free html hit counter Melanie's Round Up | John Battelle's Search Blog

Melanie's Round Up

By - May 31, 2006

48m contribute user-content

A PEW study finds that nearly 50 million American adults, or about 35 percent of internet users, have contributed user-generated content (or UGC) on the internet. The news bit that is driving headlines, however, is that there is an up-tick in broadband home users—including 73 percent of those bloggers and online media self-publishers. “Adoption of high-speed internet at home grew twice as fast in the year prior to March 2006 than in the same time frame from 2004 to 2005,” primarily in middle-income homes. The Pew Internet & American Life Project report also notes that 51 percent of home broadband users are under 30 and only 36 percent were over 30 years old.


Sometimes people prefer to “StumbleUpon” rather than search. Premised on the same inclination, helps people meet each other randomly, then decide if they like what they’ve found. One begins with an open email line to a stranger, with no knowledge about them—not their gender, race , age, nationality or otherwise. Users have four days to communicate and determine if they want to be friends. If you don’t make contact at least once, then you do not receive a new potential friend. Just released in beta, was founded by Chris Stegner. Picture 3

The websites says it “allows people to meet others who live completely different lives. We want people to be able to form some of the best friendships of their lives and in many cases from the least likely of candidates. We want this web-site to open their eyes to the world they’re missing by not learning about others.”

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington likes the idea. And WebProNews points out a bug: “a photo is required for signup, which takes away from the anonymity and the beauty-is-on-the-inside concept”—just don’t upload a portrait as your icon.

Picture 1-3 Stalkerati

And once you’ve made new friends, you can start stalking them with Stalkerati. This friendly little mash-up of web 2.0 sites provides a one-site search on the individual of your choosing simultaneously in MySpace, FaceBook, Friendster, Google, Technorati, and for images (in Yahoo, Flickr).

Says the creator, Jared, who starts college in California this fall: “This site is basically a little hack I put together in 2 hours on May 1st, 2006 when a friend was heading out for a blind date and my sis was asked out (via email) by a guy that googled her. I hope to eliminate the hassle of going to 4-5 sites to find information/check out/cyberstalk/[insert excuse for cyberstalking here] on someone.”

The site, launched early this month, just finished a push that brought with it a digg traffic jam, so you may have to check back if you want to test it out.

Gsa Beautyshot An Interview with Google Enterprise VP

Dan Farber at ZNet interviewed VP/GM of GoogleEnterprise Dave Girouard last week. Here’s part one and part two of the interview, in case you missed it on your way out for the weekend. They discuss “elusive Google Web Office,” the Enterprise portfolio, disinterest in the software game, and product strategy in coordination with Microsoft’s Office Live. “The company is experimenting with a hosted service that includes domain hosting, email, calendar, instant messaging, desktop search and administrative services.”

Picture 4OurStory beta

The startup OurStory publically launches in beta its interactive, web-based scrapbook. OurStory’s various tagging and uploading features let users create a timeline of events they can share and search through. Silicon Beat gives a full review of its many neat features, like automatically searching the web for pictures of events you mention and pinging relatives to fill-in unanswered questions about pictures. And CBS has an audio interview from when OurStory launched in mid-May. Most of OurStory is free, but the upgrade comes with the ability to store multiple timelines, control several privacy circles, and eventually burn your story to DVD or print it into a book.

One thought on “Melanie's Round Up

  1. Andrew S says:

    51 percent of home broadband users are under 30 and only 36 percent were over 30 years old.

    13 percent are exactly 30 years old?

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Melanie's Round Up

By - May 30, 2006

“Googlearchy or Googlocracy?”

An article by several researchers refutes the notion that the Google search engine reinforces the popularity of high PageRank sites. The IEEE Spectrum article “Googlearchy or Googlocracy?” is by five academics at the University of Indiana, Filippo Menczer, Santo Fortunato, Alessandro Flammini, and Alessandro Vespignani–who discuss the surprising results of their original paper:

While search engines do not make for a level playing field, their use partially mitigates the rich-get-richer nature of the Web, giving new sites an increased chance of being discovered.

Google AdsBot

Google has a new search spider called AdsBot that will visit the landing pages of ads to asses the quality of an ad campaign for AdWords. It can be blocked, like other search engine spiders, but AdRank scores will be penalized as non-participatory. SEW explains: That quality score, along with the amount you are willing to pay, is then used to determine an ad’s AdRank, the position where an ad will appear in the results. A high quality score means you can rank higher even if you pay less than others.

