Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Google Gold Mine

Most people on the web know the value of Google as a search engine. Long time holders of the stock know the value of Google as a cash cow. But Google also has a wealth of information people are just learning about.

How often people do a search on the Flu can predict when and where flu outbreaks will occur. This can be extended to track and predict bird flu outbreaks. (For more on that see this TED presentation.)

Even a lone psychiatrist can find things with Google that are virtually unknown in professional literature. "The research literature is virtually silent on sex-induced depression, but a Google search revealed several Web sites and chat rooms for something called postcoital blues. Who knew? There, I read many accounts nearly identical to those of my patients, with reports of various remedies for the malady."

The PageRank algorithm that Google uses to rank web pages in relevance to a search topic has recently shown an ability to predict Noble Prize winners.

There is so much value in the meta-data held by Google that I believe we are all just beginning to scratch the surface.
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