Archive for the 'Google' Category

Google Trends and the meaning of life

September 18, 2006

George Dyson reports: “My visit to Google? … The mood was playful, yet there was a palpable reverence in the air. ‘We are not scanning all those books to be read by people,’ explained one of my hosts after my talk. ‘We are scanning them to be read by an AI.’” (

Google Labs offers a tiny window onto some of the content analysis systems that will eventually combine into a practical artificial intelligence. Projects such as Google Sets demonstrate the latent potential for massive index archives like Google to learn through semantic association.

Other projects, like Google Trends, illustrate a broader vision, going beyond individual texts and their relationships to one another and looking instead at things like regional search behaviour patterns (for example, you can find out which city produces the most searches for the keyword “cold”), incidence of related news articles (to observe such things as the spikes in news references to “peace” that always follow the spikes in references to “terror”) and other data relating to the habits of search-engine users around the world. And while this information may ultimately be of most use to the AI coders at Google, it’s a goldmine for the present-day Mass-Observationist. Here’s a list of fifteen things I noted during a recent session with Google Trends:

  1. South Korea is consistently more popular than North Korea. “South Korea”, “North Korea”
  2. The beard is a much more frequent subject of search queries than is the moustache: “Moustache”, “Beard”
  3. French philosopher Michel Foucault is more often searched for than his contemporary Jacques Derrida: “Foucault”, “Derrida”
  4. Hockey is of more concern to web users than NASCAR: “NASCAR”, “Hockey”
  5. “Potato” and “tomato” searches yield very different seasonal results: “Potato”, “Tomato”
  6. The graph tracking the incidence of the keywords “abortion” and “terror” shows a predictable pattern, with both words spiking in tandem just before the ’04 US election: “Abortion”, “Terror”
  7. War and peace maintain their usual relationship: “War”, “Peace”
  8. Something big seems to be happening RIGHT NOW on the “tube” front, and it probably has something to do with you: “Tube”
  9. Web searchers want to know more about how to make things than they do about how to break them apart: “Create”, “Destroy”
  10. Laughter is the best medicine: “Tragic”, “Comic”, “Epic”, “Heroic”
  11. Hats, unlike boots, have a consistent and timeless appeal: “Hats”, “Boots”
  12. Dancing became an urgent subject of inquiry in early 2006: “Dancing”
  13. “Rich” is a more popular search than “poor”, perhaps because “poor” appears more often in the news: “Rich”, “Poor”
  14. Pepsi has a slight edge over Coke, and both companies seemingly follow a similar press-release schedule: “Coke”, “Pepsi”
  15. People want to think happy thoughts, perhaps because of the differential between joy and pain: “Joy”, “Pain”

Google sends letter to Google Will Eat Itself

September 12, 2006

Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI) is a web art project by Hans Bernhard and Alessandro Ludovico that draws attention to the way that Google makes money via AdSense links. According to their website, GWEI raises money through a network of “secret” Google text advertisements, then turns around and uses the money to buy Google shares. “We buy Google via their own advertisement,” the GWEI team touts on their homepage. “Google eats itself — but in the end, ‘we’ own it!” But don’t be confused — GWEI is not an insidious corporate takeover mechanism. In the end, the shares will be redistributed to the public, leaving Google in the hands of the “clickers” who paid for it.

GWEI has garnered a lot of interest around the web basically because it’s a funny idea, kind of like that old urban legend/Husker Du song about the cat farm and the rat farm. But now Google itself is starting to take notice. Just this week, they sent GWEI a “friendly letter,” asking them to stop what they’re doing. Here’s the most recent update from GWEI HQ:

202.345.126 Years until GWEI fully owns Google

Dear GWEI Subscribers,

The current stats: Google Shares owned by GWEI: 123 Amount of USD: 47.276,28 Adsense-Clicks: 126.336 Adsense-Page Impressions: 5.448.926 Adsense-CTR: 2,31% Counter: 202.345.126 Years until GWEI fully owns Google Current Google Share Price: 384.36 USD, Symbol: “GOOG”.

Google’s Legal Department has contacted us with a very nice and open letter signed by Dr. Arnd Haller, Legal Rep. He stated that Google thinks we are doing great work but somehow something illegal, that they are fully aware that this is an art piece but still we should kindly stop with our assumed illegal activity.

Letter in German.

Our next exhibition will be at the ICC NTT Museum, Tokyo (JP). The “Connecting Worlds” Exhibition curated by Yukiko Shikata, with artists such as Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Dennis Oppenheim,, Wayne Clements. We will show a digital Slideshow next to a terminal with the web-site.

Media Coverage was very good during the last months, GWEI was featured in BBC World (Radio), Kulturzeit (3Sat TV), Telepolis, Artforum News
and in a lengthy article in Spiegel Online (Deutsch): and “die Presse” (Deutsch) and Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) (Deutsch) and Heise Online, attacking our future project called Amazon Noir.

Additionally, on July 12, 2006 we have frozen a copy of GWEI and added it to the Rhizome Artbase for conservation. And.. we will present GWEI on October 24th at the New Museum New York for the Rhizome 10 years anniversary.

best regards and lovely hugs from the team

UBERMORGEN.COM feat. Alessandro Ludovico vs. Paolo Cirio

Hans Bernhard
UBERMORGEN.COM / etoy.holding

Skype Hans_Bernhard
Studio +43 1 236 19 85
Mobile +43 650 930 00 61
Email hans[at]

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