Why ‘searching’ means something

Google have unveiled the Google Flu Trends website.  Basically, if you start searching for ‘aching muscles’ or ‘flu symptoms’, and lots of other people in your area are doing the same thing, it’s an indicator that people are starting to feel ill.

Using that, Google is predicting how much flu activity there is in certain areas.  If we assume people aren’t cynical on a big enough scale to ruin the data, this is a pretty amazing example of why searching isn’t entirely passive.  Why collecting data about what people are searching for is an active thing.  If you know what people are interesting in finding out, and you know what they’re finding, you can fill empty markets or predict trends.

Google – it’s the beginnings of a collective conciousness, a gathering of minds all asking the same question.  A billion people all pondering vital questions.

Like, “Is Angelina Jolie still as sexy as ever?”