Yahoo Flickr Images: Does Search Work?

August 31, 2014

I think you know the answer if you are a regular reader of Beyond Search.

Nope.

Finding images is a tedious and time consuming business. I know what the marketing collateral and public relations noise suggests. One can search by photographer, color, yada, yada.

The reality is that finding an image requires looking at images. Some find this fun, particularly if the client is paying by the hour for graphic expertise. For me, image search underscores how primitive information retrieval tools are.

Feel free to disagree.

To test Yahoo Flickr search, navigate to “Welcome to the Internet Archive to the the Commons.” Check out the sample entry to the millions of public domain images.

image

Darned meaty.

To search the “Commons”, one has to navigate to the Commons page and scroll down to the search box highlighted in yellow in this screenshot:

image

Enter a query like this one “18th century elocution.”

Here’s what the system displayed:

image

I then tried this query “london omnibus 1870”.

Here’s what the system displayed:

image

No omnibuses.

Like many image retrieval systems, the user has to fiddle with queries until images are spotted by manual inspection.

The archive is useful. Finding images in Yahoo Flickr remains a problem for me. I thought Xooglers knew quite a bit about search. You know: Finding information when the user enters a key word or two.

Stephen E Arnold, August 31, 2014

Quote to Note: Facebook Search

August 31, 2014

Facebook has done little public facing work on search. Behind the scenes, Facebookers and Xooglers have been beavering away. A bit of public information surfaced in “Zuckerberg On Search — Facebook Has More Content Than Google.” Does Facebook have a trillion pieces of content. Is that more content than Google has? Nah. But it is the thought that counts:

Here’s the quote I highlighted:

What would it ultimately mean if Facebook’s search efforts are effective–and if Facebook allowed universal use of a post search tool that really worked? It’s dizzying, really. As Zuckerberg said early this year on an earnings call: “There are more than a trillion status updates and unstructured text posts and photos and pieces of content that people have shared over the past 10 years.” Then the Facebook CEO put that figure into context: “a trillion pieces of content is more than the index in any web search engine.” You know what “any web search engine” spells? That’s a funny way of spelling Google.

With Amazon nosing into ads and Facebook contemplating more public search functionality, will Google be able to respond in a manner that keeps its revenues flowing and projects like Loon flying? I wonder what the Arnold name surfer thinks about Facebook? Maybe it is a place to post musings about failed youth coaching?

Stephen E Arnold, August 31, 2014

Google and Universal Search or Google Floudering with Search

August 30, 2014

There have been some experts who have noticed that Google has degraded blog search. In the good old days, it was possible to query Google’s index of Web logs. It was not comprehensive, and it was not updated with the zippiness of years past.

Search Engine Land and Web Pro News both pointed out that www.google.com/blogsearch redirects to Google’s main search page. The idea of universal search, as I understood it, was to provide a single search box for Google’s content. Well, that is not too useful when it is not possible to limit a query to a content type or a specific collection.

“Universal” to Google is similar to the telco’s use of the word “unlimited.”

According the to experts, it is possible to search blog content. Here’s the user friendly sequence that will be widely adopted by Google users:

  1. Navigate to the US version of Google News. Note that this can be tricky if one is accessing Google from another country
  2. Enter a query; for example, “universal search”
  3. Click on “search tools” and then click on “All news”image
  4. Then click on “Blogs”

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Several observations:

First, finding information in Google is becoming more and more difficult.

Second, obvious functions such as providing an easy way to run queries against separate Google indexes is anything but obvious. Do you know how to zip to Google’s patent index or its book index? Not too many folks do.

Third, the “logic” of making search a puzzle is no longer of interest to me. Increasing latency in indexing, Web sites that are pushed deep in the index for a reason unrelated to the site’s content, and a penchant for hiding information points to some deep troubles in Google search.

Net net: Google has lost its way in search. Too bad. As the volume of information goes up, the findability goes down. Wild stuff like Loon and Glass go up. Let’s hope Google can keep its ad revenue flowing; otherwise, there would be little demand for individuals who can perform high value research.

Stephen E Arnold, August 30, 2014

Google: Authors Not Helping Traffic

August 30, 2014

First, Google removed operators for Boolean queries. Then, Google started suggesting what I wanted. Now, Google does away with authors. These steps improve user experience. In John  Mueller’s Google Plus post I learned:

(If you’re curious — in our tests, removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase clicks on ads. We make these kinds of changes to improve our users’ experience.)

