free html hit counter January 2009 - Page 3 of 4 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Google Also Is Closing Any Number of Other Projects…

By - January 14, 2009

Like Dodgeball, Google Video Uploads, Jaiku, and Google Catalog, and … I am not keeping track. But this is the evidence of Sergey’s comment months ago that Google was doing too much…

In any case, I think the spin Google gave on Google Catalog’s closing is a bit …. well it’s spin. We all do it. Let’s revisit the launch of Google Catalog, courtesy Danny’s SEW, which was deep into reporting mode when Catalog launched. (Danny has moved on to SEL).

My first thought upon seeing the service was “Why?” Of all the things Google could choose to make searchable, why target mail order catalogs? Shopping-oriented searches do make up a significant chunk of any search engine’s queries, so launching some type of shopping search service does make sense. But why not instead target online merchant stores?

The answer from Google is that mail order catalogs provide more comprehensive product listings than can be found online and that making catalogs searchable was something it could do easily.

“A number of people [at Google] thought offline catalogs are much better than online shopping sites,” said Urs Hvlzle, Google Fellow and member of Google’s executive management team.

Explaining further, Hvlzle said a major drawback to print catalogs is that you generally only have a few in your home and there’s no way to easily “search” within them. Google Catalogs solves this by letting you search through a virtual library of catalogs.

I guess not many folks really wanted to do that, given that the web itself, in a way, is already “a virtual library of catalogs.” Back in 2002, however, it was arguable that there was way more structured product data in catalogs than there was on the web. Now, well, not so much.

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Google Lays Off Real Googlers

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Goog Layoffs

Google of late has been contracting its contract work force, but today the company announced real layoffs, in its HR group, no less – the folks responsible for hiring. 100 people will be laid off or redeployed, and as SAI notes, it’s a very clear sign that the company is feeling what all of us are feeling – a very significant recession.

When Google catches a cold, it’s a sure bet a lot of other companies have pneumonia, or worse.

Grease Is the Word

By - January 13, 2009

Grease For Recast

When I saw this Mashable post, I almost spit my wine (yeah, I am drinking wine, hell, it’s 8.50 pm) onto the screen. Here’s the headline:

Did CNN Live Snub Twitter in Favor of Facebook?

“What the f* are we, in high school?” was my first response. Then I realized how important it is to some folks that “traditional” or “old” media like CNN validate “new” media like Facebook or Twitter.

Honestly, I don’t get it.

And then again, I do get this: that absent a centered strategy, a network like CNN is going to cast its lot on any given day, or story, with whoever seems to be best suited to give it the most appeal, the most cred, and the most, well, arm candy.

And then it hit me. When it comes to the media business, we’re in high school all over again. The CNNs are the jocks, and the hot apps like Facebook and Twitter are the Cute Girls.

Now, it all makes sense.

Yahoo's New CEO is Carol Bartz

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Not a lot of media experience in this choice, reported here by the WSJ. Kara had speculated on this previously.

Bartz has a lot of experience in other parts of the technology world, to be sure, and is widely respected. And I love that her former company, Autodesk, is in Marin, where I founded FM. But it does strike me that Yahoo needs a stronger suite of media-savvy executives now that Weiner and Rosensweig are gone.

Dear Oyuncambazi: Please Stop Spamming This Site!

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For the past few years, but in particular in the past year, spammers, or one very focused spammer, have been posting bogus comments on Searchblog, hoping to leverage the authority of this community to promote a commerce site called oyuncambazi dot com. Well, here’s my response: oyuncambazi are spammers, spam, spam, spaaaaammmmmmers. Oyuncambazi = Spam. So please stop, Mr. Oyun. It’s tiresome and time consuming. STOP. Ideally, those wonderful Googlebots will pick up this post and start relating oyuncambazi with SPAM.

Update: I got an apology from someone for spamming, and a promise to not do it anymore. We’ll see!

