Google Aint No Copycat

September 22, 2014

Google does not copy anything. Really! Eric Schmidt posted on Google Plus that Google is an innovator not a copier. Notice how he posted it on Google Plus, a social network that does not copy anything we use on a daily basis. CNet took the post and editorialized it in “Google Doesn’t Copy, Explains Eric Schmidt.”

CNet seemed a little upset that Schmidt illustrated this idea with a cartoon depicting three lemonade stands. Two stands were exact duplicates, while the third sold hard lemonade with the tagline “know your competition, but don’t copy it.” The article points out how Steve Jobs did not like how iPhone elements were “borrowed” by Google.

Google is actually perpetuating its ego that all its ideas are original and are innovative to the technology market, but looking at all tech companies one can see that they have similarities. It spells problems:

“The real danger, of course, is to claim you’re startlingly innovative. The more one examines Apple, Samsung, Facebook, Google and the whole cabal of technological power, the more one sees an occasional — and no doubt coincidental — uniformity of thought.”

Here come the lawsuits! Yahoo, Overture, and GoTo have influenced Google, just like Facebook and Amazon. The quote” there are not anymore more original ideas anymore” sounds apt.

Whitney Grace, September 22, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Google and Its Possible Really, Really Big Ambitions

September 19, 2014

I read “Looking Past the Search Results: Google 2.0 Will Build Airports and Cities Says Report.” The “report” appears to be the work of an outfit doing business as “The Information.” The founder of The Information is Jessica E. Lessin. She was a Wall Street Journal reporter. She morphed into a “reportrepreneur.” (See About the Information for more about the company.)

The “report” costs money. The Independent’s summary of the main idea reveals:

Larry Page has set up a ‘company within a company’ dubbed ‘Google 2.0’ that will look at the tech giant’s long-term future – presumably for when advertising revenue from search traffic (inevitably) dries up.

The “report” suggests that Google may build airports and cities. I assume these will complement the Loon, Glass, Death, and other moon shot projects.

The Independent reports that Google may form Google Y Labs. No word on Google Z.

I must admit that when I saw the headline, someone had stumbled across my 2007 monograph published by a now defunct UK outfit. That monograph was called “Google Version 2.0.”

I was wrong. The 2014 version 2.0 moves into far more speculative realms than my modest effort to explore some of Google’s technical plumbing. That’s why there are no big thinkers in rural Kentucky. Better to be a big thinker, reportrepreneur.

My view is that Google faces some significant challenges; for example, the company has yet to find a fast ramp solution to the difference between old style online advertising based on the Yahoo/Overture/GoTo model for desktop computers and the new, limited screen real estate of mobile devices. Google has demonstrated that it is vulnerable to regulators in Europe. Google has lagged Amazon in the cloud market and most recently in buying a top level domain. Now Apple is probing Google in terms of its apparent willingness to trade on customer content. There are some other issues. Some are big like the management structure at Google. Some are small like the interpersonal interactions of a Google manager, a colleague, and the surprising departure of a wizard to Amazon.

Google is interesting because it seems to have fulfilled Steve Ballmer’s prophecy of the GOOG as a one trick pony. I think Google 3.0 may be a better name for the new “report.”

Stephen E Arnold, September 19, 2014

Googles Knowledge Vault Holds Hundreds of Millions of Facts, and Gathering Even More

September 18, 2014

The article titled Google’s Fact-Checking Bots Build Vast Knowledge Bank on New Scientist reports on the latest Google innovation. The Knowledge Vault is an entirely computerized system that is gathering information without human help. Sound like IBM’s Watson? It isn’t your imagination. The article states,

“Knowledge Vault has pulled in 1.6 billion facts to date. Of these, 271 million are rated as “confident facts”, to which Google’s model ascribes a more than 90 per cent chance of being true. It does this by cross-referencing new facts with what it already knows…As well as the ability to analyse text on a webpage for facts to feed its knowledge base, Google can also peer under the surface of the web, hunting for hidden sources of data…”

Google is not the only company investing in this sort of system. Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon are all working on similar projects, as well as IBM. The possibility of a virtual personal assistant is coming closer than ever (think Her, not Siri). Google may have a leg up in its ability to cull personal information from Gmail, Google Plus and Youtube as well as public knowledge. The article suggests that the Knowledge Vault’s accumulated data may change the way we understand history, and even help us predict the future.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 18, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Goodbye Content Google Takedown Requests On the Rise

September 17, 2014

The article titled Chart of the Day: Google Receives Millions of URL Takedown Requests Each Day on Business Insider reports on the ever-ascending number of takedown requests Google gets every day. According to the article, it was only a few years ago that the number of requests coming in was limited to a few hundred daily. Yet only in the past year it has gone from just over half a million a day to just under 1.2 million. The information comes from Google’s transparency report. The article states,

“Based on Google’s data, which was charted for us by Statista, Google was asked to remove about 8 million search results just last week. As you can see from the chart, the number of takedown requests shot up around May, which is when Google first decided to publicize the contents of those takedown requests. As 9to5Google’s Mark Hearn points out, Google only received a few hundred takedown requests per year just a few years ago.”

The reason for the mad growth is the increasingly simple process of uploading and accessing pirated content through search engines and torrents. If this is true, how exactly does one find certain information? Sound like, goodbye content!

Chelsea Kerwin, September 17, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Short Honk: Goggle Intervention-Objectivity?

September 15, 2014

Short honk: Navigate to “How Google’s Autonomous Car Passed the First U.S. State Self-Driving Test.” Do you find this statement interesting?

Google chose the test route and set limits on the road and weather conditions that the vehicle could encounter, and that its engineers had to take control of the car twice during the drive.

