Sunday, September 13, 2009

Google Knows All

The Washington Post's Cecilia Kang wrote a very interesting article on Saturday September 12. The article entitled Google Economist Sees Good Signs in Searches details Google's Chief Economist Hal Varian belief that the recession is waning and the US economy is in recovery. Varian comes to this conclusion through his analysis of what people are searching on Google. The article states,
In March, the number of Google users searching for information about unemployment benefits or employment centers began to drop, Varian said. Overall unemployment has continued to climb, of course, but new jobless claims have declined since peaking earlier this year.
Varian's analysis of search history to measure economic trends is similar to how Google mined search histories to monitor flu outbreaks. Google launched Google Flu Trends in November 2008 after its researchers noticed a relationship between how many people searched for flu related terms and how many people have flu symptoms. More importantly, Google noticed that its search history data could predict flu outbreaks up to two weeks earlier than the Center for Disease Control because people are likely to search the Internet about health concerns before they visit a doctor.

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