It’s official, Google Earth is here. Google calls it “A 3D interface to the planet.” Now tell me that search isn’t the new GUI…. you have to download an app, but it integrates all manner of stuff. Except, of course, the Mac.
Release in extended entry. From it:
Key features of Google Earth include:
· Free software download available at http://earth.google.com
· 3D buildings in major cities across the United States
· 3D terrain showing mountains, valleys, and canyons around the world
· Integrated Google Local search to find local information such as
hotels, restaurants, schools, parks, and transportation
· Fast, dynamic navigation
· Video playback of driving directions
· Tilt, rotate, and activate 3D terrain and buildings for a different
perspective on a location
· Easy creation and sharing of annotations among users
]]> Read More
Three decisions today. You’ve heard about em already, I’m guessing. Grokster – a kick in the head, but at least they sent it back for full trial, as opposed to outlawing P2P entirely. The right of our culture to know things which otherwise may not be known, thanks to the institution of the anonymous source – not struck down, but not clarified, either: the Court punted. And lastly, the kick to the ribs: Cable companies do not have to share their monopoly networks. However, I consider this a boon – to new approaches to infrastructure and distribution, ie, Google and Yahoo, muni wifi and wimax. Let’s hope they don’t f*ck it up with walled gardens and paternal business models.
Wall Street likey the video play.
BTW, interesting Slashdot comment – this fellow claims Google contacted his company asking him to upload commercial video. But he found Google’s approach maddening. Thread here. From it:
Me: How are you going to protect copyrighted material from being copied?
Google: We’re working on that.
Me: In a fee-based scenario, what “cut” does Google want?
Google: We haven’t decided.
Me: What if I upload free content and a LOT of people like/view it? How does Google make money?
Google: We reserve the right to charge the uploader if the content becomes “very popular.”
Me: Define “very popular”.
Google: We don’t know yet.
Me: Why should I upload content if you can’t answer these basic questions?
Google: You just should.
Update: Rivlin has a story on it, quotes some guy named Battelle…
I’ve confirmed that Monday Google will launch an in-browser video playback feature based on the open source VLC media player. This is the logical next step for Google’s video search and upload function, which began taking uploads from anyone who cared to submit back in April.
Google will not disclose the raw numbers of videos that have been uploaded to date, but the company will make all those which were tagged as “free” available for real time streaming through the VLC player, which Google has modified and will make available for download Monday morning. The company also intends to make its VLC code available to the open source community as part of their Google code project.
The video will be searchable via the meta data provided by the submission process (no, there’s no PageRank for video, yet).
Now, before we start discussing how this represents the Death of Comcast/The Networks/Windows Media Player et al, this is not quite that, but it is the start of something big. For one, it’s clear this will be integrated with the Google payment program which was revealed to be in process last week. Plenty of folks uploaded video to Google with a payment option, and that has yet to roll out, but you can expect that it will.
Secondly, this is a big deal for many institutions which do not have the ability to host and stream their own video, but would very much like to get their message out. In essence, Google is providing their infrastructure free of charge to let anyone upload video and have it be found. That’s a very big deal in and of itself.
Third, this is clearly a shot across Microsoft’s bow. The Windows Media Player is a standalone application, rife with its own DRM and entanglements with Hollywood. Many once claimed IE would never fall, but Firefox has shown what the open source community can do with some good code and the support of a dedicated user base. I’m pretty sure that once Google’s VLC implementation is stared at by enough folks, a stand alone player with hooks into Google Video search and many others will not be far behind.
Fourth, this will help the spread of an alternative universe for video distribution and playback, one independent of the walled garden business model in which video is currently locked. I’ve ranted on this before, but I do believe that the sooner independent voices have an outlet for their work, and a business model to pay for it, the sooner we’ll see content creators revolt from the hegemony of cable and studio models (and perhaps we can finally begin to have a cut and paste video culture….)
More on this as it develops…
Update: I neglected to mention that all the video in the “free” category has been “human scanned” for adult content and copyright violations, I’m told by a good source.
I’m excited to go be part of my first Gnomedex today, but bummed I can’t stay for very long. I am quite sure there’ll be plenty of coverage in the b’sphere, as the conference is built on “unlimited wifi and power strips.”
Why did you leave eBay?
