Using Google Correlate to find similar thematic maps

Correlate is a new, typically quirky beta service from Google. It’s tricky to understand the concept at first, but essentially the service does for data what TinEye does for online images – provides a reverse search mechanism for finding similar data-sets from trends. Correlating one set of information with another.

The idea comes from Google’s successful experiment to use the frequency of Google searches for keywords associated with flu symptoms, to provide advanced warning of flu outbreaks.

At the time of writing, Correlate works for two types of information:  time-series, and US States. Trends are matched with variations in Google Search keyword frequency over time or by State. You can enter a search term, or upload your own data.

As this is correlation,  not cause and effect,  it often produces odd results. For instance one of the closest geographic correlations for Facebook is Tapeworm in humans.

Google searches for Facebook correlate with searches for 'tapeworm in humans'

Uploading data for hate group numbers per capita,  I found a correlation with several dubious searches people are making. For example drivers license templates and Disney Channel Hannah Montana games.

Maps correlating hate group numbers per capita with Google Searches for 'drivers license templates'.


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