Google Trends in Chinese – David Cowhig

Thanks to China analyst David Cowhig for sending the following to CDT:

Google Trends counts searches on a given topic, charts them over time (now only from mid 2004 to the present), and compares the search numbers by top localities.

A discussion on the MicroPersuasion Blog about Google Trends is here and Google explains Google Trends here.

I was wondering how it works in Chinese. I did a comparison of searches on Mao, Deng, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Lei Feng. The results are here.

Every March Lei Feng beats them all. March is Lei Feng month. Overall, Lei Feng came out on top thanks, to his high March peaks, in many cities. Jiang Zemin peaked around the time of the Jiang Zemin – Hu Jintao leadership handover.

Is the Korean War the Korean War or the Oppose America Help Korea War? Opinions are evenly divided (see results here).

Searches on Yu Jie, the Chinese writer who visited President Bush recently, are here.

Searches on Yu Jie peaked around the time of his arrest in December 2004, thereafter slowly declining. By late 2005, there was no longer enough data to do a count. Was this the result of Yu Jie being placed on the forbidden-to-publish new books in the mainland (although his already published books are still being distributed)?

Searches on US visa as you might expect, peaks in the Spring and early Summer so perhaps students are doing the searches. (See results)

I added some other searches to this one — additional items are go abroad illegally, study in the USA, study in Canada and study in the UK. There aren’t enough searches on the last three to show up in the chart, but bar graphs on top search cities do show that searches on study in the UK was only slightly less than or about equal to searches on study in the USA in several big cities.

Searches on places outside the China mainland — USA, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the UK revealed Japan to be the most popular search followed by Taiwan and then the USA and South Korea. (See results)

A search on Cultural Revolution, Mao, Lin Biao, the Gang of Four, and Red Guard shows Mao in command, with a brief appearance of the Gang of Four on the charts during the second half of 2005. Lin Biao is holding steady at a fairly low level, while Mao showing his characteristic volatility. Mao hit a minor uptick around his birthday (December 26) in both 2004 and 2005. (See results)

Google Trends is still in the testing stage and will likely become more reliable and more interesting with more and a longer run of data. Still, the searches that I have done do show readily explainable trends so it looks like a another promising cyber tool. With so many Chinese on the web, searching the aggregate search data could be fun.

As you can see, this could get addicting.


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