A few days ago Jason Kottke ranted that Google is no longer just a mere search engine company. After reading the latest issue of the Economist I would have to agree.
In the article, How anti-European is America?, the author uses Google to gauge American public opinion based on the number of search results received.
"So how furious are the Americans? Certainly, American anti-Europeanism is a marginal phenomenon in comparison with its evil European twin. A Google search generates 401 references to 'anti-Europeanism in America' and 22,300 to 'anti-Americanism in Europe'."
This is the first time that I am aware of Google being used as a Public Opinion Engine. While it makes for an interesting tidbit of useless knowledge, I hope journalist do not start basing fact from such a faulty research method. Though I'm sure the newsnicks in Arkansas are already taking note and adding a Google bookmark.
In the same article the "search engine" is used again, but as this time as the basis for a pretty good joke much to the dismay of the French,
"The spoof Google search doing the rounds in Washington, DC, runs: 'Your searchâ€”French military victoriesâ€”did not match any documents. No pages were found. Did you mean French military defeats?'"
That's the kind of Google results we can all appreciate.