How Litigation Chokes Info Flow

August 31, 2010

Short honk: I noted this article “Google Code Blog: An update on JavaOne.” My hunch is that Google is pulling out because of the dust up between Oracle and Google. If I am right, this is one more example of legal eagles’ stifling information flow. Wonderful.

Stephen E Arnold, August 31, 2010

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Yahoo Essay Sets a Record Straight

August 31, 2010

Anyone interested in the pay to play angle for search will want to read “Bubble Blinders: The Untold Story of the Search Business Model.” In addition to correcting some factual errors from high profile search wizards, the write up underscores how tough it is for one company to see that a big opportunity exists. More about this point in a moment.

I am not going to beat up on Yahoo. The company has suffered enough, and it is probably going to become a hit in the business school case study comic books. I noted one key passage. Here it is:

From 1997 to 2000, we visited Yahoo more than a dozen times to pitch the Keywords idea: pay-for-placement, keyword-targeted text ads on the side of search results. Despite repeated rejection, we pitched every member of Yahoo’s executive team multiple times, each time finding new ways to present the concept and new data to support how profitable and huge the opportunity might be, all in vain. Like Paul Graham’s reaction when he first pitched them “Revenue Loop,” my initial sentiment was that perhaps we were doing a terrible job explaining the idea. But soon I realized that Yahoo simply didn’t see the value of search. They were sitting on one of the most strategic assets in the world, yet apparently didn’t even know it.

I am not convinced this is an “innovator’s dilemma. I think it is standard human behavior. A current example is the Yahooing of Google. Multiple acquisitions in a short period of time requires top notch management methods. Does Google have these? With the rapid fire failures this summer, I think Google’s management skills are on display. Then there are the twin and now pretty well known Google antagonists: Apple and Facebook. Android looks like a winner, but Google has to monetize that open source play. Facebook is running mostly unchecked.

Net net: Great write up. For me the subtext was information germane to how I think about Google.

Stephen E Arnold, August 31, 2010

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Attensity and Its Positioning

August 31, 2010

I found it notable that Attensity, a company known for its “deep extraction” technology, authored a feature in Mashable. Mashable is a Web publication that touches the throbbing heart of the Web world and its denizens. I cannot recall a company with roots in the arcane world of content processing and the government information projects contributing a story about social branding to the pulsing Mashable readership.

But the story appeared. You will want to read “7 Steps to Measuring Your Brand’s Social Media Health”. Like Lexalytics and Vivisimo, Attensity has been working overtime to develop a product and service line up that would generate healthy revenue and deliver a stakeholder pleasing profit. Attensity’s positioning seems to be expanding to embrace the world of processing social media to determine if a company is hot or not, provide insight about opinion upticks and downticks, and other “metrics” that are useful to sales, marketing, and azurini.

Here’s the passage I found quite interesting:

Social media is very easily measured with various indicators like share of voice, reach, retweets, and comments. However, measuring without a clear objective in mind won’t bring you closer to success. Nowadays, its not enough to have and execute a social media policy. You need to be able to gauge its success, measure it, and see that it remains healthy and vibrant.

The “easily” through me for a moment as did the reference to a previous Mashable story. I think I understand the message, but I am not sure how “easy” the methods for determine social health are. What’s easy is providing the client with a report without any of the details about what’s going on under the hood. If Attensity can package “a social health monitoring service,” then the company could steal customers from Lexalytics and other companies chasing the ad sales and marketing sectors.

My thoughts on the positioning followed a slightly different line.

First, Attensity’s no cash merger with German firms and its push into social media reminded me how much the market for next generation content processing has changed in the last 36 months. The US government funds that spawned many content processing companies may be tapering off. This means that companies with the type of technology that makes Department of Defense professionals salivate has to be repurposed to new markets. Is this what Attensity is doing?

Second, the positioning and verbiage used to make the firm’s technology outputs “easy” remind me that the new markets want vastly simplified value propositions. “Easy” can generate new sales, and I know that “easy” rings the chimes of consulting firms who are abandoning the traditional information retrieval sector like rats leaving a sinking ship. I expect to see a flurry of consulting reports that describe these new, “easy” products and services. I don’t think the methods are easy, but I want Attensity and similar firms to thrive. “Easy”? Never.

