free html hit counter June 2008 - Page 4 of 6 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Just Back…

By - June 15, 2008

Roo Crowdfire

….and it will take me some time to get my head back to Real Time. Bonnaroo was, simply, amazing. I never thought I’d want to go to a Metallica concert. As I said on Twitter: Where else can you walk around and in one hour see the likes of Cat Power, BB King, !!!, Phil Lesh, Jackie Green, My Morning Jacket. And to that I’d add Pearl Jam, Chris Rock, the Raconteurs (wow…), Iron & Wine…the amount of music I took in is overwhelming. I feel like a massive pipe cleaner has been taken to my head.

Meanwhile, while I was gone, Yahoo did the deed with Google.

Mark it, folks. We’ll be talking about this again and again, as either the beginning of something at Yahoo, or the end. I’m going to wager it’s the end. I’m hoping to be wrong. But this is too little, too late. And no amount of spin will change that.

Oh, and by the way, the whole “This isn’t about Microsoft” BS is so, well, BS.

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Off to 'Roo

By - June 12, 2008

Today marks the start of Bonnaroo, and like last year, that’s where I’ll be. Posting may be light, or it may be torrid. I have no idea. I am excited that this time, I go as a partner with the folks behind Bonnaroo, on the Outside Lands festival in August.

Google: Making Nick Carr Stupid, But It's Made This Guy Smarter

By - June 10, 2008


I will admit, I was entirely biased upon reading this story from Nick Carr, who has a knack for writing pieces that get a lot of attention by baiting his hook with contrarian link chum. Heck, he’s really good at it, and I have a lot of respect for Nick. So I’ll take the bait.

His piece starts by conjuring HAL, the famous AI which manipulates humans, then makes his case by citing his own “feeling” that Google has changed his attention span to somehow prove that search and web browsing in general is making us stupid.

Balderdash. What Carr is really saying is this: People are not reading long narrative anymore, and that makes me and my pals sad. So let’s blame the Internet!

Sounds an awful lot like the complaints we heard about TV making us stupid. Did TV make us stupid? I dunno, ask Steven Johnson. I bet he has an opinion on this piece as well.

Carr writes: “Yet, for all that’s been written about the Net, there’s been little consideration of how, exactly, it’s reprogramming us. The Net’s intellectual ethic remains obscure.”

So because Nick hasn’t come up with a singular thesis as to what the “Net’s intellectual ethic” is, we must declare it’s making us stupid, eh?

Huh. He goes on to claim that Google is, in essence, an industrial style factory driven by a philosophy that is mechanizing our collective intellect much like factory automation mechanized our collective workforce – in short, Google is turn our minds into nothing more than collective cogs in some borg like hive mind. We’re fucked, and it’s all Google’s fault.


Here’s another quote: “The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their economic interest to drive us to distraction.”

Right. And that’s why Google encourages its workers to spend 20% of their time on passion projects. OK.

His conclusion: “As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

Good lord. Somehow Carr seems to presume that there’s simply nothing valuable occurring in our minds when we engage with the extraordinary new medium of the web. Because we’re starting to think in different ways, it must be bad. Right? Carr may believe that search and the Internet make us stupid, but I will counter his personal, anecdote-driven conclusions with one of my own: when I am deep in search for knowledge on the web, jumping from link to link, reading deeply in one moment, skimming hundreds of links the next, when I am pulling back to formulate and reformulate queries and devouring new connections as quickly as Google and the Web can serve them up, when I am performing bricolage in real time over the course of hours, I am “feeling” my brain light up, I and “feeling” like I’m getting smarter. A lot smarter, and in a way that only a human can be smarter.

And I have a feeling I’m not alone. What do you guys think?

@CM Summit: Look for News

By - June 09, 2008

Should be a light early week of posting as we’re hosting the CM Summit today and Tuesday. FM will have plenty of news today, I’ll update here when it breaks. Others will have news as well, will do the same.

Update: It’s late, the releases hit the wire in the morning, but FM announced today we signed all sorts of new authors, including Kanye West, Steven Covey, Harry McCracken, DevShed, Anandtech, and tons more, as well as a new CM Toolbox measurement platform. Links when the releases go live….

Here’s the release on the CM Toolbox.

Here’s the release on FM working with Harry McCracken

And here’s the release on FM working with LMCD, partner to Anandtech among several other great sites.

In all, FM has added 28mm uniques and 131mm pageviews to its stable in the past two months.

Lenoir, North Carolina

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Google just opened a data center in Lenoir, NC (no Google ads on the home page, must fix that guys). The Governor, the County Commish, the Mayor, and hundreds of citizens showed up for a ribbon cutting and a BBQ. What I could find on the county was that it had a lot of lore about ghosts, and the local paper covered Nascar pretty well. Now, that’s pretty much Every County, USA (and as someone who ditched school for a semester to drive around the country, I love Lenoir already). So why did Google choose THIS parish? Hmmm?

PS – the main street looks just like the set of that town in Back to the Future, don’t it?

Reminds me of vague memories of towns that lobbied to have the railroads run through them. Check out this thread, where locals argue over whether or not local government offered too many tax incentives/breaks to lure Google to the county…

The Web Is Stealing Searches From Microsoft Office

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Spellcheck Search

Here’s a quick poll: When composing something on your computer, do you use your word processor’s spell checker, or do you just keep the web up in the background, and use search to check the proper spelling of a word?

I realized today, as I was working on a presentation offline (I was on a plane), that I hadn’t used Microsoft Word’s spell checker for more than a year. I don’t trust it nearly as much as I trust the collective intelligence of search. The Word spell checker is a top down approach to spelling, and search is a bottoms up. Even when Word tells me, via a red underlining, that I’ve spelled a word wrong, I’ll cut and paste that misspelled word into the Google toolbar, rather than ask Word’s spellchecker for a reference. That alone I bet means a significant portion of searches lost by Microsoft to Google. I know Microsoft is working on integrating Live search into its Office applications, but since I’m offline at the moment I can’t check that. No matter what, the UI has to be easier than highlight, cut, paste, return, which is what I do now. I’ve always got the search bar in the background close to whatever work I’m doing. It’s just not Microsoft’s toolbar.

In short, Google is stealing my spelling searches from Microsoft Word (and Powerpoint as well). Interesting. Never thought of it that way before. Though of course it’s consistent with the idea of work that used to be confined to apps and single machines migrating to the cloud.

So, how do you spellcheck?

Danny's Right: Firefox Is Too Google Biased

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Danny argues that Google is unfairly dominating the Firefox toolbar. I think he’s right. Microsoft is not even among the choices, and Google is the default. Google, of course, represents the majority of Mozilla’s revenues (Mozilla is the company behind Firefox).

Danny’s most interesting point is how hard Google fought to keep Microsoft from making Live search the default in Internet Explorer. But Google’s actions with Firefox are making it increasingly likely Microsoft will act to change that stance. That’s what I meant when I said Microsoft is “lying in the weeds” a few months ago.

Travel Day

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Heading to NYC – spending the weekend there before our CM Summit, which is officially sold out. Really looking forward to it!

Competing With eBay: Google, No Need to Be Sneaky

By - June 05, 2008

Odd that Google would be anonymous in public documents regarding eBay and the Australia market. No matter, the anonymity was outed, and now it just looks like the company, which competes directly with eBay’s PayPal via its Checkout, is being sneaky.

This can only further drive eBay, one of Google’s largest customers, into the arms of Yahoo and Microsoft.