I have long explained to people the value of the data corporations collect. I have seen first hand the value of large pools of correlated, linked, behavior generated data and as Tim O’Reilly points out in his post so does Google.
My favorite definition of Cognitive** is:
Having a basis in or reducible to empirical factual knowledge.
The key part of the definition as it relates to Tim’s post and Google is “Having a Basis in or reducible to” . I also like “empirical”. Cognition requires data and lots of it. Algorithms are secondary to the data for without the data there is nothing.
Google is just a stalking horse for the coming cognitive economy, there are many other players less public and less chic that are working to exploit the coming opportunities.
**”cognitive.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Answers.com 18 Dec. 2007. http://www.answers.com/topic/cognitive