The Google Information Ecosystem

Google started out as a search engine, and have since expanded, through product development and acquisitions, to include services in every link of the information chain. I call this collection of services the Google Information Ecosystem, and I wanted to present this visually; an explanation of the category abbreviations is below. Without further ado, I present to you:

An illustration of how Google web services interconnect with each other, providing them with a presence in every link of the information ecosystem.

Google’s Information Services

As you can see above, I’ve grouped everything into the following categories:

Internal Information Creation: These are the services through which Google hosts or enables the creation of content. Content under Google’s control can be analyzed much more easily and thoroughly than content not under Google’s control.

External Information Creation: a.k.a, the rest of the Internet. Obviously, not to scale. But one of the primary purposes of my illustration is to show the many ways through which Google is still connected to this information.

Information Usage: Google services don’t just host information in a void. Users of Google services share it, edit it, talk about it, use it, remix it, and do all kinds of other things with it. I don’t want to imply that there’s any sort of privacy-violations going on, but I’m certain it would be possible to track the number of occurrences of a link sent through GMail anonymously. More on this in a bit…

Information Reception: Google offers a variety of ways for users to access information, and as shown through Google Trends, it keeps track of this data. These services also add a certain amount of context to your requests for information, based on how often you search for the same thing, information you’ve signed up to be alerted to rather than always searching for, the type of information you request in your local area, how you categorize the feeds you subscribe to, etc.

Information Aggregation: Google aggregates a wide variety of information, the most well-known usage of which is PageRank. One of the key factors in a website’s PageRank is how many incoming links it has. Google Maps aggregates information to present business listings, information, and reviews.

Information Analysis: The most interesting of all these categories, Google’s information analysis services no doubt have only a fraction of their power exposed to public view. It’s also one of the primary sources from which Google gains valuable information about content it doesn’t host. FeedBurner and Google Analytics were no-brainers for this category, but I’ve included Google’s advertising services and Google Checkout as well. Knowledge of what people will pay for is a powerful tool, and I believe analysis of this information is a key part of these services.

What do you think about Google’s Information Ecosystem? And how do you believe it will grow?