|What do Google, Ask and Bing search results mean?|
|It's easy to think search engine queries could provide a gold mine of data, but it's not easy to know how to exploit, |
Intereting article - with a deceptive title. It's not so much search results that is the topic here, but the meaning of search trends and volume.
|the meaning of search trends and volume |
In July of this year, Google and the CIA jointly invested in a company that analyzes, among other things, temporal relationships within query data to get a handle on future trends. The company is appropriately named Recorded Future....
Google & CIA Invest in Future of Web Monitoring
I'm sure one of the major uses of Google Realtime Search will be as a data source for trend analysis.
Google Flu Trends [google.org], which the article notes in passing, immediately came to mind as an attempt Google has been making to use search data for flu symptoms to predict disease occurrence. One problem Google had with Flu Trends early on is that publicity about a possible pandemic skewed interest and increased the number of searches, thus distorting the analysis. I'm not sure how they adjusted for that.
Google's Reported Link to National Security Agency Alarms Privacy Watchdogs
|The ACLU has started a letter-writing campaign to Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, highlighting what it calls the "frightening" ramifications of shacking up with the NSA, a military agency that has little government oversight. |
The NSA's "primary mission" is spying, the ACLU writes, "and in the last decade, it turned its surveillance efforts inward on the American people -- in violation of the law and the Constitution."
Kinda a pet of mine.
Robert very correctly points out that news interest can skew trends for certain terms, however, its often easy to find other highly correlated terms that aren't effected.
A favorite in recent months. "foreclosure". A horrible term for trending because every time BofA does something that makes news the trend gets messed up.
But everyone who has the unfortunate experience gets a letter called a "notice of default". Some, immediately go to Google and look up what that is.
To estimate the number of foreclosures using Google query logs, use the later term.
As for flu trends, "stuffy nose" may be better than "flu"
|As for flu trends, "stuffy nose" may be better than "flu" |
Yes... to be clear, the correlations Google Flu was watching were with queries for symptoms... coughing, sneezes, muscle aches, etc... not for the word "flu" itself.
I'd think that heightened awareness would still skew such searches, though, and the question of intent then comes into it. Maybe Google used searches for cough meds as a further refinement.