Background

About a week ago, I made a post about the sad state of direction search on Duck Duck Go. In that post “mountain view, ca to berkeley, ca” gave me nothing useful, while that kinda search on google is extremely useful. After writing that post and attending the recent AWS summit in San Francisco, I started thinking about how hard it would actually be to implement a good response to a direction search query on DDG. That’s when I found out about DuckDuckHack:

Anyone in the world can help improve the search experience on DuckDuckGo. Whether you can code or not, there are many ways for you to contribute. You can get started by suggesting new instant answers to the community, recommending better data sources, or actually hacking away on your own instant answer.

Sounds supercool. I’m going to take a crack at this. I see bloom filters and highly optimized string libraries in my future. My first step is to get some data… namely names… of places.

Some Data Sources

USGS USBoGN Place-iest Places

To take my loader for a quick test-drive, I extracted this list of the places that appear most frequently in the downloadable USGS USBoGN domestic data for all (60?) states.

In the following table I’ve linked the place name to the corresponding wikipedia article.

More Informative HTML Table View

Count Place ID Place Name
15 1008807 Atlantic Ocean
14 205110 Appalachian National Scenic Trail
11 801970 Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
10 1629903 Mississippi River
10 120697 Intracoastal Waterway
8 1783507 Great Lakes
8 165345 Tennessee Valley Divide
8 1023842 Blue Ridge
7 756398 Missouri River
6 469028 Great Plains
6 425264 Ohio River
6 2087988 Great Basin
5 558730 Gulf of Mexico
5 480171 High Plains
5 247074 Pacific Ocean
5 205015 Continental Divide

Tumblr-Timeline-Readable Lame List