2010 Trendy Term of the Year: "Trending"

It is truly incredible how quickly new technologies and media emerge and quickly become de facto aspects of our lives.  Twitter, created in 2006 and known only to relatively few early adopters a couple of years ago, has given us a term that is now nearly commonplace: “trending”.  While following the tweets of one’s favorite celebrity personalities might seem a bit sophomoric to some, seen in the aggregate, Twitter’s pervasive popularity and rapidly emerging adoption internationally means that it is, in a sense, “capturing the moment” for humanity.  After all, the timeline of tweets could arguably be construed as the most democratized form of history capture: history written by the masses.  Admittedly, without creating some order to the storyline, it’s a rather profuse form of history.  Enter “trending”.

Trending provides a means of filtering out the “essence of the moment” from the ambient noise by identifying topics that are trickling through the social web.  Here are a couple of prominent examples of trending topics:

  • Twitter Trends: lists the top trending topics on Twitter.
  • Google Trends: captures the current most frequently-searched terms on the world’s largest search engine.

Perhaps even more interesting that the actual trending topics is understanding the context behind those trends; there are a number of emerging sites whose purpose is to do just that:

  • TrendsMap: a site that provides a geographical context to trending topics by overlaying the trends with a map reflecting their location context.
  • WhatTheTrend: a clever concept that allows visitors to the site to explain why certain topics are trending; this is a great tool if you’re wondering just why “Indonesia” is a hot topic today.

In deference to the power of “trending”, many local and national news outlets now report Twitter and Google trending topics; those of you local to Utah can see this on Fox 13 News and those nationally and internationall will notice this “trend of reporting on trending” on such media giants as CNN (both the US and International editions).

The forward-thinking question is this: at what point will this development in "the news" evidence itself in the contact center? At what point will social networks be the first stop for a consumer when they're searching for a solution to an issue? And what role will the knowledgebase play in providing consistent replies to those queries?