I have been working on an interesting project for a customer of mine - and as is with lots of his projects, end up seeing lots of internet headlines while working on the projects.  This particular project involves tracking what things people are talking about and searching for.  One source of the results comes from google trends, which shows the current top 100 most frequent searches, as well as historical trends.

Lots of searches that show up on the top 10 list are things that I wouldn't ever search for (I am not too surprised based on the content (It seems that a substantial number of people sit and watch tv and type in phrases that people say), but the format of the searches is interesting too).  I noticed today that the search frequency for green bean casserole was on the top 100 list, and that it has a sharp peak right around now each year, and then a smaller peak at Christmas time.  I've only had a couple different kinds of green bean casseroles in my life, and I don't recall any of them being very good.

I see that the current top hits are dominated by links to howobamagotelected.com, so, that must have gotten mentioned on a late night comedy show or something.  (Note, this is another type of search I never do - if you know the domain name, type it in the URL bar, not the search bar...)  (detour to mention that I, as a non-Obama voter, don't know any of the people they mentioned other than Pelosi, and I only vaguely know who she is, so I would have only done slightly better than the folks interviewed, so I don't know that the point to be taken from the video is that Obama voters are dumb, but the other point of the media spending way more time on Sarah Palin's clothes than on any issue that actually matters (not that I think $150K is a reasonable amount for clothes...).  The guys at DynaVox always said the media was so crazy conservative, and always complained about the conservative-bias in the media.  Partly had to do with how liberal they are, so it is all relative - maybe someone else can make a video from the other side showing McCain voters, and we can compare the talking points made by the media.  I won't say that Fox News is unbiased (not that I actually watch tv...) but I see it as one voice against the majority of the news outlets on the other side.

Sidd once said (about the Economist) that it is good to have a bias, as long as you admit you have it, then you can go ahead with your agenda - it is when you say that you are unbiased, and people believe you, that you run into trouble.

A person at church said how much better the article in the Tribune Review was compared to the Post Gazette about Judy's hearing in September, and I don't remember which paper put a pause in my quote, which I didn't think was well thought out, but her explanation of why the Tribune was obvious less biased, and just reported "the facts", was that they had backed McCain...

So, anyway, to get back to the original point of the post, trendfo.com is an interesting project, and I've been having a lot of fun with it these last couple weeks (and procrastinating on lots of other work).

Posted by Jon Daley on November 17, 2008, 11:39 pm | Read 13108 times
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Many, many years ago my father attended a lecture given by a young, relatively unknown Canadian named Peter Jennings. What impressed my father (and what I've remembered all these years) is Jennings' insistence that journalists were wrong to claim to report unbiased news. It is impossible to be unbiased, he said; the best you can do is be open and upfront about your prejudices and let them audience take that into account.

It's clear that the news media have now abandoned any attempt to minimize bias, though they (and Jennings himself) usually neglect the part about being honest about their prejudices. News stories are now as full of opinion as the editorial pages, so I think Jennings was wrong: by abandoning the pretense of impartiality, journalists feel free to give full vent to their biases.

One thing impressed me about the howobmagotelected interviews, however. I had doubted their claim that they were looking for the brightest Obama voters to interview, but apparently there's some truth to that. Everyone recognized that to claim to have campaigned in 57 states was ridiculous, even if they didn't know it was their own candidate that said that. What makes this indicative of above-average intelligence is the story of a friend of ours, who frequently attends garage sales. At one she purchased an American flag because it had only forty-nine stars, making it a rarity. In the conversations that ensued, she discovered that no one at the sale knew that there are currently 50 states in the U.S. Appalled, she asked the same question at the rest of the day's garage sale stops, and found the ignorance universal.

Posted by SursumCorda on November 18, 2008, 9:05 am

Hi jon,

I intrested to have site like http://trendfo.com/

can you tell me how much budget must i spend for it?

Posted by Herman on December 15, 2008, 6:37 am

A little hard to say since the customer pays me by the hour, and I work on lots of projects for him simultaneously, so though the bills probably made sense at the time, since we knew what projects we were working on, it is kind of hard to go back and look at it later. Something less than $2000.

One of the tricks is to be able to parse all the feeds without getting blocked by using up too much of the source's resources.

Posted by jondaley on December 15, 2008, 8:50 am
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