Posted by: nickgerlich | April 24, 2008

Pulse

I couldn’t sleep early this morning, so I went to the living room, flipped on the TV, and landed on the couch. After a little channel surfing, I zeroed in on Current TV, the station that shows Viewer Contributed Content (VCC).

And with a second nod to featuring only that which is truly generated by the people and for the people, they regularly show what’s hot on Google. After all, Google is a social barometer that measures what’s on our mind. The very pulse of our culture is felt by the big thumb of Google, forever tracked and recorded at Google Trends as a snapshot of our collective cerebral activity.

Google TrendsAnd it is a very revealing peak at our psyche.

About that time I heard a noise in the kitchen. I went to check it out, only to find our 10-year-old coming from the playroom with a stack of VHS tapes. Now mind you, we haven’t bought one of those this century, but just last night said daughter asked me to hook up an old VCR to her TV. I guess she was in a tech-nostalgic mood or something. She invited me back to her room to watch with her.

I went. What else is there to do at 4:45am?

But we couldn’t just jump into the show. “I have to rewind it, Dad,” she said.

Oh yeah…I forgot. The analog days were linear, weren’t they? Sure, you could speed up the process or reverse it, but it was always in a straight line. Music CDs, and then DVDs, changed all that, and like the shuffle option on your iPod, suddenly everything became miscellaneous.

Just like our queries at Google.

And so the global zeitgeist is an ever-changing reflection of the newsworthy, the trivial, and the just plain mysterious. After all, who could ever begin to explain the quirks of our information searches? Maybe it’s to find out more about something we saw on the news. Or to track down a long-lost friend, a forgotten lyric, or info on a vacation destination.

Similarly, Twitterverse is but a gigantic tag cloud of what people are posting in their tweets in the last hour. Trivial pursuit? Or sociology dissertation in the making?

Back in the analog era, one could never begin to fathom breaking out of linear predictability. The Dewey Decimal System kept us in the proper aisle, and we either found what we wanted, or left empty-handed. But no more. The non-linear multidimensional arrays of information allow us to create an infinite number of paths and connections. Like a tailor stitching a tree’s leaves from one branch to another, we can find connections we never dreamed possible.

I may not know what you are thinking, but I know what we are thinking. It may not always be profound, but at least there’s some evidence of activity between our ears.

Even when we’re lying on the couch.

Dr “Can You Feel It?” Gerlich

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