Fun with Google

Some people (notably certain early-stage investors) love the company whose motto reads 'don't be evil'; others claim that it is getting closer and closer to violating its own credo with every passing day. However, even those who would disparage what has become one of the most highly capitalized companies on the planet for everything from data mining to anti-competitive behavior to collaborating with governments should be able to agree; Google produces some amazing tools. One of the latest from the same guys who gave us the ability to view our own homes from inside them and the tools to search for literally anything under the sun in less time than the blink you are forced into by looking at it is Google Trends.

This tool allows users to study internet trend data on the topics of their own choice as well as see what the greater American searching public's topics du jour are. With the benefit of its search tools, Google is also able to plug-in stories related to the topic, regional data and the ability to study time periods, taking the tool one step beyond something like trending Twitter topics. Due to its size and scope, the company can pull such data together in a really unprecedented way. To reverse engineer this same type of data the company offers the Correlate tool, which is equally as interesting and allowed the company to identify flu trends across the country. Freakonomics has more on both here.

Some readers may be thinking that these are merely the latest tools which will allow governments to exert greater levels of control over their populations in the future. I truly hope not. However, if at some point in time the human tendency to be curious does indeed collectively work against its currently free populations, the thinking here is that we should at least have fun using the tools of our future subjugation in the meantime. Just make sure you aren't being evil while you do so...

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