The Alphabet Google YouTube Thing Explains Good Old Outcome Centered Design

April 8, 2021

If you have tried to locate information on a Google Map, you know what good design is, right? What about trying to navigate the YouTube upload interface to add or delete a “channel”? Perfection, okay. What if you have discovered an AMP error email and tried to figure out how a static Web site generated by an AMP approved “partner” can be producing a single flawed Web page? Intuitive and helpful, don’t you think?

Truth is: Google Maps are almost impossible to use regardless of device. The YouTube interface is just weird and better for a 10-year-old video game player than a person over 30, and the AMP messages? Just stupid.

I read “Waymo’s 7 Principles of Outcome-Centered Design Are What Your Product Needs” and thought I stumbled upon a listicle crafted by Stephen Colbert and Jo Koy in the O’Hare Airport’s Jazz Bar.

Waymo (so named because one get way more with Alphabet Google YouTube — hereinafter, AGYT)technology — is managed by co-CEOs. It is semi famous for hiring uber engineer Anthony Levandowski. Plus the company has been beavering away to make driving down 101 semi fun since 2009. The good news is that Waymo seems to be making more headway than the Google team trying to solve death. The Wikipedia entry for Waymo documents 12 collisions, but the exact number of smart  errors by the Alphabet Google YouTube software is not known even to some Googlers. Need to know, you know.

What are the rules for outcome centered design; that is, ads but no crashes I presume. The write up presents seven. Here are three and you can let your Chrome browser steer you to the full list. Don’t run into the Tesla Web site either, please.

Principle 2. Create focus by clarifying you8r purpose.

Okay, focus. Let’s see. When riding in a vehicle with no human in charge, the idea is to avoid a crash. What about filtering YouTube for okay content? Well, that only works some of the time. The Waymo crashes appear to underscore the fuzz in the statistical routines.

And Principle 4. Clue in to your customer’s context.

Yep, in a vehicle which knows one browsing history and has access to nifty profiles with probabilities allows the vehicle to just get going. Forget what the humanoid may want. Alphabet Google YouTube is ahead of the humanoid. Sometimes. The AFYT approach is to trim down what the humanoid wants to three options. Close enough for horse shoes. Waymo, like Alphabet Google YouTube, knows best. Just like a digital mistress. The humanoid, however, is going to a previously unvisited location. Another humanoid told the rider face to face about an emergency. The AGYT system cannot figure out context. Not to worry. Those AGYT interfaces will make everything really easy. One can talk to the Waymo equipped smart vehicle. Just speak clearly, slowly, and in a language which Waymo parses in an acceptable manner. Bororo won’t work.

Finally, Principle 7: Edit edit edit.

I think this means revisions. Those are a great idea. Alphabet Google YouTube does an outstanding job with dots, hamburger menus, and breezy writing in low contrast colors. Oh, content? If you don’t get it, you are not Googley. Speak up and you may be the Timnit treatment or the Congressional obfuscation rhetoric. I also like ignoring the antics of senior managers.

Yep, outcome centered. Great stuff. Were Messrs. Colbert and Koy imbibing something other than Sprite at the airport when possibly conjuring this list of really good tips? What’s the outcome? How about ads displayed to passengers in Waymo infused vehicles? Context centered, relevant, and a feature one cannot turn off.

Stephen E Arnold, April 8, 2021

Google and the Institutionalization of Me Too, Me Too

April 8, 2021

Never one to let a trend pass it by un-mimicked, Google has created a new YouTube feature. Ars Technica reports, “YouTube’s TikTok Clone, ‘YouTube Shorts,’ Is Live in the US.” The feature actually launched in India last September and has done well there—possibly because TikTok has been banned in that country since June. The feature but has now made its way to our shores. Writer Ron Amadeo tells us:

