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New York Times: Postcards from Planet Google

Jennifer Lee reports from Google HQ in Mountain View, California.

Stare at Live Query long enough, and you feel that you are watching the collective consciousness of the world stream by.

Each line represents a thought from someone, somewhere with an Internet connection. Google collects these queries – 150 million a day from more than 100 countries – in its databases, updating and storing the computer logs millisecond by millisecond.

Google is taking snapshots of its users’ minds and aggregating them. Like a flipbook that emerges when successive images are strung together, the logged data tell a story.

So what is the world thinking about?

Read on.

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