What Are People Looking For?

Amy Winehouse in London. I think this might be from AP.I was poking through Google’s toolset and stumbled on Google Trends. Google says that their Trends (in beta) can let you “see what the world is searching for.” Among the cool features, you can compare trends on different search terms over time and by region.

So, you can see that U.S. users had a spike in searches for Amy Winehouse, and that Amy tracks higher than Britney. Across the pond, Brits were generally less interested in learning about Amy, and more in Britney.

You can also track the relative popularity of Kanye West and 50 Cent. Fitty famously promised to retire from music if Kanye’s CD outsold his on the day they were both released. 50 had more searches than Kanye through most of 2007–until the release of the CDs. Kanye queries killed him on that day, and has been a bit ahead ever since.

So, what about the Democratic contenders?

Google search trend data shows Clinton queries ahead of Obama queries for much of 2007Well, Hillary Clinton (red line above) was ahead of Barack Obama (blue line) during the long pre-primary season. Interest in both candidates picked up at the end of December, going into the Iowa caucuses. Since then, people have been looking for information about Obama more than info about Clinton–and on some days by much more.

Even more interesting (at least to me) is the regional trending.

Line graphs showing Obama ahead in Iowa, Clinton up in N.H. and tie in S.C.By December 2007, Obama (blue) was ahead of Clinton in Iowa, which he won. Clinton (red) was more interesting to people in New Hampshire, and she won there. And South Carolina queries at the end of the year were pretty even for our intrepid candidates. [Obama ended up winning S.C. handily at the end of January.]

Anybody picking up a trend here? It looks like people might be looking for stuff that they are interested in. This can be troubling for the Clinton campaign if you take a look at what people are looking for now in Texas and Ohio.

It's crazy--Obama queries are way up from Clinton in both Texas and Ohio.The Google Trend for the past 30 days sees a large gap between searches for Obama (still the Blue Line) and Clinton (Red Line) in these two key upcoming primary states. Tuesday will tell, but as far as people looking for candidate information, it appears that they are more likely to be seeking information about Obama. Or maybe how to contribute to his campaign. Or how to volunteer. Or who knows. Maybe they already know enough about Clinton.

This Google Trends stuff is so cool. And despite the fact it skews to Internet users–more educated, more white, more wealthy– it’s now the Doc’s zeitgeist poll.

‘Bout Times

Looks like the NYTimes got cyber-religion.

After two-years of blocking off their money-columnists from non subscribers, and after two years (to the day, they say) of making any article more than two weeks old unavailable, the New York Times realized that this was not such a good idea.

Like people were not reading their columnists. And like the columnists didn’t like this so much, either.

I was a Times Select subscriber for the first year. I thought that I couldn’t live without Maureen Dowd, David Brooks and Frank Rich. Or without being able to retrieve an article from last month.

But what happened instead, was I left the NY Times as my primary news source and turned to the Post. Even though I had already paid. Weird.

It was like as I was trying to keep track of my columnists and getting my money’s worth the Times lost value to me. I can’t say why, but it did.

So when time came for my renewal, I didn’t renew my subscription. I soon discovered that if there was a column that got my attention that I wanted to read, all I needed to do was search and I could find it.

The Times wants to regain those search eyeballs. Maybe I will read Dowd again. But maybe I have moved on.


Was interviewing someone for a job, and he said that he Googled me. I know that I get Googled all the time–people want to know a bit about who they are dealing with. Like are you higher or lower on the food chain?

But I have to say that I did feel a bit weird about someone in an interview–like when they are trying to impress you–saying, “Oh, I Googled you.” Seems a bit personal, almost like I was violated.

The 13-year-old found something from Google on YouTube about Gmail that I found diverting, if not a surprise.

Looks like Google finally figured out what to do with YouTube. But here’s my question.

Did Google think that it was a good idea to do this project? Are they really so cool, corporately, that they get it? Or is this something that came from YouTube, or–more sadly–an advertising agency?

I guess the answer I seek is that the corporate guns would “get” that media and advertising belongs to everyone. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking. And I mean wishful thinking that they would get it. Not wishing that it’s a fact, because it is.