August 29, 2009

Elora, Google Insight and FAME

As I was playing around with Google Insight, I felt upon a nice piece of "future archaeology" micro event...

For those who didn't knew, Google Insight is a service showing the fluctuations in people's search terms around the world. For instance, entering the term "gift" will generate a nice periodic curve with peaks around christmas eve, highlighting the fact that people tend naturally to postpone gift quest until the last day (and who don't).
The nice thing is you can filter the results regions by regions.

As soon as Google Insight appeared in 2004, I've been fascinated about the side effects and correlations retrieved from the simple analysis of those curves. One of the most famous example is the propagation of flu activity that can be deduced from symptoms people tend to search on google before going to the doctor.

But additionally to this amazing data mining aspect of Google Insight, I found that it could also be used to report and keep track of a few micro event (if not absolutely personal ones).

My daughter's name is Elora, she was born on the year 2005 at the end of december.
Searching for its (not so common) name in Google Insight, I discovered that there wasn't any single activity around the term Elora - for the entire region I lived in - before she was born. And obviously, activity becomes noticeable around her birth date, revealing her (proud) parents searches as well as those initiated by their friends and familly.


Even without having done anything on this purpose (intentionally I mean), my daughter's birth is now traceable on the internet... which is a real "micro event" compared to the global event's patterns usualy revealed by Google Insight!

In one thousand years -- provided google databases survived in some manner -- an archaeologist, without any knowledge about this event, could yet deduce that a girl once called Elora was born there on the year 2005 at the end of decembre.

That's what one could define as a "Future Archaeology" Micro Event (or F.A.M.E... pompously).