Best of 2006

digital vision/getty images

Trend Mining

Best Idea

Social networks, blogs, vlogs, YouTube— they’re all leaving a digital trail about you and your brand. No surprise, then, that a host of new trend miners are working to help you make sense of all this noisy clatter. Nielsen BuzzMetrics’ BlogPulse creates customized graphs of blog conversations, measuring the influence of individual blogs and fingering what people are typing about, from Hollywood (buzz is boundless on Angelina Jolie, but flagging on Paris Hilton) to politics (chatter is up on the Supreme Court and down on the federal budget deficit). Digitas ad guy David Armano’s Logic+Emotion blog provides visualizations of the blogosphere’s spheres of influence and plays host to rich trend conversations by advertising thinkers. Google Trends uses graphs and charts to present data on the public’s Googling habits. Some might pioneer fee-for-service or ad-based models as traffic and interest grow. But for now most of these services are blissfully free. There is even a Web analytics site called HitTail.com that analyzes blog traffic and search patterns to spit out future post suggestions for bloggers eager to stay ahead of emerging trends and spike their rankings. A few simple algorithms can discern not only what people are talking about now but what they will be talking about in the future. Who needs a gut anymore?

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