Glass: Forgetting Failure

January 31, 2016

I loved the entire Google Glass innovation. From the hiring of Babak Amirparviz (the man with many names) to the comments of Astro Teller (you know, the relative of the father of the hydrogen bomb) to the alleged attraction between a big Googler and a smaller Googler which contributed to the Xiaomi mobile business.

I recall that felicitous word glasshole. I enjoyed the shift of Google Glass to a fashion statement. Math club folks always have had a keen sense of style.

I read “Google Erases Memory of Glass” hopeful I would learn some more about Google Glass. (Doesn’t Google “delete” or “break” stuff. “Erase” does not do the job with a wonky head mounted computer thing that sort of puts a smartphone on one’s head.)

I noted this statement:

Google seems to have wiped all the content from the social media channels associated with Google Glass. The Glass Explorers group on Google+ has been completely erased, while Glass’ Facebook and Twitter have been deleted completely.

I thought Glass was a business product and service. According to the write up, the name “glass” may not survive the convenient revisionism underway.

Wait. Who was that ruler who rewrote history books? Maybe Stalin? Who can forget even if history is revised? Did Googler have to fill out a request to be removed for the Glass adventure?

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2016

Watson Weekly: Transforming Business for Sure

January 31, 2016

I read “8 Ways IBM Watson Analytics Is Transforming Business.” My initial reaction was, “If that were true, why is IBM stuck in a revenue decline.” IBM itself should be the exemplary case for the efficacy of IBM Watson.

IBM is struggling. I think the company has reported 15 consecutive quarters of revenue decline. Let’s see. Yes, that works out to four years of downhill sledding.

The write up ignores the obvious disconnect between what IBM asserts Watson can do and IBM’s own business performance. The reality is that if Watson were so darned wonderful, IBM’s financial results should reflect that insider advantage.

Oh, well.

Here’s the part of the write up I highlighted with my Big Blue red ink marker:

  • A Kentucky truck company is racking in the dough via Watson Analytics. Okay.
  • A company engaged in social housing and health care is figuring out how not to injure workers. Okay.
  • An outfit is identifying opportunities on the Australian stock exchange. I assume Watson is recommending IBM as a strong buy.
  • A franchised patient taxi service is analyzing data from its transport services. But where’s Uber? What is Uber using for analytics? Okay.
  • A marketing outfit in Texas takes time out from standing on line at Franklin Barbecue to correlate data. Okay but I think Franklin’s figures out customer demand by looking out the window of the restaurant.
  • A hospitality planning service firm for college sports can figure out what to do when selling yummy hot dogs and serving cold, refreshing buttermilk to thirsty sports fans. Okay.
  • A university (yes, a university with a statistics department) uses Watson to figure out how “to leverage social sentiment.” I wonder if the university queries graduates about their student loans versus employment prospects? Okay. Well, maybe not okay.
  • Another university uses Watson in its actual classes. What about IBM SPSS? Wait maybe that’s Watson analytics. Students will be almost excited as I was to do the statistics exercises, but I did not get to use Watson. I had to use a pencil and paper.

My take on this article? IBM does not have compelling use cases. In fact, these examples illustrate that IBM is struggling to dress up analytics in marketing finery.

Uber? What’s Uber using for its ride analytics?

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2016

Yahoo Says Adios to Argentina and Mexico

January 30, 2016

Years ago Yahoo pulled out of Denmark. Yahoo has trimmed its international operations over time. I read “In Latest Shakeup, Yahoo Quits Mexico, Argentina.” Several points in the write up caught my attention.

First, Yahoo is described as “troubled” by its local newspaper. The “real” journalists are wondering what the Yahooligans will do to reform themselves.

Second, I liked the characterization of the Argentina and Mexico operations as “not worth future investment.” There you go. Yahoo sees the land of gauchos and guacamole as lacking financial magnetism.

Third, the write up points out that Yahoo sees Brazil as a growth opportunity. Yahoo must know something about the Brazilian economy. I used to live in the country, and from what I hear some of cities are not likely to be friendly to folks dressed in purple. Brazil possesses more than 18 of the most dangerous cities in the world. And the Brazilian economy? Zipping right along. And the Zika.

Yahoo has great instincts. The revenues will surely follow.

Stephen E Arnold, January 30, 2016

Search Almost Did Not Make the Graph

January 30, 2016

I read “323 Marketing Tech Startups Fetched over $11B from VCs in 2015 (Research).” The write up suggested to me that a horse racing stable mentality appears to have some appeal for the venture capital crowd. The theory has two parts.

