Whoever has ever had a Board as an entrepreneur should understand this: The US Government is now the board for huge swaths of the US economy. I watched the CEOs of the automakers today plead their case before the Senate, and man, it was like board meetings I’ve been to before…
Because, at the end of the day, Twitter shows the shift to the realtime web (Microsoft calls it “Live Search” and T’Rati called it the live web). And if Google doesn’t own it, someone else will. More when, well, the holidays come, and I can write. Meantime, read the piece I referenced in the last post or the last tweet.
My post on the subject, while arguably arguable (yes, I know, I know, but it’s better to just say it than let it stick in your craw) is up on the Looksmart Thought Leadership site (part of an FM program I am participating in). From it (this is just a portion):
I think Search is about to undergo an important evolution. It remains to be seen if this is punctuated equilibrium or a slow, constant process (it sort of feels like both), but the end result strikes me as extremely important: Very soon, we will be able to ask Search a very basic and extraordinarily important question that I can best summarize as this: What are people saying about (my query) right now?
When it first hit critical mass, it seemed Google answered this question. For the first time, you could ask a question in your native tongue, and get an answer. It felt immediate, but save for the speed with which the search results were rendered, it was not. Instead, it was archival – Google was the ultimate interface for stuff that had already been said – a while ago. When you queried Google, you got the popular wisdom – but only after it was uttered, edited into HTML format, published on the web, and then crawled and stored by Google’s technology. True, that has sped up – Google indexes a lot of sites more than once a day now – but as it nears the event horizon, this approach to search won’t scale.
In short, Google represents a remarkable achievement: the ability to query the static web. But it remains to be seen if it can shift into a new phase: querying the realtime web.
It’s inarguable that the web is shifting into a new time axis. Blogging was the first real indication of this, but blogging, while much faster than the traditional HTML-driven web, is, in the end, still the HTML-driven web. To its credit, Technorati saw blogging as the vanguard of a shift to real time, and tried to become the first search engine for “the live web”. It failed to gain critical mass, but I think the main reason was that the web was not yet “alive”.
That is changing, rapidly. Yes, I’m thinking about Twitter, of course, which is quickly gaining critical mass as a conversation hub answering the question “what are you doing?” But I’m also thinking about ambient data more broadly, in particular as described by John Markoff’s article (posted here). All of us are creating fountains of ambient data, from our phones, our web surfing, our offline purchasing, our interactions with tollbooths, you name it. Combine that ambient data (the imprint we leave on the digital world from our actions) with declarative data (what we proactively say we are doing right now) and you’ve got a major, delicious, wonderful, massive search problem, er, opportunity.
And with that search challenge comes an equally exciting monetization opportunity.
Microsoft Appoints Dr. Qi Lu to Run Online Services Group
Yahoo! veteran to oversee Internet offerings for consumers, advertisers and publishers.
REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 4, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Dr. Qi Lu will join the company as president of the Online Services Group. Dr. Lu will lead Microsoft’s efforts in search and online advertising and all the company’s online information and communications services. Dr. Lu will report to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.
Lu most recently served as executive vice president of Engineering for the Search and Advertising Technology Group at Yahoo!, where he was responsible for development efforts around Yahoo!’s Web search and monetization platforms. Dr. Lu left Yahoo! in August 2008 after 10 years of service.
“I am tremendously excited to welcome Qi to Microsoft,” Ballmer said. “Dr. Lu’s deep technical expertise, leadership capabilities and hard-working mentality are well-known in the technology industry, and Microsoft will benefit from his addition to our executive management team.”
There is something so reassuring about seeing an emerging operating system play, based on Linux, that so blatantly declares its navigational interface to be search, specifically Google. gOS, which debuted early this year on a $199 PC sold at Walmart, announced Cloud earlier this week. I managed to miss it till now. More here and here.
If you can do this.
According to Comscore, the online commerce world did not have a Blue Monday. Spending on “Black Monday” was up 15% year on year.
However, spending is down year over year in November – by 2%.
Update: for Search driven sales stats, check out this detailed post from Rimm Kaufman. From it:
Honestly, before running these numbers, I expected to see far far far worse results.
While the online retail 2008 holiday season isn’t starting out strong, it also isn’t starting out as a total disaster either.
While we shouldn’t extrapolate too much from a single day, I’m viewing CyberMonday 2008 as promising start, a tidbit of positive news about online retail and perhaps in turn about our national economy.
From I Want Media today:
Analyst Trip Chowdhry claims Google will shrink in annual revenues and profits, slash 10-15% of its workforce, and in the comments on Eric’s post (which I link to above), one guy says Google is cutting its holiday Christmas party in the UK!
None of this sounds reasonable to me. The web will keep growing through this recession. So will Google. Not as fast, of course, but…this feels like the same kind of speculation that inflated the first dot com bubble – only inverted.
So finally we hear that we’ve been in a recession for an entire year. As I recall, this entire past year, we’ve been told we might be in one, but now, all of a sudden, we’ve already been in one for the past four quarters.
Last night I read the New Yorker’s profile of Ben Bernanke, and while it certainly didn’t help me sleep, in some odd way it reassured me. We are still in the shock phase of this crisis. At some point, we’re going to learn how to live within it, and at some point past that, we’re going to learn how to dig our way out. One thing I am entirely certain of: We will continue to push our use of this medium to communicate and learn and make our way through. And I feel good about being part of that conversation.