free html hit counter January 2004 - Page 4 of 12 - John Battelle's Search Blog

BannanaSlug

By - January 26, 2004

You know that sense of vague hope which comes from entering a query into Google that will mostly likley return tens of thousands of results? And that vague sense of hopelessness that comes when those results turn up, and there’s literally nothing that matches what you are looking for?

In such a case, have you ever scrolled down to the bottom of the page, where the Goooooooooooooooogle is, and randomly hit, say result page #21, just to see if that might help? Yeah, me too. Steve Nelson knows our pain. A while back, he hacked up a Google API-based application called BannanaSlug that adds a bit of whimsical serendipity to your searches. It takes your search and adds a random word to it, just to see what happens. It’s kind of fun to check out…

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Brief Orkut Thoughts

By - January 24, 2004

When Friendster started, it was something of a first of breed. It was a club that you had to know about to get in, I’m told (by Scott Rafer, with whom I shared coffee and chat yesterday afternoon. Scott was one of the first few hundred or so into that particular club). It wasn’t like a million people rushed to sign up – no one knew about it unless they were told by someone else. It was a true Friend of a Friend network, growing organically. There was no need to put a velvet rope at the door – only those who knew where the door was could get in anyway. Friendster remains a place you can sign up for without an invitation.

Now, fast forward to today. There’s simply no way that Orkut could launch with the same approach. Too many folks would rush the door, and they’d swamp the system, which has to scale up from somewhere. Hence, Orkut is by invitation only, and in the past few days, an invitation into Orkut has been a something of a quiet wish for many in the Valley.

Now that I’ve poked around for a couple of days, it’s quite interesting to see how the network is growing. Not surprisingly the folks with the largest networks are nearly all employees at Google, who must have been testing the system for some time. This makes Google the Eden, of sorts, the point from which the entire network will grow (yes, for those of you reading closely, I chose Eden on purpose). It makes for an interesting anthropological study, in particular to watch how Google employees’ networks metastasize outwards to the Valley and beyond. I hope for history’s sake, someone is recording this progression.

PS – As one might expect, Orkut has a messaging and email interface. Should Google make good on the rumours of getting into the email business, it seems in Orkut they already have a pretty strong play.

PPS – As many have noted, including MSFT employee Robert Scoble, Orkut is built on MSFT technology. Odd, for Google to do this. It’s a different kind of site – registration-based, as Mark Fletcher points out – but still, why use MSFT stuff? Can anyone tell me?

Google Alert – Pointing Toward Search As A Platform

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This application, built on the (rather limited) Google API, gives an inkling of the services and innovations which might prosper on the web should Google decide to become a true platform for developers. (To learn more on Google Alert, read SEW’s write up here). In the FAQ, for example, the developers of Google Alert note that “Google Alert is a free service but bandwidth and CPU time cost money. Google’s API terms prohibit commercial use so you can’t even pay Google Alert for more results. In the future, Google Alert hopes to launch a premium commercial service with much greater capacity. Negotiations are currently under way with Google to arrange a license for this. “

My guess is that a quick witted developer over at Yahoo might just decide to open up their API for this kind of service, and the thousands of others which might flourish if they put a couple of big brains and some developer evangelizing behind it.

Louis Borders and KeepMedia

By - January 23, 2004

Today was a meet-with-interesting-folks day, starting with Louis Borders and Doug Herrington, Chair and CEO, in that order, of KeepMedia. Doug and Louis last worked together on WebVan, which I loved as a service. “We overexpanded,” Doug confessed. I can relate.

KeepMedia has some grand visions of where it might be headed (think learning and communities), but it’s quite busy focusing on its current model, which is providing what I’ll call a “clean and well lit space for magazine search.” OK, so I see most things through the search lens, but really, when you think about it, folks who use the KeepMedia service are looking for content that matches their particular interests, and the KeepMedia service has some interesting search and personal filtering technologies to meet that intent.
(more via link below)

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NYT on Google Vanity

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Man, someone at the Times is agog over Google stories. This one is on folks buying their own name as pay-per-click keywords. Anecdotal, but fun.

Davos: Joi and Sergey Talk Blog

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Joi Ito is at Davos, as are a lot of folks (including Orville, my Dean at Berkeley). About this time I get Davos regret, as I am invited each year but simply don’t want to spend the dough, nor (this year) do I want be that far from my new baby. I went in 2001, when I was a GLT, and I am sure I’ll go again, once things settle down here. In any case, this post from Joi was interesting, as he teased out some thoughts from Sergey on the role blogs play in PageRank (net net: Sergey doesn’t think they should be treated as distinct from any other web page). Davos also had a panel on blogging, Joi has a post on that here.

Esther Got a Blog

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Esther Dyson of Release 1.0, PCForum, et al, has a blog now. It’ll be a day or so before she’s hectored into getting an RSS feed!

Update: as a reader astutely posted, she does have one: http://weblog.edventure.com/blog/index.xml

My Yahoo and RSS

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Jeremy points to his company’s launch of MyYahoo’s RSS aggregator in beta (he also has comments on the Orkut news). Check it out

Man, With All These Shoes Dropping…

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i_orkut.gifGoogle has launched a Friendster killer. Or, perhaps it’s best to say, Google, in its inimitable style (one passionate engineer working one day a week on a side project – I am starting to think this is a bit disingenuous) has launched a beta social networking site – Orkut.com. You will recall rumour had it that Google tried to buy Friendster a while back and F’ster took a better offer from Benchmark and KP. Now Google lets this cat out of the bag. Hmmmm.

The site is named after the engineer who started it (apparently he has been obsessed with this stuff for a while, including starting social networking projects for Stanford alumni), and is not officially part of Google’s product portfolio yet, according to Google spokesfolk, though Google owns the technology.

One Google employee comments on it here.
News.com piece.

Search Engine Watch’s coverage.

Update: By the way, the unique thing in this system, far as I can tell, is that the only way you can get in is to be invited by someone who is already in. And the first folks in were at Google. That in itself is an interesting plotline.