February 6, 2014
The article titled Russian Search Engine Yandex Sets Facebook Firehose On Full Blast on redOrbit explains the deal struck by Yandex and Facebook to include Facebook public content from Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. Private content will remain inaccessible, but Yandex believes that Facebook allowing access to public data will greatly enhance the volume of results.
The article states:
“Yandex will add up-to-date articles and videos, among other things that have had great resonance among Facebook users. In addition, the popularity of materials in the social network will be taken into consideration when ranking search results,” Yandex said.
The agreement is non-cash based, Reuters reports, and stands to benefit both parties. Yandex will improve the quality of its search results while Facebook will get more traffic. Both Yandex and Facebook make a significant portion of revenues from advertising.”
In the scene of Russian social networking, Facebook ranks fourth to such companies as Vkontakte, so while this deal will benefit Facebook’s visibility, Yandex will also show content from other networks. About a year ago, Facebook began protecting its data, which began the conversation leading to the deal. The two organizations worked together previously to build a social search app called Wonder.
Chelsea Kerwin, February 06, 2014
January 29, 2014
The article titled Facebook Data Scientists Prove Memes Mutate And Adapt Like DNA on TechCrunch investigates the lifespan of a type of memes he calls “adaptable.” The article explains that Facebook’s data scientists have been tracking memes just as a scientist might follow a genetic mutation. They use the example of the liberal meme “no one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, post this as your status for the rest of the day”. They supply a chart following all of the paths this one meme took.
The article explains:
“As I wrote in my Stanford Cybersociology Master’s program research paper, memes are more shareable if they’re easy to remix. When a meme has a clear template with substitutable variables, people recognize how to put their own spin on it. They’re then more likely to share their own modified creations, which drives awareness of the original. When I recognized this back in 2009, I based my research on Lolcats and Soulja Boy, but more recently The Harlem Shake meme proved me right.”
This explains the variants such as “no one should die because of zombies if they cannot afford a shotgun”, and “be without a beer because they cannot afford one,” and my personal favorite “be frozen in carbonite because… they couldn’t pay Jabba the Hut.” Each evolution is created due to a shift in audience. Studying the evolution of memes, the article posits, could make Facebook better able to provide and promote new content.
Chelsea Kerwin, January 29, 2014
January 21, 2014
A holiday leftover we’ve found at the Elasticsearch Blog has us contemplating the open-source search race for 2014. The site shares video from a recent event in which a Facebook representative discusses his company’s use of their product in, “Facebook & Elasticsearch: for Your Holiday Viewing Pleasure.” Is Elasticsearch surpassing Silicon Valley-based LucidWorks?
The post introduces the video:
“So, without further ado, we bring you this video from the inaugural Elasticsearch Silicon Valley meetup, in which you’ll learn more about Facebook’s use of Elasticsearch, including:
- Facebook’s migration from Apache Solr to Elasticsearch
- The company’s use of Elasticsearch to power internal search for developer tool sets and libraries
- How Elasticsearch powers Facebook’s Community Help Site
- And much, much more on their use case.”
The video is over an hour long, and full of good technical information, if that’s your thing. But the first two minutes summarize why Facebook prefers Elasticsearch over the competition. (The company had previously tried using Google Enterprise Search and Apache Solr and found each lacking.) Below the video, the post links to a webinar on getting started with their product. Formed in 2012, Elasticsearch is based in Amsterdam with offices in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, and Switzerland. They are also hiring as of this writing; that’s usually a good sign.
We heard that OpenSearchServer, another open-source search vendor, snagged the Le Monde account from Sinequa. If true, there seems to be competition between open-source search vendors and non-open-source search systems as well as among open-source search vendors.
Contention and competition. The year 2014 will be fascinating.
Cynthia Murrell, January 21, 2014
November 26, 2013
Last month, Facebook admitted that users, particularly teens, are using the site less these days. The Guardian reports, “Teenagers Say Goodbye to Facebook and Hello to Messenger Apps.” (Messenger apps function much like text messaging, but without the extra charges on the phone bill.) Writer Parmy Olson blames the shift on the wider audience Facebook has successfully attracted over the years.
“Their gradual exodus to messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk boils down to Facebook becoming a victim of its own success. The road to gaining nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users has seen the mums, dads, aunts and uncles of the generation who pioneered Facebook join it too, spamming their walls with inspirational quotes and images of cute animals, and (shock, horror) commenting on their kids’ photos. No surprise, then, that Facebook is no longer a place for uninhibited status updates about pub antics, but an obligatory communication tool that younger people maintain because everyone else does.”
