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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Now Searchable: Your Luggage

“This is the largest order for a real operational RFID application,” says John Shoemaker, VP of corporate development for Matrics. “And it’s just one airport. There are more than 430 airports in the U.S. alone, so this is truly huge."

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The Las Vegas airport will soon implement RFID tags on all bags sorted through its facility (about 65K-70K a day). Now RFID tags – RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification – are “small integrated circuits connected to an antenna, which can respond to an interrogating RF signal with simple identifying information, or with more complex signals depending on the size of the IC.” (source) In other words, they are tiny little units of searchable information attached to your luggage, telling airport officials – and we hope only airport officials – who owns the luggage, whether it’s cleared security, etc. But as RFID spreads – and it will (Walmart is installing the technology to track inventory) – it brings an entirely new dimension to the idea of what it attached to the network, and what can be searched beyond the web. Perhaps if you lose your luggage, you’ll someday be able to find it via Google….

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Google Launches the Deskbar, Challenge to Windows?

If you're a Windows user (and I am not, so this is not a firsthand look), you might check out the new Google Deskbar, which came out this past Thursday. It's an interesting bid to move beyond the browser and challenge MSFT directly at the Windows level. Definitely watch…

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If you’re a Windows user (and I am not, so this is not a firsthand look), you might check out the new Google Deskbar, which came out this past Thursday. It’s an interesting bid to move beyond the browser and challenge MSFT directly at the Windows level. Definitely watch this space.

From the Google FAQ :
“The Google Deskbar is a Windows application that lets you search using Google anytime your computer is on and connected to the Internet — even when your browser isn’t running. Google startup search puts a search box in the Windows taskbar at the bottom of your screen and displays your search results in a small pane that rises above it. It provides instant access to information on the web, no matter what application you’re using.”

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How Much New Information Do We Create In One Year?

5 exabytes, according to UC Berkeley's SIMS (School of Information Management). If you are into statistics and love media, this study is a real gem. Read the executive summary to find out all sorts of cool stuff, like the fact that all worldwide telephone traffic in one year creates 17+…

5 exabytes, according to UC Berkeley’s SIMS (School of Information Management). If you are into statistics and love media, this study is a real gem. Read the
executive summary to find out all sorts of cool stuff, like the fact that all worldwide telephone traffic in one year creates 17+ exabytes of data (and exabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes OR 10 18 bytes – or – put another way, 5 exabytes is all the words ever spoken by human beings.). Alrighty then.

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A Librarian’s Lament

Google and the public's lack of understanding of what libraries have to offer is killing public demand for the librarian's skills (and by extension, dumbing down the world),writes Gary Price, a thoughtful (and arguably endangered) information science professional. (Gary maintains ResourceShelf, considered by many to be one of the best…

Google and the public’s lack of understanding of what libraries have to offer is killing public demand for the librarian’s skills (and by extension, dumbing down the world),writes Gary Price, a thoughtful (and arguably endangered) information science professional. (Gary maintains ResourceShelf, considered by many to be one of the best sites for his profession). “What happened?,” he asks. “How have we gotten to this point? Why do more and more people believe that universal truth is just a click away via a single source?” My answer: because it seems so, and for most, that’s enough…(thanks to Rex Hammock’s blog for pointing this out).

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Yahoo Redecorates

Yahoo made some minor changes to its home page this week, but as CNET reports, minor changes to Yahoo's home page are a very big deal. The changes emphasize Search, of course…. From the piece (this ain't news, Yahoo's been focused on search for sometime, but it's evidence the…

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Yahoo made some minor changes to its home page this week, but as CNET reports, minor changes to Yahoo’s home page are a very big deal. The changes emphasize Search, of course….

From the piece (this ain’t news, Yahoo’s been focused on search for sometime, but it’s evidence the focus is bearing fruit): “The design changes reflect an internal mandate at the company to make search a prominent feature across the entire network, including Yahoo’s personals, travel and real estate sections. The impetus is largely fueled by the shifting economics of search and its lucrative advertising component, pay-per-click sponsored listings. “

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Sullivan on Recent Developments

I'm going to try to avoid blogging everything Danny Sullivan says, but he says it so well, so often. If you're trying to make sense of the last week's headlines about Google, MSFT, and the IPO, read this….

I’m going to try to avoid blogging everything Danny Sullivan says, but he says it so well, so often. If you’re trying to make sense of the last week’s headlines about Google, MSFT, and the IPO, read this.

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Network TV’s Iridium Moment

Reading the TV news this Fall, it's hard not to believe the sky is falling, or at least several iridium-laced meteors have hit the networks, with more on the way. It's like watching an entire ecosystem fail in real time: Networks cancel major shows after two or three episodes, TV…

nav_logo.gifReading the TV news this Fall, it’s hard not to believe the sky is falling, or at least several iridium-laced meteors have hit the networks, with more on the way. It’s like watching an entire ecosystem fail in real time: Networks cancel major shows after two or three episodes, TV execs wring their hands at terrible ratings losses (“Where Are The Young Men?”), finally declaring, after trying to lay the blame at Neilsen’s feet, that it must be a programming issue.
WELL OF COURSE IT’S A PROGRAMMING ISSUE! Jesus! Who are these people? The programs not only suck, they are completely out of touch with how this generation of viewers – better to say media consumers – want to interact with their entertainment. They don’t want to sit at some huge communal campfire, watching the same crap as 20 million other people (especially the young men!) And yet, the networks continue to tart up old formats like the sitcom or reality TV (yes, it’s tired too), then sit back agahst when they don’t pull in Superbowl numbers. They lurch after every possible “hot” idea that worked on cable or with a smaller audience (Gays! Reality TV! Buffy!), then try to force it into the mass media superstructure. Memo to the networks: there’s a reason shows like Buffy, or The Daily Show, or Queer Eye have non-network numbers – they’re NOT NETWORK SHOWS. They have natural audiences that do not scale to expectations of Thursday night primetime. It’s amazing to see a show like Coupling, which had a cult following in Britain, being canceled because it only pulled an 8.1 – my god, that’s huge by any standard other than network. Networks are slow to realize it, but the days of Big Audiences With Nothing In Common are over, save possibly news, awards shows, and sports. And good riddance. The pap these networks are putting on the air in an attempt to not offend anyone is getting simply indefensible .

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Alliances/Partners At A Glance

A fun chart from a SEO site called "IHelpYou, Inc." outlines the major partnerships and relationships between search companies. It's not complete, but it's a good start. (Thanks to the GooGuide for this.)…

A fun chart from a SEO site called “IHelpYou, Inc.” outlines the major partnerships and relationships between search companies. It’s not complete, but it’s a good start. (Thanks to the GooGuide for this.)

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