Thursday, November 13, 2008

Google Dribbles out Flu Map; The Media Exhibits Flu-like Symptoms

Many local and national news media contracted the "ga ga fever" by fawning over the story about Google's Flu Map. And while Google's search technology and their ability to spot trends in an unusual, highly Web 2.0 fashion is nothing to sneeze at, I cringe at the media's fevered pitch over Google.org's map. Let's face it, what was the bigger deal? That is was a map of potential flu outbreaks, or was it because Google was able to geolocate based on IP address? I just think that everyime Google cough's up another cool map that the media faints.

It was even more telling that only passing mention was given to the work of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CNN specifically mentions in their coverage how Google predicated flu concentrations two weeks sooner than the CDC. But the CDC is constantly updating the number of cases of influenza and reports the results in a weekly report...with maps included. The media seems to be looking to minimize the work of the CDC by pointing to the cool technology of Google.

I would however recommend to the CDC that they look into more interactive mapping technology. Their website is lacking in the ability to injest some real-time information that could be updated on web maps.

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