Although generally recognized as dull, economists have on occasion colorful and influential public representatives. In the last half a century few rank as high as Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith. Both died in 2006 after long and full lives.
To monitor cultural influence of public intellectuals we have the tools of the historian, examining the textual record and constructing a narrative measure of impact. In the era of the web some new tools are on offer, such as Google Trends, a record of past searches and hits to news pages through Google’s Search Engine. One confirms a intuition. Friedman’s web presence is much more pronounced than Galbraith, and it does not seem to fade with time. What representations and uses are made up of these references the search tool does not say, for that one needs to “examine the textual record and construct a narrative measure of impact.”