Why We Wish Some Public Information Would Remain Bound To Atoms (The Public Privacy Dilemma)

In the past few months I've gotten a fair number of similar email threads forwarded my way by friends who know I'm writing about search. By the time they've gotten to me, the emails have wound their way fairly well through the six-degrees-of-separation web, with scores if not hundreds of…

In the past few months I’ve gotten a fair number of similar email threads forwarded my way by friends who know I’m writing about search. By the time they’ve gotten to me, the emails have wound their way fairly well through the six-degrees-of-separation web, with scores if not hundreds of souls cc’d, forwarded, and attached. The subject line usually blares something along the lines of “I can’t believe they can do this!” and “Oh My God, Did You Know?”

Here’s a sample email, with identifying information deleted:

——————-
Subject: This is hard to believe, but true, I tried it.

Google has implemented a new feature wherein you can type someone’s
telephone number into the search bar and hit enter and then you will be
given a map to their house.
Before forwarding this, I tested it by typing my telephone number in
google.com. My phone number came up, and when I clicked on the MapQuest link, it actually mapped out where I live. Quite scary.
Think about it–if a child, single person, ANYONE gives out his/her phone
number, someone can actually now look it up to find out where he/she
lives. The safety issues are obvious, and alarming. This is not a hoax; Mapquest will put a star on your house on your street.
—————

I understand the initial reaction of many to this feature (which is not that new). My God, They Know Where I Live! But this fear of a such a simple thing – a reverse directory lookup – bears further contemplation. Fact is, reverse directories are not illegal. But they are also not widely available – usually only cops and reporters had access to them. No more. (more via link below)

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A Robust Market Ecology

When Google flutters its wings, a typhoon may result in the AdWords ecology – those hundreds of thousands of advertisers who depend on Google for sales via the company's paid listings. So points out CNet's Stephanie Olsen in a good overview of advertiser reaction to Google's most recent shift in…

When Google flutters its wings, a typhoon may result in the AdWords ecology – those hundreds of thousands of advertisers who depend on Google for sales via the company’s paid listings. So points out CNet’s Stephanie Olsen in a good overview of advertiser reaction to Google’s most recent shift in its AdWords technology. The complications Olsen reports point to a larger story: the increasing complexity of this shifting market ecology. The question then becomes, can any one company maintain control of this? I don’t think so, you need robust competition; the recent defection of Paul Ryan (former CTO of Overture) to MSN will help insure robust competitors for years to come.

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Search Drives First-Ever Quarterly Profits at MSN

This has been in the works for sometime, but MSFT formally announced its earnings yesterday, and broke out the MSN unit's numbers for the first time. Headline: It's all about paid search. The highlights (from the MSFT IR site): MSN had 50% quarter-to-quarter advertising revenue growth, total revenue totaled…

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This has been in the works for sometime, but MSFT formally announced its earnings yesterday, and broke out the MSN unit’s numbers for the first time. Headline: It’s all about paid search. The highlights (from the MSFT IR site): MSN had 50% quarter-to-quarter advertising revenue growth, total revenue totaled $491 million in the first quarter compared to $427 million in the prior year’s first quarter. MSN Subscription revenue declined $17 million or 6% reflecting a decrease in the number of subscribers. MSN Network services revenue grew $81 million or 51% as a result of growth in paid search and strong general advertising sales across all geographic regions.

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Ask Searches For What’s Next In Search

Ask Chief Steve Berkowitz (caveat: we ran in the same circles at IDG) gives one of his first interviews (to the CC Times) since being formally named CEO. Steve's a good guy and he has quite a job – being #4 in a three-horse race ain't fun. But he…

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Ask Chief Steve Berkowitz (caveat: we ran in the same circles at IDG) gives one of his first interviews (to the CC Times) since being formally named CEO. Steve’s a good guy and he has quite a job – being #4 in a three-horse race ain’t fun. But he lays out his plans and makes his case in the interview.

Samples:

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Online Ad Sales Booming (The Standard)

It gives me something of a thrill to reference The Standard in an article about booming online ad sales, and give credit to Matt McAllister, who runs Infoworld's site and took over thestandard.com as a sidelight, as IDG was about to shut it down along with all of IDG.net….

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It gives me something of a thrill to reference The Standard in an article about booming online ad sales, and give credit to Matt McAllister, who runs Infoworld’s site and took over thestandard.com as a sidelight, as IDG was about to shut it down along with all of IDG.net. The archive is still not up, but Matt vows it will be, and the stories are all headline retreads from other IDG publications, but, there’s still a pulse there. Also, it’s really poignant to see contextual ads on the site, after all the dreaming I did of CRM doing – far too expensively – what contextual ads essentially can do now. Thanks Matt!