First mentioned last December, the AdsBot will begin operation soon. Here’s a comment by Page (in a recent, peripheral but relevant, interview) that gives some insight into the overall reasoning at play:

The reason people look at the ads spaces and eventually click on ads is because they’re really high quality—they’re comparable to the search results. If the ads are of substantially worse [quality] than the search results then—guess what, people are smart and they actually learn not to look at that area of the screen. If you test this: in places where there are normally banner ads, people’s eyes go around that area.

BotThe Invasion of MS Messenger

Microsoft is hosting a contest called “Invasion of Robots” to design accessory robots for its Live Messenger (beta). Developers are equipped with three software developer kits, challenged to create bots that enhance user experience in Messenger (e.g. adding features like picture sharing or search capability), for a total of $40K in prize money. There are three bots up for public voting so far—one provides Encarta answers to questions, another feeds quotes from “our fearless leader – W”. (Via TechTree)


Wikipedia + Google Maps = WikiMapia.

BlockRocker the beta “Geoaggregator”

BlockRocker pulls geotags loaded in external sites, like Flickr, Technorati, and Webview360. Users can also submit their own geotags through Flickr, blog posts through Technorati, or any webpage with Blockrocker geotagging bookmarklet (modeled on It’s creator, Rod Edwards, says eventually he hopes to integrate Block Rocker into any location-aware device. So “if you’re in downtown SF with nothing to do, I’d like you to be able to open on your phone and find out what’s going on that night within a three block radius of wherever you are. One step at a time, though.”

Looking for a few good (print reading) geniusesPicture 2-1

Google is recruiting with a full-page print ad in Wired magazine. Danny Sullivan at SEW advises, “If you didn’t skip three grades and failed to learn Lisp by age 10 like Niniane, there’s no need to apply.”

4 thoughts on “Melanie's Round Up

  1. JG says:

    Page says: The reason people look at the ads spaces and eventually click on ads is because they’re really high quality—they’re comparable to the search results. If the ads are of substantially worse [quality] than the search results then—guess what, people are smart and they actually learn not to look at that area of the screen.

    Aw c’mon Page.. give us the other side of the story. Tell us a little bit more about those cases where the ads are actually of higher quality than the search results, because your organic listings are overrun with spam. I’ll bet that doesn’t hurt the company’s bottom line, eh? How hard do you work, to bring the organic results at least back up to par with the ads? What is the perception within Google on this? I’ll bet on one hand you worry about folks’ esteem of Google going down. But on the other hand, if folks are looking a lot at the ads anyway, the average Joe probably thinks it is all Google goodness anyway, and doesn’t care which side of the page he clicks, as long as he gets what he wants.

    Does that have any effect on the amount of effort you put into improving search? Reeeaally?

  2. Ohadi Langis says:

    Is anyone else fed up with Google’s message that ONLY computational intelligence matters and that all other forms of intelligence are second rate? I am. I think the Wired ad has pushed me over the edge. Why would I want to work at a place where my corporate peer rank is determined by the age at which I could memorize multipication tables? I’m more that just an abacus. I’m a whole person and want to be valued as such. Thanks but no thanks Google. My reaction to your ads, and your corporate culture, is summed up by one word – run!

  3. Mike Levin says:

    I applaud the computational intelligence approach. It’s the best way for this stuff scales. Imagine keeping pace and doing everything you want to do by looking at each piece of information personally. Everyone on earth would be an ornithologist or a pizza delivery guy. And yes, the spam problem in multi-word searches does need to be solved.

  4. Mastercrash says:

    Googles information, that only computational intelligence is important and that all other forms of intelligence are zweitrangig is perverted?

Melanie's Round Up

By - May 24, 2006

Amazon gets book smart

Amazon adds an Online Reader for search inside books. John says, “If this is what I think it is, this signals that Amazon is getting into all forms of readable content online, a shift in biz model strategy.”

Resource Shelf Amazon Readersummarizes the features:

- Search for words or phrases in the book (you can also search the entire database or A9).

- View single pages or continuous pages by scrolling

- Zoom in or Zoom out (very useful)…

…and notes that this is all part of Amazon’s step further into the “upgrade program where you can read purchased books online, print pages, add notes, bookmark pages, etc.” which “is similar to what you can already do with books accessible (for free).”

Technorati & AP team-upPicture 1-2

Technorati and the Associated Press begin sharing a dynamic feed of the most blogged about AP articles at its +400 member sites. The Technorati announcement: Increasingly, what the blogosphere says about a news story becomes part of a more complete story, lending diverse perspectives and often expert commentary…When readers visit an AP member Web site that uses AP Hosted Custom News, they will see a module featuring the “Top Five Most Blogged About” AP articles right next to the article text, dynamically powered by Technorati. Additionally, when readers click on an AP article, Technorati will deliver “Who’s Blogging About” that article.

This follows similar service partnerships Technorati shares with the WashPost and other publications. Bloggers cheer.

