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Hearings Slated, an Industry Tenses

By - June 24, 2008

Members of Congress yesterday announced another hearing into the Google-Yahoo deal, as well as a deal between NebuAd and Charter that tracks searches at the ISP level. Watch this space. There are five hearings so far plus a Justice department inquiry. From Ad Age:

This week a House Small Business Committee panel is to hold a hearing on “the impact of online advertising on small firms,” which is supposed to highlight the benefits and challenges on small business’ use of advertising techniques. Additionally, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection panel, and the Senate Commerce Committee have announced plans for separate hearings. While the Judiciary Committee’s examination is only about Google/Yahoo, the rest are broader.

“There are increasing concerns about data collection for online advertising practices across the popular websites and search engines, the sharing of information and the ability of users to control their personal information,” an aide to U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said regarding the Senate Commerce Committee hearing.

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Lenoir, North Carolina

By - June 06, 2008

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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…

Don't Give Up Lotus, er, I mean Microsoft!

By - May 26, 2008

Mike makes a good point here in response to Tim’s point of view, and Tim counters here. It’s a very interesting debate, one between two folks I’ve partnered with for some time (Mike’s TechCrunch is part of FM, and Tim and I have partnered on any number of things, including Web 2, Make, and several sites that are also part of FM). So I’m a bit conflicted as I watch these guys debate.

However, one thing I will assert: Search is more than a subsystem of Web 2, as Tim puts it. I think search has become the interface to Web 2, and so I agree with Mike that Microsoft should not abandon it. It’s how we navigate the world of knowledge, and it’s way too early to say we’re done with the evolution of that navigation. But as Tim also points out: “a platform beats an application every time”. Damn right! That’s why I think Microsoft (or Yahoo) should innovate in search, as I pointed out here and here. If Google were to open its platform up, man, then it might well be game over. An open platform that has near monopoly share? Now that’s something to ponder.

If It Was Bad for Yahoo to Do It….

By - May 19, 2008

…It’s bad for Google to do it.

An Indian man was arrested over the weekend for allegedly posting derogatory and vulgar content about Indian politician Sonia Gandhi on Google’s social networking site, Orkut. 22-year-old Rahul Krishnakumar Vaid had posted his comments in an Orkut community called “I hate Sonia Gandhi” through an Orkut account associated with his Gmail account. With Google’s help, local authorities were able to verify Vaid’s identity and make the arrest.

Yahoo caught a lot of shit, including from me, when they helped arrest a journalist in China.

Microsoft Signals…Something

By - May 18, 2008

Seems talks are on again and it’s either required or in Microsoft’s interest to release this statement today:


REDMOND, Wash. — May 18, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today issued the following statement:

“In light of developments since the withdrawal of the Microsoft proposal to acquire Yahoo! Inc., Microsoft announced that it is continuing to explore and pursue its alternatives to improve and expand its online services and advertising business. Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo! an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo! but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo! Microsoft is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo! at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative depending on future developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo! or discussions with shareholders of Yahoo! or Microsoft or with other third parties.

“There of course can be no assurance that any transaction will result from these discussions.”

Given that Yahoo is close to capitulating to Google and turning over its paid search, I sure hope they are considering this move (Soverture). Microsoft could buy the business (ie, pay what Google would make Yahoo right now), and together the two could hope to improve the results and earn into the deal.

Boing Boing, Google, China, Art, Commerce

By - May 15, 2008

BBtv has a thought-provoking piece on some guerilla art with regard to Google and its China policy. I’ve written extensively on the background (for more, here). if you want to get to the good stuff quickly (I understand folks are busy,) the piece is long-ish, head to 4.45 min or so.

Discussion can be found here.

MySpace, Facebook, Google: Connect, Compete, Control?

By - May 12, 2008

Great news developing over the weekend around data portability, though it remains to be seen how the implementations go.

Facebook Connect:

Today we are announcing Facebook Connect. Facebook Connect is the next iteration of Facebook Platform that allows users to “connect” their Facebook identity, friends and privacy to any site. This will now enable third party websites to implement and offer even more features of Facebook Platform off of Facebook – similar to features available to third party applications today on Facebook.

MySpace Data Portability:

MySpace, the world’s most popular social network, alongside Yahoo!, eBay, Photobucket, and Twitter, today announced the launch of the MySpace ‘Data Availability’ initiative, a ground-breaking offering to empower the global MySpace community to share their public profile data to websites of their choice throughout the Internet. Today’s announcement throws open the doors to traditionally closed networks by putting users in the driver’s seat of their data and Web identity. The launch of the Data Availability initiative marks the first time that a social Website has enabled its community to dynamically share public profile information with other sites.

Google’s “Friend Connect”

Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social — and now they can be, easily. With Google Friend Connect (see following this evening’s Campfire One), any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming — picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.

But the key is how this is implemented, as David Recordon points out w/r/t Myspace:

At the end of the day it seems that MySpace is trying to become a large centralized profile repository on the internet. One where information might be available but certainly not allowed to be actually moved outside the network’s walls. A good try, but just as no one would like Microsoft own identity for the entire web with Passport I fail to see how others will let MySpace own all of the profiles.

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

By - May 08, 2008


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.