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Diller, Cheshire Cat of Local Search

Via MarketingWonk, I saw this short blurb in Crain's NY business which points to Barry Diller's increasing show of muscle in the local search market. He's got Citysearch and various other localized online businesses, and Yahoo, MSN and Google are all hot for the opportunity to extend their advertising…

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Via MarketingWonk, I saw this short blurb in Crain’s NY business which points to Barry Diller’s increasing show of muscle in the local search market. He’s got Citysearch and various other localized online businesses, and Yahoo, MSN and Google are all hot for the opportunity to extend their advertising networks into the local market. Diller seemed to be at his Cheshire’d best on an earnings call Tuesday.

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Drug Companies to Search Engines: Enough With The Drugs, Already

If I ever put in AdSense, I am sure I'll get detox ads, as this is my second drug-related post, but…interesting to see yesterday that various drug companies and outlets are pressuring search engines to police advertisements for illegal pharmacies and/or drugs. This is a huge business, and it…

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If I ever put in AdSense, I am sure I’ll get detox ads, as this is my second drug-related post, but…interesting to see yesterday that various drug companies and outlets are pressuring search engines to police advertisements for illegal pharmacies and/or drugs. This is a huge business, and it makes me wonder, are they also asking ISPs to police spam? Because I get a shitload of offers for prescription drugs. Just who is responsible here? Combined with trademark issues here and abroad (eBay has asked Google to stop using “eBay” in keyword advertisements), this is the beginning of something quite interesting.

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Small Biz Drives Online Advertising

eMarketer has a stat-filled story today outlining advertising spending by small to medium-sized enterprises (SME). It's quite heartening – if you add up website, email marketing, keyword search and banners, online ad spending is a strong second place in overall ad spend for this category, behind only the Yellow…

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eMarketer has a stat-filled story today outlining advertising spending by small to medium-sized enterprises (SME). It’s quite heartening – if you add up website, email marketing, keyword search and banners, online ad spending is a strong second place in overall ad spend for this category, behind only the Yellow Pages. According to the study, done by The Kelsey Group, online will capture 16% of a $22 billion spend, or $3.52 billion. The study goes on to say, however, that online will average only 2% of the total US advertising spend of $230 billion, or $4.6 billion (larger advertisers are only adding in another billion? Huh?!). Everyone counts differently on this metric, eMarketer says online ad spending will grow from $6 billion last year to $6.9 billion in 2003.

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Steven Johnson and Contextual Ads: Hold the Heroin

Steven Johnson , founder of Feed and author of Emergence and Interface Culture, also writes a blog about this, that and the other thing. He recently added Google's AdSense contextual ads , a program I've applauded as darn near revolutionary in its ability to support micropublishing. But Steven has…

Steven Johnson , founder of Feed and author of Emergence and Interface Culture, also writes a blog about this, that and the other thing. He recently added Google’s AdSense contextual ads , a program I’ve applauded as darn near revolutionary in its ability to support micropublishing. But Steven has run into a problem. In his own words:

“Jesus, one lousy post about Rush Limbaugh and Courtney Love and every single GoogleAd on the front door is for heroin detox programs. Kind of a downer, no?
(Of course, by adding a new post with the phrase “heroin detox program” I’ve just made matters worse. Oops, did it again.)”

(For more, here’s the permalink.)

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The Semantic Web Won’t Work. Discuss.

Clay Shirky, a prolific writer/thinker on subjects net-related, has made a strong argument against the "Semantic Web." Why should you care? Well, the Sematic Web is Tim Berners Lee's vision of the next version of the Web, a rather seductive vision which addresses many current shortcomings. And since he invented…

logoLarge.gifClay Shirky, a prolific writer/thinker on subjects net-related, has made a strong argument against the “Semantic Web.” Why should you care? Well, the Sematic Web is Tim Berners Lee’s vision of the next version of the Web, a rather seductive vision which addresses many current shortcomings. And since he invented the first version, it gets some serious notice. But Shirky points out, in a very readable and convincing fashion, why the whole idea simply won’t work.

Some excerpts: “After 50 years of work, the performance of machines designed to think about the world the way humans do has remained, to put it politely, sub-optimal. The Semantic Web sets out to address this by reversing the problem. Since it’s hard to make machines think about the world, the new goal is to describe the world in ways that are easy for machines to think about.”

“There is a list of technologies that are actually political philosophy masquerading as code, a list that includes Xanadu, Freenet, and now the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web’s philosophical argument — the world should make more sense than it does — is hard to argue with. The Semantic Web, with its neat ontologies and its syllogistic logic, is a nice vision. However, like many visions that project future benefits but ignore present costs, it requires too much coordination and too much energy to effect in the real world, where deductive logic is less effective and shared worldview is harder to create than we often want to admit. “

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