Today Apple became more valuable to the stock market than Google. While the stock market doesn’t have a monopoly on defining value, the nature of trading stocks publicly makes for an interesting data source. Perhaps a data source that you can use to provide context to your own data gathering initiatives.
Using the stock market as a data source would be gathering information from a very distinct segment: people who buy and sell stock. Further definition and understanding of this group would help refine how you might use the data. For example children and teens tend not to be a significant demographic in the stock-buying segment.
Publicly traded stock goes up or down depending on the feelings of those trade stocks. So their activity leaves a record of their sentiment. Understanding the story in that sentiment requires analytical skills (which can be developed and practiced). It might be useful to see if any trend lines in your own data mirror those of specific publicly traded companies or industries to help provide context to your data. Then try to determine if the similar trends are causal or just a correlation.
As we all dig through Twitter and other text-based data for understanding of sentiment, it’s important to remember the big old numbers-based stock market might be useful as a sentiment index as well.