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Google Buys Dodgeball

By - May 11, 2005

News is here. What is Dodgeball? I dunno, but is seems like Orkut + Mobile done right, I think. More later.

WHERE Conference Discount

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WhereMy pals at O’Reilly, and Nat Torkington, the program chair, in particular, have made a 10% discount available to Searchblog readers who might be interested in attending the Where 2.0 Conference later this June in San Francisco. For the discount, hit this link, and use the “wherejbat5” code. I’ll be leading the panel discussion on – what else – local search.

From the conference site:

Where 2.0 covers the movement of mapping and location technology from the theoretical to the masses, illustrating the creativity that’s waiting to be unleashed as the tools and data become readily available. Sessions and panels will talk to real, deployed products (Google Maps, Yahoo!, MetaCarta, Microsoft) that combine a vision of the future with something to show right now.

Open Chair

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SFGate notes that Google’s Chairman role has been open for 13 months, and raises again the issue of how the company is governed.

Is Google A Leader?

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The-Road-Ahead “What’s Google up to?” is the favorite question of most magazine editors I know. It’s also the backstory for a recent spate of querulous posts across the blogosphere.

Fred ponders the role of Google in our world, and Jeff responds. From Fred’s post:

I think Google has become so mainstream and so ubiquitous in our everday Internet lives that its lost its mojo in some ways. That doesn’t mean it won’t continue to be hugely relevant, hugely profitable, and hugely important. But it does mean that there’s a vacuum that can get filled by others who are small, innovative, new, and exciting.

With respect to Google’s position in the dealmaking universe, Fred has this to say (I’d love to know what informed this rant, but I imagine it’s first hand experience):

And finally, Google is acting like AOL all of a sudden. You can’t do a deal with them without paying respect to their market position. That’s fine and is always the case with a market leader, but it will come back to bite them because the deals they won’t do will get done with others. And some of those deals are going to be important ones that will create new participants in the market who will grow and become more powerful over time.

From Jeff’s post (echoed by Dan Gillmor):

I love Google and what it has done organizing the world’s information and valuing links and taking the cooties off of citizens’ media and changing the culture. But is it time to start fearing Google (with its caching and its opaque ad policy and its opaque news policy) or mock Google (as Fred does, for reverting to banner ads)? Just asking.

It’s hard to be the de factor leader in the tech/media space, and Google is clearly not entirely prepped for the role, at least not yet. But given its success and its stock price, it has no choice. We’re expecting the company to act how we want it to act. The problem, of course, is that we all have different expectations, and we all think we’re right about what the company should do next.

The only thing a company can do in such a spot, it seems to me, is lead. Lead on issues of policy, transparency, open APIs, IP/DRM, and the like. How to do that? Have a clear and consistent voice and vision about where you think the web is going, and what kind of web you want to see built. That requires a confidence and certainty, characteristics which I sense exist in spades at the company, but have not really come out in a full throated way. There seems to be a lot of reacting going on at this moment – reactions to critics, to competitors, to PR flare ups.

It’s scary to lead, to declare where you are going and then head there. It’s even scarier to admit that as a leader you’ve made a mistake. But that’s what we expect of our leaders – that they head somewhere, so we can either follow, or plot our next move to outsmart them and take their place. For now, it seems Google is a reluctant leader – it does not want to declare where it’s going, or what it’s plans are when it gets there. That’s causing consternation and second guessing like Fred and Jeff and Dan’s posts.

Remember when Bill Gates wrote that silly book (1996)? I thought it was ridiculous – it felt obvious and patronizing to me as a self appointed New Media Guy, but it was a statement that he was willing to be a leader. He was willing to hang it out there, to outline a vision of where he saw his industry going. Most of the world backed him on that book, regardless of the sniping from editors at hip tech magazines.

Would the guys at Google ever do such a thing? Should they?

I sense that many of us wish they would. We long for a clear vision on the idea of the Web OS, for example, or the role of search in media distribution and commerce. Is Google getting into VOIP? Word processing? The cable business? Gaming? Movies? We invent endless fantasies about where Google might end up, then pounce on any possible indications that Google is working on making those fantasies real. It’s been fun for a while, but I sense we’re all tiring of the guessing game. And I bet nowhere is that game more tiresome than inside the Googleplex itself. What do you think?

Where the Audience Is

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Online, of course. From Mediapost’s coverage of a Burst study:

Asked about their media consumption habits over the past year, 61 percent of the respondents said they spend more time on the Internet today than a year ago, with 32 percent saying they spend “much more time,” and 29 percent claiming to spend “somewhat more time” online.

Also, Fathom reports keyword prices are up 11% in April.

Google News RSS Scraper

By - May 10, 2005

Via ResearchBuzz, a tool that scrapes Google News (and Google News searches) and turns them into an RSS feed. It’s called ScrappyGoo, and it’s against Google’s TOS. My view: change your TOS, Google, or start supporting RSS, er, Atom, er, feeds in a more robust way. This is a cool idea.

(I sense this has been done before, but I can’t recall where…)

Slashdot On Google Patents

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Just posted, a sure to be interesting thread analyzing a Google patent, with a focus on cracking down on spam in the index. The original link – the article that prompted the Slashdotting – is not responding at the moment, but the address is

For those who can’t wait, someone at Slashdot has posted the article in a comment.