Finally, the vocabulary in this Mashable write up and on the Attensity Web site follow the approach taken by Vivisimo. These former search and content processing vendors are like leopards who have pulled off a genetic trick. The spots are gone, replaced by language and services that sound more like companies that are in the research and integration business. Little wonder Garnter folded its search quadrant tent. I think more search and content processing companies will try to pull off this leopard-changing-its-spots trick.

Just my opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, August 31, 2010

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Google-Phrenia: A Social Adjustment?

August 31, 2010

I am not a social goose. The goings at Orkut are a mystery to me. I think I signed up, saw lots of Brazilian info, and abandoned ship. No knock against Orkut or Brazil. I just don’t want digital pals unless those pals have a beak and feathers. I read with semi-interest the write up “Google’s Orkut Tweaks Point To Google Me.” The main point is that Google, once again it seems, is gearing up to become the big dinosaur of social media. A big dinosaur will munch on the likes of Facebook and then go hunting for more digital Twinkies. For me, the key passage in this GigaOM write up was:

The Orkut tweaks involve the ability to send photos or updates — which the network calls “scraps” – to specific users or groups of users, instead of to your entire social graph. Whether that kind of feature will help Google or Orkut in its competition against Facebook remains to be seen, however, since the giant social network also allows users to target specific friends or groups.

Sigh. Not the stuff of gooseliness.

I then noticed this write up from the same publication: “Why Google Has No Game.” The idea in this write up I learned that Google is going to have to make some adjustments to shift its Hummer into a lower gear and run down the pesky socially adept services. Buying games is perhaps the long way around the barn next to the pond. The write up has a nifty list of Facebook acquisitions, which I found useful.

My view is that Google has to do something that generates revenue. After 11 years, the one-trick-pony label is starting to bleed into Googzilla’s hide. The notion of getting high marks for “effort” works in Miss Chessman’s 5th grade class in 1955, but it doesn’t work in the world where success is measured by revenue from products and services that users consume like Apples. And search? Search is shifting to mobile voice, asking “friends”, and poking around subset content collections suggested by often clueless users. These different approaches serve to erode the Google brute force methods. That’s the interesting facet of the social shift to this unsocial goose. Google may have a variant of goose-phrenia. I call it Google-phrenia. Maybe there is no cure?

Stephen E Arnold, August 31, 2010

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Exclusive Podcast Interview: David Fishman

August 31, 2010

I did a follow up interview with David Fishman, Lucid Imagination’s vice president of marketing. In this 10 minute discussion, the topic is the technical plumbing of Lucene/Solr. In the podcast, Mr. Fishman describes the free converter SolrCELL, the faceting capabilities of the Lucene/Solr system, and the Carrot-2 clustering software. If you want to know how Lucene/Solr can help meet your enterprise’s search-and-retrieval needs, you will want to navigate to ArnoldIT.com and listen to the podcast. If you want to learn more about Lucid Imagination, navigate to the firm’s Web site. The Lucene Revolution Conference will be held in about six weeks. More information is available at www.lucenerevolution.com.

Stuart Schram IV, August 31, 2010

Sponsored post.

Leadspace Prepping for a Take Off?

August 30, 2010

One of my readers in Israel forwarded to me an update on Leadspace Ltd., founded by Amnon Mishor and Yaron Karasik. Originally named Data Essence, Leadspace is rumored to have applied its proprietary semantic technology to the tough problem of finding information. From what I can gather, the system taps features of existing linked data, natural language processing, social cues, and user actions to go “beyond search.”

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A semantic graph which may be one aspect of the Leadspace approach.

