free html hit counter November 2005 - Page 6 of 8 - John Battelle's Search Blog

More on Print, Books, Etc.

By - November 10, 2005

It’s a land grab of book-related journalism:

Journal (free this week!) on book scanning.

USA Today: You’re missing the point!

Larry Lessig says (Wired): This is bigger than books, bigger than just Google Print, it’s about the Code! (I agree!)

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Google Personalized Search Out of the Labs

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Google’s personal search is out of the Labs. It’s based on your search history, like A9 and others.

Details at SEW here.

One thing that kind of bugs me is Google’s unwillingness to call a spade a spade. From the email announcement I got:

Personalized Search also now includes several new features, such as:

• Bookmarks & Searchable Labels: Users can now create bookmarks and add searchable labels and notes to any item in their search history to help organize their information. Since these are created through a Google Account, this information is accessible from any computer by signing in to their account.

Er, isn’t this what we’ve been calling tagging for about two years?

Meanwhile, What I Told MacArthur

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From time to time I get emails from the MacArthur Foundation, the folks behind the genius grants. I have no idea why, but I’m not going to question them – it’s sort of nice to be asked your opinion by such a reputable place.

The last one I got asked for my input on “an issue coming over the horizon in the intermediate term where a modest investment by the MacArthur Foundation might make a substantial difference in the future…. the object of this exploration is to identify opportunities for philanthropy currently at the margin or edge…even if the optimal path of action is not certain…. focusing on those challenges where an early investment of philanthropic resources could be instrumental in mitigating negative effects or magnifying benefits for society in the future.”

Here’s what I came up with. If you all have modifications, input, criticisms, why, I’ll pass them right along. (They asked for up to six pages, which terrified me, hence the throat clearing in the first graf….)

While I’d love to write pages on the subject, in all honesty I fear my current work schedule would only insure that I failed to respond in anything like a timely matter.

And in any case, there is one simple idea that I bring up over and over again, as the core to what I believe can affect positive change in our culture, and seems severely overlooked. That it relates to my area of expertise is certainly no coincidence.

The idea is this: we suffer – in the US, certainly, and I imagine abroad as well – from a significant lack of what I might call 21st century literacy. By this I do not mean technological literacy, though that is certainly part of it. Instead, what I find seems to be missing, and in fact, is in serious retreat at least in our public schools, is what we often call “critical thinking” – the ability to look at all the available facts and, based on reason and a sense of fairness, determine a best course of action.

Our schools are instead focused on a testing regime which requires that students focus not on solving problems or determining best courses of action, but rather regurgitating answers. But as many wiser than I have noted through the course of history, the most creative act a human can engage in is not repeating an answer, it is forming a good question.

In an age where the knowledge of mankind is increasingly at our fingertips through the services of Internet search, we must teach our children critical thinking. One can never have all the answers, but if prepared, one can always ask the right question, and from that creative act, learn to find his or her own answer.

Instead, we have leaders that believe that questions have one answer, and they already know what it is. Their mission, then, is to evangelize that answer. That, to me, is a dangerous course. Reversing it by teaching our children to learn, rather than to answer, seems to me to be a noble cause.

I then later added:

Developing a framework in our schools for  “search literacy” – how to use and think about using a search engine – might be just the kind of thing you could do with a modest investment….

Another Slow Day

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I write that partially in jest, as there are many announcements today, but I have to travel again, this time on personal, family related business. Please forgive my lack of posts….and I’ll post later (mid afternoon if I am lucky).

Unfortunately the personal stuff has forced rescheduling of my talk at Yahoo today (originally slated for 2 pm), and that’s a real bummer. We’re going to do it, but just not today. I will still be making my evening chat with Dan Farber and four search startups at the SDForum’s Search SIG on the Microsoft SV Campus. Looking forward to that….

Gates, Microsoft Ponder the Future of … Microsoft

By - November 09, 2005

Cnet Plasma

If you’ve been meaning to get caught up on the whole Microsoft/Web services/Web2 threat meme, then read this Cnet piece on Gates’ recent memo to employees (Winer has full text there of it and Ozzie’s as well), which I very much doubt was intended solely as an internal rumination, on the threats tendered by web based services. (By the way, the plasma like Cnet interface to related stories – I’ve used part of it as the art at left – is cool, if only we had blog plasma…)

Microsoft truly does face the second coming of the Web, and this time it’s not conveniently packaged as one killable company a la Netscape (Google notwithstanding).


