free html hit counter October 2008 - Page 3 of 6 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Web 2 Conversations: Jerry Yang

By - October 22, 2008


Gang, I’m interviewing Jerry Yang in two weeks at Web 2. You all have read the news this past year. It may seem obvious what to ask him, but help me out: what do you think I should ask him? I rely on your comments!

  • Content Marquee

Wow, LaLa is Hot

By - October 21, 2008

This story was the straw that broke my camel’s back in terms of paying attention.

Lala has been around for around two and a half years, and it’s kind of hopscotched from one music-related business model to another. It began as a service for swapping CDs by mail. Then it bought, a popular online radio station in Cincinnati. Then it tried free music streaming. So my instinct is to be cautious about the company’s attention span. But this latest incarnation of the service is downright amazing–I can’t imagine anyone who loves music not going gaga for it.

Another Call For Search Literacy

By -

Define Function

Tonight I helped my daughter with homework. No big deal, right? But tonight the assignment came from her fifth grade teacher: Define these related words:



Civil Rights








Now, the teacher said there were two ways my daughter could find out the definitions. One was to use a dictionary. And the second was to “talk to your parents about it.”

What I found telling was that while my daughter has been trained in using a dictionary, she found it entirely cumbersome. Now, I am all for cumbersome, as I find using a dictionary forces all sorts of new learnings (ie, the definition often has words that have to be looked up as well). I have already been through the process of forcing my kids to learn how to use the dictionary, and I sensed a new kind of learning opportunity. So I asked: “Have you tried using Google?”

“Yes,” she replied. “But my teacher said it’s not very good, and we shouldn’t use it.”

“Why?” I asked.

“It doesn’t work very well,” she replied.

“What did you ask it?”

“Well, I dunno, I typed in something like “what is the meaning of polls” she replied.

And true enough, when you type that in, Google fails, particularly for a 5th grader who is not quite “search literate.” Not that most folks who use Google are any more search literate, of course. Most folks don’t use advanced search functions, and certainly that applies to my daughter. (Turns out, Google does do pretty well for “meaning” related searches, but not as well as advanced search…)

“Well, have you tried to use Google’s define function?” I asked her.

Blank stare. (Of course!)

But imagine if our schools taught that function!

The next half hour, we had a great time touring the define: function in google. And I must say, it was a true Learning Moment.

I just wish our schools would learn along with us. It’s time to renew a call for search literacy. In the age of Google, Webster’s is…well, the province of a diminishing class.

Update: Nice furtherance of the meme from Cyrus here.

Reader Niall Writes…

By -

< ![CDATA[Reader Niall writes: Facebook seems a lot less hot than when Mark was on stage a year ago. Many key employees, including co-founders, have left the company. What is Facebook doing to remain an employer of choice in Silicon Valley?]]> Read More Read More

That Said…Web 2 Conversations, Mark Zuckerberg

By - October 20, 2008


I am interviewing a lot of interesting folks starting two or so weeks from now at Web 2, Chris DeWolfe, Edgar Bronfman, Larry Brilliant, Lance Armstrong, Paul Otellini, Jack Klues, Michael Pollan, Elon Musk, Shai Agassi, and many more.

But I thought I’d start by asking you all this one question: Mark Zuckerberg is coming back (check the video of our interview here). What should I ask him this time? I have a lot of thoughts, but thought I’d start by asking you all….

Ah, Yes, Grasshopper: History Repeats Itself

By -


Well, if you’re wondering what I’ve been doing, it’s simple – my back is back. Ten years ago, when I was three years into a rocket ship new company, my back blew out in a huge way, and it took me months to get back. I was never the same again (goodbye, contact sports), but I did find yoga as a religion of sorts, and learned all sorts of things about what was important in life. Three years ago, I blew out another part of my back – C3-5, for those keeping score (goodbye, extreme skiing), but that setback was, in a way, a chance to learn even more.

Fast forward to now. Three years into another rocket ship (FM), my original back injury – L5 S1 blown disc, for those of you still keeping score – has returned with a bit of vengeance (see the MRI at left for those who are morbidly interested). I’m not exactly crippled, as I was last time, but it’s serious enough that I have to curtail any kind of work that is not entirely essential – at least for a while.

This time, it’s a bit more personal. I feel much more centered in my work, and I’ve been good to myself, so this setback gives me pause. Have I been holding too much on my own shoulders and not letting my team do more? Is it just part of getting old? Should I have taken the surgery route back in 1999? Just a few months ago, I was chopping cords of wood. Why is my back complaining now?

Well, it doesn’t matter. Every time your body throws you a mess of pain, it’s a time to reflect. Especially when it comes to your back, which I truly believe is the rosetta stone of the mind. Stop, breathe, be patient. It never, ever, hurts to do that. But as you might expect, my writing here might suffer a bit.


By -

Just a note, I’m not posting (clearly) as I am recovering from CM Summit and prepping for Web 2, as well as doing some writing this weekend, when that is ready, will post about it here.

Google Makes You Smarter? Hey, Who Said That?

By - October 14, 2008

Well, Nick, sorry, but here’s at least one study backing up my contention:

A new study suggests that searching online could be beneficial for the brain. Searching online triggers areas of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning.

A study at the University of California, Los Angeles, measured brain activity of older adults as they searched the Web.

“There’s so much interest in exercising our minds as we age,” said the researcher, Dr. Gary Small, a professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. “One result of this study is that these technologies are not all bad. They may be good in keeping our brains active.”

To study what brains look like when people are searching the Internet, Small recruited two groups of people: one that had minimal computer experience and another that was Web savvy.

Members of the technologically advanced group had more than twice the neural activation than their less experienced counterparts while searching online. Activity occurred in the region of the brain that controls decision-making and complex reasoning, according to Small’s study, which appears in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Hear Hear, Larry

By -

I like how Larry puts this in today’s Journal:

This war must end. It is time we recognize that we can’t kill this creativity. We can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them “pirates.” And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as “criminals.” They begin to get used to the idea.

That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law. And when we reckon the cost of this corruption, any losses of the content industry pale in comparison.