“The YouTube Shorts section shows up on the mobile apps section of the YouTube home screen and for now has a ‘beta’ label. It works exactly like TikTok, launching a full-screen vertical video interface, and users can swipe vertically between videos. As you’d expect, you can like, dislike, comment on, and share a short. You can also tap on a user name from the Shorts interface to see all the shorts from that user. The YouTube twist is that shorts are also regular YouTube videos and show up on traditional channel pages and in subscription feeds, where they are indistinguishable from normal videos. They have the normal YouTube interface instead of the swipey TikTok interface. This appears to be the only way to view these videos on desktop. A big part of TikTok is the video editor, which allows users to make videos with tons of effects, music, filters, and variable playback speeds that contribute to the signature TikTok video style. The YouTube Shorts editor seems nearly featureless in comparison, offering only speed options and some music.”

Absent those signature features, it seems unlikely Short will successfully rival TikTok. Perhaps it will last about as long as Stadia, Orkut, or Web Accelerator. At least no one can say Google shies away from trying things that may not work out.

Cynthia Murrell, April 8, 2021

Alphabet Google YouTube: We Are Doing Darned Good Work

April 7, 2021

I read a peculiar item of information about the mom-and-pop outfit Alphabet Google YouTube. You may have a different reaction to the allegedly accurate data. Just navigate to “YouTube Claims It’s Getting Better at Enforcing Its Own Moderation Rules.” The “real news” story reports:

In the final months of 2020, up to 18 out of every 10,000 views on YouTube were on videos that violate the company’s policies and should have been removed before anyone watched them. That’s down from 72 out of every 10,000 views in the fourth quarter of 2017, when YouTube started tracking the figure.

Apparently the mom-and-pop outfit calculates a “violative view rate.” This is a metric possible only if a free video service accepts, indexes, and makes available “videos that contain graphic violence, scams, or hate speech.”

The system, the write up reports that :

YouTube’s team uses the figure internally to understand how well they’re doing at keeping users safe from troubling content. If it’s going up, YouTube can try to figure out what types of videos are slipping through and prioritize developing its machine learning to catch them.

A few questions spring to mind:

  • What specifically is “violative” content. An interview I conducted with a former CIA operative was removed a year after the interview appeared as a segment in my 10 to 15 minute twice monthly video news program. An interview with a retired spy was deemed violative. I hope YouTube learned something from this take down. I remain puzzled.
  • How does content depicting graphic violence, scams, and hate speech get on the YouTube system? After I upload a video, a message appears to tell me if the video is okay or not okay. I think Google’s system is getting better from the mom-and-pop outfit’s point of view. From other points of view? I am not sure.
  • Why trust metrics generated within the Alphabet Google YouTube outfit? By definition, the data collection methods, the sample, and the techniques used to identify what’s important are not revealed. FAANG-type outfits are not exactly the gold standard in ethical behavior for some people. I, of course, believe everything I read online like transcripts of senior executives’ remarks to Congressional committees?
  • Why release these data now? What’s the point? Apple is tossing cores at Facebook. Alphabet Google YouTube is reminding some that Microsoft’s security is interesting. Amazon wants to pay tax. Maybe these actions and the violative metric are PR.

The write up contains charts. Low contrast colors show just how much better Alphabet Google YouTube is getting in the violative content game. I love the violative view rate phrase. Delicious.

Stephen E Arnold, April 7, 2021

Could the Google Cloud Secretly Hide Sensitive Information?

April 7, 2021

It is odd seeing Google interested in protecting user information, but Alphabet Inc. follows dollar signs. The high demand for digital security is practically flashing bright neon dollar signs, so it is not surprising Google is investing its talents into security development. Tech Radar shares that simpler applications could lead to better security in the article, “Google Cloud Is Making It Easier For Developers To Smuggle ‘Secrets’ In Their Code.”

A big problem with application development is accidentally exposing sensitive information via the source code. Bad actors can hack applications’ code, then steal the sensitive information. Google Cloud fused its Secret Manager service (a secure method to store private information) with its Cloud Code IDE extensions that speed up cloud-based application development.

