free html hit counter October 2004 - Page 4 of 8 - John Battelle's Search Blog


By - October 21, 2004

More thinking about GDS. When I read Stefanie’s short piece on Google fixing the security flaw in GDS, it rang another bell. How much does this sound like the drumbeat of stories we’ve heard about Microsoft over the past few years? Change the names, and it’s spooky. Welcome to the OS world, Google.

According to a report posted to the Bugtraq Security Focus list on Wednesday, (insert target company name here)‘s new (insert target company application name here) tool did not prevent a hacker from inserting JavaScript, a programming language, into the Web address of its page image, or logo. That vulnerability could have allowed any rogue third party to change the appearance of (insert target company name here)‘s Web page to ask for personal data such as credit card numbers from its visitors, what’s known as a phishing scam, according to the warning.

(insert target company location here)-based (insert target company name here) said it has fixed the problem.

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Happy Anniversary To Searchblog

By - October 20, 2004

searchblogToday marks the one year anniversary of my first post on Searchblog. As I posted on October 20th, 2003:

I’m in New York, seeing old friends, interviewing folks for the book. In some cases they are one and the same.
I suppose this first post should outline the goals of this blog, but to be honest, that feels far too forced. Suffice that here I’ll post this and that which I find noteworthy or interesting, in particular as it relates to search, the subject of my first book, and secondarily as it relates to the warp and weft of traditional media as it intersects with technology.

Well, it’s been nearly 1,000 posts since then, and I’ve learned more from this conversation than I could possibly have imagined. I thought, when I started, that this site would be a huge success if I could pull a few hundred kindred souls together in a semi-regular way, to talk about search and media. Turns out, according to the stats my webmaster gives me, that nearly 60,000 people visit this site each month, at a rate of about 9-10,000 a day. Last month Searchblog passed the million pageview /month milestone (at least, that was a major milestone for us at Wired and This kind of attention is not only a great honor, it’s also a responsibility I take seriously, though never so seriously (I hope) as to get all up inside my head. After all, I’ve already been there.

Along the way, I’ve written something on the order of 200,000 words here on this site, and another 65,000 or so for the book. And honestly, there is simply no way I could have even begun the process of writing the book, which is now about two thirds finished, were it not for the public sketch pad this site has become.

But in the end, what I’ve learned in this first year is how important it is to be in the conversation, as opposed to dictate it. Thank all of you who lend me your ears, voice, and insights. I hope you’ll keep visiting, and I’m excited about what the next year might bring.

Chronicle Scoop: Google Forecast Leak

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currencyOne day before Google is set to announce its first public quarter, the SF Chronicle gets a hold of leaked internal documents which allege that Google has internal forecasts which show the company nearly tripling its advertising base over the next five years.

Google, a company that refuses to make financial forecasts, expects to add 372,000 advertiser accounts over the next four years, according to internal documents obtained by The Chronicle.

Coming as it does one day before earnings, I have to wonder about the how and why of these documents being leaked. The numbers are credible, in that the kind of growth Google is allegedly forecasting is reasonable, if you add together all possible new local, email, AdSense, and AdWords advertisers (plus more for whatever they come up with next). But how did the reporter get this info? I wonder, was this leak intentional, or a mistake?

Update: Google claims the numbers are “inaccurate.”

Schroeder on Local

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yahoolocal.gifGood piece on how Google and Yahoo differ in their approach to local search.

I think that there is a significant difference from when one wants to search for a research paper on World War II, and when one searches for an Italian restaurant in D.C.

In the former, you want a pretty wide swathe to ensure that you aren’t missing something or you are trying to expand your investigation. In the latter, you want to know what Italian restaurants are out there, where they are, how much they cost, and whether they are right for you. Locally, precision is key.

WSJ Responds

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WSJ.jpg In Mark Glaser’s OJR piece covering how major online publishers are dealing with what I’ve come to call “joining the conversation,” I was pleased to see that Mark asked Bill Grueskin, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal’s online site, about my post suggesting the Journal allow deep linking.

Here’s his response, with additional thoughts from Jay Singh, EIC of

Grueskin told me there’s a balancing act between opening up a couple stories and giving away the whole store.
“It’s more an issue of at what point are you providing so much to people that they don’t feel they need a subscription,” Grueskin said…..”Ultimately, if our journalism fails to meet the first criteria — is our own content worthy of even coming to our site? — if we fail at that, then it doesn’t matter if we have Extra or not,” Singh said. “Over time, if you feel that we’re saving you time and hassle, if we’re helping you with the signal-to-noise ratio, then you’ll come back again.”

Well, yes and no. To clarify, I did not suggest the Journal give away the whole store, I suggested it allow bloggers to point their readers to one story at a time. The Journal currently makes one story a day (ie, one story to all, not one per) available to bloggers, a practice I find a bit imperious – it misses the point of this multi-faceted conversation – the power is in the tail, not the head, and the tail needs more than one story to power it. I’ve been talking to a lot of folks lately in the newspaper business, preparing for a talk I’ll be giving next month to the Online Publishers Association (and finalizing the portion of my book that talks about the impact of search on traditional media models). And I’ve come to the conclusion that any publisher who is building their site as a destination is working under the wrong assumption.

Sure, you want your readers to read your stuff, and you want your site to be well visited. But if that’s your main goal, you’re missing the – er – point. Editors should not be worried about whether their content can “bring people to our site” – that’s simply not a realistic approach anymore. The goal is to make content that is worth pointing to. If you’re feeding the conversation, as I said in my post, the rest will then follow.

