Uno sabe que Google sirve para muchas cosas, pero el artículo «Postcards from planet Google» (hay que registrarse para leerlo) da una idea todavía más impresionante de lo que Google puede hacer. Como recibe 150 millones de peticiones al día, el buscador puede seguir con precisión los movimientos de intereses en la Internet global, siguiendo tendencia en tiempo real, y prediciendo tendencias futuras. Una historia de tendencia en acción:
But the most trivial events may also register on Google’s sensitive cultural seismic meter.
The logs team came to work one morning to find that «carol brady maiden name» had surged to the top of the charts.
Curious, they mapped the searches by time of day and found that they were neatly grouped in five spikes: biggest, small, small, big and finally, after a long wait, another small blip. Each spike started at 48 minutes after the hour.
As the logs were passed through the office, employees were perplexed. Why would there be a surge in interest in a character from the 1970’s sitcom «The Brady Bunch»? But the data could only reflect patterns, not explain them.
That is a paradox of a Google log: it does not capture social phenomena per se, but merely the shadows they cast across the Internet.
«The most interesting part is why,» said Amit Patel, who has been a member of the logs team. «You can’t interpret it unless you know what else is going on in the world.»
So what had gone on on April 22, 2001?
That night the million-dollar question on the game show «Who Wants to Be a Millionaire» had been, «What was Carol Brady’s maiden name?» Seconds after the show’s host, Regis Philbin, posed the question, thousands flocked to Google to search for the answer (Tyler), producing four spikes as the show was broadcast successively in each time zone.
And that last little blip?
«Hawaii,» Mr. Patel said.
Y en cuanto al poder predictivo:
Take Las Ketchup, a trio of singing sisters who became a sensation in Spain last spring with a gibberish song and accompanying knee-knocking dance similar to the Macarena.
Like a series of waves, Google searches for Las Ketchup undulated through Europe over the summer and fall, first peaking in Spain, then Italy, then Germany and France.
«The Ketchup Song (Hey Hah)» has already topped the charts in 18 countries. A ring tone is available for mobile phones. A parody of the song that mocks Chancellor Gerhard Schröder for raising taxes has raced to the top of the charts in Germany.
In late summer, Google’s logs show, Las Ketchup searches began a strong upward climb in the United States, Britain and the Netherlands.
Haven’t heard of Las Ketchup?
If you haven’t, Google predicts you soon will.
Por supuesto, se habla de sacarle partido comercial al asunto.