What with Yahoo pointing to Nutch as one of the centerpiece projects in its new Labs, perhaps the stars are aligning for open source search. I recently got wind of another project in the works. It’s called Sprawler, and it’s in “pre-alpha” over at SourceForge. The man behind Sprawler is Eric Anderson, who is a systems analyst at a large unix installation in Austin, and came to search via an interest in physics. It’s early – Anderson does not expect to start indexing until later this Spring – but its good to see more and more interest in the space.
If you’ve never checked out Technorati, now’s a good time to do so. The service hoovers up blog links and postings and offers a search engine which does a great job of monitoring the zeitgiest, and your (or any other) blog’s place in it. The possibilities of such an engine are extremely interesting. In any case, Sifry & Co. have taken the wraps off a new beta release. David Sifry, the CEO and man-behind-the-curtain, blogs the changes here. He concentrated on infrastructure: “We focused 100% of our time on completely refurbishing our underlying event engine – essentially taking a volkswagen engine out and putting a Ferrari engine in.” This means faster indexing and querying, and a more scalable back-end database. There’s still bugs, and still open questions (I love this one, for example), but go bang on it for yourself…
I just got Ronco spam! This marks a special moment in the the maturation of the Web – Ronco has taken its marketing tactics to email. Sure, I know they’ve had a site for a while, but man, ain’t it great to see it shine online? The spam was lame, the site is lame, the marketing tactics are lame – it’s simply wonderful!
It was bound to happen – Yahoo announced today its own research labs. The labs live here. Seems this is the old Overture research warmed once over, their too-short list of research projects include Nutch, which was supported by Overture (I wrote an early piece on Nutch here). I’ve been on Yahoo for a while, even back before the Overture days, to take a leading role in search and internet technology innovation. I’m not entirely wowed by this unveiling. The second project, Cluster Graphing, linked to a 404 error. The “Concept Discovery” research is important, however. Let’s hope this is more than just a press release…though at first glance, it kind of looks that way.
Google Labs, for comparison….
Check out Topix, another new news aggregator (in Beta), this one from a handful of DMOZ and Netscape refugees. What makes Topix special? From an email sent to me by Rich Skrenta, one of the founders:
Our project is a news aggregator that reads all the news, everywhere, and sorts it into thousands of categories depending on what the stories are about. One kind of sorting we do is geographical, so we produce an online news rollup for each of 30,000 towns and cities across the US. We also track every mention of a celebrity, sports team, health condition, country, music group, public companies, and some other stuff…
The geographic sort makes Topix a local news player, which is potentially a major source of revenue once local search gains full traction. Take note, media investors.
For another Topix grok, here’s what Tara of Research Buzz had to say…
Check out this example he sent to me, a rollup of news associated with the Search Engine Industry….
Now, why doesn’t Topix support RSS? I asked, update when I hear.
David Weinberger today reports on Findory, a personalized news site that requires no registration and no personal information, it simply watches what you read and builds a profile via your information habits and those of others who also have viewed the same articles as you. Very cool idea. No idea if it works, but worth a pointer….
Relatively deep in John Markoff’s piece “Plaintiffs Say Microsoft Still Behaves Badly” these charges are related: In a separate report, filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, which is the lone holdout from the antitrust settlement, stated that its investigations “portend badly for the efficacy of the Nov. 1, 2002, judgment.”
“We have continued to receive and review indications that Microsoft is engaged in troubling business behavior,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Glenn S. Kaplan.
The Massachusetts report said that the state was reviewing allegations that Microsoft is “engaged in a campaign against various Internet search engines similar to the campaign it previously waged against Netscape’s Navigator browser.”
Now, run of the mill charges that MSFT is trying to kill Google et al are not new. But this portends more significant allegations are at work. I’d be damn interested to know who Assistant Attorney General Glenn S. Kaplan is hearing from.
Utilizing Unicast technology, a slew of sites, including MSN, ESPN, Lycos and others, will run ads from Pepsi, AT&T, Honda, and several others. This is real marketing. More than 100 million ads will be run in the six week test, with an estimated reach of 50-75 million folks. For those of you who don’t read 2.0…here’s the last line of my column (edited a bit for clarity):
“There are any number of problems with selling television advertising on the Web, of course. Will Web surfers accept it? Will they hit the fast-forward button (or will they be able to)? Will advertisers see the Web as a valuable medium? Can they even buy it in a way that makes sense to them — using the same reach and frequency metrics they apply to buying television and print? Can they let go of their decades-long dependence on the up-front and learn to love the Web?
I’d bet that the answer to all these questions is yes. But don’t take my word for it. … we’re going to find out sooner than most people think.”
I’d be very interested in reader’s reactions to these commercials, should you come across them.
Ross Stapleton Gray, who in this site’s short existence has challenged and extended my thinking on search, has started a blog of his own on a topic near and dear to him: RFIDs. It’s called Surpriv (a very cool name.) I think of RFIDs as an extension of search, he thinks of search as an extension of RFIDs. Check it out….
Loads of folks have commented already on this, but I wanted to add what I could to the meme, if only to insure one more protest is lodged in this particular record in the database of intentions. It boggles the mind how deeply lame CBS’s decision to deny MoveOn’s ad is. CBS claims “the network has had a long-term policy not to air issue ads anywhere on the network.” Uh huh. Lessig comments that somehow a War on Drugs ad from the Bush White House, a blatant piece of “issue advocacy”, made it through the CBS filter. Not to mention all the presidential advertising lucre CBS will be happy to suckle over the next 10 months. You’re telling me an RNC- or DNC-funded attack ad won’t be an “issue ad”? Did CBS refuse the Willie Horton ad back in 1988? What the fuck is going on here?
Folks are up in arms over this, but we don’t know what to do about it. We should make a concerted effort to air the ad online to at least as many people as would have seen it on the Superbowl, only for free. Get the ad from MoveOn.org, and put it on your site, or at least link to it, over and over. Maybe MoveOn can count or estimate how many folks have seen it and prove that the net can route around this mass-media market insanity. If anything proves network television is in a death spiral fueled by ignorance and blinkered reasoning, this is it.
Policy against issue ads my ass. More like policy against losing White House access, policy against sticking one’s neck out, policy against standing for anything. Pathetic CBS. The Tiffany Network has fallen, hard, long, and with abandon.