February 28, 2014
I don’t have a dog in this fight or a commute to make. I bailed on San Francisco after spending the night in a traffic jam. I did not leave my heart in San Francisco. The earthquake in 1989 validated the wisdom of a retreat to rural Kentucky. Not perfect, but free from some of San Francisco’s idiosyncrasies.
A few days ago, my son and I spoke about his recent business trip to the city by the Bay. I asked him if he saw bus protestors. He told me, “Nope. Lots of talk about Google’s ferries and buses, though.” After our chat, I saw a news item about some folks making their way to Atherton to protest something.
Too bad he missed the action. I was hoping he would have an eye witness account of a bus action or maybe a snap of the protestors milling around the sylvan Atherton.
I did get a chuckle out of “Google Donates $6.8 Million to Fund Free Transit Rides for San Francisco Youth.” I assume the story is chock full of facts. The question I had was, “What’s a youth?” The answer is people aged five to 17. Well, that will help with the private transportation issue, won’t it?
Here’s the quote I noted:
For months, activists have been calling on tech companies to make a larger contribution to the communities that help them attract and retain top workers. Google’s move today signals that pressure from the community has gotten the company’s attention. “San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don’t pay more to use city bus stops,” Google said in a statement to The Verge. “So we’ll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students for the next two years.”
Ah, two years.
What tickled my funny bone is the link my mind forged between Roman emperors sponsoring games and providing food to citizens. The issue may be the type of disparity that exists between those who have lots of money and those who don’t have sufficient funds.
What worked for Roman emperors may work in San Francisco. Google assumes that this funding is a step forward. I will watch for the announcement of the Google Games. Will math and physics majors compete in bold physical contests? Will participants come with other skills to showcase. Maybe showcase skills in finding relevant information to a user’s query in Google’s “free” Web search system? Why not refurb the Cow Palace and get the show on the road. Free rides for youth between five and 17 too. Can someone snag a ride on the Google barge to Stockton?
Stephen E Arnold, February 28, 2014
February 28, 2014
Google tends to play the innocent when people challenge the company for displaying results with lewd or inappropriate content. After all, Google simply catalogs Internet content and it can’t be held responsible for what others make, right? Wrong says “Google Loses Big In German Reputation Lawsuit” published in Search Engine Journal. Google has been sued before and played this defense. Logically it makes sense, but Google, as the article suggests, is partially responsible. Google’s algorithms rank pages in search results and the company has control over how the search engines works and how it delivers result.
The German case deals with a man who sued Google to remove detrimental photos from search results. He won suits to keep the photos from publication, yet they still appear on the Web. The judge ruled in the defendant’s favor. The article explains that this might set a precedent for Google, but:
“The target of this particular lawsuit suggests in an interview that lawsuits could help to solve this responsibility problem. In essence, he suggests that only people who have completed court cases should be able to remove their photos from Google. It seems smart, but again, I have some concerns. Lawsuits like this are very expensive, and not everyone has the money to hire a lawyer and take time away from work in order to appear in court. Similarly, court cases take months or years to resolve, and they generate a lot of web interest. As a result, people who file often find that their problems are magnified as the case moves forward, and they suddenly have much MORE data to remove.”
Hurdles aside, if someone has the time, money, and patience what is to keep them from suing Google. I can imagine an entire department at Google dedicated to controlling data removal from search results. Brin and Page are probably worrying at this moment.
February 25, 2014
There are dozens of news sites. These range from the little known among “experts” like Big Project to almost anonymous services like WN.com. The hurried Web user can consume headlines at https://news.google.com/news or http://news.yahoo.com/. My local newspaper offers news but begs for dollars. News appears to be everywhere.
I read “Local Newspapers and TV Stations Are building Their Own Private Ad Exchange with Google.” Ah, how times have changed according to the article. Here’s a passage I noted:
Today, the Consortium is taking a step towards fulfilling its promise of increased revenue through a new partnership with Google. The deal is supposed to strengthen Google’s relationship with local publishers by “turbo charging” the online news business via “growing budgets” for programmatic buying, according to a company blog post by Laurent Cordier.
Google is a force to channeled. Most of the news professionals I know tell me that they are good researchers and that they use Google. That’s good for Google.
But what about the flow of news? Newspapers and magazines need ad revenues, and in my research, I found that Google can deliver traffic. With traffic comes money. With the money comes dependence.
For Google that’s very good. For those who become dependent on Google, the consequences are cash. If there are other issues, will the dependent executives assert, “We understand the situation. We can deal with whatever comes down the road.”
These folks believe these words. I am suspicious of deals that refer to turbocharging.
And what about coverage of events? Our work continues to reveal that it is more difficult to:
- Locate timely news online
- Verify stories propagated by certain sources
- Find backfiles
- Figure out what’s filtered in and out, when, and why
- Access information on certain topics
- Get timely updates online from certain governmental organizations
- Keep track of content that disappears.
