free html hit counter May 2007 | John Battelle's Search Blog

Traveling Back

By - May 31, 2007

I’m in the air most of today. Back at it tonight….

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News: Yahoo's Top Tech Guru Leaves

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Farzad Nazem Thumb

Just was tipped to this filing from Yahoo, which declares that Farzad Nazem, the head of their Tech group, is leaving. That means of the three groups created in the re-org, only one position – Sue Decker’s – is filled:

On May 30, 2007 (the “Agreement Date”), Yahoo! Inc. (the “Company”) entered into an agreement with Farzad Nazem (the “Separation Agreement”) providing for Mr. Nazem’s resignation as Head of Technology Group and Chief Technology Officer of the Company, effective as of June 8, 2007 (the “Separation Date”). A copy of the Separation Agreement is filed with this report as Exhibit 10.1 and is incorporated herein by reference.

I have sent a note to Yahoo asking about this. I can’t find any news stories referencing it yet, nor any Yahoo releases save the SEC form filed today. For now, his image and bio is still on Yahoo’s corp. page.

Wait, here’s his blog post on it on Yahoo’s Yodel blog.

Mahalo Launches

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Mahalo

I’m not at the D conference this week, as business has kept me on the East Coast. But at that event, Jason Calacanis just launched his “people-powered search engine” and I happened to be meeting with one of his Board members here in New York. So I got a bit of inside scoop. Jason has a star studded line up of investors (from CBS to Jon Miller to Mark Cuban to Fred Wilson to many more), and a focus on the top search terms – the head of search, so to speak, including human brains (humans help organize the best results for the top search terms, as I understand it). More here, the site is not yet live. I’ve asked Jason for an interview, once he gets through the crush of D, I hope he’ll have the time to respond.

CBS Continues Buying Spree: Snaps up Lastfm

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Hmmmm:

Social music site Last.fm has been bought by US media giant CBS Corporation for $280m (£140m), the largest-ever UK Web 2.0 acquisition.

The online network was founded in the UK five years ago and it now has more than 15 million active users.

It allows users to connect with other listeners with similar music tastes, to custom-build their own radio stations and to watch music video-clips.

Death of Journalism – Blame Google? No. Ask Google to Lead? Yes.

By - May 29, 2007

Newspapers

Thanks to commentor Kimo for pointing me to this SF Gate Op Ed, written by Neil Henry, a former colleague at the Graduate School of Journalism.

Snip:

The Chronicle’s announcement earlier this month that 100 newsroom jobs will be slashed in the coming weeks in the face of mounting financial woes represents just the latest chapter in a tragic story of traditional journalism’s decline.

Reportedly losing an estimated $1 million a week, the paper’s owner, the Hearst Corp., concluded it had no recourse but to trim costs by laying off reporters, editors and other skilled professionals, or offering buyouts to the most seasoned journalists in order to induce them to leave. The cuts reportedly will amount to a quarter of The Chronicle’s editorial staff…

….The factors behind this shrinkage are sadly familiar: The rise of the Internet has produced sharp declines in traditional advertising revenues in the printed press. Free online advertising competitors such as Craigslist.com have sharply undermined classified advertising as a traditional source of revenue. While many newspapers have attempted mightily to forge a presence on the Web — including The Chronicle, whose terrific sfgate.com is among the top 10 most trafficked news sites in America — revenue from online advertising is paltry compared to that from traditional print sources. As a result, newspapers such as The Chronicle must make staff cuts to survive — and increasingly it is highly skilled professional journalists committed to seeking the truth and reporting it, independently and without fear or favor, who must go.

The average citizen may not realize how severely the public’s access to important news, gathered according to high standards, may be threatened by these bottom line trade-offs.

When journalists’ jobs are eliminated, especially as many as The Chronicle intends, the product is inevitably less than it was. The fact is there will be nothing on YouTube, or in the blogosphere, or anywhere else on the Web to effectively replace the valuable work of those professionals.