I’m sure that is a factor, but the Reference Heap provides another perspective. It isn’t so much that Facebook’s user base has changed, but that changes to the site have made it less useful. At the same time that its algorithm presents us with pointless information, it often fails to deliver truly relevant missives from friends and family. In a note beginning “Dear Facebook, You Suck,” the angry pastebin writer charges:
“One of my best friend’s mother lost her battle with cancer the other day, my friend wrote a beautiful status update commemorating her mother, it got 297 likes and tons of comments before I noticed it… You know how I noticed it? My mother called me and told me about her mother dying and I went to her actual page to see for myself. But you know what I did notice? Becky hates Mondays. My 3rd cousin whom I haven’t seen since a family reunion 10 years ago started playing his umpteenth game on Facebook.”
I can relate. I know I have missed important news on Facebook in a similar fashion, and messages I really wanted folks to see got little traction. Is this a deliberate attempt to get us to pay Facebook the seven bucks (well, $6.99) to “promote” posts we actually want others to view? Perhaps I’m being too cynical.
Cynthia Murrell, November 26, 2013
October 14, 2013
Facebook has assembled a new team to build a “deep learning” approach for the site’s AI, MIT Technology Review reveals in, “Facebook Launches Advanced AI Effort to Find Meaning in your Posts.” The method promises to greatly speed data analysis by simulating our own neural networks.
Google and Microsoft have both recently made strides in this area. Google is using the approach to help its algorithm recognize objects in photos (beginning with cats, of course) and to improve its voice recognition services. Microsoft employed the technique to create its real-time English-to-Mandarin translation software. For its part, Facebook hopes deep learning will improve its news feed, which must pick up the pace to keep up with changing user habits. Both the compulsion to check our feeds with our mobile devices and ballooning friends lists require Facebook’s AI to better and more quickly decide what to show each user.
So, how is deep learning different from older AI models? Reporter Tom Simonite explains:
“Conventional forms of machine learning are slower because before data can be fed into learning software, experts must manually choose which features of it the software should pay attention to, and they must label the data to signify, for example, that certain images contain cars. Deep learning systems can learn with much less human intervention because they can figure out for themselves which features of the raw data are most significant. They can even work on data that hasn’t been labeled, as Google’s cat-recognizing software did. Systems able to do that typically use software that simulates networks of brain cells, known as neural nets, to process data. They require more powerful collections of computers to run.”
Facebook engineering manager Srinivas Narayanan, who is helping assemble the deep-learning team, says some of their more general research will be shared with the public. He also notes that the project will be informed by work Facebook has done on integrating hardware and software to process large data sets.
Cynthia Murrell, October 14, 2013
September 16, 2013
Here we go again with Facebook and Google. The two big IT rivals have been vying for control of the Internet for years and Yahoo Small Business Advisor informs us that another face off is coming in the article, “Graph Search Vs. Google.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already changed the way people communicate, but now he wants to change how people search. Instead of relying on basic content results, like Google, Zuckerberg wants Facebook’s Graph Search to return results based on its users friends and their likes. Google CEO Larry Page does not think his company and Facebook need to be rivals, but user speculation cannot help but compare the two and the article lists some of the problems Graph Search face.
There are “dirty likes,” which are likes for a business not based on it genuinely being liked but because of incentives it gives users. Also Graph Search will not be helpful to users who have too little or too many friends, because the results could be too big or too broad. The usual privacy concerns are noted and mobile search still has its limitations.
Here is another big factor that users will like:
“And here’s the thing: Google’s social network does not use ads, letting users see only what they want to see. Since G+ users don’t face the same pressure that leads to “dirty likes,” their circles are more likely to reflect their own personal interests. So even though Facebook has a much larger user base than Google+, the latter gives users a more personal experience. Plus, the fact that a person can access Gmail, Drive, and YouTube, all on the same website, while also finding personalized search results thanks to G+, is nothing to sneeze at, either.”
I am not looking forward to the news feed for the next few months as Graph Search comes out of its infancy. The true comparisons can only begin at that time, but then so will the rants and raves.
Whitney Grace, September 16, 2013
September 16, 2013
According to the recent MakeUseof.com article “Facebook Usage is Changing – So Which Online Social Activities are Growing?” Facebook is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Instead of utilizing social networks that are tied to their real-life identity, today’s teens are flocking towards other networks that allow them to use pseudonyms and avatars.
