An XKCD cartoon today described Googling the future using search terms such as “in <year>” and “by <year>”:
So I tried it:
Hmm – results from the future?
So I had a play in Google News… could this be a good way of searching forecasts?
By searching the past, we can search for old forecasts of the future…
I leave it as an exercise for the reader to search results from 2006, 2001, and 1991 for the 5, 10 and 20 years forecasts respectively for this year… let me know in the comments if anything interesting turns up;-)
PS ANd this: Quantifying the Advantage of Looking Forward, which looks for different countries at the ratio of searches for year+1 and year-1 over the course of a year, then plots the resulting quotient against GDP. The results appear to suggest that there is a correlation between GDP and the forward looking tendency of the population. (But is this right? Do the search volumes get normalised (on Google Trends) by the volume of the first term at the start of the trend period? If the user numbers are growing over the course of the year, might we be skewing the future looking component because of loaded terms at the end of the year?)