free html hit counter February 2004 - Page 8 of 12 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Diller: Bubble Ho!

By - February 10, 2004

The NY Post reports that Barry Diller, who built his company on cheap acquisitions during the Great Internet Nuclear Winter of 2001-2002, warns of a new internet bubble, based largely on valuations he’s seeing today. Diller really held back:
“We are on our way into a new bubble, and bubbles eventually get pricked,” Diller said. “This growth will also produce an endless number of brainless ideas, short-term greed, ridiculous valuations, investor speculation and all the other lovely horrors we’ve so quickly forgotten.”

(via Bloomberg)

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Search Your Mother Could Use…

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Dan Gillmor points us to Soople, a search tool which seems destined to wear out its 1000-search-a-day API limit over at Google. The engine rides on top of Google and makes that engine’s advanced features easier to use.

From the About page: (Soople is) a site that softens all the fantastic (advanced) functions Google offers. Initially I made this site for my mother, who, though computer-savvy, still didn’t know about all the possibilities Google offers.

MSFT: A Good Actor in the Search Wars

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John Carroll writes a guest editorial in ZDNet. It’s an interesting and thought-provoking argument that MSFT should not be seen as the bad guy in the MSFT v. Google story, and includes some good suggestions on how MSFT might integrate search in a fair and open manner. Whaddya think, Scoble?

New York City: Not In Our Name

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Extraordinary: The city most wounded by the Sept. 11 attacks makes a powerful statement about the Patriot Act: No thanks. The City Council has passed a resolution affirming the US Constitution and rejecting the bill, which was run through Congress in the wake of 9/11 with little debate. Some excerpts:

  Whereas, The City of New York has a diverse population, including immigrants and students, whose contributions to the city are vital to its economy, culture and civic character; and

    Whereas, The members of the Council of the City of New York believe that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty — Americans can be both safe and free; and

    Whereas, Government security measures that undermine fundamental rights do damage to the American institutions and values that the residents of the City of New York hold dear; and

    Whereas, Federal, state and local governments should protect the public from terrorist attacks, such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001, but should do so in a rational and deliberative fashion in order to ensure that security measures enhance the public safety without impairing constitutional rights or infringing on civil liberties….

….Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York opposes requests by federal authorities that, if granted, would cause agencies of the City of New York to exercise powers or cooperate in the exercise of powers in apparent violation of any city ordinance or the laws or Constitution of this State or the United States; and be it further

    Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York urges each of the City’s public libraries to inform library patrons that Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act gives the government new authority to monitor book-borrowing and Internet activities without patrons’ knowledge or consent and that this law prohibits library staff from informing patrons if federal agents have requested patrons’ library records….

The resolution makes for great reading, and a powerful statement. It goes on to demand that Federal officials who make information requests under the Patriot Act’s veil of secrecy be held accountable, and that citizens who have been investigated without their knowledge be informed. (One of the Patriot Act’s most frightening aspects is the government’s ability to demand the records of businesses and libraries, and force those who give up those records to remain silent about it). Bravo, New York City. If only the private sector had the same courage …

(via IP)

Semantic Web Standards Released

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CNET reports on OWL and RDF standards, published today by the W3C. “The Semantic Web is no longer a research project,” said a W3C spokesperson.

Saving the World From Television

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A UCLA study released this week concludes that the average Internet user spends 12 hours a week on the net, and half of those hours are taken directly from television viewing. in other words, regular net users have swapped TV time for internet time, kids in particular. This is an important trend. AdAge reports.

Excerpt: The Internet caused the number of hours children 14 and under spend watching TV to decline for the first time in 1998, a trend that has continued in recent years.

POMO Conference Scene

By - February 09, 2004

So I’m here at etech, and everyone in the audience has their laptop open (self included), and they’re tapping away (all these keyboards sound like waves of rain across a forest floor). But that’s pretty normal for most tech conferences these days. As one would expect, the alpha blogging O’Reilly community is pushing the envelope: as Joi sits up on stage discussing emerging democracy in Asia and Africa he is dwarfed by a live display, 10 feet wide by 6 feet tall. The massive screen is populated with IRC dialogue from members of the audience, Justin, Xeni, Howard, etc…all commenting on what Joi is saying on stage (as well as figuring out in real time where to go for dinner). Really something of a trip, for an old school conference dude like me. I remember doing something like this with IM at a conference in 1998 with Michael Schrage handling live input from the audience. It was a miserable failure, as I recall. This is…well, it points to some interesting things. And it’s quite fascinating and disconcerting at the same time as an audience member. Side note: two women here are in fact not online, they are instead … knitting. Somehow, it fits.

WashPost: Search Is Scary

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From the WashPost, via the Straits Times, comes this instance of scaremongering: “Your secrets aren’t safe – from the search engines.” A casual reader might conclude that somehow search engines can scan your hard drive and tender your private information to anyone. But in fact, the point is, some people (and more often, companies/universities) are dumb enough to put the wrong thing online, and there is a subculture of folks who make a sport (or a business) of finding these documents (ie excel spreadsheets with credit card numbers). “It is all legal” the paper warns omminously, “using the world’s most powerful Internet search engine.” Sigh. Reminds me of early coverage of the net itself.

Perception: Open Society, Transparent Government. Reality: Florida

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Boing Boing points us to this amazing piece of enterprise reporting: A group of journalists posed as regular citizens making perfectly legal information requests of Florida government officials. Result: nearly half of them tried to get out of providing information to citizens. Yikes. Story here.

Excerpt: Public officials lied to, harassed and even threatened volunteers who were using a law designed to give citizens the power to watch over their government. In six counties, volunteers were erroneously told that the documents they wanted didn’t exist.