This is just plain cool: go to http://www.google.org/flutrends/ and you can see predictions of flu activity in your state. Apparently Google’s data maps closely to CDC data, but tends to be 2 weeks ahead of the CDC.
How do they do it? Google uses a model of search term activity to get the data.
1. Wow – where else could this be applied, and what else could we learn?
2. Google takes seriously its mission of “organizing the world’s information” – it’s a lot more than search
3. Do you get the impression that Google spends a lot of time doing a lot of things that have nothing to do with what people think of as Google’s “main” business (search and online ads)?