free html hit counter June 2005 - John Battelle's Search Blog

300 Years to Go, Says Schmidt

By - June 30, 2005

Today’s Journal runs a piece on Google and the content biz. It’s behind the wall, but some good stuff:

… the farther Google ventures beyond the Web, the tougher the road gets — as its dealings with some big TV companies show….

Google “didn’t show proper respect for us as potential partners,” says Larry Kramer, president of digital media at CBS. “We’re not just going to give this away for free.”…

… there are growing signs that Google is finished with the easy stuff. Its attempts to search other information — starting with books, TV and scholarly works — promise to be more costly and time-consuming than the simple Web searches that propelled its first years of growth….

…Google’s video-search quest is moving it toward possible competition with the cable-TV industry….

… Google surprised some broadcasters by telling them it was already building a digital database of their programs…. Rick Cotton, general counsel at General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, says Google’s “stunning approach” brought talks to a halt. “This is not the way one normally does business whether you’re an old company or a young one,” he says.

…Google’s chief executive, Mr. Schmidt, calls Google’s mission a long-term one. “It will take, current estimate, 300 years to organize all of the world’s information,” he says.

Thanks to reader Scott Kidder.

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More on Yahoo's MyWeb2.0

By - June 29, 2005

Myweb2One of the most oft-asked questions in search is “what’s next.” Yahoo hopes that My Web 2.0 is an answer – according to the folks who created it, My Web is an entirely new approach to relevance based on social inputs such as your group, your search history, and your own personally tagged webspace (which I’ve been calling the PersonalWeb for sometime).

Yahoo has dubbed the secret sauce driving relevance in My Web “MyRank,” and it seems to be Yahoo first truly focused effort to steal some of Google’s PageRank mojo.

But back to that “what’s next” question. In my upcoming book, which I swear will feel about a decade out of date by the time it finally f*cking gets here, I write this:

Search is no longer a stand-alone application, a useful but impersonal tool for finding something on a new medium called the world wide web. Increasingly, search is our mechanism for how we understand ourselves, our world, and our place within it. It’s how we navigate the one infinite resource that drives human culture: knowledge.

I think Yahoo’s been smoking the same stuff as me, because My Web 2.0 feels an awful lot like using search as the spade by which we turn the soil of knowledge. It’s clearly a major step along Yahoo’s calls its FUSE strategy – for Find Use Share and Expand.

So what is it? Well, I’m on my way to the Where 2.0 conference (already late) where I’m moderating a panel on local search, so I’ll let the NYT do the talking:

My Web 2.0, a new version of the company’s search engine that will harness the collective power of small groups of Web surfers to improve the quality of search results.

The service, which the company’s executives refer to as a “social search engine,” is based on a new page-ranking technology that Yahoo has named MyRank. Rather than relying on which pages are linked to most frequently on the Web – the so-called Page Rank technology pioneered by Google – MyRank organizes pages based on how closely search users are related to one another in their social network and on their reputation for turning up helpful information.

My Web 2.0 allows Web pages found useful by one member of a group to be instantly accessible to a network of trusted associates and to their network contacts as well. The service, Yahoo executives hope, will combat the growing problem of search-engine manipulation by using a collection of human eyes and minds to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Here’s Yahoo’s take, from the Yahoo Search Blog:

To address [the] limits of today’s search experience, we are releasing an early beta version of My Web 2.0 for a limited number of users. It is a new kind of search engine – a social search engine – that complements web search by enabling users to search the knowledge and expertise of their friends and community in addition to the web.

Yahoo is making My Web 2.0 available to Flickr users first, and that makes a lot of sense, as that community already has a lot of “web 2.0” habits in place. But I expect it will roll out to all pretty quickly.

The key thing here, I think, is that this is a major test of the usefulness of social networks. So far, they’ve not really been very useful beyond popularity contests and getting laid, but perhaps when combined with knowledge and sharing, something new can happen. In essence, if this works right, you can search the knowledge of your friends, and leave your own clickstream as breadcrumbs for others to find. It’s Bush’s Memex, writ large, and it’s also a potentially robust development platform for all sorts of new kinds of applications. A key factor will be the ability to integrate other data repositories, and I know Yahoo is working on that (you can already integrate delicious and flickr, for example…)

But, on the other hand, it’s a pain in the ass to keep creating social networks, maintaining groups, tagging, sharing, etc. It’s a habit I’m not sure the masses will ever get into, at least in a way that is driven by pure selflessness. Jeff Weiner, SVP of search at Yahoo, knows this, and he speaks of incentives which will develop to encourage folks to tag and share. One such incentive is social standing – “I’m well known for being a connector of knowledge,” for example. Another is economic – “I connect knowledge, and there’s a business in that.” And there is a business in that, to be sure – it’s what blogs do, after all.

What is potentially exciting about all this is the ability for bottom up domain specific search to get built. Imagine a Globalspec built by a community of users who are all sharing their searches across My Web. Then imagine they realize what they’ve built, and decide to make a business of it. I am quite sure Yahoo will be right there, helping them figure that out, and folding those domain specific realms of knowledge into their broader index. Weiner says his roadmap for where My Web is going is one of the deepest ever created at Yahoo. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

Blinkx Searches Podcasts

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Cool, but….I’m still waiting for a reliable recommendation service for podcasting. What do you guys use? This version of Blinkx also searches videologs….

SEW coverage.

Update to Google Video: Hacked Already

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According to Techdirt, the same fellow who hacked the DVD encryption – DVD Jon – has hacked the Google video player, just as we predicted. Now it plays on any site.

Update: Sure, I guess you can say it’s not a hack if it’s an open source tool, but then again, this response from Google – sent to me by Google PR – sure makes it feel like a hack:

“This modification of Google’s open source video viewer does not compromise

the integrity and security of content available from Google Video in any

way. We strongly advise Google Video users to not download this modification

because it could result in security vulnerabilities on their computer and

may disrupt their computer’s ability to access Google Video.”

In other words, “Don’t worry, publishers, you’re cool….but if you are a user, worry….”

Bad Idea

By - June 28, 2005

From Rajat’s blog via Blogoscoped:

I installed the Greasemonkey Gmail Delete button and now Google has locked me out of my Gmail account for “between one minute and 24 hours”. I’m surprised – use Greasemonkey and Google whacks you. Oh mighty and benevolent Google, can I have my freakin’ email back?

Update: let back in after an hour.

Yahoo Launches MyWeb 2.0

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I’ll have thoughts on this later, but for now, know that MyWeb 2.0 is live. This is a major push from Yahoo in the realm of social search. It’s somewhat complicated to explain, which is an issue, but the implications are important. More soon.