Iceland Hopes Tourists Will Warm Up to Its Human Search Engine


Inspired By Iceland

Inspired By Iceland, the Nordic island country’s newest tourism campaign, has launched “the world’s first human search engine” as a human alternative to  traditional online search engines. Think of them as a living Goðgle.

In a nod to the country’s favorite names, seven residents named Guðmundur (male) or Guðmunda (female) have volunteered for the chance to offer insider knowledge, advice and local secrets to tourists who want the ultimate Iceland experience.

According to a press release, the human search engines aim to “educate tourists about the diversity of Iceland in all seasons and the variety of activities and experiences across the country.” For example, Guomunder Karl Jonsson, a keen skier and golf lover, encourages tourists to ask questions such as, “Is it always cold in Iceland?”

Iceland Human Search Engine

The campaign can be followed on social media with the hashtags #AskGuðmundur and #IcelandSecret. Guðmundur is one of the most popular names in Iceland, with more than 4,303 people of the country’s 329,100 citizens sharing the name Guðmundur or Guðmunda.

In turning to a mass personal approach, Iceland seems to be borrowing a page from a fellow Nordic nation, Sweden, which handed over its Twitter feed to a citizen per week to put a human face on the country’s brand. The Curators of Sweden project gave a local’s voice and perspective to the national Twitter account to promote their homeland by sharing tips and opinions (with a minder, no doubt, close at hand).

Or perhaps Iceland is drawing inspiration from other human search engines, such as one in the UK that helped people learn about mental health issues. The project enabled a person to connect with another individual experiencing the same medical condition, rather than simply generating a list of online search engine results, to break down the isolation and anonymity of the Internet and help people in need.

Now it’s the good people of Iceland’s turn. After all, search engines can do a lot, but they still can’t adequately describe the majesty of a glacier or how to watch a volcanic eruption the way a local can.