Chicken or the Egg? What Search Activity Conveys

A session at SXSW Interactive 2011

Saturday 12th March, 2011

12:30pm to 1:30pm (CST)

When people have questions they turn to search engines for the answers. Search activity can tell some interesting trends – hottest new gadget, most popular travel destination, or whether it’s going to be a bad flu season.

By digging deeper, this activity can be used in more compelling ways. For instance, it can be interpreted to foresee trends and develop news stories as billions of searches lend themselves to many narratives. Figuring out the “what-does-it-all-mean” goes beyond declaring the winner in an ever-changing popularity contest, or what’s on top of everyone’s mind day to day. What does the rise in apocalypse-related searches following natural disasters say about our modern society? Are the lookups following Tiger Woods’ story prurient, or are we repeating our ancient fascination with the morality tale? And can search activity project what the masses will decide, even before the masses know themselves?

By analyzing what people are searching for, societal trends can be determined and some would go as far as to say that search trends can actually predict the future. Analyzing search trends helps us understand the impulses and processes of why people make their choices at that particular moment in time.

This session will discuss the predictive nature of search and whether search has the power to drive news.

LEVEL: Intermediate

About the speaker

This person is speaking at this event.
Vera H-C Chan

Next session in Salon H

3:30pm Semantically Yours: Dating Tips for the Semantic Web by Christine Connors

11 attendees

  • Francesco D'Orazio
  • Jasmine Trabelsi
  • Garann Means
  • Joseph Miller
  • Matt Biddulph
  • Mike Stenhouse
  • Rachel R
  • Yesenia Sotelo
  • Elisabeth Hoelzl
  • Tom Henrich
  • Vera Chan

30 trackers

  • Aaron Pigeon
  • Andrea Hong
  • Anonymous
  • Chris Heathcote
  • Becky Minervino
  • Carson McDonald
  • Darby Frey
  • Don Cruse
  • Eric Kramer
  • Marieke Hensel
  • PF Samuelson
  • Jamie Unwin
  • Jory
  • Wade Austin
  • kathybabb
  • kellan
  • Liang Shi
  • Loulia Miller
  • ɹǝɯoɹʞ (dılɟ) dılıɥd
  • Online Prism
  • Herman Kuiper
  • Brett Camper
  • Rachel Mercer
  • Richard Boulton
  • Schuyler Erle
  • Shelley Cook
  • Simon Willison
  • TechSmith
  • Tyson Evans
  • Gavin Bell

Sign in to add slides, notes or videos to this session

Sign in to track this session

Tell your friends!


Time 12:30pm1:30pm CST

Date Sat 12th March 2011


Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

Session type


Session Hash Tag


Short URL


Official session page


View the schedule



See something wrong?

Report an issue with this session