It's not often that I find something to do that's both educational and incredibly addictive. However, Google Trends fits that description perfectly. I could spend hours scouring the data for market trends and checking the health of websites and industries. Essentially, this free web services gives anyone free access to the market data of the most widely used search engine in the world.
After spending only five minutes gazing at all the pretty graphs, I found an interesting trend. When I looked at the data for "nintendo wii", I noticed that the graph was on a general decreasing trend. I know that the Wii's popularity has steadily increased from its release, so I was puzzled by this result. However, a look at the graph for "wii" showed a more predictable upward trend. I believe that this incongruity between the search terms is caused by the public's increasing awareness of the Wii. As more and more people learn about the Wii, fewer and fewer use its full, formal name. Of course, this conclusion is strictly speculation, but it's an interesting theory, nonetheless.
Google Trends can turn anybody into a market analysis guru with access to possibly the largest consumer interest gauge in existence. You could use this service to pick which field of interest to study in, find the next big web service wave to ride, or pitch your web service to venture capitalists. However, one thing you won't find on Google Trends is this blog. It lives up to its name.