free html hit counter September 2005 - Page 2 of 6 - John Battelle's Search Blog

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By - September 25, 2005

The book tour is not quite winding down, more stuff this week, including reading in studio for three days for the audio book. So for now, some interesting links…

Findory has a neat sounding new feedreader, which watches what you do and refreshes its presentation. Cool.

In an LA Times op ed, Xeni weighs in on the Google Print lawsuit.

NYT on Microsoft’s AdCenter (Adwords/Overture competitor). It’s out of beta, as is, by the way.

Yahoo hires well known authors for Finance columns. Let’s hope the stuff translates well in China or these journos just might end up in jail….

Via NYT, Google’s internal predictions market. Has this replaced strategy meetings?

Danny turned 40. Happy birthday!

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Yow, WSJ Best Seller

By - September 23, 2005

WsjbsellI sense you might be getting sick of me tooting this particular horn, but I can’t help myself, The Search made it to the Wall St. Journal’s weekly list of Business Bestsellers (reg required) today, at #12. That’s pretty good for only being out ten days, I’m told. And now I can brag about being a bestselling author. Like I am right now.

Again, I think all this happened because of Searchblog readers. I really enjoyed meeting some of you in New York, I have a few more events coming up, and will make sure to keep my book page updated. Thanks.

Cringely Questions AdWords

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I’ve run across many a speculation on what levers and dials the folks at Google are pulling behind the AdWords curtain. This is another one, and begs the question: can we have a bit more transparency?

One of my readers makes his living selling goods over the Internet, and his sole means of obtaining customers is through Google AdWords. His business is robust for a one-man operation and he makes a good living. Knowing the actual numbers, I would say he makes a VERY good living, which shows the effectiveness of Google and AdWords as an advertising medium.

But one can never make enough money, it seems, so this reader decided to do some research to see if he could improve his results by modifying this and that. He decided that the best way to conduct this research was not by altering variables on his existing, very profitable web site, but by creating a separate site purely to be used for these tests.

Clearly ,this is a behavior that the big brains of Google did not expect.

Frank Quattrone Responds

By - September 22, 2005

As you all know, I promised to use this forum as a platform for anyone who took issues with the book to provide me feedback and corrections, if I got anything wrong. I was recently contacted by a communications consultant for Frank Quattrone, one of the most formidable investment bankers of the dot com era. I made a passing reference to Frank in my book, and he clearly disagreed with my observations. Bob Chlopak, Communications Consultant to Frank Quattrone, drafted a statement, which I post in full below. I’m happy to do the same for any source or character in the work who feels similarly.

”The Search” mischaracterizes Frank Quattrone’s case. The book makes reference to the right to privacy for personal email and says:

“While the more sophisticated e-mail user among us has grown to understand the folly of this assumption in a corporate environment, the idea that e-mail is an ephemeral medium is still widely held. In 2003, Frank Quattrone, one of the technology sector’s most powerful bankers and hardly a computing rube, was brought down by such a presumption when incriminating e-mails were used as evidence against him in a widely publicized trial.”

Mr. Quattrone did not regard email as private or ephemeral. There is substantial evidence of just the opposite – that he knew email created a lasting record available to many parties. For instance, there was an email shown at trial–in fact, a pre-cursor of the one to which he wrote his now-infamous reply– where Quattrone admonished a colleague for making inappropriate comments on email. When asked about the admonishment, he testified that “email is a medium that lasts forever.” There was testimony during his trials that Quattrone was well aware that CSFB backed up its system including emails, and that he rarely if ever discarded his own emails. His assistant testified that he even needed extra storage because his emails overwhelmed his system. Most importantly, Quattrone hit ‘reply to all’ to write his December 5 email and sent it to a broadcast list including hundreds of bankers — an action that appears neither private nor ephemeral.

This passage also says that “incriminating e-mails” were used against Quattrone at trial. One of Quattrone’s contentions on appeal is that his emails were innocent on their face, rather than crimes or evidence of them. The 22-word December 5 email, for instance, does nothing more than encourage employees to follow the company’s document retention policy–a policy that was in effect at the time, and one that CSFB’s lawyers who (unlike Quattrone) had seen the subpoenas had chosen not to suspend for months. The defense argued that, in sending this email, Quattrone had a proper purpose, intending only to lend support to his subordinate whose underlying email urged colleagues to comply with CSFB’s document retention policy, which all employees were required to follow at the time. Rather than the e-mails in evidence being incriminating, the defense view is that Quattrone was wrongly convicted because 1) there was no evidence that Quattrone knew that subpoenas called for the documents referred to in his e-mail reply, nor evidence that Quattrone harbored corrupt intent; and 2) the trial judge made various errors that resulted in an unfair trial. Among them were his refusal to allow a number of exonerating emails (also not ephemeral) into evidence that would have shown (a) that Quattrone had a management practice of sending seconding emails much like his December 5 message; (b) that lawyers at CSFB deliberately departed from their normal practice and did not notify Quattrone and thousands of other bankers that documents they held were subject to subpoena (which only the lawyers had seen) and had to be retained; and (c) that Quattrone was never under investigation or even interviewed regarding the underlying investigation, was cleared of any involvement in the allegations and subsequently promoted to CSFB’s Executive Board by new CEO John Mack. The concept of incriminating emails is disputed strongly by the defense and is now a question for the Court of Appeals.

