Over at his 401st Blow blog, producer Noah Harlan, who has contributed posts to this blog on trends in film viewing and online video, takes his thinking a step further. He runs a bunch of Google Trend comparisons, measuring over the last few years the traffic associated with the terms “independent film,” “online video,” and “streaming video.” After reading the post, I emailed Noah some questions, which he incorporates into an updated version.
From the blog:
Scott Macaulay makes the very good point about units of comparison: “”Streaming video” and “online video” both refer to delivery mechanisms, whereas independent film is most probably being used to refer to a class of film. Certainly people searching for “online video” could be searching for ways to see independent film online. Or are you assuming that online video is referring exclusively to short form work?”
I recognize the problem Scott raises and that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t delve too deeply into analysis of the data. That being said, I am trying to track here how these ideas are related in popularity as memes and not as alternatives to each other. Scott is correct that two are delivery methods and one is a class of film but it’s not completely without merit to compare the interest in methods of delivery with interest in a class of film – and we see that as interest in certain methods of delivery have increased, interest in a certain class of film has decreased – that does not say that there is a causal relationship, only a loose correlation.
Check out the blog for parse the details yourself (the short version: search interest in “online video” and “streaming video” has escalated while interest for “independent film” has fallen). I think multiple conclusions can be drawn, and one might have something to do with the efficacy of “independent film” as a brand for the kind of cinema we know and love. What I found more interesting, however, is the geographical distributions that Harlan runs showing that there are entire pockets of the country that seemingly don’t care about independent film while people all over the States are interested in watching their video online.