Internet search engines: A crystal ball into the future?

Can Internet searches help industry watchers predict the success of a movie or the spread of an epidemic?Plenty of current studies show that when a trend in politics, consumer goods or even disease rises or falls, the Internet search volume for related terms rises and falls along with it.Thus, said researchers from a division of Yahoo! Research, the Internet might appear at a given point in time to be “a snapshot of the collective consciousness, reflecting the instantaneous interests, concerns, and intentions of the global population.”To read this report in The Los Angeles Times in full, see:
www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-yahoo-20100927,0,1361403.storyAlso see:Web searches predict success for films, games and songs
Web search terms are a good predictor of the success of films, songs and video games even weeks ahead of release, researchers say.The findings echo a study in April showing that the number of mentions of a film on Twitter could predict its opening box-office take.However, in some cases predictions based on search do not significantly improve on those made with other data.The research appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11404249Study finds predictive power of search
A new study claims web search statistics can be used to predict human behaviour – from record sales to the spread of influenza.But the researchers also found traditional information sources are just as effective, and in cases more useful, at spotting trends.Sharad Goel and colleagues from Yahoo! Research in the United States wanted to see if web search query logs could be used to predict how well something is going to do in the future.
www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/09/28/3023689.htmWill your new film be a hit? Ask the web – study
Tracking web searches for new songs, video games and movies can predict which ones will be big hits, but often not much better than traditional methods, researchers at Yahoo Inc reported on Monday.And they confirmed earlier findings that showed searches associated with diseases, such as Google’s Google Flu Trends, were not any more effective than traditional methods for predicting the spread of infections.
uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE68Q64N20100927

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