Autocomplete: Do Zombies (What)?

The autocomplete feature in search engines can tell us a lot about what people are thinking and asking about.

According to the New York Times (21 November 2012) “sites like Google and Bing are showing the precise questions that are most frequently asked.”

Autocomplete suggests the rest of your search term based on the most popular things that others have asked for, so it speeds up your search selection by anticipating what you are looking for and by reducing spelling errors in your search terms.


Another advantage to seeing popular searches is to understand what the larger population is thinking about and looking for–this gives us insight into culture, norms, values, and issues of the time.

I did a simple google search of “do zombies” and as you can see the most popular searches are about whether zombies: poop, exist, sleep, “really exist,” and have brains. 

Even more disappointing than people asking whether zombies really exist is that the #1 search on zombies is about whether they poop–what does that say about our lagging educational system?

I would at least have imagined that the preppers–those infatuated with the end of the world and with preparation for survival–would at least be searching for terms like:

Do zombies…

pose a real threat to human survival?

have (certain) vulnerabilities?

ever die?

have feelings?

have children?

beat vampires (or vice versa)?

I suppose autocomplete is good at crowdsourcing search terms of what others are thinking about, but it is only as good as those doing the ultimate searching–our collection intelligence at work. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Zombie Homeland Security Training 101

Unbelievable. The Halo Counter-terrorism Summit (Oct 29-Nov. 2, 2012) is hosting a mock Zombie Invasion as part of its emergency response training for about a 1,000 special ops, military, police, medical, firefighter, and other homeland security professionals. 

The Zombie Apocalypse training exercise is occurring mid-summit on October 31, Halloween–so it is quite timely for other ghoulish activities that day. 

There are two sessions–#1 at 4:30 PM and #2 at 7:00 PM.

Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have posted the CDC’s Zombie Preparedness guidance–saying that “if you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”

I guess this is very good news with Hurricane Sandy or “Frakenstorm” bearing down on the East Coast this evening.  Zombies, you ain’t got nothing on Frakenstorm! 

In Yahoo News, Brad Barker, the President of Halo Corp., explained why Zombies are good for training, especially in asymmetric warfare: “No one knows what zombies will do in our scenario, but quite frankly no one knows what a terrorist will do.”

Barker also jested that “No doubt when a zombie apocalypse occurs, it’s going to be a federal incident, so we’re making it happen.”

Frankly, I love to see this type of creativity brought to national and homeland security and believe that this makes it less likely that we’ll be perpetually fighting yesterday’s war, instead of tomorrow’s. 

The key is that we think out of the box in terms of what will the adversary do next–from cyberwar to weapons of mass destruction, we can’t afford to be blindsighted. 

So do I think that aliens or zombies are coming for us some day–let’s just say, never say never. 😉

When TMI Is PC

Zombie_lego

An interesting editorial in the New York Times (19 August 2012) bemoans the state of affairs in the workplace, where generation Y’ers, take the liberty of sharing too much [personal] information (TMI) with others.

The author, Peggy Klaus, gives examples of young workers talking about their looking for other positions, recounting family birthing experiences, or discussing sexual exploits or a shortage thereof.

Klaus see this as a carryover of people’s online social behavior or what she calls “Facebook in your face”–where you “tell everybody everything”–whether appropriate or important, or not at all!

Similarly, this behavior is viewed by some as young people simply acting out what they learned from their helicopter parents–who instilled “an overblown sense of worth” on them–where every poop is worth sharing from infancy through adulthood.

Ms. Klaus refers to this as O.S.D. or Obsessive Sharing Disorder–and she instead calls for “decency, common sense, and just plain good manners” in deciding what to share and when.

While I agree with a certain amount of base political correctness and decorum in the office, I think too much control (TMC) over our workforce is not a good thing.

We cannot expect people to fit in, be enthusiastic about coming to work, and be innovative and productive in their jobs–when they have to constantly be on guard–watching what they say and what they do, and worrying about making any mistake.

Assuming that people are not doing anything that hurts themselves or others, I think we should give people more room to breath, be themselves, and to self-actualize.

Holding the reins too tightly on workers, risks developing a cookie-cutter workforce–where everyone must look-alike, talk-alike, and think-alike–like virtual automatons–and such a telling and controlling environment destroys the very motivated, creative, and entrepreneurial workforce we desire and need to be globally competitive and individually fulfilled.

Best practices for teleworking, flexible work schedules, and clubs and activities at work that let people be human and themselves–makes for a happier, more committed, and more productive workforce.

Creating climates of workplace sterility, and fear and intimidation for every miscued word or imperfect deed–is neither realistic for human beings that are prone to make mistakes–nor conducive to learning and growing to be the best that each person can be.

I am not a generation Y’er, but I appreciate people who are real, words that are sincere, and deeds that are their personal best–whether it’s the way I would do it or not.

Yes, don’t talk and act stupid at work–and shame yourself or others with hateful or abusive behavior–but do feel free to be honestly you as an individual and as a contributor to the broader team–that is better than a zombie army of worker bees who faithfully watch every word and constrain every deed.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Irregular Shed)