I hadn’t realised that a Google Shock, or whatever it is ultimately called, is possible now and up and running now, albeit behind the scenes…

“Google.org has given £2.5 million to set up InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters) … GPHIN uses an internet “crawler” to scan thousands of websites in various languages for events and chatter recorded online on blogs, news sites and other outlets that point to the early outbreak of diseases. In this way, it found Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a pneumonia like illness that went on to kill more than 700 people, “fully six weeks” before the World Health Organisation, Dr Brilliant says.”

Yes, your insignificant little twitter could save humanity. MIT are also gearing up to think about new electronic forms of citizen-led civil defence.

But I wonder if such trend-spotting techniques could be used for aiding the accurate prediction of creative / artistic / taste trends? And could we also see automated reputation monitoring tools for companies, cities and regions? Ones that go beyond being at root a simple RSS reader, to accurately and automatically determine the context and ‘social velocity’ of what is being said?

[ Update: Some people are already experimenting with applying this to emotions in weblogs ]