The article explains why Twitter was included in the list, and how it differentiates itself from Facebook:
“There’s some evidence that Twitter is becoming more popular, with usage among teens doubling in the past year. Twitter might seem a bit stuffy, like one of the established social networks, but it has much in common with some of the upstarts. Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn’t demand your real name — you can use anything you like as your Twitter handle. You can then engage publicly with other people about topics of interest or set your Twitter account to private and have your tweets visible only to your friends, although most Twitter usage is public. You don’t even have to send your own tweets — you can follow other accounts and just view them.”
As with everything in technology, what’s cutting edge today is inevitably going to be old news tomorrow. With this in mind, its no surprise that Facebook is losing its momentum. I wonder if they, like Twitter, will find new ways to stay relevant.
Jasmine Ashton, September 16, 2013
September 7, 2013
Which social media platform is better? Google Plus and Facebook each have their pros and cons, but for a serious comparison read the article from Makeuseof.com: “The Final Showdown: Google Plus Vs. Facebook, Which One Is Really The Best?” Each social media platform is broken down into the basic functions and like an elementary school open response question they compare and contrast. A tally score is kept.
User interface goes to Google Plus, because it is slicker and looks like it was made in 2013. Facebook, by a small amount, wins the profile challenge with its Timeline function. The chat feature contest ends in a draw. Google Plus takes the lead with its circles when it comes to managing friends, plus it scores another point for its easy updating ability. Both platforms offer good ways to upload photo albums, but Google Plus seems to be easier to use.
Google fails, though, when it comes to privacy settings. We all know that Google gathers data on all its users, but managing the social networking aspect is hidden somewhere in the account settings. Facebook at least has its privacy out in the open.
The end result is that Google Plus is the winner, but:
“The main reason most of us still prefer Facebook is simple: it’s where people are. Why are people there? Probably because it was first. This is a recursive argument, because if we all move to Google+, that’s where people will be. But it’s not easy, and in the mean time, if you truly want to stay updated and have an audience, you will understandably stick to Facebook (I know I do).”
It all comes down to a matter of preference again. Does not everything?
Whitney Grace, September 07, 2013
August 6, 2013
Well, that’s a novel use of taxpayer money. Australia’s News.com reveals, “U.S. State Department Spent $690,000 to ‘Buy’ Facebook ‘Likes’.”(That’s about $630,000 in U.S. dollars.) According to a report from the U.S. State Department‘s Inspector General, over the last three years the agency spent this money to buy social-media “likes.” Perhaps one can buy love?
Er, not really. The tactic did not work well, even before Facebook started charging to push content to a page’s fans as well as non-fans. The practice ceased only when the change at the social site prompted a change in strategy. Actually it turns out that “strategy” is too strong a word. The write-up tells us:
“The report also stated that the bureau did not have a social media strategy. Various State Department bureaus had over 150 social media accounts that were uncoordinated and often overlapping.”
That is discouraging; no wonder there was trouble. The article specifies:
“The State Department’s Facebook page likes increased during the spending from 100,000 to more than 2 million and to 450,000 on Facebook’s foreign-language pages.
“Despite the increase, the IG said the spending did not reach the bureau’s target audience, mainly older and more influential people. Only about 2 per cent of the department’s fans engaged with the pages by liking, sharing or commenting.”
The Inspector General also reports that many in the Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, the division responsible for the non-existent social media strategy, voiced objections to the approach. That is something. Perhaps their voices will be heard as the agency develops that strategy, as they surely must be doing after this misstep. Right?
Cynthia Murrell, August 06, 2013
July 5, 2013
Something strange happened on the way to Facebook’s first data center, as reported by The Register in the article titled Facebook’s First Data Center Drenched By Actual Cloud. The “humidity event” that Facebook mentioned was caused by the modern air conditioning system in place in the facility. The actual indoor cloud stole all the attention from the cloud that powered the social network. The cloud and rain caused panic and damaged many servers. The article explains,
“Consumer internet giants such as Google, Facebook, and others have all been on a tear building facilities that use outside air instead.
In Prineville’s first summer of operation, a problem in the facility’s building-management system led to high temperature and low humidity air from the hot aisles being endlessly recirculated though a water-based evaporative cooling system that sought to cool the air down – which meant that when the air came back into the cold aisle for the servers it was so wet it condensed.”
With new protective rubber seals around Facebook’s server’s power supply, the social media network is prepared to weather whatever storms may come, inside or outside. Facebook also made changes to its building-management system, making their facility one of the most efficient in the industry, even beating out Google in some cases.
Chelsea Kerwin, July 05, 2013