free html hit counter August 2006 - Page 3 of 7 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Farecast Goes National

By - August 20, 2006

Farecast Logo-Tm

Quick: What post on Searchblog elicited the most comments of any post ever? Answer: My post inviting you all to join the limited beta of Farecast, the airline pricing search engine with a twist. So, it’s worth noting that Monday, Farecast goes national. More here at Siliconbeat.

Update: No need to ask me for invites, folks – it’s not a closed beta anymore!

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Is Google Today's Microsoft?

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I’ve written about this before, the deja vu of covering Google now, and Microsoft back in the early 90s, when MSFT ruled the (less large but no less self absorbed) IT roost. Paul Graham, one of my favorite occasional Google commentators, notes the sad case of Kiko, a Google Calendar competitor which seems to have lost its way since Google integrated Gmail with Google Calendar (Kiko is up for sale on eBay – current bid is around 50K, includes free shipping!). Reminds me of all those little app developers who got killed by MSFT back in the day….when MSFT decided a particular app was neat, and needed to be integrated into Office and/or Windows.

What I love about Paul’s conclusions:

There’s another encouraging point here for the new generation of web startups. Failure is not a disaster when you’re very light. The total amount raised by Kiko in its existence would be about six months’ salary for a first-rate developer. There’s a good chance they’ll recover most of it by selling their code. They only had one employee besides themselves. So this is not an expensive, acrimonious flameout like used to happen during the Bubble. They tried hard; they made something good; they just happened to get hit by a stray bullet. Ok, so try again. Y Combinator funded their new idea yesterday.

(thanks to Andre for pointing this out)

Advertising Is Content

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I’ve said that over and over, and the implications are very, very large. I’d love to see a study which tells us how much stuff on YouTube is commercial content produced for YouTube. Stuff like this, for example.

Innaresting. Yahoo Aims at Google's Cultural Grammar

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Google is a verb in our culture, in fact, it’s more than that, it’s a representation of a new way of understanding our relationship to knowledge. That’s A Pretty Big Deal, and it’s also got to be insanely frustrating to a company like, well, Yahoo, which had the chance to own the very same thing back in the late 90s. (It’s also frustrating to the poor sods in Google legal, see here).

So I found this announcement interesting – Yahoo is asking its users to remix its brand, in what seems a clear attempt to nudge the Yahoo brand next to Google’s in our cultural reference set. In fact, the blog entry announcing the contest acknowledges Google’s dominance in the field:

There’s been some reports about how Google is trying to stop people from using the term, googling. When I heard about it, I was like, “Hello, gift horse, mouth!”….People don’t often do what you want them to do, and brands are more about what consumers think, than what companies want. We’re ok with that. You want the yodel? Have it anytime you want (just mouse over the ! on the front page and click). Is Yahoo! a verb, noun or exclamation? Maybe it’s all of them.

So Yahoo is open sourcing its brand (and its yodel to boot.) Not a bad idea, but … to quote another famous brand campaign: where’s the beef? The only thing that will get culture to form a lasting impression around a brand, one that matters as much as A New Relationship To Knowledge, anyway, is, well, a new relationship to knowledge. That doesn’t come around very often. Though, I must admit, I’m eager to see another one soon. It has been more than ten years since Alta Vista and Overture, after all.

(image credit)

Reader JG Writes…

By - August 17, 2006

Reader JG writes: We as Web 2.0-enlightened people all believe that consumers are now content creators, right? So isn’t a query I’ve typed essentially a “performance”? And if not a query, then a whole series of queries? A whole series of queries is pretty substantive, as we have all found out recently. Don’t I, as the “performer” of those queries, have a right to control their re-publication, as per the DMCA?

WSJ Hosts Search History/Privacy Debate

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This is really worth reading if you’re at all interested in the issues I’ve been on about for so long…some tidbits:

…The Wall Street Journal Online invited Kevin Bankston, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy rights group, to debate the issue with Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, a lobby group for Internet firms including Google and Yahoo. Their conversation, carried out over email, is below….

Bankston: …the DOJ’s position is that ECPA doesn’t apply to the search engines and search terms, the search engines themselves refuse to say what they think, and it hasn’t been litigated yet. In the meantime, how the law does or does not apply is being hashed out secretly between DOJ investigators and search engines’ compliance counsel; the public has no idea how the law is being applied, just as they have no real idea of what the search engines are doing with their data.

Which leads to the question, do you think that ECPA applies — or should be amended to apply — to search engines’ disclosure of search logs? And shouldn’t we have a federal law like the California Online Privacy Protection Act, establishing national minimum standards for privacy policies?….

The answer, from a fellow who represents leaders like Yahoo and Google, is pretty damn anemic. I’ve always criticized search engines for failing to take a leadership position in this discussion, and I very much believe that whoever does first, will win big in the hearts and minds of consumers.

round up

By - August 16, 2006

Finding pictures in Picasa

Google acquires Neven Vision, a mobile photo search company, to bolster Picasa. Though there aren’t any special features to show off yet, Google says “one day” image search could be “as complex as recognizing people, places, and objects.”

Blinkx becomes a studybuddy

Blinkx moves its business model towards direct-paid services. In a recent partnership with AOL, Blinkx will provide an education-focused subset of its index to Blinkx founder and CTO said, “You are going to see us do more of these kinds of deals where we power video search on other sites and either get paid for it or share in the ad revenue that’s generated by it.”


Dapper unveils a new service that gauges blog popularity. Blotter graphs link stats over time based on Technorati data.

Exalead: preview of new beta

ResourceShelf summaries the key features. Try it for yourself here (pw: beta).

Move Over, Online Giants, Here Comes…Comcast?

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According to AdAge:

The cable operator has bulked up its online-sales team and plans to open its portal to all its customers — increasing the potential audience from its 10 million high-speed-data subscribers to its 23 million video subscribers. And that’s just for starters.

According to TV network executives familiar with Comcast’s plans through content-carriage negotiations, the cable operator has Yahoo-size ambitions and sees the internet as key to raising its profile, and share of ad budgets.

…”For us to be successful online, you have to believe that people will still want to come to a single source for much of their online-video entertainment,” said Warren Schlichting, VP-new business strategies at Comcast. “That’s the basic underlying philosophy. We think there’s a role for somebody to work with many content providers.”

Sounds like a familiar strategy….

But…I’m not optimistic that Comcast understands the genetics of making an online service. Just my two cents…