free html hit counter January 2006 - Page 5 of 11 - John Battelle's Search Blog

What's the Big Deal?

By - January 20, 2006


…in the Google v. DOJ case? Well, I’ve argued it’s the slippery slope. But reading through the subpoena, it’s clear that from where Google stands, there’s something else at stake.

Remember this whole goat rodeo (on the size of indexes)? Remember how slippery both Yahoo and Google got when we tried to figure out exactly how many documents were in their indexes? Well, turns out, that’s pretty much what the DOJ is trying to do as well. Hence, Google’s defense on a “trade secrets” basis.

Apparently, the subpoena originally asked for a lot more than just a million addresses, as reported Thursday. From the motion the DOJ filed to force Google to comply with the subpoena:

“The subpoena asks Google to produce an electronic file containing ‘[a]ll URL’s that rea available to be located through a query on your company’s search engine as of July 31 2005.”


“all queries that have been entered on your company’ search engine between June 1, 2005 and July 31, 2005.”

HELLO. You think Google is going to give that over? Me no think so.

This is why Google originally fought the order. The DOJ then narrowed its request to a random sample of one million URLs and agreed to not ask for personally identifying info on the search queries, but it still wants all search queries for a one week period. No way in hell Google would give that up, given the company’s penchant for secrecy. Sure, the DOJ might guarantee that the data would not enter the public record, but, once in the DOJ’s hands, it’s out of Google’s control.

So how to fight it? Well, standing up to the DOJ and getting major praise for doing so is a very smart strategy, in my book. As much as I’d love to believe Google is fighting this for heroic reasons, I’d wager that the data has more to do with it.

Also, just a note, but it’s interesting to note that Google now has its very own DOJ case, just like Microsoft did.

(Gary has a thorough overview of the docs in the case here).

  • Content Marquee

Hey, Your Content Chocolate Is In My Portal Peanut Butter!

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And the mashup continues.

SEATTLE – Inc. plans to broadcast on its Web site an original show hosted by Bill Maher and featuring performers and authors touting new releases — which, not coincidentally, will be for sale at the online retailer.


click here

The 12-episode Webcast series, which will begin airing June 1, is the first offering in what the Seattle company says is a broader plan to add more original programming to its Web site.

Next up: Yahoo sells books, and Google sells videos. Oh, wait, that’s already happening…

Guess How Many Videos Google Has Sold…

By - January 18, 2006

No, I don’t know…but I do wonder, how many videos Google will sell in its first month? Anyone care to start a wager? Recall that when iTunes launched, Apple pretty much queered the market for secrecy: it proudly tells us when it sells it’s millionth, ten millionth, and so on, of any thing (including videos). Will Google do the same?

I’ll toss out a wager and say Google will sell less than 100,000 videos in its first month. After all, they have limited inventory, and the product is getting a slow start. No, wait, we have to be specific, to win. OK, Google will sell 95,567 videos in its first month. What do you say? If Google ever does tell us, I’ll send the winner a signed copy of my book. How great is that?

Don't Look Now, But It's Happening

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From my book, written a year or so ago:

As we move our data to the servers at,,, and, we are making an implicit bargain, one

that the public at large is either entirely content with, or, more likely,

one that most have not taken much to heart.

That bargain is this: we trust you to not do evil things with our

information. We trust that you will keep it secure, free from unlaw-

ful government or private search and seizure, and under our control

at all times. We understand that you might use our data in aggregate

to provide us better and more useful services, but we trust that you

will not identify individuals personally through our data, nor use

our personal data in a manner that would violate our own sense of

privacy and freedom.

That’s a pretty large helping of trust we’re asking companies to

ladle onto their corporate plate. And I’m not sure either we or they

are entirely sure what to do with the implications of such a transfer.

Just thinking about these implications makes a reasonable person’s

head hurt.

From the Mercury News, today:

The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google Inc. to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.

The move is part of a government effort to revive an Internet child protection law struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. The law was meant to punish online pornography sites that make their content inaccessible to minors.

In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for one million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.

The Mountain View-based search engine opposes releasing the information on a variety of grounds, saying it would violate the privacy rights of its users and reveal company trade secrets, according to court documents.

Nicole Wong, an associate general counsel for Google, said the company will fight the government’s effort “vigorously.”

…The government indicated that other, unspecified search engines have agreed to release the information,but not Google (emphasis mine).

Of course the Bush administration started with the cover of “fighting child porn.” Do you think that’s all they’ve asked for?

Of course not.

Bravo, Google, for fighting this. Don’t give up the fight. It’s not just about this one request. This is a major, major moment. And shame on the other engines for not standing up and fighting.

(And while I’m tossing out kudos, bravo on the two tier Internet stance, as well.)

Update: Philipp has a hilarious send up here – “Patriot Search.”

Update Two: This is an awesome, up to the minute resource, over at SEW, on this story. Xeni at BB is also pursuing the story, and has news that the DOJ got info from MSFT, AOL, and Yahoo. Key detail: So far, no personally identifying info. That, I imagine, is buried in a Patriot Act request.

29,000 Emails

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My AppleMail is acting really cranky lately. Why? Well, I had 34,000 messages in the “sent” folder. A couple well informed Apple geeks told me that was simply bad hygiene. My sent folder dated back to October of 2004.

Just cleared out enough to have just one year there. So how many mails did I send in one year, from Jan 2005 to Jan 2006? About 29,000.


Yeah, I know, if I had Gmail….I do have it, but I prefer mail clients on my Mac. Call me old fashioned.

Google's Radio Play

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So why did they do it? And what about that huge earnout? More than a billion dollars? My God! How did that come about? (Besides, of course, dMarc’s extremely Googley “innovation through automation” tagline).

My guess is that this is an artifact of the deal. Here’s a totally speculative scenario. Either through direct intent or serendipity (ie someone says to a Googler: Hey, you guys should check out dMarc!) Google decides it wants to do to the radio market what AdWords has already done to online – and by extension, print. In other words, redefine it, make it more efficient, invert the model, all the stuff we already know. OK, fine. But Google knows exactly zip about radio advertising.

So Google approaches dMarc (or vice versa), and the meetings ensue. Visions are whiteboarded. My God! the two parties rhapsodize, we just might redefine the entire multi-billion dollar radio business!

Google goes into buyer mode. It makes a flat our acquisition offer. Maybe it was $100 million to start (that’s what the deal was for, setting aside the earnout), maybe it was for more or less. Doesn’t matter for this scenario.

What happened next is the interesting part. The folks at dMarc said, essentially, No. We’re not going to sell so cheap to Google, just because you’re Google. We have a great market position, great relationships, and the ability to leverage this company without your help, thank you very much.

Now, that’s not a response Google is used to hearing. Usually it’s more like the Keyhole response: “When Google called, I realized that I was being tapped into the great fraternity of High Holy Possibility, and I couldn’t refuse. After all, Google has the resources and market position to make my wildest dreams for (insert business here) come true.”

But the guys from dMarc didn’t see it that way. Sure, they saw the upside of plugging into Google’s infrastructure and ad network. But they also knew they could shop this deal to Yahoo, or MSFT, or AOL, or even go it alone. So they had leverage to capture the direct upside that dMarc might represent in the form of a major payout. (And, of course, when Google bought Keyhole, or other companies in the past, they could say that the options which came with the deal were going to be worth a hell of a lot. But convincing someone that your stock is going from 465 to 500 or 600 is more of a stretch….)

Voila, Google’s second major business development deal for which they had to compete (first, of course, was AOL). Once again, signs of a maturing business.