Dave Beasing found an article in Wednesday's New York Times (free subscription required) that has our office buzzing (hey, it's a holiday week). It's about a new beta test Google service called "Trends." It's based on the number of searches for various words, and it allows users to compare terms - like NASCAR versus NBA, for example. You can choose the period of time, as well as the country in which you want to perform the search.
The premise is that searches are predictive. And as the article points out, you would have known the eventual winner of American Idol in advance, based on searches for Taylor Hicks over Katharine McPhee.
So, of course, we started playing around, and the example below with WMMR versus WYSP (one of radio's great classic battles) indeed tells a search story, especially in markets around the Philly area.
This is obviously a crude tool, without exact searches, and of course, spelling plays an important role, too. (I did a search to compare Ben Wallace and Steve Yzerman, only to have screwed up the spelling of the latter's name.)