free html hit counter January 2008 - John Battelle's Search Blog


By - January 31, 2008

Google is down to nearly 520 in afterhours trading after its earnings failed to surprise to the upside and/or meet higher expectations on Wall St. Ouch. From 750 to 520 in a few months…

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Q&A With Marissa Mayer

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Venturebeat has an interesting Q&A with Marissa up, in it she points toward social search as a major area of development for Google.

She hints Gmail may be used to identify your friends, using their search history to influence search results for you and those in your social network. While this network would likely first be built on Gmail contacts, Marissa wouldn’t rule out importing friends from third-party networks down the road.

I think Google is struggling to figure out its approach here. Should it build a “traditional social network” like Facebook or Orkut? Should it simply be a directory, and provide a platform instead (like Open Social)? What about indexing and crawling all this social content? Will it prefer its own content?

The plot thickens.

It's Not Fair, But Google, You Are A Media Company

By - January 30, 2008

Sorry, it’s just true. IWantMedia: David Eun: Google Won’t Become a Media Company.

It’s not fair in that I am on the road and can’t write my full defense of this. But I understand why Google claims to not be a media company, in terms of not being, say, the New York Times. But…that doesn’t mean it doesn’t threaten the core underpinnings of what makes a great media company. Is that a bad thing? No. But it’s not accurate to say Google isn’t a threat.

Yahoo Earnings

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Overall, not bad on its O&O properties, but shakiness in its parnter programs, including ATT and YPN/Panama, where Wall St. hoped they’d hear strong upward guidance. Instead, they heard that Yahoo is going to have another “transition year” in 2008, which sent the stock down. PC coverage.

More Travlin'

By - January 29, 2008

I am about 2/3rds of the way through what is one of the most brutal travel stretches I’ve had in quite some time, that’s why posting is light, but the learning is great…

And the Interface Evolves

By - January 28, 2008

…toward conversational interfaces….news from Google acknowledging that ten blue links is getting old (we knew that, so did Google, but…):

There have been a lot of recent improvements to web search, but the appearance of results themselves has been pretty constant — 10 or so web pages in a vertical list. Frequently this is exactly the right format, but for some searches you need more options and more control. That’s why we’ve created our experimental search page to let you try out some of our newest ideas.

You may have noticed our “alternative views” experiment showcased last May. This lets you visualize your search results in new ways, and we’d like to highlight some of the features we’ve recently added.

The Government Should Get Into the Payment Game

By - January 27, 2008


Do you have government-issued payment technology? A tracking device that is tied to your bank account or credit card, that allows you to pay for stuff without the hassle of transaction friction? Chances are, if you are a commuter, you do. I’ve got one in my car, an image of it is above.

I love my FasTrak. It lets me whiz through the numerous bridge toll booths dotting the Bay Area. But recently, FasTrak did something very important – it cut a deal with the San Francisco Airport, a deal that allows folks with FasTrak to pay for airport parking using their selfsame FasTrak device.

Pretty obvious, no? Well, no, in fact. I’m sure cuttting this deal was fraught with all the red tape and political hazards typical of local government.

But it got me thinking. I have a FasTrak device in my car. I have connected that device to a trusted payment service (a credit card, in my case). Why shouldn’t the local government leverage that fact, and get into the payment biz? It’s a great business (just ask MasterCard or Amex), it pays well, and it’s a service I’d trust FasTrak to get right, because they’ve built significant brand equity with me over the past few years.

We have a major budget crisis here in California, and everyone is pointing fingers, arguing about which programs should get cut, and hoping that we can gamble our way out of the problem (no, really). What about the government *actually providing a valuable service,* one we’d all be willing to pay a bit for?

I know, I know, it’d cut into the credit card companies’ business, but, jesus, tough shit, guys. California is in the pole position here, and should leverage it. Miniaturize the FasTrak, add a modal button (ie, when I press on it, it activates) and some security software, and then roll it out at grocery stores, gas stations, shit, everywhere you can buy a lottery ticket for that matter. The brilliant angle is this: while tons of retailers have tried this, no one wants a walled garden approach (ie, I can use this key fob for gas, that key fob for Safeway, etc.). The government can set an open standard, create a development platform…you all know the rest.

And take a 1-2.5% cut from retailers. I, for one, would love it.

Respect Talent, No, Wait, Screw That, Talent Wins

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Dave Winer has a good post about how talent – in particular, writers and “content creators” – have forever had a raw deal from corporations who profit on the back of the creators’ work. Dave posits that this is about to change, thanks to many trends, including the commoditization of distribution, means of production, and audience aggregation (well, I may have added that last one).

I certainly agree change is in the wind, and started FM on the premise that independent creators of great sites on the web deserve not only the majority of the revenue fostered by their work, but complete control over their intellectual property to boot. Well said, Dave.