I do. With intervention it is much easier to pass a test. The same method of shaping characterizes Google’s approach to modeling for “nowcasting.” I discuss this hand crafting of methods to deliver an acceptable result in my next KMWorld article.

Stephen E Arnold, September 15, 2014

Google and Customer Support

September 12, 2014

I don’t expect anything from an outfit providing customer support. I don’t expect anything from search vendors with customer support systems. The name of the game is no costs. To eliminate costs, customer support operations have some options.

  1. Ignore the inquiries. I recall that a member of my family used this method for a large search system. He figured that the time required to handle inquiries would bankrupt the company. Ergo: Hit delete.
  2. Buy an automated system and let it run. This usually requires paying a vendor to set up the system and “maintain” it. This works a bit like winning on a digital slot machine.
  3. Try to perform customer support. Move the operation to some lower cost location and deal with the revolving door that leads to 20 to 50 percent turnover.

Many companies use these options in combination.

According to Computerworld (yep, it seems to still be in business unlike other units of IDG’s empire), Google has to shift from option one.

“German Court Requires Google to Stop Ignoring Customer Emails” reports:

Google users who email the address “” receive an automatic reply notifying the emailer that Google will neither read nor reply due to the large number of requests sent to the address. After that sentence, the automatic reply directs Google users to various online self-help guides and contact forms. This form of communication is incompatible with the German Telemedia Act, which says that companies must provide a way to ensure fast electronic communications with them, the VZBV had argued. The organization described Google’s support address as a black box in which messages disappear into a void. The court agreed with the VZBV and ruled that an automatically generated email does not meet the requirements of the law.

There you go. Google may shift to another option. Perhaps a search engine vendor will land the contract. Will the German court like that approach? I will wait with German pointer like fixation.

Stephen E Arnold, September 12, 2014

Note that IDC is the outfit that sold my content on Amazon without my permission. The “expert” who is surfing on my name is Dave Schubmehl. The German court does not seem to pay much attention to this, however.

Jetpac the Visual Search App Acquired by Google

September 10, 2014

The article on TechCrunch titled Google Buys Jetpac To Give Context To Visual Searches describes the latest app acquired by Google. Jetpac is an app used to guide tourists and city-dwellers around the hottest bars and most relevant hang-outs for a particular user. Using Instagram data, Jetpac helps its users determine what a coffee shop actually looks like and what the atmosphere is like based on the visual cues from Instagram. The article states,

“Jetpac’s system looks for visual cues like the amount of pictures with mustaches in them to determine the fashion style or how many hipsters are in a certain location. This provides unique contextual information about an area where the photo was taken. It can tell you whether a coffee shop is actually chill like the reviews say or help you find bars women in their 30’s love, for instance. This goes beyond just a Yelp or Google Maps review…”

Clearly, Google is still chasing satisfactory visual search. The CEO of Jetpac is “computer vision expert” Pete Warden. His work in producing real-time local object recognition for his app may help to improve Google Goggles as well. While information about the acquisition has not yet been released by Google, we do know that Jetpac will no longer be available in the App store in the coming days.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 10, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Google: Is Life Extension Helping Web Search?

September 4, 2014

I read “Google Backed Calico to Launch $1.5 Billion Aging Research Center.” The idea of wellness is a good one. The concept of life extension does not match up with information retrieval. As Google marginalizes blog search, Google’s initiatives are fascinating. The company has not been able to diversify its revenue stream from search based advertising. The company has been able to diversify its science projects. From Loon balloons to investments in quantum computing, Google’s activities remind me of a high school science fair on steroids.

I learned that this new venture which joins Google delivery drone investments is focused on:

The new San Francisco Bay Area facility will focus on drug discovery and early drug development for diseases like neurodegeneration and cancer. Calico’s larger aim is lifespan extension.

What’s this bode for good old fashioned relevant search results? More ads, less relevance is one possibility. Search is parked on an access road to the information highway I fear.

Stephen E Arnold, September 4, 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

Google and Universal Search or Google Floudering with Search

August 30, 2014

There have been some experts who have noticed that Google has degraded blog search. In the good old days, it was possible to query Google’s index of Web logs. It was not comprehensive, and it was not updated with the zippiness of years past.

Search Engine Land and Web Pro News both pointed out that redirects to Google’s main search page. The idea of universal search, as I understood it, was to provide a single search box for Google’s content. Well, that is not too useful when it is not possible to limit a query to a content type or a specific collection.

“Universal” to Google is similar to the telco’s use of the word “unlimited.”

According the to experts, it is possible to search blog content. Here’s the user friendly sequence that will be widely adopted by Google users:

  1. Navigate to the US version of Google News. Note that this can be tricky if one is accessing Google from another country
  2. Enter a query; for example, “universal search”
  3. Click on “search tools” and then click on “All news”image
  4. Then click on “Blogs”


Several observations:

First, finding information in Google is becoming more and more difficult.

Second, obvious functions such as providing an easy way to run queries against separate Google indexes is anything but obvious. Do you know how to zip to Google’s patent index or its book index? Not too many folks do.

Third, the “logic” of making search a puzzle is no longer of interest to me. Increasing latency in indexing, Web sites that are pushed deep in the index for a reason unrelated to the site’s content, and a penchant for hiding information points to some deep troubles in Google search.

Net net: Google has lost its way in search. Too bad. As the volume of information goes up, the findability goes down. Wild stuff like Loon and Glass go up. Let’s hope Google can keep its ad revenue flowing; otherwise, there would be little demand for individuals who can perform high value research.

Stephen E Arnold, August 30, 2014

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