free html hit counter January 2004 - Page 10 of 12 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Baidu: A Chinese Google? OK, I'll Bite

By - January 08, 2004

Via Reuters, Forbes reports on another Chinese search company planning to go public, this one called Baidu – the name “comes from a Song dynasty poem about a man searching for his lover.” The company claims to be profitable, and to serve 30 million searches a day (“one seventh that of Google”) – the largest in China.

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Friendster = Big Brother? Nah.

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In a recently published article, an analyst at the Pacific Research Institute argues that social networking sites pose serious privacy risks, and that in fact Friendster and its kin may well be building a private sector version of the much derided (and currently unfunded) Terrorist(nee Total) Information Awareness Program.

Bah. Unless terrorists are using Friendster to declare their intentions, I doubt this is where Poindexter and his sucessors will be looking. On the other hand, there is a shitload of personal data on these sites, and it will be abused under the blanket provisions of the Patriot Act(s), of this I am sure. This is worth remembering. Also, the analyst points out a TIA-like private/public partnership called MATRIX (Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange). How tone deaf can you be, to name your government information/control program MATRIX? I mean, didn’t they see the movies? Don’t they get how stupid that is? Following that logic, let’s rename everyone in the FBI Agent Smith and just get it over with…

To be honest, I wanted to post this item mainly for the graphic. I mean, who would have ever thought that social network logos swirling around the TIA’s all-knowing eye/pyramid would look so…dope?

Crawler Available, Will Work for Free

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From Boing Boing I learn that the Internet Archive is releasing its crawler for free under a LGPL license. Why is this news? As I’ve argued in the past, it’s not cheap or easy to innovate in the search space, but the search space desperately needs innovation. If key components like crawlers can be snapped in place relatively easily, new ideas heretofore unthinkable become possible. I also like the philosophy behind the crawler, which is named Heritrix: “Heritrix (sometimes spelled heretrix , or misspelled or missaid as heratrix / heritix / heretix / heratix ) is an archaic word for inheritess. Since our crawler seeks to collect the digital artifacts of our culture (my emphasis/link) for the benefit of future researchers and generations, this name seemed apt.”

Way to go, Brewster!

MetaCarta Gets MetaFunding

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Ever wondered how local search is going to work, really? Or how the government might associate particular documents or databases with specific geographic locations? MetaCarta makes a business of wondering just that, and just got $6.5 million in a series B round, led by Sevin Rosen. This company has clearly stepped into a significant role in “geographic search.” It’s customers include intelligence agencies, the military, and energy companies (Chevron is an investor.) What do they do? From the site: “With MetaCarta Geographic Text Searchâ„¢ (GTS), analysts accelerate their efforts by searching text documents in a geographic context. MetaCarta GTS turns text documents into geographic data layers.  This accelerates decision support and analytic workflow.”

Afternoon with Marc Andreessen; Friendster

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Had a day of talking to folks about the book, including lunch with Marc (I’ve been meaning to talk to him about the book for months, as Netscape pretty much fired the search-driven starting gun, and Marc generally has a lot of really interesting things to say). I then went over to Friendster’s new offices for a good chat with Jonathan Abrams and a few of his colleagues. Good crew, a lot of level-headed enthusiasm (interesting concept, eh?) evident there. Then I spent some time on the phone with the CEO of Dipsea (remember them? I pinged them back here). Then my site went down. All in all a busy afternoon.

Marc had great stories to tell about the early days of Netscape, and lessons to be drawn from managing extraordinary growth. Folks forget that they sold Netscape – a company with something on the order of $600-800 million in revenues – for $10 billion to AOL. Marc drew an interesting set of graphs showing how browser revenue imploded when MSFT came in, but how portal revenue – OEM’ing traffic, essentially – grew to nearly the same size, about $200 million. We also spent some time on the future of search as it relates to media models. Good stuff.

jonathan2.jpgJonathan was busy hiring folks when I stopped in, as were many others I met at Friendster. A good sign, overall, for the Valley, that smaller and younger companies are hiring, as well as folks like Google. F’ster had none of the bling bling associated with fresh VC money adorning the office, which was refreshing. All I can say about our conversation (remember, I have to keep some stuff for the book) is that they are quite serious about expanding the offerings there, and it ain’t just dating…

Dipsie, well, watch this space. I hope to have real news soon.

My Site Was Funky, Now It's Square

By - January 07, 2004

A number of readers have emailed me recently, concerned that my site had a/turned into the blog of a Chinese human rights activist, b/was now run by a fan of Charlie Parker who also is one of the best web hosting guys in the universe (my pal Scot at, or c/is going text-only, as the images seemed to have disappeared. Never fear. All is back to normal, for the most part. Just had a rough changeover to new rackspace over the past day or so. Thanks for caring enough to send me email about it. Nice to know someone is noticing….

