Monday, 3 October 2011

Crowd Saucing

My Dad used to tell me about how they used to estimate distances to targets in the Royal Artllery before the advent of electronic sighting aids. They'd simply get the entire unit to estimate the distance individually then add them all up and take a simple average. Each estimate could be very rough on its own but the "wisdom of the crowd" would be uncannily accurate.

I thought of this the other day when I was using Google, a search engine used by over 300 million people every day. When you start typing in the search box, Google software prompts you with its best guess of where your words are heading based on the 2 billion other searches entered daily by other users. Never mind 15 squaddies guessing the distance to a flagpole, this has got to be crowd sourcing with a laser beam.

I was typing (more in hope than expectation) the phrase "how to remove a mole" with reference to the extensive model of the Pyrenees which has apparently replaced our garden lawn. However, I had just typed the first three words when my eyes were diverted to the suggested list of prompts being offered.

What had 2 billion searches got to tell us about the World's preoccupations in the question "How to remove...."?

Presumably War, Famine and Pestillence would be up there in the list behind Child Cruelty, Animal Neglect and Chris Evans? Maybe they would be more general concepts like "Evil" or "Unhappiness" that people sought rid of?

Well here's what those 300 million souls were thinking. ...


Clearly we have yet to peak as a species.

11 comments:

Dave said...

I think that, even had you finished typing, you'd have received advice about removing unsighly lumps from your body.

Z said...

On Saturday, I took my granddaughter for a walk. Holding my hand, she looked at my arm. "Granny, you've got a lot of moles. And you're very hairy."

You weren't actually trying to eliminate evil or pestilence from the world either were you, dear heart? Did you find out how to discourage the moles?

Rog said...

Dave: That was Oz attaching himself to my leg as a reminder of lunchtime.

Z: It's a little upsetting because my brother was in hospital last week having a small mole removed from the end of his penis. Do you know what he said when he was signed off by the doctors? "That's the very last time I shag a mole!".

Nota Bene said...

Moles. Damn smart. They've gone to all that effort googling the wrong answer millions, nay billions, of times just to throw you off the scent

Martin said...

Of course, as a species, your moles are 'peaking' already.

Rog said...

Nota: Clever sods. They should be taken on by TFL to run the underground.

Martin: They are doing that to annoy me. If I catch one of the little sods I'll bury it alive.

Pat said...

I'm sorry I'm still laughing at your brother. Its not in the least funny I know.

Macy said...

It was the "How to remove" preamble that distorted google.
Try typing in "How to exterminate..."

Soaring said...

You need a Smiley.

letouttoplay said...

Removing ticks might be a start on pestilence.

Rog said...

Pat: I'm afraid I made up my brother's ailment for comedic effect :-(

Macy: I tried that. Just got a "Bluff your way through Dalek" book.

Soaring: Or an Esterhazy.

Lettie: Good point. Next stop, boils.