin, E. (2023). Simple questions for complex matters? An enquiry into Swedish Google search queries on wind power. Nordic Journal of Library and Information Studies, 4(1), 34–50.