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Informed Millennials

April 15, 2015

With the fall of traditional newspapers and aging TV News audiences, just where are today’s 20- and young 30- somethings turning for news coverage?  Science 2.0  tells us “How Millennials Get News,” reporting on a recent survey from the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The joint effort comes from a collaboration arrangement the organizations call the Media Insight Project. Conducted at the beginning of 2015, the survey asked Millennials about their news-consumption habits. The article tells us:

“People ages 18-34 consume news and information in strikingly different ways than did previous generations, they keep up with ‘traditional’ news as well as stories that connect them to hobbies, culture, jobs, and entertainment, they just do it in ways that corporations can’t figure out how to monetize well….

“‘For many Millennials, news is part of their social flow, with most seeing it as an enjoyable or entertaining experience,’ said Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center. ‘It is possible that consuming news at specific times of the day for defined periods will soon be a thing of the past given that news is now woven into many Millennials’ connected lives.’”

Soon? Even many of us Gen Xers and (a few intrepid Baby Boomers) now take our news in small doses at varying hours. The survey also found that most respondents look at the news at least once a day, and many several times per day. Also, contrary to warnings from worrywarts (yes, including me), personalized news feeds may not be creating a confirmation-bias crisis, after all. Most of these Millennials insist their social-media feeds are well balanced; the write-up explains:

“70 percent of Millennials say that their social media feeds are comprised of a diverse mix of viewpoints evenly mixed between those similar to and different from their own. An additional 16 percent say their feeds contain mostly viewpoints different from their own. And nearly three-quarters of those exposed to different views (73 percent) report they investigate others’ opinions at least some of the time–with a quarter saying they do it always or often.”

Well, that’s encouraging. Another finding might surprise some of us: Though a vast 90 percent of Millennials have smart phones, only half report being online most of all of the day. See the article for more, or navigate to the report itself; the study’s methodology is detailed at the end of the report.

Cynthia Murrell, April 15, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Google Altered Search Results?!  

April 8, 2015

If you know anything about search results, search engine optimization, and search algorithms, you probably wondered if Google ever changed its search results so they would be favor one search result over another.  Google already alters results with Google AdWords, the Right to Forgotten, and removing results if they break rules.

The FTC revealed via The Wall Street Journal that Google has been altering its search results for profit: “Inside The US Antitrust Probe Of Google.”  The FTC found that Google was using its monopoly on search to harm Internet users and its rivals.  FTC recommended a lawsuit be brought against Google for three of its practices.  The FTC voted to end the investigation in 2013, which is strange, but they did so because they had competing recommendations.

Google continues to stand by its own innocence, citing that the case closed two years ago and that people continue to use its services.  There is one big thing that the Wall Street Journal points out:

“On one issue—whether Google used anticompetitive tactics for its search engine—the competition staff recommended against a lawsuit, although it said Google’s actions resulted in “significant harm” to rivals. In three other areas, the report found evidence the company used its monopoly behavior to help its own business and hurt its rivals.”

Can this be considered part of their “do not evil” bylaw?

Whitney Grace, April 8, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Google has Made Web Sites Hot and Angry

April 7, 2015

Business Insider tells more about Google’s dominating behavior in “The Google Backlash Is Growing.”  The backlash spawned from the FTC’s recently leaked report about how Google threatened to remove Web sites from search engine results if they did not allow Google to use their content.

“At the heart of the matter is the internal FTC report’s finding that Google was effectively blackmailing competing sites like Yelp and Amazon into using their data in its own search result. If they didn’t agree, they would get blacklisted from search results entirely.”

Google was facing a lawsuit, but they made some changes so they were able to escape…in the US.  In Europe, an investigation is still underway.  Some think the EU is harboring hostilities against a US company, but they are say it is not.

People in the US like Consumer Watchdog want the US Senate to reopen investigations to prove that Google is favoring its own services in search results and making competition appear in lower search rankings.  Google, however, maintains its innocence and wants the matter to rest.

Is it not common business practice to downplay the competition?  Not to say Google is innocent, but it makes logical sense to use that old school business tactic, especially when they control a whole lot of search.

