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Melanie's Round Up

By - June 15, 2006

Major imagery update on Google Earth

For its first birthday, Google Earth gets updates, most impresively “sub-meter high-resolution imagery available for more than one third of the world’s population. While initially available only in Google Earth, this database will also be accessible in Google Maps shortly.” And a peek at the future: Earth with interactive touch sensors and voice recognition.

Aiming for quantity and quality at Google Video

A zeitgeist-y ranking of Google videos rising in popularity is now available, organized per 40 countries. The algorithm ranks video popularity based on both the viewer reach and rate of views. Oh, BTW…Google wants to host all the world’s videos and currently places no file size restrictions on hosted videos, according to GV business manager Hunter Walk, talking in an interview with Beet.TV.

Mikons-2Mikons symbol tags

Mikons launches, bringing symbolism to social tagging and search networks. The Mikon Machine provides a free online vector editing graphic tool that allows users to design their own tradable symbols. The visual personal tags can be exported to other online social applications.

Support from a passive search community

Baynote features search backed by community confidence without requiring explicit tagging actions by users, instead tracking user interest by cues such as bookmarking, clipping, or printing.

Spreadsheets fall short

While some users have found Google Spreadsheets useful, most online reviews conclude the first free online spreadsheets aren’t quite ready for prime-time–with lingering concerns over privacy and limited capabilities (though the beta’s bare bones are expected to soon be fortified).

MySpace Launches Job Search

The newly unveiled MySpace Careers powers with Simply Hired.

Picasa Web Albums

Google’s Picasa introduces a test version of Web Albums, with 250 MB free storage space and photo sharing capabilities.

Brain Vid-1The big purple brain

A Yahoo promo perches 25 Answers experts in a “gigantic purple brain (complete with firing synapses),” responding to questions sent up from passersby on street-level for 72 straight hours.

Pax Google

Its search market share continues to grow. “Compared with March 2006, the May figures from Hitwise show Google gaining 1 percentage point of share, Yahoo staying almost flat and Microsoft losing 1 percentage point.” (IDG News Service). And, an update on progress in Google’s wifi aims and efforts in San Francisco and Mountain View.

GayprideGay pride portal launches at Yahoo

For Gay Pride Month Yahoo launched a gay pride portal, “powered by virtually Yahoo’s entire arsenal of social media tools” according to MicroPersuasion.

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Super Secret Weapon?

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Or simple datacenter? Let’s not go too over the top, folks.

From the TImes:

On the banks of the windswept Columbia River, Google is working on a secret weapon in its quest to dominate the next generation of Internet computing. But it is hard to keep a secret when it is a computing center as big as two football fields, with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky.

The complex, sprawling like an information-age factory, heralds a substantial expansion of a worldwide computing network handling billions of search queries a day and a growing repertory of other Internet services.

It’s a data center. It’s there because it was a cheap place to put it. It ain’t a secret weapon. But John Markoff, one of the authors of the piece, has always broken new numbers on the amount of computing power in Google’s arsenal, this piece now puts it at nearly half a million CPUs.

SearchDot, Er, SearchDigg?

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I’ve been noodling over an idea, and wanted to get all your input on it. Here at Searchblog I’ve been blessed with a very robust community, one that over the years has gotten my email and used it very judiciously – usually to send me tips and ideas for Searchblog items. I very much appreciate the tips, but as many of you have noted, I can’t get to grokking each of them and posting them in as timely a fashion as I might like.

I’ve also been fascinated by the rise of community edited sites like Slashdot, Digg (an FM site), Reddit (also an FM site), and others, and find the model – of a community moderated approach to news – to be very cool, and as you all know, very very powerful.

Now, I had the thought – what if I were to create a Digg-like site for the Search vertical? There’s an open source module, Pligg, that looks pretty easy to implement, and we’ve already got the coolest and hardest part done – a strong community of readers who care enough to engage in a particular subject matter.

You can see this idea in action over at psfk.com, another FM site. Piers and his team have created martkd.com, a sort of Digg or Slashdot for marketing stories. What do you all think of doing the same for Searchblog?

Update: To clarify, I’m not thinking about losing my own and Melanie’s analytical posts, but instead *adding* this feature….

Onward, Upward

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One of my consistent comments about the online advertising world is that all the forecasts are too low, and will always be reforecasted upwards, as folks start to realize that more and more advertising can be classified as “online.” SEW notes this trend here:

TNS Media Intelligence (which tracks online display advertising spend) has increased their forecast for 2006. This is a 4% correction from their earlier estimated growth, (and bucks the hold pattern or downward trend for other forms of advertising). The company cited earlier estimates as far too conservative after tracking faster than expected migration to the online space from traditional media. Online ad spend growth was 19.4% last first quarter, and is projected to continue to grow by 13% and reach a whopping 12% of total advertising spend in 2006. This figure is far higher than ever reported before.

