It's that time of year when people love to track Santa, trying to figure out his route to deliver gifts across the world. Google is all over it, picking up a tradition started by NORAD in 1955, which you can read about here.
The search giant is tracking Santa through Google Earth and Google Maps; Google Maps for Mobile (because Santa is mobile, so why we shouldn't we track him from our smartphones and see a few Google ads along the way); real-time search; and YouTube, which offers this video tracker for Santa and this video:
For example, santa seekers can go to this NORAD Santa tracker site, which uses Google Earth and Google Maps, and see where Santa is at that very moment. As I write this, Santa is over Armenia and heading to Iran. Cool, huh?
You can also watch video footage of where Santa was. Just click where you see a video camera icon on the Google Map. This Google Doc has more tips and tricks to track Santa.
But if you want to see Santa in 3D, you need to download the free Google Earth plug-in, which you can find at the NORAD Santa site here. Now that's a shameless way to get more people using Google Earth: Bait them with 3D Santa pics. We're on to you Google!
Meanwhile, from your Apple iPhone, Motorola Droid, or whatever smartphone you have where you've downloaded Google Maps for Mobile, you can open Google Maps on your phone and search for "Santa", or enter m.noradsanta.org in your phone's browser to find that rotund guy in the red suit.
Also, check out what people are tweeting about Santa on Twitter, or what they're saying or writing about him on FriendFeed, news sites and blogs in real-time here.
Meanwhile, this Google Watching elf and blog proprietor is taking it easy for the holiday through Jan. 4, posting sporadically where absolutely necessary and time can be stolen from family and friends.
In 2010, it will be full steam ahead. I expect a great year full of exciting technology, acquisitions and disruptive strategies from Google. Stay tuned for my Top Google Stories of 2009 post on eWEEK, which I will link to here when it goes live next week.
Most of all, merry Christmas and happy New Year.