free html hit counter May 2008 - Page 5 of 7 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Continuing to Grok Twitter

By - May 11, 2008

Something going on here. And here. Always like to see Steve pondering things. And then the search driven queries in Matthew’s post are great:


working with Canadians

margaritas for lunch

when i know exactly what to do

buttered popcorn jelly beans

Trent Reznor’s lyrics

having lunch with my mom

the rain

my foster parents




talking to my insurance company


when i’m all itchy and stuff

those robotic voices

my work computer

deja vu

the Red Wings



so lost

like i am cramming for a final

like i am being followed

bad but not guilty

extremely safe


like i’m on drugs, minus the high

a little lost




i were going to the ballpark

i was still asleep

i was outside

michigan had more job openings

i knew what bit me last night

i was never born

i could go back and punch myself

i was in nashville

people would do their jobs

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Sunday Morning

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Pasadena From HuntingtonI was at my 25th High School reunion last night at Polytechnic School. I always knew that place was special, filled with wicked smart people and amazing faculty. I was lucky to have gone there. Seeing so many old friends, swapping stories of glories past, it does get one into quite a melancholy place, in a good way.

Hence the early morning Pasadena gloom out the window feels just about right to illustrate the sentiment. Thanks, Poly, for putting on such a nice night. The map below shows the middle school, but scroll down a block to see the high school and the field where we played soccer and football (not always well).

The Day Is Coming

By - May 08, 2008

Remember when I said this:

Expect display and video ads on the home page of Google very soon.

Well here’s a summary from a Bloomberg story via IWantMedia:

Google May Run Display Ads With Searches

Google is considering running display advertisements alongside the results of Web queries for pictures, moving beyond text-based ads. “There’s lot of potential for advertising revenue there,” says VP Marissa Mayer. Google is seeking new revenue sources as its growth slows.

"Gagging librarians is horrendous." The Internet V. FBI: Net Wins

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Great news for democracy:

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has withdrawn a secret demand that the Internet Archive, an online library, provide the agency with a user’s personal information after the Web site challenged the records request in court.

The FBI sent a national security letter, or NSL, to the Internet Archive in November and included a gag order barring site founder Brewster Kahle from talking to anyone other than his lawyers about the request. Kahle, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to challenge the subpoena, arguing that the NSL program is unconstitutional, and the FBI withdrew the NSL on April 22.

The settlement between the FBI and the Internet Archive allowed Kahle to break the gag order, a standard part of an NSL request. The Internet Archive’s challenge of the NSL is only the third case that the ACLU is aware of in which an NSL has been challenged in court, said Melissa Goodman an attorney for the civil liberties group’s National Security Project.

“The NSLs basically allow the FBI to demand extremely sensitive personal information about innocent people without any prior court approval, often in total secrecy,” Goodman said Wednesday.

I’ve covered this here, here, in my book, and a lot of other places (87 posts, according to Google. I must be on some list somewhere in the National Security offices).

In a news conference, Kahle had this to say:

“We see this as an unqualified success…The goal here was to help other recipients of NSLs … understand that you can push back on these….Gags don’t seem to be necessar. Gagging librarians is horrendous.”

Danny also covers it here.

The Future of Search Series

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Danny and I have contracted with Thomson Reuters, a sponsor of Searchblog, to write a series of posts on the future of search. They’ve given us no guidance, just asked us to ponder the topic. This is my first post, “A search is not just a search,” longtime readers will find it familiar, if updated. From it:

In the past few years, a significant new feature has crept into the results portion of this otherwise predictable interface. Called “universal search,” the idea is to incorporate more than simple HTML pages into the results. A search for “London restaurants”, for example, might bring up maps and local results, as well as videos, images, organized reviews, and of course web pages. Every major search engine, from Google to Ask, has incorporated some kind of universality into its search results.

But while universal search points the way toward a new approach to getting you the answers you seek, it’s a half step at best. The results change, somewhat, but the process is pretty much the same. You enter a query, you get a set of results. Not particularly new.

What I find interesting are entirely new approaches to the interface of search.

We’ll be writing one post every week or so for the next six weeks. I hope by the end it’ll be an interesting body of work, it certainly will be if you give me input on what to think about, and critiques of what I’ve written. Thanks!

The Music In Magazines

By - May 07, 2008

Kingston Trio HungryI remember being 10, or thereabouts, sitting in front of my parent’s stereo system, entranced by the albums they had collected in college. The system – tuner, turntable, and speakers – was a Craig, cheap, Korean, and dependable, an early indication of where the consumer electronics business was heading. I’d put on the albums they owned – Rachmanioff #2, Man of La Mancha, a lot of Kingston Trio – and listen, right up next to the speaker. I was entirely engaged – the albums were transits to another world, a world of music, no matter that it was entirely inconsistent with the world of a ten year old boy. I’m pretty sure the only new album my parents bought between 1953 and 1983 was the soundtrack to Cats, around the time I was a junior in high school.

But that stereo system, the turntable in particular, was my introduction to recorded music.

Now that entire world is dead, gone, history. 30 years after I was entranced, it’s been eclipsed by the iPod, the cel phone, the Internet.

Fast forward to now. I look around my house, and I find my son’s analog to my parent’s music system. And what is it? In a word: Magazines.

I’m a magazine guy. My wife loves them too. We still subscribe to about a dozen of them, and they are all over the house. In particular, they dominate the bathrooms. As my son ponders his mortality on the porcelain throne or in idle moments in our living room, I wonder about the “music” those magazines are bringing to him.

And I wonder, how is the web bringing that music into the digital age? Just a thought, a note written down. For one thing I am certain of. In thirty years from now, magazines will be the albums of their time – an anachronism created for effect, but not a dominant medium of distribution for the music they contain.

I love having kids.

The New Live.Com

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Ah, Simplicity. What do you think? Methinks it looks familiar, as all have since Alta Vista days.

Live Search-3

Independence for Microsoft? No Way. The Thesis Remains.

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Recent rumblings out of Redmond have stated that Microsoft, post the Yahoo axel wrap, will pursue and independent path on the Web. No freakin’ way, is my first thought. That might be refined once I spend some time with their senior management later this month, but if the company is going to go it alone, it means going back on Steve Ballmer’s promise of 25% of Microsoft revenue as advertising. And I really don’t think the company plans to throttle back on its plans to own a major share of the web media world.

Hence the rumors that Microsoft is talking to Facebook again, this time for the whole enchilada.

What I find interesting is the thesis, because all good corporate development must be informed by a decent thesis. The thesis here is simple at a meta level, but near impossible at an operational one: If you have a ton of engaged inventory (ie, people using the web in ways that they value), then you can and should figure out a way to provide marketers access to those people for a premium price that will make network TV look like a blip in the history of marketing.

Google has engaged people. REALLY engaged. For about .2 seconds, you can’t get a more engaged person. But brands are not built in .2 seconds. As I’ve said too many times to count, Google is the greatest harvester of brand equity built elsewhere in the history of media. And kudos to the company for figuring out a way to do it.

Now, the hard part comes. How to build brand equity, awareness, preference, and the like, on the web? It’s one of the largest questions facing the web economy. And while the thesis that Microsoft is pursuing is sound, the proof, well, that’s quite a bowl of messy pudding at the moment. Buying Facebook, or Yahoo, or any other major nexis of engaged consumers is only step one.