The benefits of the merged technologies are:

“The integration allows developers to replace hardcoded data with so-called Secrets, a type of global object available to applications at build or runtime. This way, cloud applications can make use of the sensitive data when needed, but without leaving it exposed in the codebase.

According to Google, the new integration will make it easier for developers to build secure applications, while also avoiding the complexities of securing sensitive data via alternative methods.”

In the past, developers hardcoded sensitive information into their codebase. It made it easier to recall data, but savvy bad actors could access it. Many applications know that hardcoding sensitive information is a security risk, so hey make users run the gambit with authentication services.

Secret Manager and Cloud Code IDE could eliminate the authentication hassle, while protecting sensitive information.

Whitney Grace, April 7, 2021

Google Maps Ads Voice-Activated Feature to Find a Friend

April 6, 2021

Google is adding another voice-activated feature, this time to Google Maps. Autoevolution reports, a bit sensationally, “Google Maps Users Can Now Become Little Stalkers with Just a Voice Command.” I would not go that far—a contact must have previously given permission for a user to locate them with the app for this to work. Still, the development can serve as a reminder to consider who one has given this permission to in the past and, perhaps, rescind it. Writer Bogdan Popa tells us:

“A quick question for Google Assistant is all you need to find out the location of one of your contacts, of course, as long as they’ve previously shared such information for you. Google now displays a short tip on Android devices where this feature has been enabled, suggesting that you can ask Google Assistant to tell you where someone currently is. ‘Where is [name of the contact]?’ is the question that you can use for this feature, so in theory, you may not even have to touch your phone to be aware of someone’s location in real time.”

Popa tells us the feature is now rolling out gradually, probably via a server-side synchronization rather than an app update. Though to some it may seem creepy to locate someone via voice command, it is really just an upgrade to a feature that was already part of Google Maps. But seriously, readers may want to review who they have given location permissions to in the past. Because Google is going to remind them. Yeah, that part might be a little creepy.

Is it possible stalkers might find the function useful? Probably not.

If you cannot access Google Maps, get your “administrator” to unblock this free Google feature. Helpful extra step, right?

Cynthia Murrell, April 06, 2021

Google: Fighting the Fake News Fight. Err. Where Is YouTube in This Altercation?

April 6, 2021

I read a short item with the snappy title “Google to Contribute $29 Million to New EU Fund to Fight Fake News.” The hook is a big number for a mom-and-pop, online ad outfit, $29 million.

Where is the money going? The write up says:

The European Media and Information Fund, launched by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the European University Institute last week, aims to enlist researchers, fact-checkers, not-for-profits and other public interest-oriented bodies to help in the fight against fake news….The fund has a duration of five years. The European Digital Media Observatory, which is a European Commission project set up last year and whose members include fact checkers and academic researchers, will evaluate and select the projects.

Will YouTube become a focal point? My thought is that YouTube is not news, certainly not news in the sense of the Facebook- or Twitter-type of service. Should YouTube become a focal point? That’s a different question. What about informational ads which surf on a timely topic? Are those advertisements news? Obviously an advertisement cannot be news generated by an objective entity like Forbes Magazine. Wait. Hold that statement. Forbes, the capitalist’s tool, does run pay-to-play essays.

Without a definition of news, how can one determine what’s accurate, what’s fake, and what’s just business? Perhaps that is why the mom-and-pop online ad service is contributing a PR worthy sum to an European effort.

Is there any correlation to the EU’s legal probe of Google?

That’s a hard question just like, “Is YouTube a deliverer of fake news?”

Stephen E Arnold, April 6, 2021

Google: Cookies Not Enough! More More More!

April 6, 2021

Cookies are a necessary Internet evil. They are annoying, but they power Internet commerce at the expense of user privacy. And users demand more privacy, tech giants are already designing technology and the Internet for a post-cookie world. Google, says One Zero via Medium, wants to control everything a user does on the Internet: “Google’s ‘Privacy-First Web’ Is Really A Google-First Web.”