Perhaps those Google bucks will improve coverage of local activities, expand backfiles, and increase the flow of verified, original reporting?
I will have to wait and see. But is information the purpose of those in the deal with Google or is the goal cash. As George Bush once said about support for those affected by the crisis in Haiti, “Just send cash.”
Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2014
February 25, 2014
Here’s a chart any Google historians should take a look at. MakeUseOf presents “The Story of Google: Algorithm + Functionality Updates,” in which they share a graphic plotting Google’s changes and milestones since its launch in 1998. Jackson Chung writes:
“It’s been fifteen years since Google made its debut in 1998, and it has gone on to be the most prominent search engine in history. Google released its very first algorithm update sixteen months after it went live, which was mostly undocumented. Most webmasters will tell you that Google algorithm updates are a big deal, so let’s take at how many the search engine behemoth has released over the years.”
I notice that the “First Known Update” doesn’t come for a couple of years, in 2000. That is also when the site reached the 1 Billion Pages Indexed mark. It is no surprise that the closer we get to today, the more changes per year we see. Navigate to the post for more Googley curiosities.
The graphic was created by digital branding firm, Tamar, as the first graphic in their #digitalhistory series (the second is The Story of Facebook). Not a bad approach; we can appreciate the share-something-for-free marketing model.
Cynthia Murrell, February 25, 2014
February 15, 2014
The article titled How a Database of the World’s Knowledge Shapes Google’s Future on MIT Technology Review is an explanation of Google’s Knowledge Graph and the progress made in compiling information to feed into it. The Knowledge Graph began as a database built by Metaweb, which Google acquired in 2010. The article is an interview with Metaweb cofounder and Google employee John Giannandrea, who explains the Knowledge Graph through an analogy with maps.
“For a maps product you have to build a database of the real world and know there are things called streets, rivers, and countries in the physical world. That’s creating a symbolic structure for the physical world; the Knowledge Graph does that for the world of ideas and common sense. We have entities in the knowledge graph for foods, recipes, products, ideas in philosophy or history, and famous people.”
The difference between the old web search and the Knowledge Graph version is what is understood. As the amount of data grows, the effectiveness of search is also supposed to improve. The article skims over the ad revenue drive of the Knowledge Graph, but it is clear that the better Google is at recognizing meaning in searches, the better they will be able to “target search ads”.
Chelsea Kerwin, February 15, 2014
February 14, 2014
I don’t pay much attention to mobile anything. I am nosing near 70, and I find life works just fine without checking a mobile device every few minutes.
I read “New Android OEM Licensing Terms Leak; “Open” Comes with a Lot of Restrictions.” The main point is that open does not mean “open.” Since the artful explanation of the meaning of “is,” most of the words used by folks possess fluid definitions.
“Open” is a good example. Open invokes images of free and open source software. As my columns in Online Searcher document, open is usually closed. For software, open is a way to open the door to consulting services.
Open in the Google context is similar. The monetization angle is different. Google has a huge appetite for revenue. The system Google has constructed over the last 13 or so years is an expensive puppy to operate, upgrade, and maintain.
The goal of Android is to provide cash in little ways (conferences) and big ways (advertising).
The write up states:
The agreement places a company-wide ban on Android forks, saying OEMs are forbidden from taking “any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android” and specifically disallows distributing or encouraging a third party to distribute “a software development kit derived from Android.” Google has full control over the countries its apps are released in and distribution methods used to distribute the apps. This allows Google to restrict its apps to the Play Store and will keep them out of competing stores like Amazon and Samsung. Google also stipulates that the Google apps must be distributed free of charge, and they cannot be modified, reverse engineered, or used to make a derivative work, and ads are not allowed to be placed in, on, or around Google’s apps.
This is news? To whom? Online provides a terrarium for monoculture. The trajectory of Google has been evident for a decade. Now a single example of how the online service takes steps to ensure its sustenance is surprising.
I am turning off my mobile phone, silencing its beeps that inform me of “new” news. For those curious about Google and some of its revenue seeking actions, I have provided a list that links to versions of my different essays about Google. Most of these fill in the gaps between my books Google Version 2 and Google: The Digital Gutenberg. You can find the list at http://xenky.com/google-info/.
My view is that increasingly robust monetization is chugging down the Google tracks. There are few signals on this railroad. Look before crossing.
Stephen E Arnold, February 14, 2014
February 14, 2014
Some folks are unhappy that the most recent update to Google Maps eliminates one of its handiest features, the “search nearby” tool. A poster at Slashdot going by BillCable points out this downgrade in “Google Removes ‘Search Nearby’ Function from Updated Google Maps.” The post elaborates:
“After searching for a location, users could click on a marker on the map to pop open a window with the address and other details. This window also contained a link to ‘Search nearby’ — extremely useful if you want to find a list of restaurants near a hotel, the closest pharmacy, or any other business you might want to patronize. Google recently updated their map tool, and ‘Search nearby’ is no longer present. The 300 posts to the Google Product Forums complaining about this omission indicates this is a feature Maps users sorely miss. Google’s work-around (detailed by Google staff in said thread) are a poor substitute and unreliable. There is no indication Google will add the feature to their new tool.”
