Google Makes a Bad Economist

I love Google. But it’s not a very good economist. Type “unemployment rate,” and here’s what it yields:
The first of these links is from Google, and it tells you that the unemployment rate is 8.7%. The second is to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tells you that it is 9.1%.

Technically, both are correct. But you are better off not relying on the Google number. You see most economic discourse is about seasonally-adjusted data—the unemployment rate adjusted to take account of the usual seasonal ups and downs. But Google links instead to the non-seasonally-adjusted data, which virtually no one pays attention to. And this is why its little graph wiggles up and down so much.

Google's New Correlation Mining Tool: It Works!

You may have heard of Google Trends. It’s a cool tool which will show you the ups-and-downs of the public’s interest in a particular topic—at least as revealed in how often we search for it. And you may have even heard of the first really important use of this tool: Google Flu Trends, which uses search data to try to predict flu activity. Now Google has released an amazing way to reverse engineer the process: Google Correlate. Just feed in your favorite weekly time series (or cross-state comparisons), and it will tell you which search terms are most closely correlated with your data.

So I tried it out. And it works! Amazingly well.

How Kai-Fu Lee Talked Me Out of Making a Million Dollars

James Altucher on his graduate school obsession with the Asian board game Go, and his attempt to enlist Google China founding president Kai-Fu Lee to help him make millions off of it.

What the Google Books Battle Really Means

The next battle in the Google Books dispute comes in a week, when lawyers on both sides meet to consider their next move after a federal judge rejected a settlement proposal. Should Congress step in?

What Is Google's "Largest Investment to Date"?

According to the official Google blog, it's a recent $168 million investment in a solar-power plant:

We’ve invested $168 million in an exciting new solar energy power plant being developed by BrightSource Energy in the Mojave Desert in California. Brightsource’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will generate 392 gross MW of clean, solar energy. That’s the equivalent of taking more than 90,000 cars off the road over the lifetime of the plant, projected to be more than 25 years. The investment makes business sense and will help ensure that one of the world’s largest solar energy projects is completed.

Big Content Farm Still Thriving After Google Algorithm Change

In the two weeks after Google switched its algorithm, content farm Demand Media saw its weekly uniques increase by about 1 million.

'Tis the Season Puzzler

Which markets exhibit this kind of trend in Google searches?

Why Groupon Works

Google's recent reported $6 billion bid for Groupon -- rebuffed, for now -- took observers by surprise and worried the company's investors. James Surowiecki analyzes the deal and Groupon's business model.

Levitt Is Apparently Now a "Visionary"

At least in his hometown, where Chicago magazine has named him one of the town's top 40 pioneers from the past 40 years.

Search Engine Meets Internal Combustion Engine

Ahh, Google. Has there ever been a company that has done me such terrific good, while asking for so little except the ability to do me terrific harm?