Whitney Grace, April 7,  2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Pooling the Pangaea Ad Pool

April 2, 2015

In order to capitalize more on Internet ads, some of the biggest news published have pooled their resources to form the Pangaea Alliance, says Media Post in the article, “Premium Publishers Including Guardian, Reuters, FT Launch Programmatic Alliance.”  The Pangaea Alliance includes CNN International, the Financial Times, The Guardian, Reuters, and The Economist.  Combined all these publishers have an audience over 110 million users.  The Pangaea will make ad inventory available to advertisers using programmatic buying.

All participating members will pool their audiences and share their data with each.  This is very big news, considering most companies keep their customer list a secret.

“ ‘We know that trust is the biggest driver of brand advocacy, so we have come together to scale the benefits of advertising within trusted media environments,’ stated Tim Gentry, global revenue director at Guardian News and media and Pangaea Alliance project lead.”

Rubicon Project will power the Pangaea Alliance.  The alliance feeds into the demand for premium programmatic advertising venues on a massive scale.  The biggest problem it faces will be the customers.  They might have a large combined clientele, but will they actually want to pay for these outfits’ information?

Whitney Grace, April 2, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Is Google Net Neutral?

March 31, 2015

When the FCC passed laws that protect net neutrality, the Internet rejoiced that its crazy antics would be safeguarded and content would not be as regulated when it comes to search retrieval and indexing. Big technology companies that make the bulk of the revenue from Internet related services and products are beginning to voice their opinions on the matter, including Google. Drew Crawford wrote on his blog Sealed Abstract a very heated post about Google’s stance in the entire net neutrality argument: “Google, Our Patron Saint Of The Closed Web.” The blog points out the Google is net neutral with the Droid open market and its employees’ blogs, but apparently Google is also out to destroy the free Web too.

Google plans to take control of all .dev domain addresses and possible others in an effort to have these extensions solely related to Google products and services. In short, if you want to use any domains with this ending, like a blog, you will be forced to use a Google service. It is reminiscent of when Google forced people to sign-up for Google Plus if users wanted to continue using YouTube.

“My point is that if you think Google is some kind of Patron Saint of the Open Web, shit son. Tim Cook on his best day could not conceive of a dastardly plan like this. This is a methodical, coordinated, long-running and well-planned attack on the open web that comes from the highest levels of Google leadership.”

The news is not surprising when you assemble the pieces, but it is disheartening that there do not seem to be any big companies on the little guy’s side. And I thought Google was committed to not being evil.

Whitney Grace, March 31, 2015

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Watson Goes Blekko

March 28, 2015

I read “Goodbye Blekko: Search Engine Joins IBM’s Watson Team.” According to the write up, “Blekko’s home page says its team and technology are now part of IBM’s Watson technology.” I would not know this. I do not use the service. I wrestled with the implementation of Blekko on a news service and then wondered if Yandex was serious about the company. Bottom line: Blekko is not one of my go to search systems, and I don’t cover it in my Alternatives to Google lectures for law enforcement and intelligence professionals.

The write up asserts:

Blekko came out of stealth in 2008 with Skrenta promising to create a search engine with “algorithmic editorial differentiation” compared to Google. Its public search engine finally opened in 2010, launching with what the site called “slashtags” — a personalization and filtering tool that gave users control over the sites they saw in Blekko’s search results.

Another search system becomes part of the puzzling Watson service. How many information access systems does IBM require to make Watson the billion dollar revenue generator or at least robust enough to pay the rent for the Union Square offices?

IBM “owns” the Clementine system which arrived with the SPSS purchase. IBM owns Vivisimo, which morphed into a Big Data system in the acquisition news release, iPhrase, and the wonky search functions in DB2. Somewhere along the line, IBM snagged the Illustra system. From its own labs, IBM has Web Fountain. There is the decades old STAIRS system which may still be available as Service Master. And, of course, there is the Lucene system which provides the dray animals for Watson. Whew. That is a wealth of information access technology, and I am not sure it is comprehensive.

My point is that Blekko and its razzle dazzle assertions now have to provide something that delivers a payoff for IBM. On the other hand, maybe IBM Watson executives are buying technology in the hopes that one of the people “aquihired” or the newly bought zeros and ones will generate massive cash flows.

Watson has morphed from a question answering game show winner into all manner of fantastic information processing capabilities. For me, Watson is an example of what happens when a lack of focus blends with money, executive compensation schemes, and a struggling $100 billion outfit.

Lots of smoke. Not much revenue fire. Stakeholders hope it will change. I am looking forward to a semantically enriched recipe for barbeque sauce that includes tamarind and other spices not available in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky. Yummy. A tasty addition to the quarterly review menu: Blekko with revenue and a piquant profit sauce.