First, the outfits are acting a bit like sheep. Second, the belief is that some of these horses will win the Kentucky Derby. That’s fine. I don’t have to explain to investors where the money went nor do I have to figure out how to repay the investors who want their money back or a payout pronto.

The chart reveals another facets of the data. Here’s a tiny version of the chart:


You will have to consult the original post to read the labels on the y axis. Note that “search” appears, but it is a brushing shoulders in the long tail with SEO and market research. In short, at the far right hand edge of the y axis. Investors supporting the long shots are brave steed owners.

Now check out the title of the write up. Do you see “marketing tech”? I do. It strikes me that research is not important to “marketing tech” as a broad sector.

But what are the top three sectors sucking cash? Answer:

  • Analytics
  • Ad tech
  • Design
  • Social
  • Data infrastructure.

Will search regain its former glory? Probably not. Mules amidst the stallions? Nah, search vendors can just change their marketing lingo.

Stephen E Arnold, January 30, 2016

Desperate for Traffic: Black Hat SEO Appears Quite Tasty

January 29, 2016

I read an interesting article. The title? “Are There Any Black Hat SEO Strategies That Work?” For years I have pointed out that if you want traffic, you need to buy Adwords. If the budget for an Adword campaign is too much for your pocketbook, you have to be pragmatic. Short cuts will land you in Google’s version of purgatory. If you have not been there, check out Dante.

The write up says:

Black hat tactics are ones that use deception, manipulation, and gimmicks to trick search engines into ranking a site higher than it otherwise would rank.

That sounds like a good description of most search engine optimization methods. Google does not care so webmasters try to fool Mother Google.

The write up sort of agrees with me. I noted this comment:

White hat tactics can be technically manipulative, since we’re taking specific actions with the goal of trying to rank higher in organic search…

The author then reviews some well known methods for getting an invitation to digital purgatory.

I came away from the write up with a sense that folks are desperate for traffic. Google buys traffic from Apple. You can buy traffic from Google. This seems pretty basic to me.

SEO is a game of diminishing returns. Even raising the notion of black hat methods only makes the white hat methods show their true color: Black. What’s on the head of the SEO maven? A black Barcelona ball cap. Black hat. Get it?

Stephen E Arnold, January 29, 2016

Google Passes Go: Wins the 2016 Jeopardy Trophy

January 29, 2016

IBM Watson smoked the humans on Jeopardy. The issue of post production does not halt the Watson PR machine.

Now the Alphabet Google thing has crushed the game of Go, smashing the likes of GnuGo, Fuebo, Pachi, Zen, Crazy Stone, and Fan Hui.

Winning games is one way to demonstrate the seeming magic of smart software.

Navigate to “AlphaGo: Mastering the ancient game of Go with Machine Learning.” The write up from a real live Googler states:

Go is a game of profound complexity. The search space in Go is vast — more than a googol times larger than chess (a number greater than there are atoms in the universe!). As a result, traditional “brute force” AI methods — which construct a search tree over all possible sequences of moves — don’t have a chance in Go. To date, computers have played Go only as well as amateurs. Experts predicted it would be at least another 10 years until a computer could beat one of the world’s elite group of Go professionals.

Profound. Yes.

How “strong” is the Google method, Watson?

Ah, Watson, you don’t have an answer. Google obligingly reveals:

To answer this question, we played a tournament between AlphaGo and the best of the rest – the top Go programs at the forefront of A.I. research. Using a single machine, AlphaGo won all but one of its 500 games against these programs. In fact, AlphaGo even beat those programs after giving them 4 free moves head start at the beginning of each game. A high-performance version of AlphaGo, distributed across many machines, was even stronger.

Net net: Humans are destined to be losers. Humans are inferior. Those Google self driving cars and their “incidents”? Humans are responsible.

Eliminate the human from activities and machine life is much better.

Question: What happens if AlphaGo and Watson hook up and produce some spawn? What if Facebook and Baidu’s smart software join in the fun? Worth making a video of the encounter I assume.

Stephen E Arnold, January 29, 2016

Google Factoids: Speaking for the GOOG

January 29, 2016

I read “Why Advisors’ Google presence Is More Vital Than They Thing.” The article argues that consultants have to be on the first page of Google results when someone searches for one’s name; for example, “Stephen E Arnold.”


In the write up are some unsubstantiated factoids. I love these chunks of information even if they could be woven from unicorn fur; for example:

  • 92 percent of people only go to the first page of Google results. (I thought the number was closer to 95 percent, but 92 percent is close enough for horse shoes.)
  • Google processes more than 40,000 search per second. The source is Internet Live Stats, and if anyone should know it would be this outfit. (What’s Google say? Exactly.)
  • Investors are using search engines as part of their due diligence process. (Be still my heart.)

