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Facebook Gains Natural Language Capacity with Via AI Acquisition

February 11, 2015

Facebook is making inroads into the natural language space, we learn from “Facebook Buys Wit.ai, Adds Natural Language Knowhow” at ZDNet. Reporter Larry Dignan tells us the social-media giant gained more than 6,000 developers in the deal with the startup, who has created an open-source natural language platform with an eye to the “Internet of Things.” He writes:

“Wit.ai is an early stage startup that in October raised $3 million in seed financing with Andreessen Horowitz as the lead investor. Wit.ai aims to create a natural language platform that’s open sourced and distributed. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but indicates what Facebook is thinking. As the social network is increasingly mobile, it will need natural language algorithms and knowhow to add key features. Rival Google has built in a bevy of natural language tools into Android and Apple has its Siri personal assistant.”

Though the Wit.ai platform is free for open data projects, it earns its keep through commercial instances and queries-per-day charges. Wit.ai launched in October 2013, and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California.

Cynthia Murrell, February 11, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Is Facebook the Internet?

February 9, 2015

There has been a buzz in some circles that Facebook is the Internet. I think that one’s point of view plays a part in feeling comfortable with the statement. The author of “Millions of Facebook Users Have No Idea They’re Using the Internet” finds the idea more than a little intriguing. The write up makes reference to Facebook users far from Silicon Valley.

I highlighted this passage:

Since at least 2013, Facebook has been making noises about connecting the entire world to the internet. But even Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s operations head, admits that there are Facebook users who don’t know they’re on the internet. So is Facebook succeeding in its goal if the people it is connecting have no idea they are using the internet? And what does it mean if masses of first-time adopters come online not via the open web, but the closed, proprietary network where they must play by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rules?

The write up points out that there is a slip twixt cup and lip. However, the theme of Facebook is the Internet continues to form the spine of the write up. I noted this passage:

Already services are starting to move away from the open web and to Facebook. And it’s happening not just in the poor world, but in poor parts of the developed world, where there also exists a sense among some that using an app isn’t the same as using the internet, which requires a web browser like Safari or Internet Explorer.

My view is that the notion of the open Internet is going to be a thorny issue. Governments are clamping down on some types of Internet sites. I checked one extremist Web site based in France. On February 5, 2015, the site was online. On February 6, 2015, the site returned 404s. However, some of the somewhat disturbing videos posted by the Web site remaining available on YouTube.com.

The idea for a state-certified information service may have some appeal. Did you explore Sputnik? Have you encountered issues with site access in China, Iran, or Turkey?

Is there a future in walled gardens?

Stephen E Arnold, February 9, 2015

Online Brand: Will Facebook or Google Become the Internet

January 26, 2015

I read a very interesting item on a UK information service. The article is “People Actually Confuse Facebook and the Internet in Some Places.” Here’s the point I highlighted with orange this fine morning:

Ex-Googler, Facebook COO and mouthpiece Sheryl Sandberg claimed this week that some users (sorry, people) actually think that Mark Zuckerberg’s free-content ad network is the Internet.

I filed an item about Eric Schmidt’s widely publicized prognostication just a day or two before. Here’s a representative article: “Eric Schmidt’s Quite Right The Internet Will Disappear; All Technologies Do As They Mature.”

Google wants the disappearing Internet to be into Google. If Facebook acts out the suggestion that Facebook becomes the Internet, Google will not be happy.

The battle, therefore, is less about disappearing technology than a return to the good old days when a telephone meant Bell. Just cross out Bell, and slot in a nifty company like Facebook or Google.

Is this disappearance or a de facto, ubiquitous monopoly?

Stephen E Arnold, January 26, 2015

Debing, Bada Gone: Facebook Search

December 13, 2014

I am not too keen on Facebook. I get odd ball friend requests to our automated Beyond Search account which baffles me. Who wants to be friends with a script.

Nevertheless, I read “Facebook Dumps Microsoft Web Search Results.” The Facebookers have to get control of information access to their content. Note I said “their”, not your content, gentle reader.

The write up, which is a foundation, asserts:

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has flagged search as one of the company’s key growth initiatives, noting in July that there were more than 1 billion search queries occurring on Facebook every day and hinting that the vast amount of information that users share within Facebook could eventually replace the need to search the Web for answers to certain questions.

Yep, the Googlers at Facebook know there is money in them thar search results.

Debing, bada, gone.

Stephen E Arnold, December 13, 2014

Google: More Ad Pain Coming

December 10, 2014

I am not sure if the information in “Facebook Video Is Driving YouTube Off Facebook” is spot on. Counts of user behavior without the actual log files are subject to interpretation. But the main point is darned suggestive. Facebook video may be cutting into uploads to YouTube.com. Now the Googlers are trying to make YouTube into a bigger money spinner. If Facebook pushes into video, advertisers are going to want to put their messages in front of Facebook viewers of hot videos. Bad news for Google.

The passage from the article I noted was:

It is evidence of a dramatic shift in power: Until recently Facebook was not even considered a destination for video. Page owners simply shared their YouTube videos on Facebook, and that was that.

