Metrics for Memes 07

Since the 2002 IA Summit, I've been informally and irregularly tracking the number of hits for a handful of search terms.

Metrics for Memes

Findability's growing faster than ever (see 2005), but information architecture has hit a wall. I blame the acronymists and folksonomists.

Strange Connections

Looks like Wi-Fi signals will enable location awareness, alongside GPS, RFID, and cellular triangulation.

Finding Time is must see UXTV.

I love this kind of stat, and used to play around with "XML," "SGML," and "Britney," back in the day when SGML (and, well, Britney, still mattered). I wonder if this kind of thing needs a control word, though, like, say "other" as a way of judging the relative growth of these terms against the overall growth in the Google corpus.

I was incredibly excited when I saw these stats, but was then skeptical that "number of hits" was the best way to track memes and mindshare over the years. I fired up Google Trends and alas:

Downward trends in searches across the board. And "findability" gave me a "not enough search volume" message:

On the flip side, # of hits demonstrates that there's more information out there than ever before and that the history of our professions are quite findable indeed.

I agree that a few control words would help establish a baseline, although we still couldn't take this data too seriously. Google constantly plays with their algorithms in ways that can dramatically change the numbers of hits for various types of searches. And, a significant percentage of hits are often just spam.

Google Trends' number of searches is also an interesting metric. If you use quotes around the phrases, you get different results (and "experience design" doesn't have enough search volume):

So, what comes first: the content or the query?

Can we sort mememetrics into leading, lagging, and coincident indicators?

I wish we had an Internet search analytics tool with a stable, transparent set of algorithms and data going back to 1994 or so...unfortunately, the Wayback Machine doesn't quite cut it: