free html hit counter January 2007 - Page 5 of 7 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Microsoft Gets the Once Over

By - January 14, 2007

In this SJMN piece. Is it just me, or is the line “don’t underestimate Microsoft” starting to ring a bit hollow these days?

From the piece:

According to comScore Media Metrix, the total unique audience that visited Microsoft’s U.S. Web sites in December 2006 was roughly 117 million, unchanged from the previous year. Google is fast catching up, with its number of unique visitors up 21 percent to 113 million.

Microsoft’s page views, an approximation of how long visitors spend at its sites, was down 12 percent in December to 18 billion, according to the research firm. Google’s page views were up 90 percent to 13 billion.

Microsoft has steadily lost ground in search, despite developing its own search engine in 2004. As of November, Microsoft’s share of Internet searches has fallen to 8 percent. Two years ago, when MSN search was released in beta, Microsoft share’s of U.S. searches stood at 14 percent, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Microsoft’s Internet slide is reflected in its online sales. During the quarter ended Sept. 30, sales for the online business unit were $539 million, down 5 percent in a year. Google, in cruel comparison, reported revenue of $2.69 billion, an increase of 70 percent.

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Google! Terrorism! Iraq! It's a Trifecta!

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Terror Rats Go Google” screams the NY Post. My God, they’re using Google Earth to figure out where the British bases are!

The Telegraph has the measured story. The images are clearly old, but then again, who knows if “coalition forces” have moved anything around in the past few years. They might be totally accurate outlines of how things are in the British bases. It’s amazing to think that no one figured on Google Earth being used by terrorists, and at least asked Google to help out. I mean, that’s kind of what intelligence agencies are supposed to do, no?

A Google spokesman in the piece:

A Google spokesman said the information could be used for “good and bad” and was available to the public in many forms. “Of course we are always ready to listen to governments’ requests,” he said.

“We have opened channels with the military in Iraq but we are not prepared to discuss what we have discussed with them. But we do listen and we are sensitive to requests.”

Just now, they’ve opened channels? Just now, thanks to a raid, the folks running army intelligence realized that Google Earth exists?

Lord, help us.

Carbon Offsets

By - January 13, 2007

I’ve become interested in the whole carbon credit thing, and wonder if any of you are as well. My research shows a few sites which allow you to pay off your guilt for your globe-warming ways, but I wonder, are these sites for real? Do they matter to anyone but the guilty conscience of the person who is paying them off? Is any one better than the others? Any readers out there use these services, and do you recommend them?

Totally off topic, but….

By - January 11, 2007

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Totally off topic, but….

So today I posted a couple of jobs over at FM, and I used LinkedIn’s job listing service. I plan to use others, including some of the job boards at FM sites like GigaOm, TechCrunch, and the like, but I was on LinkedIn for other reasons and decided to get it done there first.

One of the features I like best about LinkedIn’s job postings is the ability to send an email to your entire network about the job. Now, this can get a bit perilous – not everyone likes to get unsolicited emails. But on balance most folks seem OK with it, and I don’t mind getting them, so I sent all my colleagues the job announcement. Now, I am not in the business of actively building out a LinkedIn network, but over the years more than 400 folks have asked me to join their network, and I generally do.

Long story short, I sent out about 400 emails in one fell swoop, and a funny thing happened. About 20 mails bounced back with SpamArrest requests that I go to a URL and verify I was a human being. I don’t mind doing this usually, but 20 in a row was a pain. Because I wanted to get word out about the job, however, I did it.

Then I sat back and pondered. 20 emails, all from one single provider. It seems SpamArrest has truly cornered the market. That’s 5% of my network using SpamArrest. I have never given a single thought to using such a service, but after this experience, I’m thinking again. My address is overrun with spam. I’m pretty good at deleting it, but still….

So, do you all use these services? You like them?