No, I am not curious. I know several things. Precision and recall are less and less useful to Google.

What is important is ad revenue. Google wants a way to sell ads to fund projects like Loon, Glass, and drones. Oh, pesky authors anyway.

Stephen E Arnold, August 30, 2014

Hewlett Packard May Sue Accounting Firm over Autonomy Deal

August 30, 2014

Hewlett Packard fatigue is nibbling at my consciousness. I read “Hewlett-Packard Plans to Sue Deloitte’s UK Arm over Autonomy Audit.” HP appears to find others to blame for its decision to purchase Autonomy. The write up says:

Hewlett-Packard plans to sue the UK arm of accountancy firm Deloitte over its role in auditing Autonomy, the software company HP acquired but later accused of inflating financial figures, a lawyer for the US company said in court on Monday.

The Autonomy matter does keep HP in the news. However, the steady background hum of allegations about impropriety at Autonomy are like white noise. After a short time, the sound fades away.

The Autonomy matter, like the Fast Search & Technology financial restatement, suggests that search is a tough business to make into a massive, sustainable revenue stream.

Buying search technology appears to deliver headaches to those involved. Do the Autonomy and Fast Search issues suggest that content processing is easy to talk about and tough to turn into solutions that make everyone involved happy. Ooops. One group is very happy: the lawyers.

Stephen E Arnold, August 30, 2014

IBM Watson and Research

August 29, 2014

The IBM Watson content marketing machine grinds on. This time, IBM’s Hail Mary is making Watson into a research assistant. Let’s see. Watson does cancer treatment, recipe invention, and insurance analyses. “IBM Sees Broader Role for Watson in Airing Research” the operative word is “sees”, not hipping, sold, market dominance, and similar “got it done” phrases. Heck, there’s not even a public demo on Wikipedia data or a collection of patents.

The write up cheers me forward with:

With the aid of Watson, companies could better mine that private information and combine it with scientific data in the public domain.

One company studying such possibilities to evaluate medications and treatments is Johnson & Johnson, IBM said. But the company sees applications beyond the health realm, including making automated suggestions based on financial, legal, energy and intelligence-related information, IBM said.

Watson has to generate lots of dough and fast. IBM expects the Watson “system” to produce billions in revenue in five or six years. What Watson is producing is more credibility problems for search vendors with technology that “sort of” works.

I had a query yesterday from a consultant whose client wants to use IBM Watson technology. I suggested that if IBM will fund the quest for a brass ring, go for it. Have a Plan B.

In the meantime, I find the Watson arabesques pretty darned interesting. With HP planning billions from Autonomy, where is this money going to come from. No one seems to think much about the need to have a product that solves a problem for a specific company.

No “saids” or “sees” required. Just a business built on open source technology and home grown code. IBM is fascinating as is its content marketing methods. Quite an end of summer announcement. How about a live demo? I am weary of Jeopardy references.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2014

Fixing US Government Information Technology

August 29, 2014

Short honk: I found this item amusing: “America’s Tech Guru Steps Down—But He’s Not Done Rebooting the Government.” Let’s see. There was Healthcare.gov and then the missing IRS emails. I heard about a few other minor glitches, but these are not germane. The notion is that a “tech guru” can fix government IT from outside the government. I think this means getting into the consulting and engineering services game.

Optimism is evident; for example:

Park wants to move government IT into the open source, cloud-based, rapid-iteration environment that is second nature to the crowd considering his pitch tonight. The president has given reformers like him leave, he told them, “to blow everything … up and make it radically better.”

Okay, I suppose some folks are waiting. Will Booz Allen, CSC, SAIC, SRA, and IBM Federal lose sleep tonight? Nope. Some will probably be chuckling as I did.

This is a get funding, bill, submit engineering change order, bill, get funding, etc. etc. world. Improvement is usually a lower priority task whether one is inside or outside the entity.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2014

A New Look for Computerworld.com

August 29, 2014

You are familiar with Computerworld, and you may visit the Computerworld.com Web site. The emulators and name surfers somewhere in the IDG Enterprise combine wants more eyeballs. That’s why I saw this news story from the professionals at Marketwired. Note: Not “marketwire.”

