free html hit counter June 2006 - Page 6 of 7 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Cox and Craigslist: A Cautionary Tale?

By - June 08, 2006


Tom has the scoop on Cox, a cable ISP which also happens to own a lot of newspaper assets, blocking Craigslist. The culprit is a third party filtering service, but….apparently Cox isn’t exactly rushing to fix this. It’s been three months. As Tom points out, it’s not like it takes three months to delete a site that was mistakenly put on a filtering blacklist.

PS – I love the tagline Cox uses for its digital services: “Your Friend in the Digital Age.” Unless you use craigslist, of course.

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A Melanie RoundUp

By - June 06, 2006

We’re listening, and shortening up these posts, and Melanie will start to post longer items on her own.

Here’s some news of note in the past few days:

ByomsKorozu Byoms Launched

Yesterday, Korozu made its trial of byoms search open to the public. Byoms brings a specialized search engine (with WebMD or Wikipedia, for instance) into your IM client, and in a way that can handle natural language queries. Make byomsFedMedia as a buddy, for example, to use a byoms selected by Korozu or create your own. As SEW notes, “In order to get the most out of the byoms, the searcher really needs to know their source and which search terms to use; a regular search that doesn’t give good responses isn’t going to be much better if consulted via an IM client.”

Yahoo revamps MyWeb

A MyWeb update promotes socializing with picture contact cards, a browser of users who use similar tags, and expansion of searchability to all public pages, as well as added export features.

Quote of the Day

“But as charming as he is, Schmidt runs Google about as much as much as the Dalai Lama runs the world’s spiritual life.” –Elizabeth Corcoran, “Who’s Really Running Google?” the first in a series for Forbes registered

ZDNet speculates deduces that Google is behind the registration (though held by another company) and speculates the domains will be used to create a shopping cart system for websites. “Maybe one day Google will even provide an inventory management solution with an API so websites can have their inventory in Google Base and on their own website without double entry.”

Harvesting the 2004 Presidential Election

Internet Archive has made keyword searchable the 2004 Presidential Term Web Harvest —a special collection of about 100 million items of web material. “This harvest was intended to document Federal agencies’ presence on the World Wide Web at the time that the Presidential Administration term ended in early 2005.” From Resource Shelf.

MusicSheet Music Consortium

A collaboration between UCLA, Indiana, Johns Hopkins and Duke, the Sheet Music Consorium is creating a collection of digitized sheet music, with additional contextual data and advertising imagery. (via Resource Shelf)

Turn HereTurn Here

Turn Here launches, offering free short professionally-shot travel videos of a local’s walk around the neighborhood for tourist-destination spots–from Berkeley to the East Village. The narrative product placement model used was shown to be more effective than in-stream ads in a study, and offers a neat tie-in potential with map search.

Ask Blog-Feed Search

Ask caught up to the blog search game on Thursday by jump-starting Ask Blogs & Feeds, coordinated with Bloglines. Added features include: Bioculars to preview posts, a handy tabs for favorite and feed subscriptions, and ordering the search results by popularity, relevance and post time. Ask blog search also lists the top post searches and feeds.

Search Views points out that “Not everyone is in love with it …but at the very least Ask’s blog search is trying out unique ways to reduce junk results (we’re looking at you, Google) and determine relevance – even if all the kinks aren’t worked out on day one,” and points out a couple good reviews by Michael Arrington at TechCrunch and SEW.

Also, check out the notes for advanced search user at Resource Shelf from Gary Price, who had a hand in developing the new search.

Yow. Brin Waffles on China

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Chinese-Dragon-Green-17-Large-TmI’ve written a lot about Google and its decision in China – I’ve always thought that the company had a chance to lead here, but talked itself into doing what everyone else has done. In fact, back when Google was just getting into China, I wrote:

The Real Irony Here…is that Google is, for the first time, being a content editor. I’ve written extensively about how Google, by its very DNA, does not like to be an editor of content. But in China, it’s doing exactly that.

Google’s first big editing job? Deciding which sites to exclude because they might offend the Chinese government.

