11 April, 2008

Second Hand News

Lately I've become a bit obsessed with Google Trends. It sort of combines two fascinations of mine; how huge swathes of traffic move online, and the uncanny way statistics can document history. Of course, they've only been recording search frequencies from 2004, so it's very recent history, but regardless, it can indicate the rise of youtube or give an idea of how the democratic presidential nomination race has emerged so far.

Maybe more fascinating though, is the short-term chart, for the day's "hottest" search terms. This can unearth some really intriguing stories that maybe won't fully break into the mainstream media and won't be going round for more than a couple of days.

Example: at time of writing, the top search term is "dick cheney sunglasses." Seemingly nonsensical, but of course "Trends" grants you links to news stories, that you might make sense of these weird surges.

And sure enough, enlightenment, here, here, here, and hundreds of others besides I don't doubt.

The story: a press photo of Dick Cheney appears to show a nudey lady reflected in his sunglasses. How embarassing. For the sake of it, here's the photo:

Google trends: positively half hours of intrigue.

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