Could Google Trends be useful as a new research tool?
According to the official site, Google Trends compares the wired worlds interest in various topics by comparing how often key words have been seached for in Google over time. It also displays how frequently topics have appeared in Google News stories and which geographic regions have searched for them most often.
Mmmm. Methinks. Sounds interesting. I thought I'd give it a go and so typed in "meditation". Now if the results were in anyway indicative of reality, it would appear that searches for meditation have decreased gradually over time but news items have gone up.
But it was the geographic region data that really caught my attention
- Chennai India
- Delhi India
- Mumbai India
- San Francisco, CA USA
- Melbourne Australia
- Sydney Australia
- Perth Australia
- Seattle, WA USA
- New York, NY USA
- Boston, MA USA
It would seem that Australia (my country) is a hot bed of interest in meditative spirituality, outranked only by India (full of yogis so I suppose you'd expect that) and San Francisco (a den of iniquity, ya that figures too). Oh well, back to the cushion.
Before I left though, I thought I'd search out a few other key words for new spirituality. Here's a brief synopsis:
Typing in "reincarnation" revealed that Germans outrank every one else in their interest levels by orders of magnitude, while global interest is overall fairly steady.
Typing in "karma" revealed Aussie interest is second to none with Melbourne and Sydney ranked 1 and 2 respectively. But if you want to chat to someone about "yoga" go to the US.
Typing in "goddess" revealed the US has a dominate interest in the sacred feminine but Brisbane and Perth residents are bigger on "spells". And if you're looking for a "Book of Shadows" the Aussies and Brittish are keenest.
Typing in "gnostic" revealed the US interest has sky rocketed in the last few weeks, presumably with the openning of the DaVinci Code.
How should we interpret this data? Well I don't think one night's frivolity is nearly enough works to make some hard and fast statements but, hey, it gets me wondering.