Like Santa, Google Sees Us When We’re Sleeping and Knows When We’re Awake

Image from Google Earth Blog

I always thought that I just had to worry about Santa Claus watching my every move. No longer true. Now we have the federal government, Google and even WikiLeaks to monitor our every move, thought, and sentiment. Hell, Google even turned the tables on poor Santa by tracking his travel on Christmas Eve.

For every year that goes by, I continue to be amazed by the sheer power of technology. Amazed and unsettled, I suppose. In fact, I distinctly remember writing a post on a similar topic last summer, highlighting the power of Google Trends .

With complex algorithms, an estimated 1M+ servers , and access to raw data from billions of user searches, Google can actually measure the collective zeitgeist of the human race. In my earlier post, I ventured to guess that Google engineers can likely predict what I will want to eat for dinner on August 26, 2014. [By the way, this culinary query nets 109,000 results.]

As 2010 comes to a close, media outlets will produce their retrospectives on the key events of the past year. In fact, our team is no different, as we put the finishing touches on our own 2010 reputation year-in-review. [Keep an eye out on The Fosbury Flop for the release of the Morrissey Reputation Review in the next few days.] Reporters and researchers pore over clips and old stories to complete this task, using their eye for news to create a subjective portrait of 2010.

In stark contrast, Google simply leans on its mammoth global data centers to crunch out a scientifically-sound retrospective based on actual data derived from you, me and the other 6.5 billion people who inhabit our planet. Using this great technological power to quantify the precise character of 2010, Google raises the bar to unbelievable heights with its Google Zeitgeist 2010.

Like any great data set, users can slice and dice Google’s information to determine every aspect of every key event in 2010 – by topic, geography and time. Aside from the method by which Google assembled this report, I was most impressed with the ability to see how other parts of the world viewed topics. This reinforces the idea that we are truly global citizens now and viewpoints can differ greatly beyond our borders.

Check out Google’s Zeitgeist 2010 and find out what we, global neighbors, found important – or at the very least searched – this year.

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