Google promised that third-party cookies would disappear by 2022. The company also promises not to support ad technology that tracks user information across the Web. Google is not doing this to be kind, instead Google wants to be a become a better contender in private Internet browsing. Apple and Mozilla, companies that do not rely on targeted advertising revenue, already protect users from cookies with their Internet browsers.

Google’s business strategy is to use its status as the world’s most popular search engine and provider of many free Internet services to its advantage. That means Google has access to loads of first-party data aka the stuff that advertisers want to create targeted ads.

Google is also working on alternate tracking frameworks, but some tech experts see it as a bad idea. These alternate tracking frameworks would delete the old cookie problems and replace them with a brand new set of problems.

It appears cookies will become obsolete by the middle of the 2020s, but how does that translate into money and user privacy?

“Merits aside, it’s clear that Google is positioning itself for a more privacy-conscious future in ways that seek to preserve its dominance — likely at the expense of a slew of smaller rivals. There is a whole value chain built around third-party cookies and individual user tracking, and a lot of that value is likely to go poof…. The big picture here is that a handful of giants — in this case, Apple and Google — are powerful enough to essentially dictate the terms of the modern internet to everyone else. That they’re now moving toward models that are (arguably) better for consumer privacy is welcome. The problem is that they’re also quite obviously remolding the playing field in their own interests.”

Users will effectively have better privacy protections, but their information will be in the hands of a few powerful companies. Is that good? Is that bad? History shows it is better for there to be competition to ensure stability in a mixed capitalist economy.

Whitney Grace, April 6, 2021

Google Maps to Drive Profits

April 2, 2021

Google loves money. Google wants to make more money. How does Google make more money when it already monopolizes Internet ads and search engine traffic? Auto Evolution tells how in the article, “Google Has Crazy Idea To Bring More Ads To Google Maps.”

Google recently filed a new patent called “Valuing advertisements on a map” that essentially will put more ads on Google Maps. The patent reads:

“Depending on a user’s view of a map, different combinations of locations can be shown. Similarly, different combinations of advertisements associated with those locations can also be shown depending on the user’s view of the map and the amount of display space available for advertisements, Advertisers can advertise on a map to promote businesses that may satisfy a user’s intent, such as to identify a navigational route, to explore a geographical area, or locate desired products or services. These advertisers may also find value in differentiating themselves from other advertisers, and/or from being unique in their local area.”

Google continues that it could “have a positive impact on the user.” In other words, it is more targeted ads in places that do not need them.

Market Screener explains another way Google is trying to make money: “Alphabet: Google To Offer Travel Sites Free Hotel Booking Links.” Google will now offer hotel and travel sites the ability to list empty hotel rooms for free on price-comparison pages. The goal is to support vendor competition and give users more options. Google is under mounting scrutiny for influencing Internet commerce. Travel sites have a love-hate relationship with Google because of this influence:

“Travel sites have seen Google as one of the biggest drivers for new business. But some of them say the company is also a big competitive threat, with critics saying that Google’s travel boxes and other kinds of specialized search products increasingly keep users within the Google ecosystem, encouraging them to use Google products rather than clicking to other sites to transact business.”

Google will continue to search for new ways to wrestle money from the Internet. One wonders if they even see Amazon as a threat.

Whitney Grace, April 2, 2021

Hard-to-Detect Cybercrime Bots Target Young and Old

April 2, 2021

A recent report from research firm LexisNexis emphasizes bad actors’ growing reliance on bots to pull off their attacks. Not only that, these bots are becoming harder to catch. As TechBullion states, “Cybercrime Report Highlights the Need for Greater Security Visibility.” Reporter Oren Rofman writes:

“While hacks and attacks primarily driven by humans tend to be more sophisticated, bot attacks are not much easier to detect and remediate. Former Akamai security expert Ido Safruti, who is now CTO at PerimeterX, describes new bot attacks as invisible invaders that are becoming more difficult to detect. … Having evolved over the decades, these attacks have become more sophisticated than ever. While previous bots can be detected because of their inability to perform tasks humans are expected to do easily, advanced bots are now capable of doing complex actions and can even interact with humans. They can latch onto host users like parasites and perform actions that make them appear as human users.”

