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By - May 27, 2006


Now, you know you’re old and, well, not very hip when you LOOK FORWARD to a long weekend because it will let you GET YOUR FILING DONE. And you spend Saturday night …. filing paper. But that’s exactly my situation.

Regardless of our digital lives, I have a bi-annual ritual going where I file all the paper that comes across my desk at home – all the insurance forms, the household bills, the little league rules….

Tonight I stared down a full box of paper that needed to be filed, and…I am stoked: I conquered the mess. I’ve now got neatly ordered file folders, which I’m sure I’ll ignore for the next seven or so years of my life, then toss out.

The thickest files I’ve created in the first half of 2006? My “Medical Expenses” file (do the insurance companies do anything but create paper?) and my “School Board” file (I’m on my kids school board). Health and education – it kind of makes sense.

Web 2 Trademark Issue

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There’s a tempest out there in blog land about my partners’ use of the “bigfoot letter” tactic in defending their Web 2.0 trademark as it relates to conferences. Many of my readers are asking about it. I’m going to wait to comment on this in detail till I talk to Tim, who is on vacation and out of touch this week, but in short, I think this response from O’Reilly is pretty good. They screwed up by not first having a conversation with the folks in Ireland, and they relented on forcing the trademark issue right away. I’m sure Tim will have more to say about it, as it happened while he was gone, and I want to talk to him before I dive too deep. Meanwhile, this is not some evil plot to “own” Web 2.0. It’s narrowly limited to its use as a trademark for conferences. Remember, Web 2.0 is also about having a business that works. And not protecting your trademarks is simply bad business practice.

Update: Lots of comments, and also, remember that Tim is really offline, and has no idea this has happened. I want to hear from him, but meanwhile, Cory at BB has weighed in, and I like what he has to say.

Brilliant Video On The Difference Between Apple and MSFT

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This is the difference between Apple and Microsoft, in a nutshell.

Thanks, JH.

OK, I KNOW this is old, but I did NOT KNOW this was an internal Microsoft video. That makes this so much funnier.

Score One For Net Neutrality…

By - May 25, 2006

But don’t relax yet. From Wired News:

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved legislation aimed at preventing broadband providers from discriminating against unaffiliated services, content and applications.

Content providers like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have expressed concerns that they would be forced to pay ISPs extra to ensure consumers can access their content.

The measure, approved by a vote of 20-13, would amend U.S. antitrust law. It would also counter a rival bill from another House committee that wants to encourage network providers to preserve consumers’ ability to freely surf the internet instead of adopting stricter rules.

Yes, but….there’s too much at stake to think this is anything but a temporary victory in a long, drawn out war.

Dell: Paid Inclusion, Of A Stripe

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When I read this in the Journal today, I thought, “isn’t this deal already done?” Then I remembered that, no, it was simply discussed, but not inked. So now it’s official – Google is playing the distribution game, just like Microsoft does. From the (paid reg required) article:

Google Inc. and Dell Inc. have reached an agreement to install Google software on millions of Dell personal computers before they are shipped to users, said Google’s Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.

Under a roughly three-year pact, Google, of Mountain View, Calif., would pay Dell to have its desktop software for searching the content of a user’s hard drive and emails, and a Web browser search toolbar installed on the computers, according to people in the industry familiar with the matter. Dell would also set the default search engine for users to Google’s offering, one of the sources said. Financial terms are not expected to be disclosed. Talks between Google and Dell were first reported in The Wall Street Journal in February.

My take on this: I’m not entirely sure how to think about this, beyond the obvious. Sure, this makes sense from a business standpoint, but Google did not get to become Google by cutting exclusive distribution deals. It got there by having the best product, a product that folks literally climbed over walls to get to. These kind of deals are, well, pretty pedestrian – they are pay for play: paid inclusion, of a sort. And I thought that was not a very Googley thing to do.

On the other hand, it’s not 1998 anymore. Times have changed, and if Google is going to keep abreast of its competition, it needs to act like any other company.

Now ain’t that something!

EBay, Yahoo: Now It's Interesting

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I’m reeling from a 12 hour (yes, 12 hour) trip from Chicago to SF last night but this morning’s news must be at least noted, for now: Yahoo and eBay are hooking up, clearly a move against Google – eBay accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in Google’s revenue. From what I can make out, however, this deal does not change eBay’s relationship with Google, rather, it marks Yahoo’s first major syndication win in years. From USA Today:

Under the deal, Yahoo will be exclusive third-party provider of all graphic ads throughout eBay’s auction site. Yahoo has also chosen EBay’s online payment system, PayPal, to allow its customers to pay for Yahoo Web services.

It’s tempting to say Google loses here, and while I am sure the company would love to have eBay’s site amongst its syndicated partners (like AOL and Ask), I am not surprised in the least that Yahoo won this round. The market tends to balance itself, and this is a major proof point.

Memo to Chicago O'Hare: Heal Thyself

By - May 24, 2006


I know this is totally off topic, but I’ve had the truly life changing experience of routing through Chicago’s O Hare airport three times in the past week. As much as I’d like to report that things have changed at the proudly self proclaimed “world’s busiest airport”, alas, this report is quite the opposite. I lost more than two days of my life to that hell hole. In short, Chicago O’Hare sucks, and I, for one, would rather spend three extra hours in the air simply to avoid landing there, and I’d heartily recommend anyone who might be considering O’Hare as a destination to, well, reconsider before the place sucks you into the seventh circle of hell, a place from which I am only now emerging. I think.

Melanie's Round Up

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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.)