Well, this is Google we’re talking about; ads come first, search second. I agree with the post’s stance that the “solution” offered by Google’s forum keeper, that users perform an old-school search like “tacos near mountain view,” is laughable. BillCable points out that, for now, one can revert to the old version of Maps. However, as any longstanding Gmail user knows, that option could be snatched away at any time. Ah, well. User preferences only count for so much when the users are not the customers, but the deliverables.
Cynthia Murrell, February 14, 2014
February 13, 2014
Anyone convinced of Google’s inevitable Internet dominance should take a gander at the numbers TheNextWeb shares in “comScore: Yahoo Beats Google as Top Web Property in the U.S. for Six Months Straight.” This chart of the top 50 U.S.-based Web properties as of the end of 2013, put together by analytics firm comScore, does indeed show Yahoo ahead of Google (and everyone else) in terms of unique visitors. The very brief write-up notes:
“We went back to make sure, and indeed Yahoo has topped comScore’s list for the last six months straight, starting in July 2013 (before that, it was first way back in May 2011). It’s safe to say that Yahoo’s gold medal is now a trend – an impressive feat given that Yahoo’s numbers exclude Tumblr, which is ranked at #30.”
I want to point out one caveat: the chart only covers desktop access, specifically from “home, work and university locations.” I wonder how the numbers would be different if mobile were included.
Cynthia Murrell, February 13, 2014
February 12, 2014
Last I knew, the Google Search Appliance (GAS) had trimmed its product line, eliminated the impulse buy option for the Mini, and kept the price at the higher end of the appliance market.
I learned over the last two years that Google has placed more than 60,000 GSAs in organizations. I have no idea if the number is valid, but if it is, the GSA is one of the top dogs in enterprise search. I also heard that there was a small team working on the GSA and an even smaller team handling customer support. Google pushes functions to resellers who deal with the customers. Google outsources manufacturing of the GSA. Most important, Google seems to have an off-again, on-again interest in on premises search. The future, as I understand it, is the cloud. The GSA is, in my opinion, an anachronism in the Nest, X Labs, and Android-Chrome world. But, hey, I have been wrong before. I once asserted that basic search should not be a challenge for most organizations. Wow, did I get that wrong! Jail time, law suits, and DARPA’s almost admission that search is not working notwithstanding.
The GSA has been around almost a decade. Version 7.2 is “a leader in the Garnet Enterprise Search MQ.” I certainly don’t doubt the word of an estimable azure chip consulting firm. No, no, no.
The new version, according to Google, delivers:
- Metadata sorting. A function available in the 1983 version of Fulcrum Technologies’ system
- language translation. A function available from Delphes in the 1990s
- A document preview function. iPhrase in 1999 delivered this feature
- Entity recognition. Verity implemented this function in the 1980s
- Dynamic navigation. Endeca rolled out this feature in 1998
In my opinion, the GSA is catching up to innovations available for many years from other vendors. Comparing the EPI Thunderstone and Maxxcat appliances to the GSA emphasizes that the GSA is not quite at parity with other products in the channel.
According to “Google Updates Enterprise Search Appliance Tool,”
The GSA 7.2 update comes more than a year after the firm upgraded the GSA to version 7.0, and builds on the features included in that update. The most notable includes the ability to improve the way data can be indexed with key attributes, such as author name, or the date it was created.
How much does a GSA cost? According to the US government’s GSAadvantage.gov, a 36 month license for a GB 7007 is $69,296 for 500,000 documents. Have more documents? Pay for an upgrade. However, I can use a hosted service like Blossom Software to index my content for about $2,400 per month. I can use the low cost dtSearch solution for $160 per seat. I can download an open source solution and do it myself.
For an organization with 20 million documents to index, the cost of the GSA solution noses into HP Autonomy territory. Too rich for my blood, and I think that lower cost appliance vendors will see the Google Search Appliance as a lead generator.
I wonder if those azure chip consultants have licensed the GSA to handle their Intranet information retrieval tasks?
Stephen E Arnold, February 12, 2014
February 10, 2014
Americans in Paris. The stuff of songs. Sometimes Americans and the French struggle to find common ground. There is cheese. French cheese does not often come in shrink wrapped plastic. French wines are different from the stuff whipped up in California.
I noted another example of what I call the “French waiter syndrome.” The FWS refers to the problem some Americans find when ordering a meal in France. The opportunity for misunderstanding increases with the emergence of more and more American traits.
Here’s a recent example: The Google.fr home page.
interesting. I assume ideas about privacy are part of the FWS.
Stephen E Arnold, February 10, 2014