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Google: '99.99 percent' just 'a figure of speech'

Google's launch of Street View in the U.K. is continuing on a fractious path, and the company has to acknowledge that a key figure was actually a bit blurry.

When you're so data-driven that you drive your own design guru out of the company, perhaps there's a moment when you pause to think that numbers aren't all they seem to be.

Google, which launched its Street View in the U.K. this week to considerable amusement and consternation, reacted to the latter by claiming, according to the "Independent" newspaper, that "99.99 percent" of the faces featured were blurred.

However, as thousands of real, human, non-blurred, non-vomiting faces were discovered (naked children, policemen on security duty), the company was forced into a remarkably human (for Google) admission.

The 99.99 percent figure was, a spokesperson declared. according to The Independent, merely "a figure of speech."

No, this is not the Google UK CEO. His house is, apparently, not to be seen on the site. A mere numerical omission, perhaps. CC PS Flannery

This is a hugely hopeful breakthrough in the development of this fascinating, but increasingly chilly, number-crunched company.

If such a large number can be revealed for what it is, then perhaps Google can begin to look at some more of its numbers and give them real world, emotionally descriptive definitions.

For example, its spokesperson might now choose to describe its 76 percent market share in U.S. search as "yo, a little bit close to a monopoly of this thing. Cool, huh?"

Or, in the event of needing to choose a shade of blue from 41 different possibilities, perhaps the company might eschew numerical analysis and declare that the chosen hue was just "cold-diggity, people."

I see Google's future. It isn't in figures. It's in figures of speech. Or, as some would have it, the Semantic Web.