Finally, the book makes reference to Quattrone being “brought down”. Mr. Quattrone’s case has been appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and he remains free pending the appeal. The case has been fully briefed and argued but the Court has not yet ruled, so the outcome of the appeal and the final verdict in Mr. Quattrone’s case has yet to be determined. Mr. Quattrone continues to enjoy strong support in the technology community–hundreds of clients and colleagues wrote letters of strong support to the judge on his behalf, he continues as a Director and fundraiser for The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, and most recently was honored by clients and colleagues who joined together to contribute over $500,000 to his newest cause, The Innocence Project, which helps free innocent citizens who are in prison for crimes they did not commit and do not have the resources to challenge their wrongful convictions. “Brought down” conveys both a sense of finality and completeness that is not the case here. Mr. Quattrone continues to defend himself steadfastly and remains confident his conviction will be overturned.

Google Defends Self On Blog

By - September 21, 2005

I have to say, this post – defending Google’s position on Google Print against yesterday’s lawsuit – is damn refreshing. Google makes its case clearly, and the writing seems to be driven by conviction and passion.

The use we make of all the books we scan through the Library Project is fully consistent with both the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law itself, which allow everything from parodies to excerpts in book reviews. (Here’s an article by one of the many legal scholars who have weighed in on Google Print.)

Just as Google helps you find sites you might not have found any other way by indexing the full text of web pages, Google Print, like an electronic card catalog, indexes book content to help users find, and perhaps buy, books. This ability to introduce millions of users to millions of titles can only expand the market for authors’ books, which is precisely what copyright law is intended to foster.

New York Book Event Details

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New York SkySo we have a time, date, and location for my New York pitstop:

Wednesday 9/21

6:00 pm

Coliseum Books

11 West 42nd Street, NYC

Between 5th and 6th Aves, across from Bryant Park

(212) 803-5890

Hope to see all you New York Searchbloggers there!

MSFT Reorganizes

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For all those watching the AOL/MSN/Google M&A game, Microsoft’s recent reorg, covered here (NYT), is worth noting. The company is creating three divisions, and the one I find critical is what is called “Platform Products and Services”. This division combines Windows and MSN, and that is an important shift – the two are increasingly interdependent. Applications like Office are now in a separate division, as are Entertainment and Devices.

Ray Ozzie (speaking with MSN chief Yusuf Mehdi at Web 2.0) is now reporting to Bill Gates and overseeing all three divisions integration with the web. Interesting as well.

I was starting to think that perhaps Microsoft was going to let MSN go and focus on evolving Windows to the open Web OS, independent of MSN’s content focus. Now, I’m not so sure. More considered thinking when I get off this book merry go round….

Google Wifi Heats Up

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GoogwifiRumors abound now that folks have found some Google beta test pages which seem to indicate that Google is testing a Wifi service. The leader on this story is Om, whose piece frames the argument for why the company might do it here.

The pages in question – and -either do not resolve, or now resolve to Google itself. Certainly the company is up to something…but Google is not commenting. No cached pages are found on Google either. Anyone find any screen shots?

In any case, I think folks really want to believe that Google is about to offer something totally game changing here, and honestly, it’s hard not to want to believe this – it fits exactly our collective expectations for the company. But there are so many dots to connect in this idea, that I find a massive, one step roll out hard to fathom. On the one hand, if Google does pull this off, it’d be a coup. On the other, maybe this is just a speculative test, and it’s teaching us the power of the the Google Rorshach effect in real time….

Update, one page is now resolving again.

Financial Advice, Horoscopes on the Way?

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Google has altered its famous Philosophy page and footnoted the change, SEW points out after noting an older Cnet piece. The line on the page once said: “Google does not do horoscopes, financial advice or chat.” It was a poke at portals, and, well, was written before Google became, well, a portal of sorts. It has chat now, so one wonders, can Google Finance be far behind?

As Danny points out:

Overall, that page needs more than a full-disclosure footnote. It probably needs to come down entirely, at least the portion with points about what Google has found to be true. It’s not that the horizon is becoming less blurry. It’s simply that Google itself is growing up and changing, and so will the things it finds true as part of that process.

Update: See the “diff” here, thanks to reader Gabe.