It’s been four years, during which I have done many things for eBay. For example my new search engine has been kicking butt for about two years; it’s perfectly adapted to eBay’s needs and is in the same league as Google in query volume. In return eBay gave me a fancy Fellow title and a corner conference room. I got to play with all sorts of large problems and see the solutions used by millions of people, exactly what I like to do. So I’m leaving in great terms.
The main reason for me to leave is that eBay does not absorb innovation at the pace I enjoy, and its focus is narrower than Google. So rather than chewing on variations of e-commerce for the next few years, I’m very tempted to play with radically new stuff: satellites images, machine translation, ways to extract knowledge from giant bodies of data … who knows what else? And frankly, I’m dying to peek under the hood and see the infrastructure they have created. For someone like me, it’s the ultimate Christmas toy.
By “your new search engine” I assume you mean the internal search at eBay, right? Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Sure. We replaced the search back-end a couple of years ago with home-grown code, and it has been performing very well. The only user-visible difference is that any change (price, new item, ended item,…) is reflected in the search and browse pages in real time. So it was not a traumatic user-interface change, just a better back-end.
Did Google recruit you?
I have known Larry and Sergei forever, I want to believe that I had a standing invitation. All it took was one email to Larry.
What might you be doing at Google? Will you be working on ecommerce?
The agenda is “Whatever I want”, which is really attractive. I honestly don’t know because I need to check what is going on, all the projects, the strategy, and the infrastructure. I have been working on search for e-commerce for several years now, so a change would be welcome. The Froogle rumors are a bit hasty given that I have not made up my mind, and I won’t for a few weeks. Someone must have connected the dots in the obvious manner, but I am tempted by more exotic stuff. We’ll see.
Really, no remit at all? No expectations? Who are you reporting to?
Nope, and again, this is a big part of the attraction. I don’t know who I am reporting to. I think I need to pick my boss as well as what I want to do. How can you say no to this?
What are you most interested in right now in the field of search?
Just to be clear, I think that Google has plenty of search experts, so I may actually never touch search. But since I have the mike in hand, what I find the most interesting problem in search is to think of it as a dialog rather than a one-shot thing: enter query, get ten links back. The search engine needs to do its part to keep the dialog going. That’s what I said at Web 2.0 last year.
What problems are the most interesting?
I’m fascinated by the many ways we can extract real knowledge from billions of tidbits, whether they’d be Web pages, queries, links, reviews, social networks… We have a few tools today, mostly statistics to isolate repeating data from the noise, but I think we will eventually go much further. What we need are generic pattern recognition engines. It ties into what Jeff Hawkins is talking about on the structure of the neocortex.
Does this mean you have to give up your “ALTVSTA” license plates on your car?
Nope, I’m too proud of this baby. Remember, AltaVista was a huge technical success, for which I take some credit, and a business disaster for reasons over which I had no control. Being stuck inside a dinosaur in a death spiral (Digital) never helped. The portal strategy of the barbarians from Houston (Compaq) and the lack of focus on core search made sure that any remaining value was destroyed. Google was simply a better tool that filled up the space, more power to it!
This is a fascinating “open letter” from a blogger who covers the porn industry, asking Google to embrace his industry, especially given its dependance on payment systems just like the one Google is working on. The conclusions are quite interesting.
Banking is a perennial thorn in the side of even the largest and most successful adult websites. All adult companies are overcharged by merchant banks poorly equipped to deal with transactions they consider to be ‘high-risk’.
Before PayPal withdrew from offering billing services to adult companies (around the time they were acquired by eBay), they were the preferred customer choice for the websites that offered them as a payment option.
It’s hard to justify PayPal’s withdrawl on ‘moral’ grounds given the volume of pornography sold via eBay.
Conclusion: Google is already in the porn business and it would be damaging to withdraw.
Conclusion: PayPal have banned ‘high-risk’ transactions due to a lack of technical expertise. Google can satisfy a waiting billion dollar market by catering to adult transactions.
Conclusion: Taking adult transactions will give Google the ‘adult edge’ that VHS used to overtake Betamax. PayPal’s neglect is Google’s opportunity.
Update: The ever inquisitive Gary finds that Google already owns “GooglePorn.com” and some others..
PaidContent has a summary of how Yahoo is looking at behavioral targeting in its quest to compete with AdSense.
MarketingVox reminds us that Usama Fayyad, the founder of digiMine and co-founder of Revenue Science, joined Yahoo late last year as chief data officer.