Since we are on the topic of searching databases this week, I thought I would share another Google database: Google Trends.
Google Trends is a database of Google web searches and of Google News. Type in a word or words into the search engine and Google generates a chart, similar to Google Ngram, that displays how often these terms have been searched over time on Google. The bottom of the chart shows how often these terms have appeared in Google News.
Since Google Ngram and Corpus Time focuses on books and the written word, Google Trends is a nice complement to searching what ordinary people (i.e. non-authors) have been interested in over the years. Another great aspect of Google Trends is that it ranks regions, cities, and languages in which people have searched for certain terms the most.
I did a Google Trends search on “Barack Obama” and most people searched for “Barack Obama” during the 2008 election. Since his inauguration, interest in Obama has steadied with a peak around the time Bin Laden was killed. After Americans, the Irish search the most for “Barack Obama.” Interestingly, Swedish is the second most language in which people search for Obama.
Google Trends is relatively new and you can only see trends in Google searches since 2004. As time goes on, it will be interesting to see how this tool evolves and what trends in web searches develop over time. Do you think Google Trends is a valid historical methodology? Do people’s web search interests merit historians’ attention?