free html hit counter November 2003 - Page 4 of 5 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Drug Companies to Search Engines: Enough With The Drugs, Already

By - November 11, 2003

If I ever put in AdSense, I am sure I’ll get detox ads, as this is my second drug-related post, but…interesting to see yesterday that various drug companies and outlets are pressuring search engines to police advertisements for illegal pharmacies and/or drugs. This is a huge business, and it makes me wonder, are they also asking ISPs to police spam? Because I get a shitload of offers for prescription drugs. Just who is responsible here? Combined with trademark issues here and abroad (eBay has asked Google to stop using “eBay” in keyword advertisements), this is the beginning of something quite interesting.

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Small Biz Drives Online Advertising

By - November 10, 2003


eMarketer has a stat-filled story today outlining advertising spending by small to medium-sized enterprises (SME). It’s quite heartening – if you add up website, email marketing, keyword search and banners, online ad spending is a strong second place in overall ad spend for this category, behind only the Yellow Pages. According to the study, done by The Kelsey Group, online will capture 16% of a $22 billion spend, or $3.52 billion. The study goes on to say, however, that online will average only 2% of the total US advertising spend of $230 billion, or $4.6 billion (larger advertisers are only adding in another billion? Huh?!). Everyone counts differently on this metric, eMarketer says online ad spending will grow from $6 billion last year to $6.9 billion in 2003.

Steven Johnson and Contextual Ads: Hold the Heroin

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Steven Johnson , founder of Feed and author of Emergence and Interface Culture, also writes a blog about this, that and the other thing. He recently added Google’s AdSense contextual ads , a program I’ve applauded as darn near revolutionary in its ability to support micropublishing. But Steven has run into a problem. In his own words:

“Jesus, one lousy post about Rush Limbaugh and Courtney Love and every single GoogleAd on the front door is for heroin detox programs. Kind of a downer, no?
(Of course, by adding a new post with the phrase “heroin detox program” I’ve just made matters worse. Oops, did it again.)”

(For more, here’s the permalink.)

Steven also points to the ongoing problem of comment spam, which I’ve also been the victim of, even though this site is only a week or so old. F*ckers.

The Semantic Web Won't Work. Discuss.

By - November 08, 2003

logoLarge.gifClay Shirky, a prolific writer/thinker on subjects net-related, has made a strong argument against the “Semantic Web.” Why should you care? Well, the Sematic Web is Tim Berners Lee’s vision of the next version of the Web, a rather seductive vision which addresses many current shortcomings. And since he invented the first version, it gets some serious notice. But Shirky points out, in a very readable and convincing fashion, why the whole idea simply won’t work.

Some excerpts: “After 50 years of work, the performance of machines designed to think about the world the way humans do has remained, to put it politely, sub-optimal. The Semantic Web sets out to address this by reversing the problem. Since it’s hard to make machines think about the world, the new goal is to describe the world in ways that are easy for machines to think about.”

“There is a list of technologies that are actually political philosophy masquerading as code, a list that includes Xanadu, Freenet, and now the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web’s philosophical argument — the world should make more sense than it does — is hard to argue with. The Semantic Web, with its neat ontologies and its syllogistic logic, is a nice vision. However, like many visions that project future benefits but ignore present costs, it requires too much coordination and too much energy to effect in the real world, where deductive logic is less effective and shared worldview is harder to create than we often want to admit. “

Now Searchable: Your Luggage

By - November 07, 2003


The Las Vegas airport will soon implement RFID tags on all bags sorted through its facility (about 65K-70K a day). Now RFID tags – RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification – are “small integrated circuits connected to an antenna, which can respond to an interrogating RF signal with simple identifying information, or with more complex signals depending on the size of the IC.” (source) In other words, they are tiny little units of searchable information attached to your luggage, telling airport officials – and we hope only airport officials – who owns the luggage, whether it’s cleared security, etc. But as RFID spreads – and it will (Walmart is installing the technology to track inventory) – it brings an entirely new dimension to the idea of what it attached to the network, and what can be searched beyond the web. Perhaps if you lose your luggage, you’ll someday be able to find it via Google….

Google Launches the Deskbar, Challenge to Windows?

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If you’re a Windows user (and I am not, so this is not a firsthand look), you might check out the new Google Deskbar, which came out this past Thursday. It’s an interesting bid to move beyond the browser and challenge MSFT directly at the Windows level. Definitely watch this space.

From the Google FAQ :
“The Google Deskbar is a Windows application that lets you search using Google anytime your computer is on and connected to the Internet — even when your browser isn’t running. Google startup search puts a search box in the Windows taskbar at the bottom of your screen and displays your search results in a small pane that rises above it. It provides instant access to information on the web, no matter what application you’re using.”

How Much New Information Do We Create In One Year?

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5 exabytes, according to UC Berkeley’s SIMS (School of Information Management). If you are into statistics and love media, this study is a real gem. Read the
executive summary to find out all sorts of cool stuff, like the fact that all worldwide telephone traffic in one year creates 17+ exabytes of data (and exabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes OR 10 18 bytes – or – put another way, 5 exabytes is all the words ever spoken by human beings.). Alrighty then.

A Librarian's Lament

By - November 06, 2003

Google and the public’s lack of understanding of what libraries have to offer is killing public demand for the librarian’s skills (and by extension, dumbing down the world),writes Gary Price, a thoughtful (and arguably endangered) information science professional. (Gary maintains ResourceShelf, considered by many to be one of the best sites for his profession). “What happened?,” he asks. “How have we gotten to this point? Why do more and more people believe that universal truth is just a click away via a single source?” My answer: because it seems so, and for most, that’s enough…(thanks to Rex Hammock’s blog for pointing this out).

Yahoo Redecorates

By - November 05, 2003

Yahoo made some minor changes to its home page this week, but as CNET reports, minor changes to Yahoo’s home page are a very big deal. The changes emphasize Search, of course….

From the piece (this ain’t news, Yahoo’s been focused on search for sometime, but it’s evidence the focus is bearing fruit): “The design changes reflect an internal mandate at the company to make search a prominent feature across the entire network, including Yahoo’s personals, travel and real estate sections. The impetus is largely fueled by the shifting economics of search and its lucrative advertising component, pay-per-click sponsored listings. “

Sullivan on Recent Developments

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I’m going to try to avoid blogging everything Danny Sullivan says, but he says it so well, so often. If you’re trying to make sense of the last week’s headlines about Google, MSFT, and the IPO, read this.