My newest fascination: Google Trends

Recently, my friend Steve Rubel said somewhere (Twitter? Friendfeed? His blog?) that he could live with only his iPhone and Google Trends . Perhaps I’m making up what he said, but nonetheless, after he said it, I added a Google Trends widget to my iGoogle page (which I now use as a browser "home" page) and have become very fascinated with the ever-changing flow of the word and phrases being search for by Google users.

For example, early this morning, one of the top search terms was "haberdasher," a word that Sarah Palin used in her speech last night and a term that is probably unknown to a vast swath of the American population under the age of, what, 50? Anyone who is an American history wonk, however, will immediately recognize the term as describing a men’s clothing retailer, one that historians nearly always use in describing the trade engaged in by Harry Truman.

That in 2008 the term "haberdasher" can be atop Google Trends for a few hours is enough to make the service one of the most fascinating things I see regularly on the Internet. (Last Saturday afternoon, I noted here that over 80% of all the search terms involved college football.)

I wish I had a profound point to make about all of this, but I have no idea what it all means.