With search and content processing companies scrambling to distance themselves from the somewhat devalued sector of information retrieval, Leadspace has been hiring some people. In addition, there is some casual talk that the company has technology that generates reports instead of results lists. ClearForest, now part of the Thomson Reuters’ operation, was an early semantic technology success. Will this Technion Entrepreneurial Incubator Company (TEIC) follow in ClearForest’s footsteps? According to the information in my Overflight system, the company landed some early stage money and received another $3.0 million in March 2010. A quick look at the archived copies of its original data-essence.com Web pages, the company listed articles on semantic technologies, but there is not too much detail available.  A comment on StartUpMania.net struck me as interesting but at this time unsubstantiated about the firm’s technology. Globes reported in March 2010 that Leadspace funding comes from Vertext Venture Capital and Jerusalem Venture Partners. With the interest in semantic technology rising, Leadspace may be readying itself for a marketing push.

Stephen E Arnold, August 30, 2010

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Google Cries over Spilled Milk

August 30, 2010

Google has accused the government of favoring Microsoft. This is a recent news revelation on WebProNews.com’s “Google Cries Foul Over California Email Contract” citing Google’s inability to win the $60 million contract, which has gone to CompuCom Systems, an IT outsourcing company with ties to Microsoft.

Even though Google is based in California, the City of Los Angeles and the Government are adopting Google Apps, but Google failed to clinch the opportunity to get a foothold in the government IT space. The Internet giant openly accuses California Governor’s office of rigging the bidding system, however the article quotes the LA Times reporter duo as saying, “Google spent months trying to complete in the contract bidding process but never formally joined the race because state officials drew up a lengthy list of requirements the company said were impossible for it to meet.”

One can only say that it is imperative to get the details correct, and not be careless.

Leena Singh, August 30, 2010

NLP-Based Service Swingly Now at Bat

August 30, 2010

The new service Swingly strives to offer web enthusiasts one of the first web answer engines. The service works by taking text from a variety of sources on the web which could include social media or news articles and compiling them in web databases that can be used for answering questions. Semantic Web gives information about the new service in “NLP-Based Service Swingly’s Up At Bat.” The service will rely on NLP to properly extract as well as index all of the information gathered from documents. In addition the service will rely on semantic inference techniques in order to “recognize links between questions and answers building a page rank style graph to quickly identify authoritative content.” The impressiveness of Swingly surrounds the ability to understand the semantics or meaning of a large amount of available information on the Net. Users receive better results in less time. The importance of semantics in web searches has never been clearer.

April Holmes, August 30, 2010

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Will Microsoft Be Able to Succeed Online?

August 30, 2010

It has been nearly a lost decade for Microsoft online, generating no returns on its Internet ventures. The ZDNet.com article “Microsoft’s Lost Eight Years Online: More Than $6 Billion Down the Tubes” discusses the financial hits of Microsoft’s Internet follies, comparing its fiscal reports of the past ten years. Microsoft has delivered a profit here and there since it has been consolidating online results, but the profits are rare.

Though the software giant says it believes in the shareholder value and thinks of the Return on Investment (ROI), it has ever been in huge operating losses, and did not make much money. Microsoft has recently touted its success with Bing, and the search engine will continue to gain share on successful partnership with Yahoo. Microsoft’s ineptness has until now cost it what Amazon, Google, and Face book have gained, but now all eyes are on cloud computing to cover the lost grounds.

On the other hand, Microsoft has a stake in Facebook. Google doesn’t. Who looks smarter in social media?

Leena Singh, August 30, 2010

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Google and Its Global Street View Experiences

August 30, 2010

Special to Beyond Search

Technological innovative ideas have transformed our societies and lifestyles for better since time immemorial, also affecting the social norms and values. Such changes, as all changes do by default, go through a period of resistance, before they are finally embraced. The recent Google Street View controversy in Germany is a perfect example, and it has set out people and political parties to philosophize and finally polarize themselves in two opposite camps.

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Source for this great illustration: textually.org

The Spiegel.de article “Google Knows More about Us than the KGB, Stasi or Gestapo” delineates the various ideologies of the politicians, institutional leaders, thinkers and commentators of Germany, when Google is just a few weeks away from launching the street views of the 20 German cities on the Internet. The German government, criticized for its slow reaction, now wants to take a cautious approach, rejecting the proposed legislation against Google’s Street View, and instead wants to address geographically based Internet services in general.

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