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Traveling Today

By - February 09, 2005

I’m out of pocket most of the day, heading to NYC.

Google Blogger Is Gone

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Mark Jen, the fellow who reported on internal company activities at Google, is gone from the company. I pinged a Google rep and he confirmed it.

This is a clear message to Google employees. I imagine any who are blogging, are re-reading their HR policies about now…

I guess someone who violates the rules like this will, I imagine, be dealt with in various ways by various companies. I wonder what Yahoo might have done in the same situation, or Microsoft? The information on the site, which was taken down and then redacted, was really not that big a deal. At least, it seems that way to me. But one never knows.

Is this such a clear case of violation as to merit firing? Perhaps he left on his own accord, we may never know as I imagine he signed something on his way out the door. In any case, I’d be interested in what others in similar situations – Scoble, Jeremy – have to say about this. I’d also be interested in the views of various Google bloggers out there. But I imagine this one is a third rail….

Ev, any thoughts now you’re outside the wagons?

Update: Mark is blogging again. Read the comments.

NYT on Google Domain Moves

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Nice explanation in the piece from Bret Fausett, who publishes

When a domain expires and changes hands, Mr. Fausett said, Google can now more easily find, scan and index the new site, so it does not mistakenly point searchers to a site with irrelevant content, or place advertisers on sites with content that does not match their products or services.

That alone could profoundly affect the domain name market, which has rebounded partly because of another Google service, AdSense. Through AdSense, Google pays publishers to display text ads related to a site’s content. Speculators often buy the expiring domains of even marginally popular Web sites and replace the site’s content. But because the practice diminishes the usefulness of Google’s search engine, the company has long sought ways to curb it.

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< ![CDATA[Huh. I know Google integrates maps with local, but this feels new. Thanks to reader Richard Lusk.

Google Maps

BTW, Andrew Chen noticed it as well, and has a nice post here.

Update: Google has sent out its release on this, it’s in the extended entry.

Update 2 – the buzz on this is pretty good, including a nice review from Gary, though he did notice that Osama is apparently hiding out at the Googleplex…]]> Read More Read More

UPDATED: It's Official – Bloglines Sold to Ask

By - February 07, 2005


If you recall my 2004 predictions, I claimed Bloglines would be sold to a major search engine. I just didn’t think it would be Ask. But come to think of it, it’s a good fit – Yahoo is well on their way toward the Bloglines space with its integration of MyYahoo RSS, and Google, well, Google doesn’t seem to have the appetite for RSS many wish it did. MSFT is busy getting its index up to speed.

“Ask was the best fit,” Mark Fletcher told me last week. “They have a multi-brand strategy – we will not be going away.”

Fletcher, who together with Larry’s brother Carl Page and a few others sold his other company – eGroups – to Yahoo back in the golden era for a whole lotta dough – does not need to sell. So his choice of Ask is instructive. “Ask got it,” he proclaimed, indicating others were in the hunt but did not, er, get it. “We had a lot of choices, and this one made the most sense.”

So, I asked Jim Lanzone, Ask’s head of search and the architect of the deal, what are you going to do with Bloglines? “Our plan is to leave it alone for now,” Lanzone answered. “We’ll integrate it across properties, but if it never makes us a dime directly, it will make money for us indirectly.”

In other words, Bloglines is growing like a weed, has tons of users, and more interestingly, tons of data about what those users read. Those profiles might make for some serious endemic advertising plays down the road. Both Fletcher and Lanzone concur. “The profile a user makes on Bloglines is a pretty good proxy for a user’s interest,” Lanzone said. “But step one is to let Mark blow it out, and see where it goes.”

So don’t expect any AdWords or other monetization, at least at first, and not in your face. Lanzone took pains to make sure I understood that *he* understood he has a good thing, and doesn’t want to f*ck it up.

One thing that will come out of this, Lanzone said, is “world class blog search.” Stay tuned, Ask is getting interesting…

Bloglines site about the deal…and Ask’s blog post

PS – No, I don’t know how much Bloglines was sold for, Ask and Mark are not saying. However, I am sure it was not a trivial number. Mark would not give me user metrics, but it’s in the hundreds of thousands, if not past a million. How valuable is that to a search platform? In a word, very. I’d be surprised if the deal was less than $25 million. But what do I know? Nothing. Sure, Bloglines has no revenue. None, zip, nada. So much can and probably will be made of the fact that this was yet another sign of an impending bubble. But…then again, Bloglines has more than 280 million blog posts in that index. That’s a lot of data….and a lot of profiles of its hundreds of thousands of users. That’s worth something, quite a bit of something….

UPDATE: My dangling of the $25 million number out there has gotten a number of responses – from parties that are in reasonable positions to know. I am told the figure is closer to $14 million or so. I can’t confirm this…yet, but there you go.

Google Officially Announces Image Update

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SparrowgiFolks have been noticing for some time that Google Images seems to have been updated, today Google made it official. From the note sent to me by Google PR:

Today, Google announced two new updates to Google Image Search that further help users find the information they need. First, Google Image Search now includes more than 1.1 billion images from around the world. With a comprehensive index of images, users can quickly and easily find relevant images of both popular and obscure queries.

In addition, Google released a new feature that displays images from Google Image Search above Google web search results when they’re relevant to users’ search queries. When users search for queries such as [sunsets], [mountains], [torre eiffel], or [inverno] on the Google homepage, they may see relevant thumbnail images at the top

of their search results marked “Image Results.” When users click on the thumbnail images, they will be directed to the website that contains the original image. Users may also click on the “Image Results” link to see the complete Google Image Search results page for that query.

Also worth noting that Google is now incorporating ar more images into its main SERPs, in some cases. Aaron has a number of examples.

First Draft, Complete

By - February 05, 2005

BookwallAs I’ve been working on my book, I’ve developed a rather odd form of visual incentive. For each chapter I created a 3×5 index card, each taped one atop the other on the side of the bookcase next to my desk. As I worked on a chapter, I devised a series of notations which marked my progress. An open circle meant I had finished the “cull” of my notes and interviews, and was well into the writing process. A slash through the circle, from top left to bottom right, meant I was about a third through. A second slash, which comprised a “V” inside the circle, meant I was two thirds done. And a final continuation of the second slash outside the circle’s circumference and to the right – which made the whole thing look like a checkmark through the circle – meant I had finished the chapter’s first draft. I then wrote the word count of the chapter on the card, and moved on. (As I revised chapters, I revised the word count as well).

Well, I’m pleased to say that at about 5.30 today I marked the final check on my wall of 3×5 cards. While weeks of revisions, corrections, and possibly rewrites await me, the fact is, I have completed the first draft of this f*cking book. Nearly 90,000 words later, I’m at last into the realm of editing, as opposed to writing.

For whatever reason, well, for reasons too numerous to state, I wanted to let all of you know about that first. Thank you for being here with me as I labored over it. Now, I plan to go out with my wife and, most likely, drink far more than I probably should.