Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Online Interest in Geography Declines

Google Trends is a great way to gauge the worlds relative interest in a topic. Why not check out where geography really ranks among the priorities of the world? While Google Trends does not provide the actual or estimated number of searches, it allows you to compare relative popularity over time and between search terms. The Trends data I used is ranked by Geography which means the various numbers relate to the frequency of geography searches as 1. So, if Batman had twice as many searches as Geography, Geography would rate a 1 and Batman a 2. Get it? Good!

Before comparing geography to other topics I looked at the five and a half year history of searches for "geography". I was surprised to see that between 2004 and 2010 there have been fewer and fewer searches for geography. The relative decline can be seen in the chart below.

Geography Trends

So "the world" is searching for geography about one-quarter as often as in 2004.

Lets compare search frequency to that of a successful company with geographic right in their name, National Geographic.

National Geographic

I was a bit surprised to see a magazine have more searches than a core academic discipline. The next chart shows the highs and lows for searches throughout the course of the year in the US alone. It is clear that searches lull in the summer months and peak dramatically in the fall-no doubt related to the traditional academic year.

USA Geography

The Philippines rank as the country with the highest search frequency relative to all other content. Interestingly enough, the peaks in the Philippines are inverted from the US and we see the peaks in the summer months.

Philippines Geography

A quick check of wikipedia, which has no good reason to lie about this, reveals a fascinating tid-bit: the academic year in the Philippines begins in June!

Just for fun, let's go ahead and compare searches for geography with that of a celebrity who has faded fast from the lime light- Paris Hilton. While Paris has command over geography when it comes to google searches, the gap, she's narrowing!

Paris Hilton

So get out there, do some google searches and spread the word about geography!

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