Samuel Johnson was both a great writer and a great character; according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography “..arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history“. With his dictionary doing so much to define the English language you would expect the 300th anniversary of his birth (last Friday) to have made a bit of an impact online. Unfortunately, despite some great programmes on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4, the public failed to be overly moved.
In fact according to Google Trends, whilst September has caused a slight blip, interest in “Samuel Johnson” has been falling over the years.
The blogosphere shows no more interest than usual, and far less than the announcing of the Samuel Johnson prize.
Obviously some historical figures stand the test of time better than others. The graph below shows the leap in interest for the mere 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth (the red line at the bottom provides a comparison with Samuel Johnson).
The two men have very different legacies, but nonetheless I can’t help feeling that Samuel Johnson has been unfairly overlooked online.
Over three months since the US presidential elections and it is surprising to see that Sarah Palin is still firmly in the public eye. Whilst Joe Biden is only a heartbeat away from being the most powerful man on earth, it is actually Sarah Palin that has people more interested:
Surely if Palin continues at this level of public interest, there is no doubt she will be going for the Republican nomination next time around. You would almost want her to win, just to see what she would do.
Looking at your Google analytics or Feedjit can occassionally provide insights into some very strange minds. Earlier today Google directed someone to my site looking for paddington bear porn:
Once I had gotten over the shock, and taken Paddington to see a local counsellor, I had one question that I knew Google Insights for Search could answer. Who is the fictional bear of choice in the world of porn?
Whilst neither paddington bear porn or rupert the bear porn have enough search volume to produce Google Insights for Search graphs, both winnie the pooh porn and care bear porn do (at this point my knowledge of fictional bears ran out).
Whilst Winnie the Pooh is, without a doubt, the bear of choice in the world of porn, it is pleasing to note that it is seemingly an industry on the decline.
Last week saw two special logos on the Google.co.uk site: one for Paddington Bear and one for the Queen. Using Google Insights for Search it is possible to compare the effect of the Google logo on the different search terms.
Whilst the logo quadrupled the number of searches for the Queen, there was ten times as many searches for Paddington as normal! With the honours even (the Queen held on to the most searches), hopefully the results won’t dent the chances of any future joint birthday parties (according to the BBC they share a birthday).
It is a shame that the daily details are only available for the last week, as it would be interesting to compare these logo results with those of some other famous people/events.
Unfortunately most poor academics don’t have access to the same data as Bill Tancer, instead we generally have to make do with the crumbs from Google and the other search engines. This morning however, I was reminded about how careful we need to be when using the tools the search engines offer us.
Today I was using Google Insights for Search to compare the term cybermetrics and webometrics. Whilst I am part of the Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group, as a group we tend to discuss ‘webometrics’. Google Insights for Search clearly shows that whilst there was once a time when cybermetrics ruled supreme, webometrics is now far more popular.
More importantly, however, I also noticed that Iran wasn’t highlighted on the map for the term ‘webometrics’, despite Iran have a (relatively) strong webometrics community.
Basically, because Iran does not appear in the results for ‘cybermetrics’ (which was my first search term), it is not calculated for ‘webometrics’. If I had added the term ‘webometrics’ first, then the term ‘cybermetrics’ the map would have looked very different:
The solution would seem to be to include a universal search term first, but those that immediately spring to mind are not necessarily the sort that you would want appearing on a corporate slide-show.
One of the joys of Google Analytics is watching the map slowly filling up as you get traffic from different parts of the world. However, whilst North America and Western Europe quickly fill up, other parts of the world have been more reluctant to visit my Webometric Thoughts. Almost a year after I started using Google Analytics there has still been no traffic from many countries in Africa.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave… is wondering how to start filling his map, hoping to attract visitors from Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Moldova. Whilst I am also waiting for some traffic from Belarus and Georgia, at least I can sleep comfortably in the knowledge of 28 visits from the Ukraine, 2 from Armenia, and 1 from Moldova.
Whilst the gauntlet has been thrown down by Kim at Oh, what a tangled web we weave…, I would expect the Belarusian, Georgian, and Armenian traffic to arrive by the end of the week (especially as I have sensibly included the demonyms as well as country names). And whilst Kim has decided to include the terms Google and Facebook in his post to increase the liklihood of traffic, I’m going with the Google Insights for Search suggestions of Minsk, Tbilisi, and Yerevan.
Update: Ooops…just realised I was chasing Armenian traffic after already having had Armenian traffic. So it should really say “I would expect the Belarusian, Georgian, and EXTRA Armenian traffic to arrive by the end of the week”
In addition to Google Trends, Google are now offering Google Insights for Search (http://google.com/insights/search/#)(via TechCrunch). Not only can you filter the terms by category, for example helping to distinguish between Apple (Computers & Electronics) and apple (Food & Drink), but it will also give a nice visual representation of the geographic data.
We can now quickly see that the Iran is the country most interested in webometrics:
The maps also offer a whole new type of vanity searching. The “David Stuart” brand has yet to make major inroads in Africa, Asia or South America. I was grateful, however, to find that my own vanity searches had not overly effected the results (at a city level London is the hub rather than Wolverhampton).
Some bloke called Barack Obama, on the other hand, seems to have made inroads all over, with the exception of the Middle East.
The obvious question, based on the directory structure of the Insights for Search URL (http://google.com/insights/search/#), is what other insight services are Google going to offer? Insights for Maps? Insights for Shopping? Insights for News?