I just discovered this really cool Google tool called “Trends.” You can enter one or more search terms and it will pop up a graph showing how often the term has been searched either by year or location (on a map). You can limit the search geographically.
It doesn’t produce the actual number of searches. Rather, the results are scaled so that 1.0 is the average number of searches for the time period searched, allowing you to see the trend but not the numbers.
Sometimes it flags a peak in the chart with the news event that may be the cause of the peak. Cool!
Lots of search terms, such as “Jay Guin,” produce too few searches to be graphed (very embarrassing). But you can search on terms such as “Christian,” “Baptist,” “Churches of Christ,” “Methodist,” and “Presbyterian.” The trend lines are always downward, and I can’t figure why. Oddly enough, there’s a separate graph for news stories, and the denominational terms show positive trend lines. The news organizations are producing more stories and yet computer users are doing fewer searches.
So I tried “Jesus,” and the line is essentially flat. He’s not losing popularity! But “church” is downward. God is on the upswing, whereas the Holy Spirit is flat. Oddly enough, “Holy Spirit” shows a pronounced spike every spring. Do people do lots of “Holy Spirit” searches around Easter or Pentecost?
So it’s a lot of fun — and revealing.
Give it a try. Experiment. And report back anything you learn of interest. (I bet there’s some sermon material in there somewhere.)