So much happening.
I am in Austin for SXSW, a wonderful group of people are here. I have a few posts brewing but for now….
On to the tidbits:
– If you have Vista (and I have more to say about that soon) Microsoft is starting to roll out non browser-based search integrations. It’s also working on dealing with the competitive threat of Google Apps.
– Ask keeps pluggin’ away with innovations, this time in local search.
– You all know I dislike the Patriot Act. I am not alone. Just as we all expected, the powers of the Patriot act proved too much to resist, the FBI has been caught and called out for putting on Patriot’s secrecy ring….my precious! A related video is worth a view.
– Good to see the remixing trend getting more support….this time from Battlestar Galactica.
– Everyone’s happy to work at Google? Not this guy.
– Matt Cutts goes on the record saying Google isn’t inclined to trap user data. Watch this space.
Today, I am writing. Yep, taking the entire day off from meetings and scheduled phone calls and travel, and just writing. Oh, what a luxury!
First off, a few tidbits have piled up in my inbox. Here they are for your consideration.
IBM and Yahoo have teamed up to create the UFOCrawler. No kidding. “UFO Crawler, a new search engine specifically tuned to search for information about the paranormal and unexplained will be launched Friday by the Anomalies Network. The UFO Crawler is taking off thanks to IBM’s newest search software, IBM OmniFind Yahoo! Edition. Like many organizations, the Anomalies Network was faced with the need to improve access to its growing collection of information, while also looking for a tool to create a competitive advantage for the business through search.” Or, in other words, a fun way to promote IBM and Yahoo’s enterprise search offering.
Speaking of Yahoo, it launched a new edition of MyYahoo yesterday. From the email notification: “Some new features include:
Pre-built personalized pages
Category pages for topics and “content suggestions”
Further customization of their page with drag-and-drop modules
Feed previews and a full post reader on the page
Editable Personal Assistant with instant access to things like Yahoo! Mail, horoscopes, local traffic, etcRedesigned modules from Yahoo! and partners, with games, music, commerce, sports updates, weather, finance portfolios, TV listings, etc.
Sharing feature, enabling users to send their My Yahoo! page or favorite modules with friends and family.
And we can’t have a Yahoo upgrade without a Google response, this one is to their Local Business Center. This is important, I’ve been banging on them about how Google does not take advantage of the architecture of participation for local merchants, now it is. From the email I got: “today Google released new features to its Local Business Center (www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter), further enabling small businesses to reach potential customers looking for local goods and services online. The Local Business Center, a free service, allows business owners with a physical location to add their business information to Google Maps, and edit or delete existing listings. The new features include photo upload, custom attributes, local correction and listing statistics.”
Danny Hillis is talking more about his MetaWeb project, and the Times has the story. Danny and I are trying to find a time to sit down and really talk. We spoke of this project three years ago when I interviewed him for the book. He’s a very, very smart fellow. Markoff’s lead: ” new company founded by a longtime technologist is setting out to create a vast public database intended to be read by computers rather than people, paving the way for a more automated Internet in which machines will routinely share information.” More, including screen shots, at Radar.
I’m on the plane home, and I’m punchy. Davos affords you about three to five hours a sleep a night, what with the endless networking events, jet lag, and my general inability to sleep anyway. I may be telling you things you already know, but then again, they bear repeating. This past week, Google and Yahoo did a few things I found interesting.
First, while at Davos, Google’s senior management owned up to screwing up in China (I was at the event where this was discussed). I spoke to a very large customer of Google’s, who shall remain nameless, who knows the fellow who was tapped to run Google’s media business there. That fellow, Johnny Chou, lasted about a year and left in mid December. (Hey, Johnny, if you’d like to talk, you know where I live). Loyal readers will recall my recounting of Google’s tortured decision to enter the China market. Clearly this subject continues to haunt the company.
Second, Google made it possible for publishers to carve out “premium” advertising spots on their sites. Does this matter? Well, not much when it comes to CPC advertising, after all, with CPC it’s all about performance, and publishers will put ads wherever they perform best. But when it come to branding and CPM ads, placement is *everything.* Watch this space, literally. Google is priming its publisher network for a major push into branded, site specific sales. That’s where the big money is, the non direct-response money that is moving from TV and print.
Third, Yahoo announced earnings, which were not very interesting (they met estimates and then lowered expectations. Kinda like a blind date your Mom might have set you up on). But more interestingly, they announced Panama would be ready a full month early (though they emphasized that would have no effect on earnings whatsoever). Still and all, that’s a good sign. Yahoo is well and truly positioned to be the comeback kid this year. That’s not to say it will happen, but…
And lastly, Google released a new algo that helps kill Google Bombs. Sigh, no more miserable failure. Well, it’s not much fun to kick a fellow when he’s down anyway. From Google’s post on the subject:
The next natural question to ask is “Why doesn’t Google just edit these search results by hand?” To answer that, you need to know a little bit about how Google works. When we’re faced with a bad search result or a relevance problem, our first instinct is to look for an automatic way to solve the problem instead of trying to fix a particular search by hand.
Recall, of course, what Google has said previously (NYT) about Google Bombs: Craig Silverstein, Google’s director for technology, says the company sees nothing wrong with the public using its search engine this way. No user is hurt, he said, because there is no clearly legitimate site for “miserable failure” being pushed aside.
Moreover, he said, Google’s results were taking stock of the range of opinions that are expressed online. “We just reflect the opinion on the Web,” he said, “for better or worse.”