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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Would you know it if you saw it in Minnesota?

Much has been said about this obscenity trial in Florida, where the defense hopes to use Google search queries to validate community standards.

If you haven't explored Google Trends yet, you should — it's simply fascinating. With this fun little tool you can find out what people are searching for (in Google, of course) broken down by geography.

For example, let's say you want to know who's searching for lutefisk. Turns out that — surprise! — Norway catalogues the most searches. Now let's narrow that down to just U.S. searches. The accompanying graphs further show that curiosity about lye-soaked fish tends to spike during the holidays.

You can also compare the volume of several terms (separate them with a comma). Do Minnesotan's conduct more searches for pizza or hamburgers? Pizza, by far. John McCain or Barack Obama? Now you know.

Seriously, the fun never ends. To see how Minnesota would fare in the obscenity case, check out Bob Collins' post on his News Cut blog. As for me, I really should be getting back to work.

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