There’s still time to pull out, guys. I’ve read your rationalizations, and Uncle Bill’s as well. I don’t buy them. I don’t buy that this is what, in your heart, you believe is right. Sure, I understand the logic. But, well….in your heart, is this what you wanted to do? No? Then why did you do it?

Now comes this news from the AP: “Brin says Google compromised principles.”

From the story:

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands. He said Google is wrestling to make the deal work before deciding whether to reverse course.

Meeting with reporters near Capitol Hill, Brin said Google had agreed to the censorship demands only after Chinese authorities blocked its service in that country.

…Google’s China-approved Web service omits politically sensitive information that might be retrieved during Internet searches, such as details about the 1989 suppression of political unrest in Tiananmen Square. Its agreement with China has provoked considerable criticism from human rights groups.

“Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense,” Brin said….Brin said Google is trying to improve its censored search service,, before deciding whether to reverse course. He said virtually all the company’s customers in China use the non-censored service.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to do something different, to say, ‘Look, we’re going to stand by the principle against censorship and we won’t actually operate there.’ That’s an alternate path,” Brin said. “It’s not where we chose to go right now, but I can sort of see how people came to different conclusions about doing the right thing.”

My goodness. My My My.

Recall what Eric Schmidt said just a short five weeks ago? “Eric Schmidt, the Google chief executive, used the recent relaunch of the company’s brand in China to reaffirm his commitment to the territory and made it clear that Google has no intention of confronting China’s ruling Communist Party over online restrictions.”

My my my.

(thanks, Philipp)

Updated: On FareCast: Rip Me Off No More

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Farecast Logo

Second Update: Hugh has given us unlimited invites (thanks Hugh!) and a process for making this easy. I’ll have this done asap.

Most likely you are painfully aware of how bizarre and seemingly inscrutable the pricing schemes are for airline travel. One day you might get a fare from SF to Boston for $400, the next it’s $335, and the day after that it’s $500. Why? Well, airlines have shitloads of data about historical pricing; they understand the supply and demand curves for every market, and they know when they need to sell more seats, boost margins, or compete to win business. They take advantage of all that data to push a price at you that suits them, and they’re very, very good at leveraging algorithms to drive maximum revenue. It’s frustrating as hell to use an online service like Expedia to try to beat the airlines at their own game – it simply isn’t the right interface. Not to mention, Expedia’s real customers are the travel companies – not you.

I got a chance to talk to Farecast founder Hugh Crean earlier last week, right before I penned this missive on not being able to do reviews. And in fact, this is not a review of Farecast, as much as I wish I had time for that. However, Hugh did spend a few minutes showing me around the site, and I found what it does really interesting, though for different reasons that perhaps others might.


You can sign up for the private beta on the homepage, it’ll be out later in the year. The basic premise is neat – Farecast pays attention to the market price of all airline fares out of particular cities (it only does Boston and Seattle for now) at all times (it uses an industry data feed that, unfortunately, does not include Southwest). It then uses this data to help forecast when the right time might be for you to buy your ticket (and get the best price). In short, it’s a rip off detector for flights. Farecast leverages the power of data to put you back in charge, or at least more in charge.

What Farecast does is shift the power of information back into the consumer’s hands, and that’s why I like it. I remember when the web was young and the first car buying sites were up and running. Dealers scrambled for that early business, and I bought two cars off the web by forcing dealers in the Bay Area to compete for my business. It really felt like the web was going to change the dynamic of who was in charge in a car buying transaction – because I could force dealers to their best price, I was always going to get the best price. It felt like this would be the model in most large transactions, like travel, loans, etc. Price would stabilize, and folks would differentiate on service, relationship, and approach.

But something funny happened on our way to internet mediated bliss: the big companies figured out how to game our demand. Dealers realized they can make more profit if they cooperate and withhold pricing information from the aggregators, and the aggregators got into bed with the supply side of the equation (if you think AutoByTel or Expedia is on your side, you’re kidding yourself). Nowhere is this more true that in how an airline prices its tickets.

I like how Farecast puts the consumer back in control of the data. The interface is very slick and the idea is quite promising. So I very much wish Farecast well, and I’d love to hear about other services which disrupt other markets where access to data is so one sided.

