13 November 2008

Google Flu Trends - get a quote

Google has released these days "Google Flu Trends", a service which is supposed to keep people informed about the spread of the flu (just US for the moment). This release improves Google Health programs and probably is a good idea and Google will take a new award for this from the public. They look now like they want to be friends with everybody. About the accuracy of the data, this is a different story. They say on their site:

We've found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity.

I wonder which search terms are they talking about. For the moment these search terms are influenced for sure about the news that they've launched this service. Another thing that can compromise this service is the manipulation of data. Let's say that a farmaceutical company launch a product which treats coughing and they start a online free promotional distribution of this product just in, let's say, Alaska state. People will start search the internet for this opportunity of getting something free, either is useful for them or not; they just want the damn free stuff. That is a way to compromise the data. People will not go in vacation in Alaska because there is flu, isn't it ?

Here is an interesting video released by CBS on their Youtube page:

Now, I can't retain from saying what inspired me to chose the picture for this article; the man from the picture is a english singer, Simon Indelicate . This picture was taken probably during a live performance, but he looks so affected by the flu...Actually, all english people (and rednecks too) have a red in their cheeks, so the Google Flu Trends should be aware of this situation.

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