Thursday, November 13, 2008

In These Troubled Times (Count It!)

I recently heard about an idea that essentially purports to create a new social metric to quantify our nation's current plunge toward general doom and gloom.  The idea is to take the phrase "In These Troubled Times", and Google it periodically to see how many hits the search will produce.  For instance, as of tonight, Google produces 159,000 sites that include the phrase.

Naturally, as the United States stumbles, fumbles and crumbles (yikes!!), more and more bloggers and op-ed postings on the web will begin, or will include,  that particular phrase.  And this will correspond with an increased number of search results, possibly even a longer search time (dear god, no!) 

In these troubled times, is it rational to expect such a trivial index to be a reliable indicator of the downfall facing our country?  Will the rate of increase for search results including this phrase taper off when Obama steps into the White House, or maybe the number will plateau when that $700 Billion we fronted to Henry Paulson starts to 'kick in'?

In these troubled times, it might not be that trivial!  Contrary to a popular belief, bloggers and social network users are people too.  They are capable of providing a fair metric reading for our society's gut feelings about the nation's current state of affairs. 

In these troubled times, if Google can track the flu, why can't we use it to index society? 

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