Friday, September 25, 2009

Impress Your Professor: Technical Flu

Warning: This entry will not cause dizzines, dry mouth, or fever. It will, however, possibly cause you to spend large amounts of time playing on Google.

With the pig sickness cause great panic (thank you local television news) and the seasonal flu about to kick in, I thought it was about to time show you all the procrastination tool that is Google Flu Trends. While you all go check to see if the illness is lurking on your block, I'll point out that Google has just created a brilliant use of information search technology. This website employs an algorithm that tracks people searching for terms that match flu symptoms. Google then works their magic to extrapolate the data to create charts determining how the flu is striking specific geographic areas.

Cool. I know.

But there is a bigger picture to be seen here, beyond Google and beyond the flu. In putting together their colorful charts and graphs, Google is not only showing that information can be useful, they are also showing that information can be beautiful.

To check out more information displayed in helpful and gorgeous ways, I highly recommend checking out the website Information is Beautiful.

Stay well everybody, the semester has just begun.

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