For more gems, read the original.

Stephen E Arnold, January 29, 2016

Google Wants ISIS to Stay Off the Regular Web

January 29, 2016

Propaganda from the Islamic State (Isis) exists not only in the Dark Web, but is also infiltrating the familiar internet. A Wired article discusses the best case scenario to stop such information from spreading in their article Google: ISIS must be ‘contained to the Dark Web’. Google describes ISIS only existing in the Dark Web as success. This information helps explain why,

“As Isis has become more prominent in Syria and Iraq, social media, alongside traditional offline methods, have have been used to spread the group’s messages and recruit members. In 2014 analysis of the group’s online activity showed that they routinely hijack hashtags, use bots, and post gruesome videos to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The UK’s internet counter terrorism unit claims to remove 1,000 illegal pieces of terrorism related content from the internet each week — it says that roughly 800 of these are to do with Syria and Iraq. The group claims in the 12 months before June 2012 that 39,000 internet takedowns were completed.”

The director of Google Ideas is quoted as describing ISIS’ tactics ranging from communication to spamming to typical email scams; he explains they are not “tech-savy.” Unfortunately, tech chops is not a requirement for effective marketing, so the question still remains whether containing this group and their messages to the Dark Web is possible — and whether that means success with growing numbers of people using the Dark Web.


Megan Feil, January 29, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Bing Goes Green, as in Dollar Bills and Brand New Logo

January 29, 2016

The article on Microsoft News titled Microsoft Releasing New Bing Logo Today briefly overviews the recent growth and profitability of the often mocked and overlooked search engine. Microsoft also updated Cortana lately, which is deeply connected to Bing search. So what will the new Bing logo look like? The article explains,

“In the new logo, Microsoft is switching its color scheme to green as it  “is easier to see over yellow” and “b” in now in upper case. This new version of the logo will be used across various Microsoft apps and services. Speaking to AdAge, Rik van der Kooi, Microsoft’s corporate VP of advertiser and publisher solutions said that Bing is the only search engine that is experiencing steady, consistent growth and have increased our share for 26 consecutive quarters.”

The article also points out that it is Bing powering Yahoo, AOL, Apple Siri and several other services, from behind the scenes. The green logo looks less like an imitation of Google, especially with the capitalization. Perhaps the new logo is meant to be easier on the eyes, but it is also certainly trying to keep up the positive attention Bing has been receiving lately as 1/3 of the search market.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 29, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Forget Girolamo: Renaissance Florence Outdid Silicon Valley

January 28, 2016

You remember, Girolamo Savonarola, don’t you? Sure, he was the feisty character who did some forecasting, suggested death and hell fire for those into secular art, and a wild and crazy approach to the Big Guy.

Well, forget him. Forget the city state thing, the disease, the child labor, and the starvation of those who did not have land, jewels, and political clout via birth, commerce, or religious affiliation.

Look at the innovation. The Harvard wonks have and the “proof” is exposed in “Renaissance Florence Was a Better Model for Innovation than Silicon Valley Is.” I learned:

Florence reminds us that even devastating events can yield surprising benefits. The city’s Renaissance blossomed only a few decades after the Black Death decimated the city, and in part because of it. Horrible as it was, the plague shook up the rigid social order, and that new fluidity led directly to artistic and intellectual revolution.

I thought money did the trick. Oh, well. Let’s think about how to make Silicon Valley into a baby Florence. Here’s a list of ideas derived from the Harvard ivory tower:

  1. Do the patronage thing. A rich person helps a talented young person. Altruism. More billionaires should help out the folks with great potential.
  2. Whip up some mentors. The faculty at Stanford might fill the bill unless the wizards are too busy consulting or running their own companies.
  3. Look for potential. That mesio in the Mission might be the next Bill Gates. Give the fellow a saw buck and a Tesla. No experience? No problem.
  4. Start a disaster or take advantage of what ever bad thing comes along. The point is to be prepared to act.
  5. Buddy up to the competition. Anti trust, collusion, price fixing, no poaching deals—yep, become pals.
  6. Do the Leonardo and Michelangelo two step. Look at what others are doing; for example, sculpting in the street and dupe it. Imitation is part of the “me too, me too” approach to innovation.

Now where will Silicon Valley put those churches? Think of the store fronts that can be dotted along the San Mateo Bridge. How I wish I was back in college so I could learn more about the wonders of Florence.

But there is that plague thing and, of course, Girolamo. Search was pretty good, just a manual thing available to insiders.

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2016

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