Thursday, November 26, 2009

Google Insights: baby names

Okay, a quick and easy one this time. The Social Security Administration releases a list of the most popular names for new babies every year in the States. It's also a fascinating source of trends, how names fall into, and out of, fashion over the years.

So there are two graphs here: one showing the five top boys' names on 2008 and the other, well aren't you clever if you guessed it.

The boys who in a few years will find the constant need in school to use their surnames are: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel. With the exception of Ethan, a very staid and Biblical list. Who googles what?

Well, isn't that useless? Obviously one rather significant celebrity death has completely thrown things awry here - though interesting to note that "Michael" was galloping ahead of the pack well before Mr. Jackson's death anyway, and Daniel outpaced the other three. Hm.

Looking internationally, the Danish love Jacob, Michael is widespread among English-speaking countries, Ethan seems to be an entirely American thing, Joshua tops lists in Africa, and Daniel seems to be popular throughout the Americas (both North and South).

The girls, a rather more eclectic, fashion-conscious and secular list: Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison, Ava.

More intersting results: consistent different levels of interest, with spikes all over the place. I guess Madison tops the list due to non-girl's-name things, like the city in Wisconsin for example. I don't know if I've ever met a girl named Madison, actually. Emma has huge spikes, which may or may not have anything to do with Harry Potter movies (were there similar spikes for Daniel?)

It's the Swedes who love Emma most, the Danish who go for Isabella (which I always took to be a Spanish name), Americans go for Emily most, and the Belgians are all over Ava (I prefer the spelling 'Eva' myself). Madison, of course, is a big green Lower 48, as whatever uses the name has, they're all American phenomena.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Google Insights: pop, soda, coke

It's a strange little quirk of geography and linguistics that 'soft drinks', generically, go by three different names in the United States (more than that, really). 'Soda', which in other countries generally describes something different, 'pop', which has a million other meanings including a genre of music, and 'coke', which of course is actually the brand name of a particular drink. Don't get confused: I think in much of the world, or at least much of the States, 'coke' is used generically to mean any cola (i.e. Pepsi as well) - but what I mean here is people who would refer, for example, to Sprite or root beer as a 'coke'.

Well, here are the maps in all their splendour. I should mention that I actually looked for 'pop can', 'soda can' and 'coke can', mainly to try to get references to pop music weeded out.

This is the map for 'pop', which by the way in Canada is the most common word for it. You can see the dark blue is up north, but hardly country-wide. It's not exactly 'the northwest' either, for it goes dim when you get to the Atlantic coast as well (Vermont, on the Canadian border, is one of the palest in the country). So geographically, what is this area? The Midwest, I suppose, more or less. Hm.

This one is a bit confusing. Theoretically, 'soda' (seemingly by far the most popular) is bicoastal: you should see usage in the Northeast and in the entire West. While that is to an extent true, a few anomalies show up here: first, California ranks low. Second, Wisconsin (Midwest as they get) ranks high. Third, so does Florida, which is confusing in consideration of the third one:

Here's 'coke', a Southern map if there ever was one (though it spikes all the way up to Lake Michigan). I had figured this map would be less defined, since the flagship brand of the Coca-Cola Corporation is rather popular nationwide, but this map does exactly what it promises. Interesting to go back to my earlier entry on religions and compare 'coke' to 'Baptist', 'pop' to 'Lutheran'.

And I dare anyone to find meaning in that...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Google Insights: top-selling artists of 2003

I did this search to check on longevity in the music business. Google Insights goes back to January 2004, a time at which these artists would have been, presumably, been popular searches, as they are the artists responsible for the best-selling CDs of 2003 (one reason I chose 2003 instead of 2004 is that it's a more interesting list).

To see the stats themselves, the top five selling CDs in the USA in 2003 are:

1.  Get Rich or Die Tryin' / 50 Cent              6,535,809
2.  Come Away with Me / Norah Jones               5,137,468
3.  Meteora / Linkin Park                         3,478,361
4.  Fallen / Evanescence                          3,364,738
5.  Speakerboxx-Love / Outkast                    3,089,849

Ooh! Courier New! How very sexy... so sexy that I'm not going to correct the errors regarding the name of Outkast's album.

Anyway, so that's our starting point. Looking at this graph, we can see that Norah Jones was never as popular on Google as she was on CD players (logical when you consider that her main demographics include people who probably use the internet less often), Outkast had a surprising lack of steam (in 2003 it was as if they were the 'future of music'), and 50 Cent had an amazing 2005. There is, however, a general downward trend here - indicating that all stars do fade, sooner or later.

A bit of random stats: 50 Cent is most popular in Eritrea, Norah Jones in Madagascar (by far), Linkin Park in Nepal, Evanescence in Bolivia and, unique among the five, Outkast is most popular in the USA. Talk about globalisation. Or rather, talk about the domination of the American music industry worldwide...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google Insights: DDR, BRD

So when I was a kid, I used to collect stamps. I think my reason for doing so was that 'a kid needs to collect something or other'. Anyway, some of the nicest looking stamps came from "DDR", which, it turns out, was East Germany

So anyway while looking at the sub-national maps on Google Insights (not every country gets one), I was wondering what search terms to look for that would bring out geographical distinctions in other countries (like I've done in the States a few times). Not knowing that much about Germany, I went back to my stamp-collecting days and tried "DDR". Bingo... there's that Iron Curtain, as if it had never gone away...

Sad, eh? But perhaps not that surprising... people researching their own local history or something. So of course it made sense to try "BRD", the acronym for the old West Germany, and the one featuring the indubitably awesome word "Bundesrepublik". Well? Here you go...

Isn't that strange? It turns out that only East Germans care about East Germany, but only East Germans care about West Germany too. The Cold War is a non-entity in the former West, it seems. Or rather perhaps politics doesn't make the Wessies tick. What does? Well, I couldn't think of much, until I stumbled on the thought of immigration, and tried "Turk":

There it is! There's West Germany! Where the Turks live!