Picture 1-1Free eBook fair

Celebrate the 35th anniversary of free eBooks and the Project Gutenberg. For its birthday month of July, Gutenberg plans to offer free, permanent download access to over 1/3 million books. The PDF-file books are available with support from The World eBook Library, which Resource Shelf says normally charges $8.95 a pop for a permanent download. (SearchBlog recently looked forward to scanning through a good eBook at the neighborhood universal library.)

Data mining the blogosphere

A new paper maps out what the blogosphere offers in research potential and challenges. Written by Gilad Mishne at the Intelligent Systems Lab, University of Amsterdam, “Information Access Challenges in the Blogspace” is available in PDF.

First, Mishne describes the blogosphere: in time, as highly dynamic and tied to current events; in structure, as primarily a network of individuals in one-to-one relationships; in language, by informality and subjectivity. Mishne foresees a huge development in the still-infant specialized blog-search services and tools –such as Technorati and Blogpulse. According to the paper, the blogosphere grows at a rate of 750,000 new posts per day, with a steady readership of 20% of internet users. A couple speed bumps in both data analysis and retrieval: frequent misspellings that skew keyword tracking and spam. Mishne concludes the blogspace ultimately lends itself to future research in sentiment analysis, tapping the vox populi for the genesis and evolution of trends, profiling individual bloggers and communities, and enhancing search quality.

Instant, dynamic, spelling-flexible search

A series of search engines, developed by the German company Exorbyte, provide instant, dynamic, orthographically-adaptive suggestions and results. Co-founder, Franz Guenthner, a Professor of Computational Linguistics at the University of Munich (previously at AltaVista, All The Web), says that “contrary to the Google type of suggest in use elsewhere e.g. – [Exorbyte] finds all the records in the index even when the query is orthographically defective” (spelled wrong).

Here are a few demos applying their search engines:

- A tri-lingual (French, German, English) engine that supplies Wikipedia entries: Exorbyte -Wiki

- A German job search engine, launched last week: Job a Nova

- A German shopping site: Billinger

Guenthner says Exorbyte engines can “search tens of millions of records in an “approximate mode” at under 10 milliseconds.”

CQ Web is relased in beta

Today, Q-Phase releases its contextual web search tool CQ Web in beta. CQ Web breaks down a search query into an index of keywords, ‘keypairs’, and keyphrases, each with corresponding focused results. Q-Phrase says CQ Web identifies relationships not only between the original search terms, but also among keywords extracted from the results pages.

Aside from the obvious search giants, CQ Web accesses several Web 2.0 content sites including MySpace and, bringing the number of search engine options to eleven. One note, their press release says CQ WEB automatically visits “the most relevant search results” of the major search engines “to discover significant keywords and topics relating top the original search query”—that sort of sounds like CQ Web only analyzes the first few pages (or however many) of results from whichever search engine you select for it to piggyback.

After playing with the beta (downloadable for PC and Mac OS X) with a search on “Searchblog” using Google, a mini review of CQ Web. I’m not so sure the “interface circumvents the ‘hit or miss’ nature and trial-and-error link clicking” as promised, but then that’s a big promise. CQ Web can help an initial search query be more robust by delivering more contextualized results, but it looks like the beta still needs refining. (The query on Searchblog produced “online poker” as a ‘keypair’ and delivered at least one spam page.) Though it delves deeper, it does so at the tip of the proverbial iceberg, so users should be careful to target their keywords— because instead of the desired url displaying on the n-th page of results, in CQ it might not display at all without proper initial focus. How focused? A search for “Searchblog” produced only 111 main topics and 65 total results. The keyword index is an added benefit, even if not always complete or “the most meaningful” keywords.

Cq WebJohn Battelle's SearchblogFocus Topics

(Hopefully you can click on these images to view the screenshots up-close. Again, this was for a search on “Searchblog” using Google—from initial selection, to results, to focused results.)

3 thoughts on “Melanie's Round Up

  1. Joe Dolson says:

    Hate to be picky, but you’ve spelled “Mishne” in three different ways – Mishne is the correct spelling. Probably worth correcting!

    On a more positive note, I find these round ups to be very valuable – keep up the great work, Melanie!

  2. SorenG says:

    Enjoy the roundups too. Thanks.

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Melanie's Round Up

By - May 23, 2006

Professional ProgramGoogle Enterprise Professional Program

Enterprise gains a host of professional partners contributing additional services, including data recovery, archival search, intranet development, SAP integration and security. Included among the new partners is MetaCarta. Its addition to Enterprise, for example, will allow users in government, energy and enterprises to retrieve from Earth ‘unstructured content’—such as HTML, Word docs, and emails. For $10,000 a pop, professional subscribers gain access to installation, customization and training for enhanced features in Google Search Appliance and Mini.