Top Ten Reasons To Have Top Ten Reasons…

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I noticed this item on the “Google Blogoscoped” site, about how MSN Search is hiring. The buzz around the Valley is that MSFT is having a tough time hiring folks to work on their new search initiatives. I’m not sure how true that is, but I do know that many of the best engineers are happily toiling away in pre-IPO heaven, or are happy campers at the newly energized regime over at Yahoo. In any case, what’s interesting about the MSN Search Job Opportunities page is its use of the “Top Ten Reasons to Work In Microsoft Search.” This is a direct rip off of Google’s longstanding page “Top Ten Reasons To Work at Google.” Let’s compare, shall we? They paint remarkably different pictures. ….


1. Work on one of the largest scale computing projects.

2. With 80M+ users worldwide using MSN Search, your contribution makes a difference.

3. A rapidly growing team offers many opportunities.

4. One of a few very successful businesses on the Internet.

5. Work in a challenging work environment.

6. Work in a very competitive landscape.

7. Located in the beautiful Microsoft RedWest Campus.

8. Collaborate with Research and other teams at Microsoft.

9. Learn what people all over the world are looking for on the web.

10. Finally, a job your friends and family will understand.

1. Lend a helping hand. With more than 82 million visitors every month, Google has become an essential part of everyday life—like a good friend—connecting people with the information they need to live great lives.

2. Life is beautiful. Being a part of something that matters and working on products in which you can believe is remarkably fulfilling.

3. Appreciation is the best motivation , so we’ve created a fun and inspiring workspace you’ll be glad to be a part of, including on-site doctor and dentist; massage and yoga; professional development opportunities; on-site day care; shoreline running trails; and plenty of snacks to get you through the day.

4. Work and play are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to code and pass the puck at the same time.

5. We love our employees, and we want them to know it. Google offers a variety of benefits, including a choice of medical programs, company-matched 401(k), stock options, maternity and paternity leave, and much more.

6. Innovation is our bloodline. Even the best technology can be improved. We see endless opportunity to create even more relevant, more useful, and faster products for our users. Google is the technology leader in organizing the world’s information.

7. Good company everywhere you look. Googlers range from former neurosurgeons, CEOs, and U.S. puzzle champions to alligator wrestlers and ex-marines. No matter what their backgrounds Googlers make for interesting cube mates.

8. Uniting the world, one user at a time. People in every country and every language use our products. As such we think, act, and work globally—just our little contribution to making the world a better place.

9. Boldly go where no one has gone before. There are hundreds of challenges yet to solve. Your creative ideas matter here and are worth exploring. You’ll have the opportunity to develop innovative new products that millions of people will find useful.

10. There is such a thing as a free lunch after all. In fact we have them every day: healthy, yummy, and made with love.

Stats and Trends in Online Media

By - January 06, 2004

A busy day in marketing land, with loads of stats and trends. First, a study shows that “cross-channelers” – folks who use both a website and a second medium to interact with a brand, do it more with television brands than with magazines. Does this mean magazines are doomed? No, it means magazines are deeply lame when it comes to the web, IMHO.
Marketing Wonk also notes more proof of a strong, search driven Holiday season, and the increasing trend of media buys favoring online and cable over network and magazines….

Regulate TiVo? Come on.

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plinkMedia analyst Tom Wolzein has made this statement in the past, but I thought he caught a clue and stopped spreading the meme. But he’s back with it: “The protection of commercial-financed television is both a logical, and an essential place for near-term government legislation,” Wolzien says in a Broadcast and Cable article.

From the piece: Wolzien has a plan: Regulate the DVR so consumers have to watch the commercials. It’s the only way to prevent the technology from destroying a $60 billion business. The government mandates all sorts of things in TV sets, after all—from UHF tuners to closed-captioning to HDTV. He sees networks feeding their signals with codes that tell DVRs whether the commercial can be skipped, giving “control of playback parameters to the content provider who sells the bulk of the revenue-producing advertising that funds that content.”

This is just the most blinkered piece of reasoning I’ve heard in many a moon. If you want to really kill “broadcast” television, force consumers to watch commercials when they have other options – and they will have other options, like HBO and scores of other channels that will have gotten with the PVR program and figured out other ways to bring advertising into television beyond the lame, dead-end 30 second spot format. (Not to mention internet video, for more on that read this). Harrumph.

Yahoo Gets Set

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Two Yahoo items this morning: First, the Journal (sub req’d) reports that Yahoo is set to drop Google (this is not a surprise, but rather the other shoe of the Overture/Inktomi purchases dropping). Second, CEO Semel promises many more innovations (and profits) from Yahoo search in the next year at a conference in NYC (link via CNet/Search Engine Lowdown.) The plan is to create personalized search products and beef up paid inclusion, a controversial practice, certainly, but one that is quite profitable. Google refuses on principle to do paid inclusion.