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New Ranking Approach At Alexa

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I have not dug in, but it’s good to see Alexa 1. admit it was totally apples to watermelons and 2. see Amazon push some weight behind the still hopelessly lame world of third party traffic measurement.

On Health Records

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Health

The Times reports on a New England Journal of Medicine article that raises some important questions:

In an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, two leading researchers warn that the entry of big companies like Microsoft and Google into the field of personal health records could drastically alter the practice of clinical research and raise new challenges to the privacy of patient records.

….But their concern, stated in the article published Wednesday and in an interview, is that the medical profession and policy makers have not begun to grapple with the implications of companies like Microsoft and Google becoming the hosts for vast stores of patient information.

The issue is this:

Microsoft and Google, the authors note, are not bound by the privacy restrictions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or Hipaa, the main law that regulates personal data handling and patient privacy. Hipaa, enacted in 1996, did not anticipate Web-based health records systems like the ones Microsoft and Google now offer.

The authors say that consumer control of personal data under the new, unregulated Web systems could open the door to all kinds of marketing and false advertising from parties eager for valuable patient information.

Microsoft responds saying it’s wary of government regulation. Google is not quoted as responding. I wonder what its response is to this issue?

(thanks, Marc)

Udi On Search

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I’ve always been a fan of Udi Manber, late of Yahoo and Amazon, now at Google. Popular Mechanics has an interview up with him. From it:

I’ve noticed, anecdotally, when watching people search, that they will rephrase their query over and over again until they get a proper answer. To what extent can that be fixed on the search engine side?

Many ways. First, we take that into account. The results we show you are based not only on what we know of the Web, but also what other people have searched for. Second, we are developing more tools to allow you to refine your queries—at the bottom of many pages, you’ll see query refinements. These are suggestions from us about what your next query should be. And we put it at the bottom because that’s where you run into problems—you tried to read the page, you didn’t find what you want, you may need other suggestions. Plus, we’re working on many other ways to help you with this process. [Search] is clearly a process.

Hey, Google Ads Work!

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So Yahoo finds, Mashable and the Journal report.

Yahoo Inc. moved closer to outsourcing its search advertising to Google Inc. after an initial test of the system yielded what the two firms deemed positive results, people familiar with the matter said.

A partnership could give Yahoo some needed leverage as it tries to ward off an unwelcome $42 billion bid from Microsoft Corp. Some view the potential pact as mere gamesmanship, particularly in light of antitrust concerns that a Google-Yahoo linkup would likely raise.

A search-ad deal could complicate Microsoft’s efforts but is unlikely to derail its plan. Yahoo could simply pull out of the partnership should it agree to be taken over by Microsoft, people familiar with the matter say.

The Alive Web

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I find this concept very interesting, and important as we move from our current navigation/UI to new forms. New Scientist’s coverage:

SITES that evolve as if they were living organisms are making their way onto the internet.

This ability to adapt without human intervention allows sites to stay up to date with changes in their users’ tastes and can result in designs that are more user-friendly than anything a human designer is likely to come up with. Evolving sites might also allow web designers to home in on the features that work best for users.

A Bright Spot for Yahoo

By - April 16, 2008

Search share slipped, but share of search ads sold increased, according to a new study covered by Reuters.

New industry data out on Tuesday showed Yahoo Inc may have started gaining share in the Web search ad market against Google Inc even as Google’s share of search audience inched up.

One study by RBC Capital using data on ad-buying trends from Web search marketing firm SearchIgnite shows Yahoo outpacing Google in spending on search advertising, ad viewership and click-through rates during the first quarter.

Facebook's Lexicon

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Saw this via News.com’s the social blog: Facebook Lexicon.

At Facebook we love tools that allow you to see what people around the globe are searching for or discussing on blogs, such as Google Trends or Technorati. We thought it would be cool to show trends on the public and semi-public forums across Facebook (also known as Walls). Today we’re announcing the launch of Facebook Lexicon, a tool where you can see the buzz surrounding different words and phrases on Facebook Walls. Lexicon pulls from the wealth of data on Facebook without collecting any personal information in order to respect everyone’s privacy.



Smart move, not unlike the PR value gained by Zeitgeist (hell, that one launched me on the book, after all!).

Here’s the link.