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More on the Book, Favorite Subtitles So Far…

By - January 17, 2005

Book Open

As most of you know, last Friday I posted a plea for help on the subtitle for my book. I never imagined I’d get so many responses – 90 comments so far and still climbing, and more than 150 discrete suggestions. Thank you!

So as to hone your subtitlin’ skills, many of you asked me what the hell the book was really about, and that certainly is a reasonable question. So let me attempt to outline the thing, given that I just sent chapter 9 of 10 to my editor, and I need a break from writing it. (Instead, of course, I’m writing about it, but there you have it.)

The book breaks into ten discrete chapters, and attempts to tell the story of search through any number of major narrative actors, as well as via a few key Big Ideas. One of them is the Database of Intentions, which was one of the first posts on Searchblog, but others include the idea of Intent over Content as well as the power of the Search Economy. As one might expect, Google plays a significant role in the book – I devote three chapters to the company.

In any case, here’s the outline (subject to change, of course).

Chapter One I’m calling “Why Search.” I attempt to lay out why I think search is such a big deal. If you’ve read my immortality or eternal/ephemeral riff, or the DoI post, you’ll find some familiar stuff in here. I preface some of the bigger issues – privacy, shifts in business, etc. – that I go more deeply into in subsequent chapters. I end with a pretty far fetched scenario around AI, but that’s kind of the point of the first chapter – get you interested in all manner of things, and hopefully pay it off later on.

Chapter Two I’ve come to call “Who What Where Why When (and How Much)” – this is the chapter many of you search vets might skip, as it introduces how search works, what its basic business model is, how we came to where we are in search, and so on.

Chapter Three I’m calling “History” – it tells the story of early search, from Archie to AltaVista, and the rise of the portals. There’s a fair amount of Yahoo in there (of course, if you count AltaVista, there’s a lot of Yahoo in there).

Chapter Four is called “Google Is Born.” This was a lot of fun to research.

Chapter Five chronicles the birth of Overture and profiles Bill Gross. Also, very fun.

Chapter Six might as well be called “Google’s middle years” – 2000-2004, roughly.

Chapter Seven I’m calling “The Search Economy” and it goes into the amazing growth of the search industry and its impacts on all forms of commerce, on and offline.

Chapter Eight discusses the impact of search on society – from privacy to The China Question.

Chapter Nine I’m calling “Google Now.” A sort of meditation on the company post IPO.

And Chapter Ten, finally, is “The Future of Search”, which I posted on earlier.

Well, there you have it. Reading over this, it seems a bit dry, but there’s a lot of fun stuff in there, I think.

So, does that help with any more subtitle ideas? So far, there have been some great ones, some hilarious ones, and some pretty terrible ones to boot. But I love ‘em all. Some of my favorites so far, at least in terms of informing the final choice or making me laugh out loud:

The Search: The Web’s Killer App

I’M FEELING LUCKY: Knowledge and Wealth in the Age of Google

The Search: How Google Made Us Forget How Little We Really Know

Results 1-10 of about 17,300,000

Google Trek III: The Search for Stock

The Inside Story of How Google Taps the Global Brain (and Our Wallets, Too)

The Search: Intellectual Capitalism in the Age of Google

GETTING EVERYTHING: Search in the Age of Google

Inside Google and the birth of a new industry

Search: The Battle for Digital Dominance in the Age of Google (this one came via email)

Keep those cards and letters coming, and thanks again!

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Dark Fiber?

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Fiber BlueCnet investigates whether Google might be up to something. I dunno. This is starting to feel like overcoverage. But then again, we’re all interested…

UDATE: Doing some research on my last chapter, I re-read this interview in Fortune(sub required). Sheds some light on the subject of Google’s interest in fiber:

SCHMIDT: Let me tell you some things about broadband. The first is that we see broadband users use Google a lot more. Now, we don’t know what is the causality. We don’t know whether it’s the broadband that allows it, or whether it’s a demographic profile or something, but we do know that broadband users use Google much more and they buy more things. They live on the Internet because of broadband.

So, it is strategic for Google to have broadband deployment worldwide. Every person who converts from narrowband to broadband is more likely to be using Google and its services.

I think Ross is probably right, Google just needs someone to help them negotiate their internal needs. But then again…

T'Rati Tags

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Metadata addicts rejoice, Technorati has launched tag-based search and alerts. For more, read Dave’s post here.

Traffick: AdSense Teetering?

