23 May 2007

Google Trends - Part 1

Huh...loads of news regarding Google Trends' new functionality: regularly updated info listing the most popular search trends/terms. In one manner, this is obvious - Google has the search data available to them at any given point in time through, presumably, numerous search entry points or via a search funnel. It also makes perfect sense that this functionality, the ability to see what your peers or organization or group is searching for, would be pushed down to the Google Search Appliance at some point.

That's really the interesting addition in my opinion: by localizing search trends, through the GSA or adding a new search primitive, such as fromDomain:, fromIpAddress: or fromNetBlock: (in the same way that the site: or url: search primitives are available now), search/trend consumers would have the ability, from a social networking perspective, to learn what is being searched for, relative to themselves in their own localized search bubble.

Let's consider an example:

Say you're a faculty member at a university and you're vaguely aware of a new collective bargaining vote that's upcoming and you want to know more. You search Google and find press releases and maybe a few local area newspaper items that have been indexed. This is the way in which we normally search or engage in absolute searches, modulo intentional deletions or censoring of search results, etc. Say you're a Google Master and break-out your Google-fu and attempt a more granular search through the selective use of one or two Google search primitives, for example, site:GoogleU.edu. Great! You weren't interested in what was being reported through channels on the other side of the country anyway.

Is this enough? Are the results sufficient in order for a search consumer to best utilize the data provided? Maybe, but it could more than likely be better by taking into account the context of the search results.

Now, say that advanced, localized trending were available to the faculty member. S/he would be able to search, relative to the university community or a specific department or a specific demographic, and determine what his/her peers are searching for, in the hope of learning about key issues being addressed at the collective bargaining vote. Add in the capabilities for search trends and results to be presented in such a way that they can be ordered or grouped and the faculty member may find him/herself better in the know and ready to cast an educated vote.

So...search, trends and localization step up as the latest social networking platform.

I wonder what I spend most of my time searching for and if anyone else cares?

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