It's MySpace, so How Much You Gonna Pay Me For It?

By - June 13, 2006

Huh. Seems standard business practice – playing vendors off each other – is now a news event, according to Fox, a Newscorp. property.

“We will redesign the pages to make search more prominent,” Peter Chernin, chief operating officer of News Corp. said of its MySpace.com business. “We will auction off our search business to Google, Yahoo, or MSN.”

Should be an interesting auction, just like the fight for AOL. What will the split be? 85%? Way too low. I’m wagering that for the first contracted period, anyway, it’ll hit over 90%.

Net Net: Net Neutrality Takes A Blow

By - June 12, 2006

(via Melanie)

We’re a bit late on this, but it’s a pretty big subject, and this by no means is the end of the story. The House rejected the net neutrality legislation on Thursday, while approving the larger telecommunications bill (269-152) (PDF). Cnet has an interview with Verizon’s lobbyist, Thomas Tauke, “the most ecstatic…in Washington about now.” Internet freedom advocates of It’s Our Net vows to continue lobbying the Senate to include the Net Neutrality protection amendment. Noting that the web 2.0 front hasn’t taken a united lead in the grassroots Save the Internet campaign, WebPro News wonders aloud if the internet is naturally bound to head the way of TV, toward asymmetric distribution with pacified if dissatisfied users.

Joining the ranks of Amazon, Yahoo and eBay in the call to arms for web freedom, Google publishes the view of “Chief Internet Evangelist” Vint Cerf:

“Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success…A number of justifications have been created to support carrier control over consumer choices online; none stand up to scrutiny.”

Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney published a great commentary in a WashPost article (via Blogscoped), the day of the House vote:

“Congress is about to cast a historic vote on the future of the Internet. It will decide whether the Internet remains a free and open technology fostering innovation, economic growth and democratic communication, or instead becomes the property of cable and phone companies that can put toll booths at every on-ramp and exit on the information superhighway.”

Continuing the debate, this weekend Craig Newmark compared Net Neutrality to Martin Luther’s fight, while today a WashPost editorial provides an opposing view.

A compromise to secure a protective amendment is still out of reach in the Senate, which will begin hearings on net neutrality tomorrow and begins voting on amendments as part of the larger communications reform bill next week.

Who Do You Want to See Interviewed on Searchblog?

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Melanie and I are ready to start up the Searchblog interview series again. So far, I’ve talked to Jim Lanzone, Gary Flake, and am mid interview with a couple of other folks (including Marissa Mayer from Google.) But who do you guys want to hear from? I’ll do my best to get them to talk!

Take That, Google: EBay Getting Into Contextual Ads

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From ZDnet:

eBay unveiled this weekend a new, automated keyword-based contextual ad system for use by its partner network…..The new automated eBay AdContext product differs from eBay’s current manual ad placement system for promotional partners. Currently, partners create their own selection of eBay ads on their Web pages, by manually entering specific keywords and categories as search terms in order to return listings. eBay AdContext, however, will automatically read the content of the Web site—which may change daily—and surfaces ads that are most relevant to that content.

For now, this is only on eBay….but…More on this soon.

Eric Schmidt Still Sees Google as A Technology Company; But We Know It's More…

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Goog Finance

From an interview in the LA Times:

Q: Is Google a media company or a technology company?

A: It’s better to think of Google as a technology company. Google is run by three computer scientists, and Google is an innovator in technology in our space. We’re in the advertising business — 99% of our revenue is advertising-related. But that doesn’t make us a media company. We don’t do our own content. We get you to someone else’s content faster.

Now, it’s true that Google gets you to other people’s content faster. That’s the basis of the media revolution I’ve been on about for some time now .

But to equate Google not doing its own content with a free pass from the media company classification is, well, absurd. That presumes that media companies only make packaged goods – traditional content – and ignores the fact that the majority of media companies in a post web world (and plenty in the pre web world) are not “creators of content” they are innovators in the media experience business in one way or another. Is Comcast in the media business? After all, they really are only distributors of content. EMI Records? Well, they don’t “make their own content” – the musicians do. What about FM? We don’t “make content” – and we do have a technology platform. But don’t tell me we’re not in the media business.

Same for Google. The search engine is inherently a media tool: it innovates in the assembly of useful information. Now, let’s talk about the other media products in Google’s arsenal: Google Finance? Check. Google Video? Check. Blogger, Google Answers, Google Base, Map, Book Search, Earth, Images, Local, Catalogs, News, Mail….check check check!

I’m quite sure the folks at Google are aware of this, and this is most likely an issue of competitive semantics, in the end. First, media businesses, in the main, command far lower valuations on Wall Street than technology businesses. Bill Gates had this same issue back in the 1990s, as I pointed out earlier. And second, the entire media world is fearful of Google; insisting you are not in their business is a placating calculation. But my two cents: No one is buying it.