free html hit counter March 2004 - Page 10 of 12 - John Battelle's Search Blog
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Smart Maps: Search+Maps at Yahoo

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Yahoo’s integrated location/place search into a visual map interface at It’s intuitive and cool. The image at left shows my neighborhood – local restaurants are highlighted on the Yahoo application, but not emdedded in the .gif, unfortunately.

(Thanks, Beal.)

Mom's Medium: The Web

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MediaPost reports that “Moms” view the internet as the most important medium in their lives. 84% said they’d miss it the most if they had to give it up, more than TV. That tells you something about today’s moms… Certainly true in our home.

Winer Offers Peace With Atom

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This is pretty inside baseball, and I certainly don’t claim to understand all the nuances of the ongoing battle between Google’s Atom and Winer’s RSS, but in this post Winer claims that RSS is basically winning, but that it’s time to work together with Atom. It’ll be curious to see if this is taken seriously by the Atom folks, or dismissed. In any case, Winer is putting himself out there…

So here’s the chance to do something good for the Internet, something not evil. Let’s go Google, let’s go SixApart, it’s time to bury the hatchet and move on. Joi Ito, you’re famous for being an advocate of peace. RSS is here to stay and so are Google and Movable Type. Let’s all acknowledge that and stop this fight now.

Salon on the Deep Web

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Sub-required overview of the issues inherent to the deep web, including access to government files and the implications for mediators. Tim Bray is quoted (always a good sign). I missed the author’s call, though I’m not sure I’d have added much…Excerpts:

As new search spiders penetrate the thickets of corporate databases, government documents and scholarly research databanks, they will not only help users retrieve better search results but also siphon transactions away from the organizations that traditionally mediate access to that data. As organizations commingle more of their data with the deep Web search engines, they are entering into a complex bargain, one they may not fully understand.

…The CIA and Dick Cheney notwithstanding, there is no secret government conspiracy to hide public documents from view; it’s largely a matter of bureaucratic inertia. Federal information technology organizations may not solve that problem anytime soon. The deep Web search engines may just solve it for them….

Deriving search results from structured data sets will open up new possibilities for search engines. In all likelihood, search engines will gradually abandon the flat listings-style result pattern you see on a typical 12-page Google result. (And who ever gets to the 12th page, anyway?) Not only could deep Web search engines present more useful and manipulable views into structured data but, given some basic lingua franca of structural vocabularies, they could also aggregate those results in endlessly permutable combinations…

…Every search query is a unit of desire. Search companies, like all businesses, exist by transforming desire into hard currency. As deep Web search engines insinuate themselves into deeper and deeper levels of organizations, they will not only offload search traffic, they will trigger a series of massive disruptions in the information economy.

If you buy the Cluetrain maxim that “hyperlinks subvert hierarchy,” then surely deep Web search engines will amplify that subversion. As search engines extend their reach deeper into and across organizations, the boundaries between those organizations will feel more fluid — both to consumers and to the organizations themselves. The first thing most of us notice may be better search results.

Somewhere inside that complex apparatus of desire and fulfillment, a transformation is taking place, one whose effects we can barely foresee.

WebFountain, the Long Version

By - March 08, 2004

(nb: long post, subject to revision…)
To quote Dylan, it’s been buckets of rain for the past few months around here. On my way down to IBM’s Almaden research campus a week ago this past Friday, I crossed the San Rafael bridge and tacked South into yet another storm. The guy on the radio joked that we should all stay calm if a bearded fellow shows up leading animals two by two onto an oversized boat. But not ten minutes later, as I passed Berkeley, the rain relented. I have no doubt it will be back, but on that fine morning, the sun took a walk around the Bay area hills, peeking between retreating thunderheads and lending an air of Spring to the drive.

So I was in just about the right mood to accept the rather surreal juxtaposition of Almaden with its surroundings. The center is sculpted into what must be at least a thousand acres of pristine Bay area hillside; to get there, you must navigate three miles of uninhabited parkland. It’s an escape from the strip-mall infested Valley, land of soulless architecture where community is defined by employee ID badges, up a two-lane road winding to an unmanned and entirely unimposing gate. For all its context, it may as well be Norman Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth (fittingly, at that). Nearby, Hollywood set-piece cows chew Hollywood set-piece cuds.

The gate opens and you drive a quarter mile to a four-story slate-gray building, which looks rather like a Nakamichi preamp, only with windows (and landscaping). Inside are 600 or so pure and applied researchers who are …well, mostly thinking about about NP-hard problems. And this center is just one of eight that IBM supports around the globe, in Haifa, Switzerland, Japan, China, and India, to name just five. It’s quite impressive, and reminds you that while the media can get carried away with one company at one moment in time, some firms have been hiring PhDs and putting their brains to good use for longer than most of us have been around.

I met with a couple of these scary smart guys, Daniel Gruhl (at left) and Andrew Tomkins, the lead architecht and chief scientist, respectively, of IBM’s WebFountain project. I’ve heard a lot about WebFountain, and what I gathered sounded promising – it’s been called an “analytics engine” by none other than the IEEE, which honored it in a recent issue of IEEE Spectrum. I wanted to see what it was all about up close.

(more from link below)

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Neat Ranking Hack

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Another nifty API-based hack: RankPulse. This site tracks popular keyword terms (glasses, camcorders, etc) and shows what sites have moved up or down Google’s rankings. It has tons of interesting charts and lists.

From the site’s FAQ:

Whenever you visit Google and enter a search term or phrase, Google’s system must decide which sites to display first. Some terms appear in Google’s database hundreds of millions of times, but the first page of results displays only ten websites. Google works very hard to ensure that the top results are the most relavent to your query.

Google, along with other leading search engines, rely on complex algorithms to determine which websites to list first; they tweak their systems daily. As a result, the rankings fluctuate, and that is where RankPulse comes in – we track and chart the daily fluctuations of 1,000 keyword searches at Google.

Search engines are amazing gateways to virtually unlimited content, and at RankPulse our goal is to provide some insights into how they work. One of our primary intentions is to show webmasters that although unscrupulous search engine optimization (SEO) techniques may yield temporary benefits, they are not foundations for a sound and sustainable website……

Google, along with other leading search engines, rely on complex algorithms to determine which websites to list first; they tweak their systems daily. As a result, the rankings fluctuate, and that is where RankPulse comes in – we track and chart the daily fluctuations of 1,000 keyword searches at Google…..

(Thanks again, Philipp)

Topix Launches Today

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The beta has been up for a while, but today marks the official launch of Topix, Rich Skrenta’s latest creation. From the release: today launched the Internet’s largest news site (, and the first site to localize disparate audiences through content. features 150,000 topical news pages and local news for every US ZIP code. The Company‚s patent-pending artificial intelligence (AI) categorization engine provides a concept-based method towards aggregating news, which is unlike other vendors‚ keyword-based search techniques. The proprietary technology from provides readers with micro-targeted news and intuitive navigation that improves search relevance and overall search experience through the delivery of localized, targeted news. Furthermore,’s content reaches users that can be specifically defined by their locality, profession or interests. As a result, businesses that advertise on can maximize their online advertising budget by ensuring that their messages are directed to their desired target demographic.

Congrats, Rich! (Also, Gary Price has an Interview with Rich ….)