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Interesting post on Traffick positing the theory that Google’s AdSense “faces extinction” unless Google does something about it. The author notes that AdSense doesn’t work so well for publishers with strong repeat audiences (I can attest to that), that click fraud is growing (I sure have proof of that with folks I’ve spoken to lately), and that new options are threatening AdSense’s base (like AdBrite and BlogAds).
net net, I don’t think we’ll see AdSense going anywhere, but I agree that upgrades are due, and I sense they are coming shortly. First up might be verticalization – so you can buy in large consumer verticals like autos, travel, etc. Second might be opeing up the network to let developers build mini-networks of endemically related sites. Now that’d be nice, eh?

(Thanks, Bill!)

UPDATE: Slashdot picks up this Newsweek article on click fraud, and my post above as well. Welcome, slashdotters, if you want to know more about Searchblog, head here.

Doing Business By Other Countries' Rules

By - January 16, 2005

BannedeuropePhillipp Lenssen recently reviewed sites that are filtered out of Google’s German and French indexes for reasons of internal national politics. This is not news – this has been so for some time, but it’s very interesting nonetheless, and it reminds us that all search sites find themselves in these kind of dilemmas, given they are in the business of human knowledge. In France and Germany it’s mainly hate sites which are filtered, but in China, it’s certainly going to be a lot more. Currently Google does not maintain a site based inside China, though it does serve Google in Chinese from outside the mainland. That will most likely change (the market is so large, and Google is now beholden to public shareholders who want profits), and when it does, the Don’t Be Evil motto will once more hang around Google’s neck, a length of rope that Microsoft and Yahoo have managed to avoid (though they are already in China in major ways).

BitTorrent

By - January 15, 2005

Bittorrent LogoLike many others, I find myself drawn to BitTorrent, but in my case, it’s due to the implications of its distribution model on the rise of my video-as-grammar riff. (Quick refresher: I eagerly await the day our culture starts to cite and annotate video the way we do text.) A reader pointed me to his analysis of BitTorrent traffic given the whole SuprNova.com MPAA smackdown. His post is interesting – using data from a BitTorrent search engine (TowerSeek), he analyzed torrent file distribution across the web. The conclusions are not easily summarized, but two things jump out – one, there is a lot of centralization in torrents to date (hence the MPAA going after SuprNova and other large sites), but also, there is an *extremely* long tail – one that I would guess will only grow.

Hacked!

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Many of you may have noticed that last night Searchblog was hacked, apparently by someone in Albania (!). For a brief period of time my site redirected to a very odd page, and it appeared I had entirely lost my mind. All is well now, though we have some backend housekeeping to do. Thanks to the many readers who alerted me.

What Should the Subtitle Be?

By - January 14, 2005

BookHere’s something to do instead of working on a Friday afternoon – help me come up with a good subtitle for my book!

Up till now, the book I’ve been laboring over has had this title/subtitle combo:

The Search: Business and Culture in the Age of Google

A week or so ago the marketing team at my publisher came to life and informed me that this subtitle, while not exactly terrible, didn’t really say much – it didn’t *sell* the book, it didn’t declare how big a deal this search thing really is. Not to mention, it didn’t say anything about money, or inside access, or any of the other things which seem to sell books these days.

Now, I’ve been on this planet too long to throw a tantrum and declare that it’s my way or the highway when it comes to subtitles. Long ago, for example, I stopped expecting that the headlines on a magazine’s cover were really about the stories inside – no, they are about selling the stories inside, and that is an important distinction.

OK, so in the book, there’s a lot of stuff that has not been reported anywhere else (so far anyway). This is, in the main, because no one else was insane enough to care as much as I have, nor to interview the hundreds of people I interviewed over the past 18 months. And it’s also true that there is a fair bit of narrative about how big a deal search is in terms of economic impact – from the Google IPO to the entire Search Economy in general.

In any case, from what I can divine, there are a few words or concepts that any normal publisher might want included in the subhead of The Search.

1. Google. Most publishers would probably want the book to be called “Google: Google Google Google Money Sex Google” – but thankfully my Editor is more enlightened than most.

2. Money. As in, lots of it at risk, being made, exchanging hands.

3. Inside Access. As in – this book tells a story no one else has.

But when I saw the marketing team’s first try at a new subhead – “The Quest for Perfect Knowledge and Infinite Wealth in the Age of Google” – I thought to myself – surely we can do better. I mean – Infinite Wealth? (“Big Bucks” was also tossed around….) So I asked if I could turn it over to you guys (understand that when it comes to titles and covers, publishers tend to get pretty territorial). And proving that even New York publishers can swing with the times, they said “Why not?”

So what do you think a good subtitle would be?

Filangy: PersonalWeb Search Engine

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FilangyThanks to Doug Cutting, news of Filangy, a Nutch-based personal search engine that watches where you go and creates your own web index of sites you’ve seen (and incorporates general web search as well). It’s still in early beta, you have to sign up to use it.