Update 2: The person responsible claims to be a 17 year old from Turkey who, though it’s hard to understand his English, seems to be quite regretful. We’re trying to hav a conversation on email. He’s been doing this all over the web, clearly. Now this post is #2 on Google on a search for his site.

The "Google" Of TV

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Noting this piece which positions Tivo as the Google of TV. More to say on it, but from it:

Announced this week at CES 2009, the new TV search works similarly to the search bar in the Firefox address browser. You type in the first few letters of a show in the ‘discovery bar’ and relevant recommendations of shows on TV satellite and broadband networks come up. At the same time, you get a nice looking new column arrangement of information about a show, including episode description, rating, and relevant art.

The new appearance, according to TiVo reps, was created to fit to the longer length of HDTV’s. The old swivel search had no visuals and didn’t provide immediate information that could help a user choose efficiently. Still, this is a feature that is most helpful during passive browsing – if you’re the type that already knows what you want, the new search will look much nicer but it won’t make a huge difference.

Recall I’ve earlier noted that search on TV is really broken, and is a real opportunity. And don’t think Google doesn’t want to be the Google of TV. I think the company presumes it will be. For any number of reasons, including the “webification” of television in general. Once the web hits TV, Google comes along, though it will have to keep doing distro deals with the likes of Comcast, which are not going so well (Yahoo took Google’s biz here).

Blog 2.0 Realized

By - January 09, 2009


If ever there was a better realization of what I meant when I wrote about “a new kind of blog publishing“, I don’t know where to find it. This post, series, and site is exactly what I meant. Sure, I’ve known about The Hype Machine for some time, but this series is a publishing masterpiece, part authorial intent, part crowdsourcing, and part the confluence of great tools, platforms, models, and policies (you can play the music! you can buy the music!).

The top 50 albums of the year. Check it out.

On Alice, Tik Tok, Marketing, CES, and Finding The Ground

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I’m just back from a few days at CES in Las Vegas. The annual Consumer Electronics Show has become a white hot core of the marketing world, certainly for technology, but also now for nearly every major brand. Consumer electronics, after all, is the medium through which brands communicate and converse with consumers. If you care about your brand, you’re at the show.

This year, of course, would prove to be different. Gone was (most of) the ebullience and chest pounding; a more somber tone was prevalent, and most certainly the network of hotels, casinos, and convention centers that makes up the CES ecosystem was …. more sparse. It’s clear companies had cut back travel and thousands of folks simply did not come. Everyone remarked on that – cab lines were shorter, halls and walkways between events less crowded.

But there was something else in the air, and after some reflection, I think I know what it is. I’ll call it The Ground. I got the distinct sense from the marketers, developers, and publishers I spoke with that they had, in the main, found The Ground – they had been falling, out of control, for a long time, and finally, they’ve found themselves on the other side.


I think we all were worried that when we hit the bottom, we’d splat like a bug on a windshield. But we’re realizing it’s rather more like Alice or Tik Tok, falling through a long, confusing hole, and emerging, blinking, into a baffling new world. Strange, certainly, but at least there’s gravity and sunlight: We can get up, dust ourselves off, and look around to see what might come next.

The world we’re seeing is quite different indeed. For those in marketing, it’s a world where the assumptions of the past are no longer reliable. There are strange new creatures, and odd new lands (Twitter? Facebook? Blogs?). The practices which worked for the past 50 years are crumbling. Combined with the harsh reality of a deep recession, it’s clear we have our work cut out.

But here we stand, ready to do the work. That is what I sensed at CES. The journey will be difficult, there are losses still ahead, and we’ll be continually be tested. We will be forced to question our assumptions and deal with situations which on their face might be challenging, or even preposterous (a Cheshire Cat? Forests of Metal?!). But we can either hide from this new reality, or embrace it as an important narrative upon which we must embark.

And at least with the people I spoke to at CES this week, it’s clear they are starting to see things from the latter point of view.

This, to me, is very good news, and gives me great optimism about the future.