148745185 De6Ef3Fde1Y! Finance better looking, bloggierYahoofinancewidget

Released in an exclusive beta last week and expected for public tests in June, Yahoo is offering a syndicated stock feed with quotes, news and charts for up to 10 companies to blogs and other websites (MicroPersuasion). Paid Content notes that quotes are delayed 15-20 minutes; and Yahoo is still analyzing how to monetize the tool.

Also, the main Y! finance site also gets a little sleeker.

Grilling Eric Schmidt

Resource Shelf and SEW point out an WSJ/CNBC interview with Eric Schmidt in London (in town for the forward-looking Zeitgeist Conference), asking “whether Google is becoming the next Microsoft.” Apart from remaining queasy with identification as a media portal, the Google CEO answers questions on the future reach of Google (Asia), its ability to keep its widening grasp together (media), and keep its books in order (click fraud). The two part video and audio copies are available from the WSJ: Part one, Part two. launchesPicture 1

Today Move, Inc. launches its online search platform, says it has the largest, most comprehensive search engine for home and rental listings, and scouting reports (on local schools, maps, photos, affordability calculator, etc.). Together with, Move is the exclusive real estate feeder for AOL and MSN, and the preferred referral for Yahoo. Citing research with thousands of users, the press release says, “Consumers said they wanted everything related to their move in one place, including more photos, virtual tours, maps, and information about neighborhoods.” Move hopes to accomplish that by gathering real estate information from sites all over the web.

MySpace choosing its friends carefully

The news from the Financial Times is that MySpace is in talks on integrating search with Google and MSN— “not Yahoo”—“in a move that would confirm the emergence of Rupert Murdoch’s internet site as a significant new power online” (via Garrett French at SE Lowdown). The FT writes that the search titans themselves are beginning to gravitate towards the ballooning social sites (like MySpace, Facebook) in the market.

These networking hubs have “threatened to tip the balance of power on the internet away from traditional portals and search engines. Their potential to become the places where many young people spend most of their internet time could make them the “gatekeepers”, or the entry point for online activity. The rise of the social networking sites has already forced the established internet powers to revise their views of how new audiences will emerge on the internet.”

Rough Type predicts that the Google-MSN shoot-out will play like that for AOL last year, where dominant the search engine won the upper hand. With MySpace so far failing to gain PPC ad profits in proportion to its astounding popularity, and Rough Type thinks its hunting for a search engine that can better monetize with keyword-targeted ads.

+Screenshots of Windows Vista

Can’t get enough? Here are some more peaks at PCMag, which is also running a feature on it.

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6 thoughts on “Melanie's Round Up

  1. JG says:

    Re: The Enterprise Professional Program — In a meeting where Google announced some of these partnerships, the Google VP making the announcement conceded that partnerships of this sort are, frankly, not in Google’s DNA, and that Google is having a bit of a time adjusting itself to having to play with others.

    Frankly, I still don’t understand why Google didn’t start developing all this stuff in-house years ago. The work being done by companies like Inxight and Janya have so much more to do, in my opinion, with “organizing the world’s information” than email and calendars and horoscopes.

    When is Google going to bring these external partners’ technology to the task of helping me organize and understand the web, for example?

  2. Edwin says:

    Hey John, (Love da book!) you should be differentiating between Windows Live and Vista you post talks about 1 but points to screenshots of, and articles about, the other. Edwin

  3. Brandon Byers says:

    (Vista screenshots)

    I note that Windows Media Player 11 shows the option of “choosing an online music store”, but it only lists one place, MTV’s Urge (with which WMP 11 has a ‘special’ relationship vis-a-vis DRM). That’s illuminating to me, that it shows Urge as though it’s the only online store out there. Even moreso considering Urge is so new, unlike iTunes.

    I note that there are many “pretty” enhancements and features (such as the live thumbnail of a program and the 3D rolodex) that’ll likely suck up a lot of machine horsepower to handle. As well as items like tabbed browsing and desktop gadgets, which’ve been available elsewhere for years (on my dinosaur of a Apple PowerBook G3, I used Konfabulator and its widgets 2-3 years ago).

    On the other hand, it does appear that security is taken more seriously (or, at least, that M$ has taken steps in the right direction).

  4. miko says:

    RE: MOVE….looks just like the old rentnet with a new homepage and a few nifty AJAX-like features. Its still super-slow and the search results (for aparment listings at least) seem to be pay-for-placement.

    The site still stinks of catering to the housing industry, not consumers. Who do they think they’re fooling?

    Talk about GRILLING Page & Schmidt – you will be riveted!
    ….here is the Video about 1/2 hour….

  6. Pradeep Nagar says:

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