(By the way, RSS as disaggregator problem, I think, will be solved by feed-based advertising within a year.)

Kottke Counts Ads: The Revolution Will Be Advertised

By - October 19, 2004

Slide6-tm(illo courtesy of Sifry, who presented this and more at Web 2.0)

Jason notes that of the top 100 sites on Technorati, just 16 are ad free.

As someone who has had a hand in this (at BB), I can only add that I hope we get this right. What do I mean by right? Well, that we pursue ads that are endemic and respectful of the conversation between author and audience. It’s early, very early, and many models will be tested and fail, and many “types” of sites will evolve. Net net, however, I very much believe that we’re well on our way to new, lightweight publishing models that point the way toward a very compelling future.

Oh, and of course, many of the most interesting sites are in the tail, as opposed to the top 100 (the head…).

Speculation on What's Next For Google Desktop

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From Boing Boing:

BoingBoing reader Adam says,
There’s some idle suspicion that Google intends to expand their functionality to include sharing of desktop files. This seems pretty likely given their acquisition of Picasa, which included something called “Hello” – an IM-like application for chatting and sharing pictures. Moreover, if they decide to merge this with orkut, to allow file sharing just with your friends network, then that’s a pretty compelling offering.

HOWEVER… The orkut terms of service are still extremely unfavorable to the end user. This is not too bad when it just applies to your profile and to chats on their message boards. It is REALLY bad when it applies to other forms of personal content that may be shared using the system.

For some reason I found myself thinking late last night about what it means when there are millions of local google HTTP servers running on millions of individual PCs, yearning to be connected. What kind of innovation might spring from such an ecology? Of course uploading your local content – just that which you want to upload, of course – to Google’s index is one possibility. If you could do that, you could pretty much wipe out hosted solutions for micropublishing (ie blogs), for example. Your machine, given advances in broadband and computing power – would become your web server, just as it was in the beginning, when there was so little traffic on the web (before the hosting business took over…). GDS could also lay down the framework for some killer distributed computing hacks, stuff that Google has demonstrated an affinity for in the past (Google Compute is built into the Toolbar).

But thoughts fail me. What comes to mind from you all when you think of a world where all our hard drives can seamlessly be connected to the Mother Index/Platform?

How Do You "Celebrate" Firefox? Run An Ad in The New York Times

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getI can’t quite put my finger on why the word “irony” comes to mind here. But in any case, from a Mozilla press release:

Firefox Web Browser Advocates to Buy Full-Page Ad in the New York Times

(PRWEB) October 19, 2004 -– A group of community volunteers today launched a drive to purchase a full-page advertisement in The New York Times. The effort, endorsed by the Mozilla Foundation, will celebrate the launch of Firefox 1.0 – the Mozilla Foundation’s innovative new web browser – and include the names of thousands of small-donor contributors who will support product launch activities.

The advertisement is one component of a larger community marketing campaign, dubbed “Spread Firefox.” The campaign is the world’s largest community marketing effort ever undertaken for open source software.

The original idea for the ad campaign as well as all of the research, development and design has been done by volunteers.

In just four weeks, the site has swelled to coordinate the community marketing activities of close to 25,000 registered users. The site’s first goal of one million downloads of the most recent pre-release version of Firefox was surpassed within three days. To date, more than 5 million copies of the latest version of the open source web browser have been downloaded in just over one month.

“Since introducing Firefox 0.8 last February, we have seen a tremendous surge of grassroots interest to support the Firefox web browser,” said Bart Decrem, a spokesperson for the Mozilla project. “The Firefox 1.0 launch will be a celebration – both for a great new open source product and for the large open source community who made it happen.”

The New York Times ad will run following Firefox 1.0’s widespread availability this fall.

Spread Firefox is the community marketing campaign of nearly 25,000 Firefox advocates worldwide. Community members can submit ideas and join volunteer teams by visiting

On the other hand, I’m all for Firefox, and pleased as hell I can now make the GDS work, for the most part, on a Mac due to it….

Hambrecht: Big Banks Low-Balled Google IPO

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billhBill Hambrecht (founder of the firm credited with popularizing the Dutch Auction system) calls the big bankers out in this Bloomberg piece:

Hambrecht says Google underpriced its shares in the Aug. 18 offering, which at $85 raised $1.92 billion, a record for any Internet company. Google allowed big investors, with Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston Inc., the banks leading the IPO, to dominate the bidding, he says.

“All the institutional business had to channel through CSFB and Morgan Stanley,” says Hambrecht, 69, whose San Francisco- based WR Hambrecht & Co. was one of the eight co-managers. “The institutions came in and said, `I want a 15 percent discount so I’ll bid $85.’ And they got it.”…

… Hambrecht says the bid totals, or “stacks,” from his firm’s clients ranged up to $120 per share.

“Before they announced the price reduction, our bid stack predicted the stock would sell between $110 and $120,” Hambrecht says. “After the price reduction, the mean of our bid stack was $97. Our bid stack clearly showed that the price could have been higher.”

Hambrecht does allow that Google achieved its aims with its IPO, however.

Hambrecht says the offering achieved Google’s objectives even though it was underpriced, because the auction allowed customers and other small investors to buy shares.

“It was never their objective to get the highest price,” says Hambrecht. “The company is awash with cash. They wanted marketability. They wanted access to their customer base.”