I can’t disagree more with what Neil is saying in this first part of his Op Ed, though I do agree with some of his conclusions (more on that later). I can’t tell you where I heard this, but trust me, it’s from a good source: Up until recently, the Chronicle had 400 journalists working at the paper. FOUR HUNDRED! When I wrote for the LA Times, I often wrote two stories a day. Is the Chronicle pumping out 800 stories a day? Is it breaking all sorts of amazing stories and being a leader in the community with those 400 journalists? Hell no! 400 reporters and what is the paper DOING with them? Not much, I’m afraid. The paper should OWN the Valley Tech story. Does it? No. It should OWN the biotech story. Does it? No. It should OWN the real estate/development story. Does it? No. It should OWN the California political story. Does it? No!

Why? Well, maybe it has THE WRONG 400 journalists working for it?! And the wrong tone/approach/structure? Just maybe?

Neil goes on to write:

I see a world where corporations such as Google and Yahoo continue to enrich themselves with little returning to journalistic enterprises, all this ultimately at the expense of legions of professional reporters across America, now out of work because their employers in “old” media could not afford to pay them…..

….the time has come for corporations such as Google to accept more responsibility for the future of American journalism, in recognition of the threat “computer science” poses to journalism’s place in a democratic society.

It is no longer acceptable for Google corporate executives to say that they don’t practice journalism, they only work to provide links to “content providers.” Journalism is not just a matter of jobs, and dollars and cents lost. It is a public trust vital to a free society. It stands to reason that Google and corporations like it, who indirectly benefit so enormously from the expensive labor of journalists, should begin to take on greater civic responsibility for journalism’s plight. Is it possible for Google to somehow engage and support the traditional news industry and important local newspapers more fully, for example, to become a vital part of possible solutions to this crisis instead of a part of the problem?

I agree with Neil’s sentiment, and in answer to his question, yes, I do think it’s possible, and I agree that Google and others should be more engaged in helping shore up and – GASP – evolve the fourth estate. But assuming the way to do it is to support more of the same – the approach that gave us a bloated newsroom that puts out a product fewer and fewer people want to read each year – is to ask for tenure over evolution.

I’d love to see Google and Yahoo and others lead here. I do think they have a responsibility. But not because they are responsible for “killing newspapers”. Rather, because they are responsible for leading, period, in a world where they are the premiere corporations of the information age, an age that requires analysis, transparency, and, well, simply good journalism, unfettered by traditionalist packaging presumptions.

Google Wow's Em At Where

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Google has once again taken a good idea from a competitor (in this case, A9′s Block View) and taken to the next level. Check out this review from Where 2.0:

Goog Live Maps

This morning Google gave their 2D maps an incredible realworld addition. Its a street-view, that in certain cities, will let you get a street side view of the area you are currently in. This is not just a static, A9-style image. It will also let you move along the street in a smooth manner and even more amazing it will let you change your angle and continue moving that way. This will be formally launched at Where 2.0 later today.

As you can see from my probably-confusing-words above, this is something that you must interact with to really understand. It’s awesome. Go. Check. It. Out. Now.

Traveling

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I’m moving around the world this week, and it will be, as it’s been, a pretty light week of posting. I’m working hard to get back to my first love…writing more here.

This That

By - May 28, 2007

Stuff worth noting I missed near the end of the week, as I was traveling:

Blinkx goes public, soars.

FT has an op ed from Google’s global privacy counsel. This in response to the EU noise earlier this week.

Google and Dell taking some flack for approaches to software bundling.

Facebook gets generally positive reviews after its first developer conference. “The anti-Myspace” seems to be the buzz.

Cringely says it’s inevitable: Google will do itself in because there are more good ideas than the company can go after. I’m not convinced. Google may lose some folks to entreprenuerialism, but that’s entirely normal. The NYT covers how Google recruits.

From Ars: The Future of Google Mobile Search.

Bloggers are more connected than journalists. Huh. What if we’re both?

Yahoo testing linking to outside sites on homepage. Firehose, ho!

Agency vs. Big G?

By - May 25, 2007

Nah, focus on what you do best, says Ad Age publisher Scott Donaton. I agree:

Consumer insights. Creative ideas. Media strategies. Marketers will still need those. Yes, even when behavioral targeting and advanced technologies make it possible to serve the right ads to the right audience at the right time. It won’t all come down to technology.