Google Shows Search Trends for Presidential Debates
I wondered while doing so how many others were doing the same, and now google has provided us with a way of seeing what people were searching for during the debates. It makes for really interesting reading, both how people were searching and what they were looking for.
The Current.com showed a live stream of the debates, along with commentary from twitter feeds. Some of it was inane, and a lot of it was very interesting and well though out commentary. I'd imagine they'll be showing tonight's debate in the same fashion. I know what I'll be watching!
When Sarah Palin and Joe Biden debated in front of one of the largest TV audiences in US election history last week, the two candidates might not have been Googling for facts during the debate, but millions of people watching the debate were. Today Google released some information about what kinds of things viewers were searching for as that debate unfolded, minute by minute. It is amazing both that viewers were able to do such a thing, in real time, and that we're able to watch what people are searching for. The internet in general, and Google in particular, has substantially augmented this important part of public life.
When Biden mentioned that the "theocracy controls the security apparatus" in Iran, users searched for the meaning of theocracy — as they did when he spoke of the windfall profits tax.
Getting these definitions got a bit tougher when the candidates couldn't even agree on pronunciation. Discussion about a certain type of energy caused a flurry of queries: nucular vs nuclear, nuclear pronunciation, palin nucular, and even nukular. And when Senator Biden talked about the "7,000 madrasses built along [the Pakistani-Afghan] border", the queries ranged from madrass, madrases, madrasa, and even madras, a major city in India that's most definitely not on the Pakistani-Afghan border.
In 1960 seventy million people watched Kennedy and Nixon engage in the first Presidential debate ever broadcast live on TV.
And not a single viewer could post a comment.
These days things are different. Tonight, far fewer people probably watched the Current.tv and Twitter collaborative broadcast of Obama v. McCain - but scores of them participated, 140 characters at a time. It worked very well. You can get some idea from the 1 minute of video embedded below.