Archive for November 15th, 2008

Google it

15 November, 2008

In the beginning was Google, and the world thought it was good.

In the second wave, Sergei Brin and friend created Google Earth, and the world loved it and incorporated it into their PowerPoint presentations.

In the third wave, the Googlers have created an awesome engine which monitors influenza outbreaks – lo, weeks ahead of the mighty CDC.

Google Flu Trends via kwout

And the world has looked on this, and said “Wow!”.  Or at least, Scientific American and other science-reporting other news media have.  And a good thing it is too: at a glance you can – in the USA anyway – see where flu trends are ominously increasing, and conclude “I don’t want to go there right now!”.

But has anyone stopped to think how they’re doing this?

It can only be by geographically locating every query they get about “flu and/or sniffles NOT cat”, can’t it?

So what do they do with queries like “biowar agent virus haemorrhagic fever”?  Pass them on to ECHELON, maybe?  I hope not – otherwise I have a file a metre thick, seeing as I have a morbid but professional interest in such things.  Oops – I wrote “ECHELON”.  Oh, bugger, I wrote “haemorrhagic”!  Ah, FTFAGOS*, I didn’t like my career anyway.

Ah, well – let us hope they only use their powers for good….

* = involves the words “game of soldiers”, “that” and “for”, among others.