Every year, for one day, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad for short, gets the juiciest Web traffic one can expect on Christmas Eve. The government agency responsible for monitoring space for incoming nuclear missiles is also the official tracker of Santa Claus as he travels around the globe delivering presents to the world's children. But why should the government have a lock on holiday pageviews — especially with a Republican administration that claims to believe in the power of private enterprise?
Naturally, Christmas has been privatized. Google has "upgraded" Norad's old Flash-based tracker with its own Google Maps. Children who have gotten on Google's nice list by downloading Google Earth are treated to even more whiz and bang. And Norad's 3D animations make an appearance on YouTube.
But why is Google the only company to horn in on the Santa racket? It doesn't take satellite imagery, video infrastructure, or government authority to dupe kids into believing in Father Christmas. It may be only one day of each year, but we can think of innumerable Internet companies who could use the clicks. Next year we look forward to the Mahalo Santa Tracker, complete with bulldogs dragging the sleigh.