Marika Webb-Pullman writes:

What had Communications Minister Helen Coonan cooing and bubbling with
enthusiasm recently? The launch
of Google’s new offices in Sydney
.
Yes, the search engine behemoth has Australia in its sights. And
apparently the once radical, anarchic operation that started out in a
suburban Californian garage just eight years ago now has the official,
governmental seal of approval. It also has the approval of a massive
67% of Australians who use the internet, according to the latest Morgan Poll, compared with just 16% of people who used the Yahoo search engine in the same period.

At Google’s Australian offices, there are 16 new positions (so far) as well as plans for
recruitment drives at the top universities to get the country’s best minds into
their summer internship program. On the development agenda is GoogleMaps for
Australian cities, expected to provide heavy competition for the Telstra/Sensis
Whereis operation, and a scholarship for women in computing. All of which is
enthusiastically endorsed by the Minister.

And Google doesn’t just have plans
for Australian IT graduates. On 10 May, it launched the latest tool in its battle for domination of
all things search-related: Google Trends. In essence an analysis tool, Google
Trends lets users see how often specific terms are being entered into the
Google search engine.

It’s still in its early stages, and even Google warns that
users wouldn’t want to take the results too seriously. So, what can it tell us?
And how up-to-date is the information you can access in Google Trends?

Google says that its information may contain inaccuracies
due to “data sampling issues and a variety of approximations” – which
means that the Beaconsfield miners,
despite generating a local media frenzy, have barely
enough data
to produce a graph. As a reliable source of information, Google
Trends may still have a way to go, but it seems that most people don’t mind
putting their faith in it anyway – according to the search results of one industrious
blogger
, Google is bigger than God.