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i-Technology Blog: Google Trends on Java, McNealy, AJAX, and SOA Give Pause For Thought

Who'd a thunk it? Google Labs creates another surefire, populist techno-hit...out of graphs without hard numbers

Like so many of the ideas that tumble out of the Googleplex into the public domain, Google Trends is irresistible. SYS-CON group publisher and editorial director Jeremy Geelan puts the application, newly taken out of beta and now available to all cyberspace from the Google main page, through its paces by taking it out for a giddy spin around the i-Technology world. The results are surprising...

"See what the world is searching for" says the slogan accompanying - and that very precisely encapsulates the aspect of Google Trends that makes it addictive. Like Technorati on speed.

There really isn't any limit to the number of searches one can do while still assuring oneself that it is diligent journalistic research. Take the usual run-of-the-mill stuff, for example, like comparing "Java" and ".NET":

java .net

But the real apples-to-apples comparison, obviously, is not this one but "J2EE" and ".NET":

j2ee .net

And even this smacks way too much of mock-empiricism, almost as bad as those articles on slow news days which use stats as a way of suggesting which technology is "ahead" out there in the i-technology marketplace.

No, what is needed is an altogether more personal approach. This is where Google Trends is dynamite. Take for example "McNealy" and "Jonathan Schwartz:

"mcnealy" "jonathan schwartz"

Not in itself especially revealing until you drill down into the datapoints below, which is a breakdown by cities:

Cities Regions Languages

Top cities (normalized)
1. San Francisco United States
2. New York United States
3. Chicago United States
4. London United Kingdom

In other words, while Sun's new CEO may be the talk of all of Wall Street, Sun's outgoing CEO (and still its Chairman) still remains a major focus of folks in the Valley.

Turning from i-technology people to i-technology phenomena, Steve Rubel - the writer on social software and how it's transforming marketing, media, and public relations - has already drawn attention to this comparison, a true gem:

blogs websites

Again, the breakdown by Cities reveals some surprising data, such as that blogs aren't yet dominant in Delhi, but they're sizzling in Sao Paolo, Brazil!

Cities Regions Languages

Top cities (normalized)
1. Sao Paulo Brazil
2. Lisbon Portugal
3. Cabo Frio Brazil
4. Curitiba Brazil
5. Delhi India
6. Rio De Janeiro Brazil
7. New York United States
8. San Francisco United States
9. Seattle United States
10. Chicago United States

Next I couldn't resist taking a peek at whether "Web services" was waning as a search term, perhaps in favor of "SOA." As I suspected, while  "Web services" is alive and well and being searched on worldwide, "SOA" is rising as steadily as it falls from primacy as the key concept driving integration.

"web services" soa

Last let's turn to AJAX. Here, Google Trends - for my money - comes into its own as a viable new tool.

Look how instantly, for example, it pinpoints the birth of the term "Web 2.0" - October 2004. Tim O'Reilly probably ought to use Google Trends on a daily basis, to see how it's faring against AJAX: it doesn't look good!

ajax "web 2.0"

Let us know what you're using Google Trends for by sending a mail to [email protected]. Maybe we should have a weekly competition to see who devises the best search, with readers voting on the Google Trend of the Week from among the best five submitted each week (according to our editors). Anyone care to start the ball rolling?

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Most Recent Comments
Palal 05/12/06 06:10:42 AM EDT

In other news, Google Suggest has just emerged from BETA! So, jump on over and start using it:

I still have a few problems with it though, the main one being the following: When typing in a multiple-word query and wanting to delete just the first word of that query, doing so using keyboard shortcuts (home, ctrl + shift + RightArrow) to select just the first word, selects the entire query and deletes it.

Of course, doing this with a mouse is not a problem, but it's annoying as hell when doing it with a keyboard. This is also true with middle words if you select them from the left.

an0n 05/12/06 05:44:46 AM EDT

These graphs don't actually give you very useful information because you can't tell what the units are. And they're obviously cooking the numbers in some fashion if the overall volume for searches on subjects is not going up between 2004 and 2006.

Or perhaps the graphs represent searches as a percentage of total searches? It's really hard to tell what you're looking at.

babbling 05/12/06 05:40:32 AM EDT

It is an interesting tool, but I have one question about it.

Why is it that for pretty much everything, the search volume has decreased over time? Is this because there is less accurate or different data for older searches, or perhaps Google isn't quite as popular today as it was a couple of years ago? I mean, one would think that for most things the search volume should increase over time since more and more people are getting onto the internet and using search engines...

Bye bye Slashdot? 05/12/06 05:06:48 AM EDT

My nomination for Google Trend of the Week would be Slashdot-Digg. Here's how it turns out:

sugge$$ion 05/12/06 04:03:22 AM EDT

[From the Google Trends instructions] "just type in up to five topics, separated by commas, and you can see the cities, regions or languages that have had the 'top results' for each topic, along with Google news articles."

Why the breakdowns for cities, regions, or languages..but not by time-of-search? This makes it impossible to answer such crucial social research questions as: do as many people search for "porn" during the day as during the evening/night?

StopThisWorld 05/12/06 03:54:38 AM EDT

Any math teacher will tell you: a graph without a scale is like an eagle without wings. How long will it be before we start seeing real numbers attached to the graphs in Google Trends?

blogospheroid 05/12/06 03:18:13 AM EDT

Steve Rubel's comparison is the best use of Google Trends yet. Brilliant!

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