The Year in Search

December 20, 2009

As the end of the year rolls around, I find it interesting to look at the things people have been searching for on the web. Each search engine has their own list, so let’s take a look at the data for 2009.

Google:

1. michael jackson
2. facebook
3. tuenti
4. twitter
5. sanalika
6. new moon
7. lady gaga
8. windows 7
9. dantri.com.vn
10. torpedo gratis

Yahoo!:

1. Michael Jackson
2. Twilight
3. WWE
4. Megan Fox
5. Britney Spears
6. Naruto
7. American Idol
8. Kim Kardashian
9. NASCAR
10. Runescape

Bing:

1. Michael Jackson
2. Twitter
3. Swine Flu
4. Stock Market
5. Farrah Fawcett
6. Patrick Swayze
7. Cash for Clunkers
8. Jon and Kate Gosselin
9. Billy Mays
10. Jaycee Dugard

The first thing that jumps out at me in this data is that the only item that transcended all three lists was Michael Jackson. Certainly part of this is the methodology that the search engines are using to tabulate this data, and all of them are using “trending” topics. As you might guess, searches for things like Youtube or pornography are going to have relatively consistent growth on a year to  year basis.

The terms that made two lists were Twitter and Twilight/New Moon. It is certainly remarkable the growth that Twitter has had this year. It has certainly created a lot of public awareness in a short time. It will interesting to see if it remains a trend in 2010.

One interesting difference between the Google and Bing lists are the number of tech-related searches on Google versus the number of “obituary”-related searches on Bing. Bing has four celebrities who had died in the past year on its list while Google has arguably 7 different technology related results. TechCrunch Europe has an interesting entry on why Sanalika appears. Tuenti is the Spanish version of Facebook. Dantri.com.vm is a Vietnamese newspaper. Torpedo Gratis is a Portuguese site that allows you to send free text messages.

One thing you can certainly take from Google’s list is it’s international appeal. Techcrunch also argues that most international users will simply use Google over the address bar or bookmarks to get to particular websites.

Are there any interesting trends or notes that you’ve spotted? Let me know in the comments.


Learning (or Re-Learing) a Foreign Language

September 27, 2008

Every once in a while, I feel the need to pick up the French I’ve learned in college and try to at least get it back up to a kindergartner’s level. I’ve found a few good free resources that are helpful in tyring to get your language skills on the path to improvement.

The first is http://www.oculture.com/2006/10/foreign_languag.html, which has a variety of audio language podcasts in a variety of different languages. There’s actually 37 languages that you can choose from and a lot of them have a variety of levels that you can start studying.

In French, there is a variety of content that you can use, and one of the most interesting to me is a daily news podcast from RFI (Radio France International) It gives you a 10-minute news summary that is read relatively slowly, so that beginners can more easily follow. It was still a challenge for me to keep up, but I’ve been picking up some of the phrases as I listen. I should also mention that since the RFI site is entirely in French, the key word you will want to download the podcast is “télécharger” which is not a word that I learned in French class in college.

Speaking of discovering words that you might not recognize, you’ll probably want to be aware of some of the free web-based translation services that are out there. The most well known is likely Yahoo’s Babel Fish translator. It does offer website translation along with blocks of text, although it does limit you to 150 words. Google also has their own translator, which can sometimes be a little better interpreting certain phrases. Both of these, and any automated service that I have seen is very limited in its ability to translate coherently. They do not understand idiomatic expressions and come sometimes struggle with nested phrases. Of course, this will very from language to language, so I don’t envy anyone who is trying to program this kind of service. Just understand going in, that you are not going to get flawless translations.

So if your language skills are in need of a tune up, then these tools may be just the thing to get you back into shape.