Monthly Archives: July 2006

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Google Trends

I’ve been having some fun playing around with Google Trends, which is a simple, graph-based interface showing how queries at Google compare to each other. It compares the following:
– relative popularity; no actual counts.
– searches by city
– searches by region
– searches by languages
– and most interesting of all, the graph plots out events that may have influenced positive or negative spikes

Check out 49ers vs. Raiders vs. Cowboys. In this example you’ll see that it actually catches multiple meanings of Cowboys (I was thinking of the NFL team, but this also catches an NCAA basketball team.)

Google finance vs. Yahoo finance clearly shows the spike in May when Google launched a Finance site. The spike quickly drops after the initial launch.

Here’s a fun one, Jack Daniels vs. Jim Beam vs. Maker’s Mark. [As a sidenote I guess normalizing is minimal, b/c when I entered it as Jack Daniels vs. Jim Beam vs. Makers Mark I got a higher Marker’s Mark count.] Jack Daniels spikes a few times with no apparent explanation, while Jim Beam had some news, such as Starbucks selling a coffee liqueur drink, that seemed intriguing but resulted in very little change in volume.

Craigslist

Like most Internet users, I’m a Craigslist fan. Years ago I wrote Craig Newmark an email thanking him. I’d found an apartment, bought a VCR, and gave away an old bed on Craigslist. Craig wrote me back right away. Nice guy.

But Craigslist has changed very little since then. It’s expanded geographically into other cities and it has more spam than ever, but the UI and – as far as I can tell – back-end data structures have changed little. It’s taken outside investment from eBay, hired a CEO, Jim Buckmaster in 2000, and added RSS feeds. It’s also, and don’t get me wrong this is key, remained easy for people to use. Nor has it become a portal with email, IM, banner ads, etc.

But would it kill Craigslist to improve a few features? Here’s my top list of things that would help me as a Craigslist user:


  1. Multiple search paramaters, at once. When looking for something like an apartment for rent in San Francisco, how about letting me search Lower Haight, Haight Ashbury, and Cole Valley all at the same time? That’s just one example, but there are lots of parameters I’d like to limit my search by; only show postings with pics is another example.

  2. Integrate maps. Other people have integrated Google and Yahoo maps with Craigslist data. But why not have it directly in certain categories, such as rentals, real estate, jobs, and even items for sale? I’m sure this is coming, but needs to be called out anyhow.

  3. Search all of Craigslist at once . Am I missing something? Why can’t I search all of Craigslist at one time, rather than limiting my search to jobs, items for sale, and so forth? Maybe I’m missing the obvious, but I can’t figure out how to do this.

  4. Better handling of images. When looking through a long list of desks for sale, it’d be so helpful to have preview thumbnails on the search and browsing pages.

  5. Better spam protection. I like Craigslist’s policy of the community policing itself. But maybe some slightly more advanced technology might help. For example, how many times do I have to see a Portland, Oregon home for sale in the San Francisco real estate section? Like maps, this is probably coming.

  6. Calendar interface. When things are listed by dates, such as the events calendar, it’d be useful to have a calendar display option.