Perhaps IBM next will acquire Pertimm and the Qwant search system which terrrifes Eric Schmidt? Surprises ahead. I prefer profitable, sustainable revenues however.

Stephen E Arnold, March 28, 2015

Elasticsearch Becomes Elastic, Acquires Found

March 25, 2015

The article on Forbes.com titled Elasticsearch Changes Its Name, Enjoys An Amazing Open Source Ride and Hopes to Avoid Mistakes explains the latest acquisition and the reasons behind the name change to simply Elastic. That choice is surmised to be due to Elastic’s wish to avoid confusion over the open source product Elasticsearch and the company itself. It also signals the company’s movement beyond solely providing search technology. The article also discusses the acquisition of Found, a Norwegian company,

“Found provides hosted and fully ­managed Elasticsearch clusters with technology that automates processes such as installation, configuration, maintenance, backup, and high­availability. Doing all of this heavy-lifting enables developers to integrate a search engine into their database, website or app quickly In addition, Found has created a turnkey process to scale Elasticsearch clusters up or down at any time and without any downtime. Found’s Elasticsearch as a Service offering is being used by companies like Docker, Gild… and the New York Public Library.”

Elasticsearch has raised almost $105 million since its start after being created by Shay Banon in 2010. The article posits that they have been doing the right things so far, such as the acquisition of Kibana, the visualization vendor. Although some startups relying on Elasticsearch may throw shade at the Found acquisition, there are no foreseeable threats to Elastic’s future.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 25, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Accenture Makes a Big Purchase to Chase Government Clients

March 20, 2015

Accenture Federal Services (AFS) is one of the leading companies that provide technology and digital solutions for the US federal government. The parent company Accenture LLP has sought to increase its amount of federal contracts as well a products and services, so the company decided to purchase Agilex Technologies, Inc says Big News Network in “Accenture Unit To Agilex Technologies.”

” ‘Acquiring Agilex will help AFS further solidify our position as an innovative leader in the federal market. Combining our digital capabilities and agile methods will accelerate our ability to help clients harness the power of emerging digital technologies and rapid, predictable systems deployment for the federal government’s most complex challenges,’ said David Moskovitz, Accenture Federal Services chief executive.”

AFS plans to use Agilex’s technology to improve its own analytics, cloud, and mobile technology for federal organizations. Agilex, like its new owner, has worked with every cabinet-level department and federal agencies in defense, intelligence, public safety, civilian and military health organizations.

AFS will have more to offer its federal clients, but it does beg the question if it will lead to a monopoly on government contracts or increase the competition?

Whitney Grace, March 20, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Akio Software Acquires Spotter

March 18, 2015

Short honk: Last year Akio software acquired Spotter, a business intelligence company. You can read the announcement at this link. Information about the pre-acquisition technology of Spotter appears in this Search Wizards Speak interview.

Stephen E Arnold, March 17, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Accenture Adds a New Accent with Agilex Technologies

March 11, 2015

Technology companies are always purchasing new startups as well as established businesses to bolster their product line and add improved technologies to their holdings. It is once more time to see who has bought who and the Big News Network tells us that “Accenture Unit To Acquire Agilex Technologies.”

The acquisition is focused on bringing better solutions to government clients as Agilex Technologies already provides digital solutions to the federal government. Accenture hopes to use Agilex’s technology to improve their analytics, cloud, and mobility and increase rapid delivery.

” ‘Acquiring Agilex will help AFS further solidify our position as an innovative leader in the federal market. Combining our digital capabilities and agile methods will accelerate our ability to help clients harness the power of emerging digital technologies and rapid, predictable systems deployment for the federal government’s most complex challenges,’ said David Moskovitz, Accenture Federal Services chief executive.”

Agilex specializes in technology solutions for federal agencies and has a client list in the at defense, intelligence, public safety, civilian and military health organizations. Agilex was formed to help the government harness technology and fulfill its mission of serving the American people.

Accenture and Agilex will be able to combine their resources and help government organizations make a complete cross over into a digital work environment that provides better services and outcomes.

This is a good move for Accenture as the government is in desperate need of upgrading its technology sphere. Unlike other organizations, the government is a bit slow on the uptake due to money and the usual red tape that hinders development.

Whitney Grace, March 11, 2015
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