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Cl(image credit)

CDT, among many others, is urging all of us to take action on the PATRIOT Act, a terrible piece of legislation that I’ve written about before. I also featured this Act in the book. From it:

….under the PATRIOT Act, the government now

has far broader rights to intercept your private data communica-

tions—a reinterpretation of the Fourth Amendment, which states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, pa-

pers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall

not be violated.”

The PATRIOT Act certainly puts a new spin on the word

“search.” But this is to be expected, right? After all, if the government

has probable cause and a search warrant, nothing has really changed,

has it? As all good civics students know, the Fourth Amendment con-

tinues: “no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported

by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be

searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Under PATRIOT, prior interpretations of these constitutional

presumptions don’t necessarily hold true. To summarize, the PA-

TRIOT Act holds that your private information can now be inter-

cepted and handed over to government authorities not via a search

warrant tendered to you, but rather via a request to your ISP, your

community library, or another service provider. That means that

should the government decide it wants access to your information, it

no longer needs to serve a search warrant on you; it can instead go to

the company that you use—be it Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL,

or any number of others.3 In the past, the government could cer-

tainly tap your phone or search your effects if you were a suspect in

a crime. But under the PATRIOT Act, not only can the government

tap a suspect’s clickstream; the standards for who the government

can tap and how it informs a suspect have loosened as well.

Portions of the Act are under review by the House and Senate. From the CDT alert:

A “conference committee” of Congressional

leaders will begin meeting this Thursday, November 10 to reconcile the

Senate and House versions of the PATRIOT Act Reauthorization bills. At

this point, it is pretty clear that PATRIOT will be renewed, but the

Senate bill contains some important checks and balances to protect

against governmental abuse. And the
Washington Post recently drew

attention to government overreaching under the PATRIOT Act.
(reg required)

According to the Post, the FBI uses the PATRIOT Act to issue more than

30,000 national security letters demanding from businesses sensitive

records about their customers. The Post also reported that the FBI no

longer destroys data collected through such sweeps, even if it is

irrelevant to the investigation at hand. Instead, the article states,

the FBI has been ordered to keep the data, even when it is clear it is

on innocent Americans, and “to develop ‘data mining’ technology “to

probe for hidden links among the people in its growing cache of

electronic files.”

Google Automat (Base)

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More on this as it develops, first saw Jarvis’s post here…Long and short: This is Google’s AdWords-eBay mashup, without eBay…

Update: Internet News, Forbes coverage.

Too Much Stuff

By - November 08, 2005

Apologies, Searchbloggers, for my absence. Travel plus some Real Life stuff have intervened on my abilities to properly post.

Meantime, much afoot. Here are some highlights.

Looksmart is branching into vertical search in a big way. Reactions are varied.

Searchblogger Chris Zaharias has started a site on SEM. Find it here.

Google launched Google Local for Mobile. Reactions here. Yahoo also launched mobile apps, integrating with SBC. More (on both) here (reg required).

Meanwhile, Yahoo hooks up with Tivo (SER).

Vint Cerf, now at Google, writes at length on the issue of net neutrality, which is heating up due to hearings on the issue, and I’m guessing that there is a serious chance the Bells and their ilk may well win this.

Just so you guys know, I did read the NYT on Yahoo and Google this weekend. Honestly, fine pieces. I just was traveling Sunday….

Murdoch sees opp in distribution business in US. Target: Comcast.

Topix stripes its service via 15,000 weblogs. Details here.

Wired sponsoring a debate on Google Print. This should be good.

MSN AdCenter is improving (SEW). Met the fellow behind this at Adtech, looking forward to learning more.

On the Road, And the Search SIG

By - November 06, 2005

I’m at ad:tech Monday, in NYC. Back online Tuesday…and this Thursday, I’ll be part of the SD Forum’s Search SIG. From the description on Jeff Clavier’s blog:

The topic of this month is “The Search: A ten year perspective”, during which we will look back at the early days of the search industry, its key turning points, and discuss its short term outlook and its future.

The event will be held on the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus, Mountain View. Hope to see you there!