| PALO ALTO, California
PALO ALTO, California The art of trend-spotting
is set to take a more scientific turn as Google Inc., the
world's top Web search company, on Tuesday unveils a service to
track the fastest-rising search queries.
Google Hot Trends combines elements of Zeitgeist and Trends
-- two existing Google products that give a glimpse into Web
search habits, but only in retrospect based on weeks-old data.
Hot Trends, a list of the current top-100 fastest-rising
search trends, will be refreshed several times daily, using
data from millions of Google Web searches conducted up to an
hour before each update, the company said.
What's hot and what's not will be knowable to the masses in
ways pioneering social philosophers could never have imagined.
"There are events going on all the time that most of us
aren't aware of happening," Amit Patel, a Hot Trends software
engineer and an early Google employee, said in an interview.
From news to gossip, the profound to the truly inane:
baffled Google users seek the meaning of the phrase "motion to
recommit" in the latest congressional debate, or search the
phrase "I who have nothing" -- the title of a song sung by a
recent contestant on televised competition "American Idol."
And watch how the Web generation cuts corners: Each night
before a national college entrance examination, Google sees
heavy searches from what appears to be high-school students
making last-minute preparations ahead of the test, Patel said.
TOP OF THE TOP OF THE POPS
For years, Google has compiled a list of popular searches
it calls Google Zeitgeist, offering a weekly, monthly or annual
retrospective look back at what its users wanted to know.
Hot Trends updates and automates this process by giving a
contemporary snapshot of what is on people's minds -- at least
as reflected by what goes through Google Web search each day.
Each Hot Trends response shows not just links to
potentially related sites, but also links to associated Google
News stories and blog searches, providing added context.
"After we find what trends that are interesting, users will
want to know why are they important?" Patel said. "We are
helping you find an explanation: There is some investigation
that has to be done by the user."
The experimental service also allows users to select
specific dates to see what the top-rising searches were at a
given point in the recent past, starting in mid-May.
The Mountain View, California-based company is also
introducing changes to its existing Google Trends service,
which offers charts and other data to see how a trend evolves
over time or how it compares to other trends over time.
Now, in addition to viewing the top countries and cities
that searched for a term, users can see how search habits
around a particular trend vary from region to region in the
United States, as well as across 70 different countries.
For example, political junkies can track Google search
patterns for particular U.S. presidential candidates by state.
Hot Trends, at www.google.com/trends/, finds the
fastest-rising trends instead of the most-popular topics, which
search experts say still centres around sex, sex and more sex.
Hot Trends screens "inappropriate language" and pornography.