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Is Orion Important? Ask Ask!

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OrionSo the world buzzed today with news that Google hired the fellow behind a search technology called Orion. (That’s the guy, an Israeli-Aussie transplant PhD student named Ori Allon, to the left, as shown in the Sydney Morning Herald. Looks like he’s well on his way to …. er….. an Industry Standard rooftop!)

Besides buttressing the ongoing industry mythology that “if you write a neat algorithm you’ll be rich and famous,” which, after all, is true at least one time out of googol, the move has spurred many to speculate that Google is hedging its bets against Ask-like features, such as Zoom (click on the binoculars), just in case they take off. Ask Zoom

From the piece:

Orion finds pages where the content is about a topic strongly related to the key word. It then returns a section of the page, and lists other topics related to the key word so the user can pick the most relevant.

The results of the query are displayed immediately in the form of expanded text extracts, giving the searcher the relevant information without having to go to the website – although there is still that option.

Also of note:

Mr Stead (an Aussie university official) confirmed that the university had held talks with the big three internet search operations: Google, Yahoo! and MSN.

So, was this a bidding war that Google won? Or was it that this technology was most valuable to Google? Or both? I wonder….some at Slashdot, of course, think it was a head fake by Microsoft. I doubt it. Google probably saw a very bright search mind, and decided the needed to hire him… the algo, though that might prove valuable as well…was perhaps secondary.

Update: Of course, I screwed up. The binoculars are NOT Zoom. Zoom is a narrowing and related search technology.

Updated: Set Bugs Free 2: YouTube v Google Video

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Mar2A reader just sent me a note saying hey man, the BEST Bugs cartoon is Rabbit of Seville. So I go to YouTube to remind myself of this classic. But…it’s DOWN!!! That’s, what, three days it’s been down (since my rant on Friday)???? Update: YouTube has the cartoon (illegal, is my guess), and was not down – I had a caching issue), so I’m changing the headline of this post.

What is up with that? So I go to Google Video — NOTHING. I go to regular old Google, and here’s info. But can I play it in real time, can I get my fix RIGHT NOW? No, I can’t. I can order a g’damn DVD (no thanks), but I can’t play the damn thing. WHY?!

I swear to God, if we could just harness this, pay for it with advertising in real time, with cross promotions, shit, just the value of cross promotion to Warner/Time Warner/etc. would be worth it….and would it cut into DVD sales? NO!!!! It’d probably promote them!!!

OK, enough Bugs ranting. What’s YOUR favorite Bugs? I know, I know….it involves the martian, right?!

Disney: Business Model on Its Head…

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Upside Mickey

Now, we expect to hear Jeff saying Television is exploding, and Fred of course, originator of the meme. But the Journal saying this😕

Walt Disney Co.’s decision to offer some of its most popular ABC and Disney Channel shows on the Web free of charge sent various segments of the TV business racing to their corners yesterday to sort out the implications of a move that could turn a decades-old business model on its head.

The Search: Portugues

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No link is up yet, but The Search is going Brazilian (as well as Portugal, of course)…

The Search Peq

I am thrilled by all this – the book has been translated in nearly 20 languages now.

Update: I’m a moron. Of course this is just Portugal, thanks Markus. Brazil’s been out for a while!

This Boring Headline Is Written for Google

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One of the great self referential headlines, in that it not only is a headline, it’s a headline about headlines in a paper which is also the subject of the story. Head hurt yet?

Well, turns out, the NYT is NOT the subject of the story, but it should have been. Because if you think the folks at the Times Digital aren’t thinking about optimizing their stories for Google, well, you’re foolin’ yourself.

Regardless of how odd it might have been to report on himself, Steve Lohr has written a piece about how newspapers are now thinking about how Google might parse the paper’s headlines, and how it’s changed the art of headline writing. The lead of the story:

JOURNALISTS over the years have assumed they were writing their headlines and articles for two audiences — fickle readers and nitpicking editors. Today, there is a third important arbiter of their work: the software programs that scour the Web, analyzing and ranking online news articles on behalf of Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.

The examples are striking:

Nic Newman, head of product development and technology at BBC News Interactive, pointed to a few examples from last Wednesday. The first headline a human reader sees: “Unsafe sex: Has Jacob Zuma’s rape trial hit South Africa’s war on AIDS?” One click down: “Zuma testimony sparks HIV fear.” Another headline meant to lure the human reader: “Tulsa star: The life and career of much-loved 1960’s singer.” One click down: “Obituary: Gene Pitney.”

I think this practice is fine. Headlines are all about attracting readers, that’s their purpose. And Google and Yahoo are distributors of attention, making sure the headlines work there makes a lot of sense.

Now, if the journalists start writing the bodies of the stories to rank well in Google, I think that’s where the line is crossed. Or…is it?

Cnet Says: Click Fraud Won't Go Away

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Maybe the truth is, stories about click fraud won’t go away….HIghlights:

A lack of clear standards for determining what is a fraudulent click, or some sort of third-party clearinghouse to monitor the situation, means some advertisers believe they can’t do much more than head to the courts when they think there’s a problem….

…Some experts say the solution is to have an independent auditor that would use data from the search engines and advertisers to determine in a neutral environment whether clicks are fraudulent.

Google and Yahoo, however, appear reluctant to embrace that idea.


By - April 07, 2006

Tv Folder

Tonight I created a folder in my email called “TV”. I sent “share this video” emails (using YouTube, which is down right now for maintenance so I can’t link to it ) to myself of cartoons I found that I loved, and that my daughter loved. A way to create an index that I can control, so that nothing, er, odd makes it to my kids’ eyes. But now, when my kids want to watch a cool cartoon (like, say, Bugs’ playing baseball (Google video), perhaps the most important cartoon since, well, Bugs and the dream of Frankenstein), well, they will see me bring it up on my computer, via this folder or a simple keyword search. Nope, I’m not using Comcast video on Demand. NOPE, I’m not popping in a DVD. I’m….wait for it….DOING A SEARCH!!!

Now…tell me this medium isn’t changing how we understand ourselves. This is why I love this industry.

Pirate Bugs

But there’s a problem. The video I am showing my kids is some ripped off crappy fourth hand reproduction, barely worth watching. Sure, the essence is there, but where the vivid color? The nuance? The g’damn original glory? I’ll tell you where – it’s languishing in the vaults of Warner Brothers, who refuses – so far – to let Bugs free.

But man, Warner, if you want to make a mint, let’s talk. Because it won’t be hard to figure out a way to do it, if you just follow the free, and monetize where the pilgrims pitch their tents. Migod, just do it. JUST DO IT!

The Friday Update

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Yahoo updates MyWeb. I really think the concepts are sound here. And I still think the concepts are ahead of the community. For now.

The Base rollouts continue. Read/Write has a nice list.

MSN Search goes down.

Zimbra gets nearly $15 million in funding. Holy sh*t. Might this be the….Writely effect? And YouTube gets $8mm. Might this be the….er….YouTube effect?!

We knew this was coming: Yahoo is testing relevance rank in YPN, its AdWords competitor.

SJ Merc: If Inc. were a band, it would be ‘Nsync.

Fred wants a Tredoputer. I do too. No, wait, something about this is just plain WRONG….

GM self serve ads get hammered. But GM sees the silver lining.