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Number Manipulation

Howdy – It’s time another random post from (the other) pete!

Bryan and I have been working hard on creating the 2011 Activity Curriculum for all of the iD Camps and Academies while buried in the constant Snowpocalypse that has plagued New York City. I dream nightly of the return of warm weather and, of course, the return of summer camp! At the same time, I’ve been hitting up the local Summer Camp Fairs (as mentioned in my previous post) and trying to figure out new ways of sharing with the non-believers how important tech camp is in the 21st century.

I love numbers and graphs, although I never took statistics (went liberal arts!) Regardless, I’ve always been fascinated by general analytics and what they mean. I have a ton of YouTube videos (all centered around camp stuff) and I’ve always puzzled at the popularity of some and not others. Why is Hi, My Name is Joe rising quicker than Froggy? How did Baby Shark become so darn popular and overtake (by a lot) the Hippo Song? YouTube has a feature called Insight which crunches some of the data for me and sometimes answers my questions (but not always).

I ask the similar questions about the world – about how popular certain topics are. Luckily, Google has a tool called Google Trends which allows me to compare total search data (on Google) and examine popularity over time. I decided to play around with it to make some ridiculous conclusions as well as entertain the iD audience.

First, I needed something popular as a baseline. I chose this human called “Justin Beiber***.” I am not really sure what he does or his contribution to this planet, but I do know that a preteen relative thinks he’s “OMG dreamy!” (was he in Inception or something?) Anyway, I did a trend search for “Justin Beiber” and discovered that rose to popularity in 2009 and peaked in early 2010.

*** Note: I *do*, in fact, realize that I was using the incorrect spelling of Bieber… it’s funnier this way.

01_Justin_Beiber

The way that Google Trends works is that it compares the search volume of a certain term to the bulk of searches at Google – meaning that these are not pure search numbers, which isn’t that interesting to me. Knowing that Justin Beiber (remember, I spelled it wrong purposely) is pretty popular (apparently), I can use him as a baseline for other searches. In this fashion, I’m establishing the Beiber as a unit of measure with which we can compare other searches. Note that I am using a full six years (and one month) of search information that is exclusively in the United States. Sure, if I only did a two year span, a Beiber would represent a higher percentage, but Trends doesn’t allow that (and it may defeat my manipulation).

Experiment one is to find another popular cultural figure and see how they compare to a Beiber. I chose Katy Perry (I think she’s a singer or something).

02_Katy_Perry

Wow! Katy Perry is a whole SEVEN Beibers! She makes a Beiber look like nothing. Now, there are many factors that affect these numbers, but this is for entertainment only, so please no scientific debunking in the comments. What this means is that for every 1 search for “Justin Beiber,” there were 7 searches for “Katy Perry” over the last six years.

But Katy Perry is small potatoes (I think). Let’s pull out the big guns and introduce “Lady Gaga.” I’ve been told that she’s very popular. She must be some sort of proper infant… right?

03_Lady_Gaga

Amazing!!! Lady Gaga is 17 Beibers! She even dwarfs Katy Perry and our Beiber line is almost invisible.

I want to keep pushing the limits, though. I want something that’s even more popular than Lady Gaga – Twilight! Someone told me that Twilight is a story about glitter and indifferent teenage monsters, which sounds like a winning combination.

04_Twilight

Will you look at that?! Twilight is 34 Beibers and maxes out well over 300 Beibers in late 2008! There can’t be anything in the world more popular than that…

05_Xbox_360

Ok, ok. I know it’s unfair – the Xbox 360 has been out for a long time. While it may be 48 Beibers, the peak is still slightly under that of Twilight. Perhaps Twilight is unbeatable…?

06_iPhone

BAM! With search volume still growing, the iPhone has 100 Beibers and was announced roughly the same time that Twilight became popular. The iPhone 4 almost brought that search up to 500 Beibers! Imagine that!

Just for fun, I decided to include one more graph – in case there are a few people out there saying, sure the iPhone is popular, but not as popular as Harry Potter…

07_Harry_Potter

This one had to rank by Twilights – why? Because, according to Google, “Justin Beiber does not have enough search volume for ranking.”

Even with the Harry Potter peak when the final book was released, the iPhone still has a higher search volume median.

What does this all mean? What conclusions can we draw? None really, but there is a point. Technology is woven into the fabric of modern culture. For everyone that seeks out information on Justin Bieber and spells it incorrectly as “Beiber” using the most popular search engine in the world, 100 people search for the iPhone – and that’s not a trifle fact (although it seems that way).

If you choose to go iD, you can learn how to program games or apps for the iPhone, iPad or Android devices. You can go to one of our Gaming Academies and create your own Xbox 360 game. You can even learn video production and perhaps make the next Twilight / Harry Potter movie series of your own! While iD may not help you become the next Justin Beiber, maybe that’s all right… technology is pretty trendy after all.

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