My view is that Google struggles to convert social into a service that can compete with Facebook. If Facebook figures out how to play nice with China, the GOOG has a yellow alert flashing. Is the answer in “How Google Works”?

Stephen E Arnold, December 10, 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

Facebook Factoids

July 24, 2014

I enjoyed “Facebook Now Has 1.32 Billion Users, with 30 Percent Only Using It on Their Mobile—and the Average American Spends 40 minutes a Day on the Site.” Why read anything except the headline?

Tucked into this sensational write up was this gem:

The number of people who log in at least once a day on mobile devices was 654 million on average in June, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

The reason I highlighted this item is that it focuses on the problem Facebook poses to Google. Not only do hundreds of millions of people use Facebook on a notebook or desktop computer, Facebook’s mobile cohort is growing.

So what?

Facebook users willingly create content for Facebook. Facebook users willingly provide information to Facebook. Facebook captures implicit data from user behaviors.

Advertisers like this situation.

If Facebook keeps expanding its mobile advertising paw print, the Google will have to find a way to counter or take some steps that might be unpalatable to some folks.

In short, the headline tells a story, but the pressure on Google is not front and center where it should be. And search? Who thinks about that for either Facebook or Google? (My tiny voice says, “I do.”)

Stephen E Arnold, July 24, 2014

Facebook: All the News Socially

March 27, 2014

I read “STUDY: Facebook’s Role In Pew Research Center’s ‘State Of The News Media 2014’/” The source is a research project from Pew Research Center. The sample, well, who knows? The finding fascinating, particularly to advertisers, news professionals, and old people like me sitting around the cast iron stove in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky.

Here it is:

30 percent of the sample get their [sic] news from Facebook.

The survey seems to have been completed in mid 2013, which may be important in the wake of Facebook’s interest in virtual reality.

The write up highlights six “Facebook-related findings.” I don’t want to spoil your fun by listing the listicle of the six factoids. I want to point out three of these insights:

  1. Three out of every 10 US adults get “some news while on Facebook.”
  2. The news is “shared by friends.”
  3. The demographics of the Facebook news consumers “were high earners and college educated.”

My thought is that social news is not something a traditional newspaper like my former employer the Courier Journal & Louisville Times considers a native habitat. The idea that social news is news is fascinating. With tools to generate disinformation, misinformation, and reformation, figuring out what’s accurate may be difficult for a Facebooker.

I assume that a Walter Cronkite of social media news will emerge. Advertisers are likely to sniff the edges of the Pew information and conclude, “Opportunity.” Experiencing Facebook as news is a facet of the service that has the potential to be disruptive. Which traditional network will run the Facebook news hour? Will Thomson Reuters and the BBC add a Facebook stream? Opportunities abound.

Stephen E Arnold, March 27, 2014

Facebook Takes Out The People

March 24, 2014

Facebook is a network for people to communicate and connect. Forbes.com’s article, “The Approaching Demise Of Organic Reach In Facebook” says that organic connections for brands. are dropping faster than page counts on Justin Bieber’s fan page. The information comes from Social@Oglivy study. Facebook’s response is that will go to zero in the future.

“The free ride for brands on Facebook is coming to an end, and Mark Zuckerberg’s network should now be moved into the ‘paid channel’ in the marketing budget. The end game here is that a message posted on a brand page will not be shown to anyone unless it gathers a notable number of likes from a user’s friends. If their friends like a post, if there is a visible adoption of the post by the community, only then the post has earned the right to be shown organically.”

Brands will have to fork over money to breathe life into a post and it means that they have will have to rethink their Facebook marketing strategies. Facebook is using basic economics to create a scarcity. Brands will have to pay more, but over time they will stop. It is all about the almighty dollar sign for Facebook. What happened to the people?

Whitney Grace, March 24, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Facebook Shrugs at End of Organic Reach to the Chagrin of Marketers

March 20, 2014

The article on Advertising Age titled Brands’ Organic Facebook Reach Has Crashed Since October: Study begins with a dire end-of-days of free reach on Facebook pronouncement. The data is from Social@Ogilvy, which discovered a decline from about 12% to just over 6% among 106 country-level brand pages. This drop is from October to February. The reason seems to be that users are getting too much content thrown at them, too much to possibly consume. The article explains,

“Increasingly Facebook is saying that you should assume a day will come when the organic reach is zero,” he said. In the short term, Mr. Manson expects to see the drop in organic reach to drive a bit more Facebook ad spending. In the longer term, he expects to see increased investment in social channels like Twitter, Facebook-owned Instagram and WeChat and for brands to effectively hedge their bets instead of being centrally focused on Facebook.”

Facebook, unsurprisingly, is putting money first, and assuming a position that looks more like a shrug than anything else. They have urged marketers to stop seeing organic reach as a bonus rather than part of what they are buying when they purchase ads on the social networking site. It remains to be seen whether marketers are buying this argument.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 20, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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