MediaShift on the Google Porn Bug

By - January 10, 2007

From Mark’s column:

One problem in the sex blog snafu is the nature of the blogs’ subject matter and the exploitation of sex searches online. Blogs like Tiny Nibbles and Dirty Pretty Things and ErosBlog try to give insight into human sexuality in a more artful way than the average glossy porn magazine. But so many unsavory characters are trawling the web trying to divert the huge amount of sex searches to their own businesses — even if the business has nothing to do with sex.


For What It's Worth

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From time to time, I am jolted into re reading stuff that I practically memorized while writing the book. Here’s one passage, an appendix to “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine” – the original paper by Larry and Sergey introducing Google – that felt like it was worth another look, in particular given the tempest over “tips” and ongoing pressures to monetize partnerships like AOL and YouTube, as well as the increasing creep in the number of ads we all see in Google results. I’ve bolded that which I find particularly worthy.

Appendix A: Advertising and Mixed Motives

Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users. For example, in our prototype search engine one of the top results for cellular phone is “The Effect of Cellular Phone Use Upon Driver Attention”, a study which explains in great detail the distractions and risk associated with conversing on a cell phone while driving. This search result came up first because of its high importance as judged by the PageRank algorithm, an approximation of citation importance on the web [Page, 98]. It is clear that a search engine which was taking money for showing cellular phone ads would have difficulty justifying the page that our system returned to its paying advertisers. For this type of reason and historical experience with other media [Bagdikian 83], we expect that
advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.

Since it is very difficult even for experts to evaluate search engines, search engine bias is particularly insidious. A good example was OpenText, which was reported to be selling companies the right to be listed at the top of the search results for particular queries [Marchiori 97]. This type of bias is much more insidious than advertising, because it is not clear who “deserves” to be there, and who is willing to pay money to be listed. This business model resulted in an uproar, and OpenText has ceased to be a viable search engine. But
less blatant bias are likely to be tolerated by the market. For example, a search engine could add a small factor to search results from “friendly” companies, and subtract a factor from results from competitors. This type of bias is very difficult to detect but could still have a significant effect on the market. Furthermore, advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor quality search results. For example, we noticed a major search engine would not return a large airline’s homepage when the airline’s name was given as a query. It so happened that the airline had placed an expensive ad, linked to the query that was its name. A better search engine would not have required this ad, and possibly resulted in the loss of the revenue from the airline to the search engine. In general, it could be argued from the consumer point of view that the better the search engine is, the fewer advertisements will be needed for the consumer to find what they want. This of course erodes the advertising supported business model of the existing search engines. However, there will always be money from advertisers who want a customer to switch products, or have something that is genuinely new. But we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.

Got a Startup? Launch It at The Web 2 Expo This April

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Most of you know that I am a partner and Program Chair of the Web 2 Summit. That event has been oversold for three years now, and my partners O’Reilly and CMP have launched a second event targeted at a broader (and much larger) audience. As part of that program they are replicating the Web 2 Launchpad that’s been part of the Summit these past two years. If you have a new company with a major product or company launch in the April timeframe, this is a great place to do it. More information is here. The deadline to apply is Feb 1….

Net Neutrality an 2007 Issue

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The Times reports on new legislation, emboldened by AT&T’s recent concessions:

Senior lawmakers, emboldened by the recent restrictions on AT&T and the change in control of Congress, have begun drafting legislation that would prevent high-speed Internet companies from charging content providers for priority access.

The first significant so-called net neutrality legislation of the new Congressional session was introduced Tuesday by Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of South Dakota, and Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, one of the few Republicans in Congress to support such a measure.

“The success of the Internet has been its openness and the ability of anyone anywhere in this country to go on the Internet and reach the world,” Mr. Dorgan said. “If the big interests who control the pipes become gatekeepers who erect tolls, it will have a significant impact on the Internet as we know it.”…

…Despite the flurry of activity, the proposals face significant political impediments and no one expects that they will be adopted quickly. But the fight promises to be a bonanza for lobbyists and a fund-raising tool for lawmakers. It pits Internet giants like Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon, which support the legislation, against telecommunication titans like Verizon, AT&T and large cable companies like Comcast.

The debate may also affect the plans of the companies to develop new services and to consider certain mergers or acquisitions.