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Google Current

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Back in 2001 I met with Eric Schmidt and suggested that Google Zeitgiest could be turned into a killer media company. Well, I very much doubt that had anything to do with the news today that Zeitgeist is powering Al Gore’s new Current cable channel, but I’m pleased just the same. Gore’s channel will have Google segments built from search data. Very cool.

From Search Engine Journal’s coverage:

“Google Current,” built using samplings of popular Google search data, including from Google Zeitgeist, complements the free-flowing pod format with news updates each half-hour. Thirty seconds to three minutes in length, these segments buck conventional news practices by reporting not on what media editors decide is “news,” but on the topics people are actually searching for right now. So news isn’t what the network thinks you should know, but what the world is searching to learn.

Reuters story.

Amazon Buys BookSurge

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So why do I care? I’m fascinated with Google Print, and also with companies like QOOP, who provide print on demand (they do the print edition of Searchblog, at left).

To my mind, there really is no reason why Google can’t become the world’s largest bookseller, simply by adding a “Print, Ship, and Bill me” button to any book they have in the Google Print database. Given that Amazon has already done a massive book scanning effort of its own with Search Inside the Book, the purchase of BookSurge is interesting.

Link to the InternetNews story.

Levy on Google

By - April 03, 2005

Steven gives an overview of where the company is now in Newsweek. Intersting quote about ads in Google News from Eric:

In order to let the products develop organically, sometimes Google forgoes revenues in the short term. “It takes years to become profitable in terms of total dollars invested, but we don’t even think about it,” he adds. “When we started Google News, we forgot to put ads in it. It’s not deliberate. We actually forgot.”

Yahoo's New Index

By - April 02, 2005

Yahoo’s search team announced a couple of days agothat they were implementing an index update. Why is this noteworthy? It’s a first – from what I can tell, the first time an engine has given the ecology of webmasters and publishers a heads up that a change was coming. Cool.

Battelle the Grump

By - April 01, 2005

OK, some of you have given me shit for having no sense of humor regarding Google’s April’s Fool post. Sorry. It was funny, OK? FUNNY. But…well, I guess I’m overanalyzing. I’ll be on vacation week after next, and I promise, I’ll come back with my priorities straight.

Meantime, Yahoo’s Slacker spoof was also funny. I liked this line, clearly a dig at Google Print:

Well, scanners are cheap these days. Really cheap. When you combine a few $60 scanners with some willing Ph.D interns, we expect the entire book scanning project to take no more than 4 weeks and $6,000.

And yes, Ask’s was funny too!

Google Gulp Pokes Fun at PR Issues

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GulpGoogle has a tradition of April Fool’s jokes, my favorite is PigeonRank. This year it’s the “Google Gulp,” a tongue-in-cheek tour through Google’s product development process, with jabs (or shout outs, hard to say) at Schmidt, Urs Hoelzle, Stanford PhDs, and the rave culture. In short, Google Gulp is a fantasy drink which makes people smarter. (Maybe even as smart as the people at Google, one dares to dream…).

The descriptive text for this spoof reads like a exorcism-by-humor for some of Google’s most vexing PR issues – from terminal Beta to privacy. Read through it, it speaks volumes on the culture. Some of the lines read as if the founders themselves were involved in the creative process. To wit:

…any piece of information’s usefulness derives, to a depressing degree, from the cognitive ability of the user who’s using it. comprehend the long version of this answer, you’d need a PhD (from Stanford, natch).

…You mean we should cripple a perfectly useful feature just because of a little bad PR?

…. At any rate, you should be aware that by popping the seal on the twist-off Gulp cap, you send a wireless signal to Google’s servers indicating your irrevocable acceptance of the Google Gulp Terms and Conditions, which do include the possibility, however remote, of hideous genetic mutation resulting from your consumption of this product

….This “limited release” beta product is available to anyone who turns in a used Google Gulp bottle cap at any local retailer. If you don’t have any Gulp caps, ask a friend to give you one.

….We’ll commit when we’re ready, okay? Besides, what’s so great about taking things out of beta? It ruins all the romance, the challenge, the possibilities, the right to explore. Carpe diem, ya know? Maybe we’re jaded, but we’ve seen all these other companies leap headlong into 1.0, thinking their product is exactly what they’ve been dreaming of all their lives, that everything is perfect and hunky-dory – and the next thing you know some vanilla copycat release from Redmond is kicking their butt, the Board is holding emergency meetings and the CEO is on CNBC blathering sweatily about “a new direction” and “getting back to basics.” No thanks, man. We like our freedom.

The fine print on privacy, while all in good fun, kind of weirds me out:

Google Gulp and Your Privacy

From time to time, in order to improve Google Gulp’s usefulness for our users, Google Gulp will send packets of data related to your usage of this product from a wireless transmitter embedded in the base of your Google Gulp bottle to the GulpPlex™, a heavily guarded, massively parallel server farm whose location is known only to Eric Schmidt, who carries its GPS coordinates on a 64-bit-encrypted smart card locked in a stainless-steel briefcase handcuffed to his right wrist. No personally identifiable information of any kind related to your consumption of Google Gulp or any other current or future Google Foods product will ever be given, sold, bartered, auctioned off, tossed into a late-night poker pot, or otherwise transferred in any way to any untrustworthy third party, ever, we swear. See our Privacy Policy.