Thursday, August 27, 2009

Google Trends: fee, fi, fo, fum

When cloud-living giants use Google, what do they look for? Well, probably in consort with ‘Wi’, ‘fi’ leads the pack, followed closely by the money-hungry ‘fee’. ‘Fo’ comes in third, and ‘fum’, which in no way rhymes with ‘Englishman’, trails at the end, with less than one-fiftieth of the Google-power of ‘fee’ and ‘fi’.

The blood might be English, but ‘fum’ wins in Romania, where it presumably means something. It’s the Indians who go for ‘fo’, the Finnish who Google their country’s internet domain the most, and the Indians again who are most interested in paying those fees.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Google Trends: John, Paul, George, Ringo

How interesting that searches for these four names should, by and large, reflect the relative artistic and critical significances of the four Beatles in question, with ‘John’ towering over the rest, followed by ‘Paul’ and ‘George’ in close succession and with ‘Ringo’ fading into insignificance at only one-ninety-fifth of John’s search count.

Obviously, of course, the vast majority of people searching for Johns, Pauls and Georges are looking for people other than Messrs. Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. A certain papal death, for example, explains the twin spikes on ‘John’ and ‘Paul’ in early 2005 (at exactly the same time that I imagine ‘Benedict’ searches climb above Ringo-levels). It’s tough, on the other hand, to imagine any reason other than Mr. Starr why people might be searching for the word ‘Ringo’.

It is quite interesting, I think, that all four of these search terms seem to be dropping with time. I don’t think there are fewer Johns in the world today than there were in 2004. I wonder if it merely means that fewer people are using Google to find people these days: thank you Facebook?

Quick facts: Peruvians love Ringo the most (probably because the word means something in Spanish), Australians George, the Irish Paul and the English George.

Giving the Beatles surnames confirms the roll call, with Lennon at number one and poor Richard Starkey in the basement. Turns out it’s the Norwegians who love Mr. Conductor most, the Argentineans who love the Hindu sitarist, Canadians who love Macca and Mexicans who love Mr. Ono.

Can anyone explain that massive spike in John Lennon Googling at the end of 2005?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Google Trends: Schule, école, escuela, sekolah

In checking out Google Trends among languages, I decided to focus on the word ‘school’. I wanted to see what the trends looked like in various languages around the world. The first thing I learned was how incredibly dominant the English language is in Google searches, with the English word ‘school’ overpowering the others so much that it quite defeated the purpose. So erasing English from the equation, I am left with “Schule” in German, “école” in French, “escuela” in Spanish and “sekolah” in Bahasa Indonesia.

It seems, then, that Spanish wins. Not surprisingly, I suppose, in that it’s spoken in so many countries. I was surprised to find how badly Bahasa Indonesia performed, since Indonesia is no small country. Global distribution of Internet users, I suppose, or at least of Google users.

It’s really a beautiful graph though, with its intricate series of peaks and valleys more or less identical among the three European languages, with sudden dips corresponding to school breaks in February, in summer and at Christmas time. The country searches offer no real surprises, with ‘sekolah’ being searched to any real extent only in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, ‘école’ mainly in francophone France, Morocco, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada, ‘Schule’ in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, and ‘escuela’ in a huge list of countries, all Spanish-speaking. Mexico tops the list, Colombia comes in at #10 (Google Trends shows no more than that). In Switzerland they search for ‘Schule’ about three times as often as they search for ‘école’, but Lausanne looks very bilingual indeed as the two terms are Googled more or less equally.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Google Trends: winter, spring, summer, fall

Here’s a very pretty graph to get us started. As you might expect, people search for certain seasons on Google more often during that season than at other times of the year. Thus, each search term here has annual peaks and valleys, exactly as expected. The incredible stupidity of the fourth season having two names means that searches for ‘autumn’ are not included – though they’re far less than these four anyway. I’m not surprised that ‘summer’ is the most searched-for term, but I am surprised that winter comes in fourth. I also find 2008 very intriguing, where three of the four seasons experienced a sudden spike and spring in particular went haywire. What was so interesting in the spring of 2008 about the word ‘spring’?

No surprise that Canadians searched the most for ‘winter’, but odd that the city with the most searches for ‘winter’ is Orlando, Florida – perhaps Canadian snowbirds Googling pictures of the season they were no longer experiencing. It’s the Americans who Googled ‘spring’ and ‘summer’ most, but for ‘fall’ (which of course does have a secondary meaning), the #1 country inexplicably becomes the Philippines. What is it the Filipinos love so much about that season?