Hugh has given me 25 invitations to the private beta, if you’re interested, let me know in comments below.

Update: Hugh has emailed me and upped my invite limit to 150. But give me some time to get them out to you….

Reader Phillip Writes…

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Reader Phillip Writes: Google HAD to do a spreadsheet because it is simply the best, most flexible, easy to use database currently available. It and Writey are nice big widgets, not serious standalone programs. The future is what you can do with them.

A spreadsheet gets data into Google in a slightly more structured format. Think a GUI for GoogleBase. Read More Read More

Google: FU, MSFT

By - June 05, 2006

From the WSJ:

Google Inc. plans on Tuesday to release a Web-based spreadsheet application, according to people familiar with the matter.

Google Spreadsheet, which will be made available on a limited test basis, follows Google’s March purchase of a company offering a Web-based word processor called Writely.

The two Google Web-based applications represent possible challenges to Microsoft Corp.’s core personal-computer software business. Microsoft’s Word and Excel dominate the word processing and spreadsheet markets.

Update: Gary points out that there is another player out there already in this market, Zoho Sheet. I have to say, this is simply the other shoe dropping (and there are more coming). As a Mac guy, who just bought a Intel Mac, I’m wondering if I ever have to buy Office again. I already use Apple Mail….

JPM Analysis: More Third Links

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From research sent to me by JP Morgan (this link may work):

Google recently posted an entry on its website that suggested the company would begin showing fewer ads on queries where they may not be relevant, and more ads on queries for which the ads may be useful. The changes were to take place over several weeks, beginning sometime in April.

· In 1Q, we began conducting a study to monitor changes to Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Our survey included 20k+ keywords, and we tracked the coverage, the number ads, and the positioning of ads.

· Our survey identified a 19% increase in the number of queries with three sponsored links above the algorithmic results. Thus far in 2Q, we have identified the 3rd link on an average of 7.6% of queries, compared to 6.4% at the end of 1Q.

· We believe Google prefers to show the 3rd link on commercial queries. The categories with the largest 3rd link exposure QTD were ‘Shopping & Classifieds’ (18.3% of queries), ‘Travel’ (12.9% of queries) and ‘Business & Finance’ (11.8% of queries).

· We believe these changes will lead to higher CTRs and CPCs, all else being equal. We are therefore increasingly confident that the company may report upside to our 2Q estimate. Google continues to be our top pick, and we believe the shares will show material appreciation by the end of the year.

500-hour review of Windows Vista

By - June 02, 2006

(via Melanie)

John was just considering taking-on a 500-hour product review of Windows Vista, but as luck would have it, Tom’s Hardware got to it just before him. It’s a very thorough walking through of every new feature with screen shots, in a total of 40 pages.


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(via Melanie)

Technorati is offering a preview of its new microformats search tags and Pingerati, its new microformats router — still simmering in trial-mode in the Technorati Kitchen. Microformats search expands with three new tags for contacts (hCard), events (hCalendar) and reviews (hReviews), providing automatic data updates from any type of site (previously limited to blogs) to ping search aggregators. Pingerati then provides a channel to translate human-directed announcements into microformat-ready html. Together the new microformat rypes and Pigerati help avoid redoubling efforts to create content for computers and humans, eliminates manual pings, and broadens the richness of search in microformat standards.

Tantek Çelik, Chief Technologist Technorati who has helped pinoneer in the microformat standard, writes, “Microformats are the key building block, the lingua franca, that make structured information open and sharable on the Web… For me personally, this has meant enabling millions of people to take control of their own data, publish and update it wherever they want, whenever they want, and move it freely among services, without having it locked up behind a walled garden or trapped in a ‘roach motel’.”

Mark Cuban on Clickfraud

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From his post:

Try explaining the difference to authorities between a blog, a splog and a website that is trying to make money from any of the many, many affiliate marketing programs that also happens to host adsense or other ad publishing network ads.

…Hackers have figured out that they look a lot more legit getting checks from google than trying to wash 10k dollars in cash delivered in a bag.