Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Google Trends (more on my beloved Google)

More on Google tools. This time it's all about Google Trends. You can use this application to track searches (done through Google) and news reference volume for any topic. You can change the length of time you're looking at, the regions where you're looking, and get all sorts of other interesting data.

For example, you can see how many people search for Emory and can correlate spikes in searches to newsworthy happenings around campus. Emory looks pretty good until you put some of our "peer" institutions into the mix. Alas.

In any case, this is an interesting tool with different applications. If you're in an English department, you could track the interest of the online community in authors or particular texts (although be wary of how you use search terms like "Lolita"; to get the right response, you need the author's name too). If you're into politics, you can watch not only the spectacular demise of Sen. Larry Craig, but also the spectacular demise of the nation's interest in the story here. Or you can see how Craig stacks up against some of those in the race for the presidency here. There's a dissertation or a short paper in here for someone who wants to analyze the predictive nature of web searches.

The search history only goes back to 2004, and one has to be careful about how you search for trends. But this is an interesting record of what seems to interest us.

P.S. If in writing about this I'm as woefully out of date as Stanley Fish opining about coffee shops, then I hope someone will please tell me to move onto fresh material.

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