The title? “Computerworld.com Integrates Responsive Design Technology and functionality Enhancements in Site Relaunch.” The “real” news story reports:

The award-winning site incorporates responsive design technology to create a universal experience by scaling editorial and advertising content to the user’s screen size, whether they are accessing Computerworld.com with a smartphone, tablet or desktop.

I thought that blog themes like those readily available for WordPress, Joomla, and other content frameworks did the responsive thing automatically. The notion of “responsive design” is getting bright lights at “the leading enterprise technology media company”, however.

I suppose on a slow news day or when an IDC unit cannot publish my information without my permission or the other impedimenta that marks professional behavior, the crackerjack experts at IDG have to dig deep and gut through the really tough news. The story reports:

The editorial voice, content and design of Computerworld.com remains unique to the brand, while functionality has been aligned across IDG Enterprise sites including back-end capabilities enhancing search functionality and digital asset management for displaying more images and video content. The reader experience is further enhanced by large more legible type and fully integrated social media tools. Ads and promotional units are highlighted in a “deconstructed” right rail optimizing effectiveness and native advertising will be threaded intuitively throughout the site.

From whence does the content come from? Well, here’s an example of how IDG maintains its alleged “leading” position:

“Computerworld.com is well known for its superb tech news. What may be less obvious to website visitors is all the other great content Computerworld serves up for senior technology leaders,” said Scot Finnie, editor in chief, Computerworld.

Interesting since the consulting outfit bandied my name about like a tennis ball between mid 2012 and mid July 2014 without fooling around with contracts, sales reports, edit cycles, etc.

Now what about Computerworld.com? Today’s Computerworld.com has 64 objects on the home page, uses 30 images, and expects my wonderful Windows phone to render a page that is a svelte 1656946 bytes. Ooops. Don’t forget that the images pumped to me today total 1612438 bytes. You can see a report by navigating to www.websiteoptimization.com.

Fascinating news about the responsive design innovation. I am surprised that IDG elected to share this secret to online success. Is it possible that Computerworld.com invented responsive design following in the impressive footsteps of Al Gore’s Internet system and method?

Well, as long as revenues rise, the long slog to responsive design will have been worth it.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2014

How to End Googles Search Monopoly if You Want To

August 29, 2014

The article on makeuseof titled Help End Google’s Search Monopoly: Use Something Else implores Internet users to consider alternatives for search on the basis of a very simple concept: monopolies are bad. Without a doubt, Google is a monopoly, with the Chinese Baidu in a lagging second place. The amount of power this gives Google is the main target of the article, not Google itself, interestingly. The article states,

“The ball is always in Google’s court – they control the search game. This breeds a culture of tailoring content to what Google wants, with the problem being that nobody really knows what this is. Most “SEO experts” will tell you they know how to get your site ranking highly, but really they have no greater insight into what goes on behind the scenes than you do.

We’re not bitter, that’s not the point of this article.”

They are referring to Panda, Google’s 2011 filter that removed lower quality content websites from searches. This benefitted some sites, but it also had far-reaching negative implications for any number of sites. This is why monopolies are bad, not because Google is inherently evil but because they are making decisions that can affect huge amounts of people and businesses. It may be too late to recommend alternatives like DuckDuckGo, since Google is so ingrained in its users as the only option for search.

Chelsea Kerwin, August 29, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Heatmaps Track Where Gaze Lingers on Ads and Websites

August 29, 2014

The article on Business Insider titled 29 Eye-Tracking Heatmaps Reveal Where People Really Look provides some 25 images with heatmaps, or blobs of color ranging from red (where the eye stayed longest) to dark blue (where the eye didn’t bother to look closely.) It quickly becomes clear that the largest trend is to linger on faces, especially eyes, and to follow the eye of the face. For example, in an ad with Ashley Judd looking at a bottle of shampoo, the heatmap shows more attention paid to the shampoo when compared to an ad with Judd staring straight into the camera. The article states,

“They say the eyes tell all. Now thanks to eye-tracking technology we can tell what they’re saying. Tracking eye movements can give us fascinating insights into advertising and design and reveal a few things about human tendencies.”

This is certainly a worthwhile article to scan for those interested in the placement of Google Adwords. Knowing where people are looking on a web page will help you avoid the mistake of placing much worth in banner ads, for example, since they are practically invisible to the eye. Audience is important as well, with men and women having some divergent tendencies.

Chelsea Kerwin, August 29, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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