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Google Trends, Social Mood, and Web-Surfing Out of Fear


Revisiting the great inflation versus deflation debate.

Editor's Note: Jonathan Tholen graduated from Luther College in 2004 in accounting. He's currently employed by US Bank as an auditor of the Corporate Treasury and Global Payments Services.

Although I'd planned to watch and wager jockey Calvin Borel to win at the Belmont several weeks before, the heavy rain and clouds persuaded me against driving to the local horsetrack.

Besides, Microsoft's (MSFT) new search engine Bing had been recently released. Perhaps this "decision engine" held a key to knowledge that billions of Google (GOOG) payroll dollars had overlooked! After some minor disappointment and concluding, "Eh, not bad," I reverted to my old habits and Googled the winner of this year's Belmont.

After recognizing that I wouldn't be the last person to fall back on old habits -- and that the search monopoly would likely continue -- I decided to further explore Google's developments. While I'd experimented with some of them in the past, my interest became renewed by a tool named Google Trends.

Essentially, Google Trends records the daily volume of search queries over a period of time. If there was any truth to Kevin Depew's study of socioeconomics, the online searching for information should prove to be no exception. In fact, Google had written an interesting article on this subject:

As demonstrated below, the search term "turkey recipe" shows an unusual surge of human activity whereby turkeys are prepared for massive consumption. Without further knowledge about this event, it can accurately be described as Turkey Day.

In another study, I attempted to gather some insight about human demographics by using the search term, "birthday party." The graph surprised me, as I expected it to be mostly consistent throughout the year. In fact, a sharp drop-off in searches near the end of the year can only be described as the Birthday Void.

Google Trends allows deeper analysis for the above studies by graphing the 2 search studies together. The search term "birthday party" (blue) and "turkey recipe" (red) are graphed together below. The review of this graph demonstrates that it sucks to have one's birthday immediately after Turkey Day.

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