Since bot attacks tend to infect multiple devices, IP blacklists do little against them. Application firewalls and similar defenses are also ineffective because attacks successfully mimic legitimate users. Instead, we’re advised, companies must boost their security visibility so they can react to threats promptly. Rofman suggests continuous security validation as an effective approach. He writes:

“This entails the use of multiple strategies including behavioral detection solutions, SIEM/SOC validation, full-kill chain APT simulation, and purple team automation. The creation of the MITRE ATT&CK framework also helps in dealing with the most recent bot attacks, as it provides comprehensive and up-to-date threat intelligence along with detailed descriptions and information on attack patterns and processes. Many security solutions already integrate ATT&CK in their systems.”

Another important, though perhaps obvious, point is the role age plays in user vulnerability—those over 75 are more likely to fall victim because they are less familiar with technology in general. Those under 25, on the other hand, are profitable targets due to their lack of experience and tendency to forgo security best practices. The report also found that mobile e-commerce transactions are especially vulnerable, and that streaming media has opened new opportunities for hackers. One thing is clear—the problem of cybercrime is only getting worse, and users of all ages need to learn, and follow, security best practices.

Cynthia Murrell, April 2, 2021

Does Google Manifest Addiction to Personal Data?

March 31, 2021

I read an amusing “we don’t do that!” write up in “Google Collects 20 Times More Telemetry from Android Devices Than Apple from iOS.” The cyber security firm Recorded Future points to academic research asserting:

The study unearthed some uncomfortable results. For starters, Prof. Leith said that “both iOS and Google Android transmit telemetry, despite the user explicitly opting out of this [option].” Furthermore, “this data is sent even when a user is not logged in (indeed even if they have never logged in),” the researcher said. [Weird bold face in original text removed.]

Okay, this is the stuff of tenure. The horrors of monopolies and clueless users who happily gobble up free services.

What’s amazing is that the write up does not point out the value of these data for predictive analytics. That’s the business of Recorded Future, right? Quite an oversight. That’s what happens when “news” stumbles over the business model paying for marketing via content. Clever? Of course.

The reliability of the probabilities generated by the Recorded Future methods pivot on having historical and real time data. No wonder Google and Apple suggest that “we don’t do that.”

Recorded Future’s marketing is one thing, but Google’s addiction to data is presenting itself in quite fascinating ways. Navigate to “Google’s New App Automagically Organizes Your Scanned Documents.” The write up states:

The app lets you scan documents and then it uses AI to automatically name and sort them into different categories such as bills, IDs, and vehicles.

And what happens?

To make it easy to find documents, you can also search through the full text of the document.

What types of documents does a happy user scan? Maybe the Covid vaccination card? Maybe legal documents like mortgages, past due notices from a lawyer, divorce papers, and similar tough-to-obtain information of a quite private and personal nature?

My point is that mobile devices are data collection devices. The data are used to enable the Apple and Google business models. Ads, information about preferences, clues to future actions, and similar insights are now routinely available to those with access to the data and analytic systems.

The professor on the tenure track or gunning for an endowed chair can be surprised by practices which have been refined over many years. Not exactly ground breaking research.

Google obtaining access to scanned personal documents? No big deal. Think how easy and how convenient the free app makes taming old fashioned paper. I wonder if Google has an addiction to data and can no longer help itself?

Without meaningful regulation, stunned professors and mobile device users in love with convenience are cementing monopoly control over information flows.

Oh, Recorded Future was once a start up funded by Google and In-Q-Tel. Is that a useful fact?

Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2021

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