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something to write about

Indeed, something about which to write has manifested itself…

The return flights from Florida were peppered with people wearing surgical masks, and made my wife and I wonder what the deal was. Only after we actually got back did we find out about the swine flu spreading north from Mexico into the US and Canada…this lack of awareness was self imposed – the week-long visit served as a hiatus from the internet & television. Anyway, this is related to something Google has been working on for a little while now. To say, “everyone knows about Google” is a fairly safe statement at this point. Technically untrue, of course, depending on the definition of ‘everyone,’ but for a moment, let’s assume a collective familiarity with both Google and the plethora of features Google has. One of these features is a flu tracker. I’m not sure if it’s technically a Web 2.0 tech or not, since keeping track of users’ search terms isn’t exactly collaborating…more like spying. In any event, the argument is now being presented that this could have been used in the earlier detection and suppression of the current swine flu outbreak. Currently classified as a ‘widespread human infection’ by the World Health Organization, I think that ‘everyone’ can agree that the sooner the number of infected people starts going down, rather than up, the better.

One question that comes from this is about Google’s responsibility to look for something like a budding pandemic. Employing the Spider-Man philosophy, Google should call the CDC and give them a heads up that everyone is becoming as sick as a pig. But isn’t that why we have the CDC anyway? To know that? Google’s problem is that they’ve been so successful with just about everything they do that now, people (me) tend to rely on and expect great things from them.

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