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Google and Decision Making

February 27, 2015

Well, guess what? I read an allegedly true story. Google has changed its management mind about the type of images permissible on Blogger. Navigate to “Google Won’t Ban Adult Content on Blogger after All.” Here’s the passage I noted:

“This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy. We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities,” says Jessica Pelegio, Social Product Support Manager at Google. “Blog owners should continue to mark any blogs containing sexually explicit content as “adult” so that they can be placed behind an ‘adult content’ warning page.”

Google is free to do what it wants unless a nation state does some saber rattling and discriminatory legislative actions.

For me, the important point is the speed with which a decision is made and then reversed. I assume this type of fluid problem solving is one of the reasons that Google is a shape shifter when it comes to Google Plus, which seems to be undergoing disaggregation. Note Google Plus is the future of Google, but disaggregation is the way to handle the alleged Facebook-type service.

Agile is as agile does.

Stephen E Arnold, February 27, 2015

Google: Circling the Semi Virtual Wagons

February 26, 2015

Google has an interesting track record with nation states, supra national agencies, and regulators.

Google has a new Euro boss, Matt Brittin. According to “Here’s Everything We Know about Google’s new European Boss Matt Brittin,” he is tall and:

Born in 1968 in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, England, he was educated at Hampton School and Robinson College before leaving home to study at Cambridge University, where he earned a Master of Arts in Land Economy and Geography.

Also, according to “Google Shakes Up European Units in Face of Tougher Rules,” the GOOG is following in Yahoo’s footsteps  by trying to get organized in Europe. You may have to pay to access the Financial Times’ article.

Net net: After 15 or so years in business, the lads in Mountain View are circling their virtual wagons in EC land.

Will the shift be enough to satisfy the regulators presiding over a somewhat shaky financial and political tie up? My hunch is that regulators will regulate. Perhaps some juicy penalties or taxation fast dancing will be announced.

Exciting for Google which is facing push back about its real estate dreams in Mountain View, annoyances in China, and the on going European saber rattling.

Google will have to stand tall. The new GOOG Euro boss should be able to see over the well coiffed heads of the regulators.

Stephen E Arnold, February 26, 2015

Amidst the Google News, a Titbit about YouTube

February 26, 2015

The Wall Street Journal and then Web information services reported that YouTube is not making Google much money. Maybe none? I liked this comment in “YouTube Still Doesn’t Make Google Any Money”:

Google wants people to start coming to YouTube’s homepage in the same way they would turn on the TV — expecting that they’ll find consistently high-quality content on different channels. … The company also redesigned its homepage and tried to improve its video recommendation to hook users into staying longer.

Google has been wrestling with YouTube since 2006. Interesting that the company has not cracked the money problem in almost a decade. Do you know the difference between Google Videos and YouTube? Maybe an extra cost burden like owning two Bugatti Veyrons?

And, yes, I used the less common version of “titbit” which nudges the meaning of “scandal” in the sense of spending twice and getting no financial love in return.

Stephen E Arnold, February 26, 2015

Interface Changes for Google Mobile Search

February 26, 2015

Google is the top search US search engine for many reasons and it can maintain this title because the company is constantly searching (pun unintended) to improve its products and services. Google wants to deliver high quality search just as much as it wants to stay ahead of its competition. Mobile search is one of the most competitive digital markets and Google has developed ways to augment its already popular mobile application. BGR highlights the new changes to its mobile search as described in “Google’s Latest Mobile Search Change Brings Some Key Interface Changes.”

One feature that changes is the “Google box” that displays results that are supposed to be the best matches for a query. The Google box will also have a news carousel that lists the latest information on the query.

“ ‘When you search for a topic, just scroll down to see a ‘carousel’ of recent articles, videos or more on that subject,’ Google Search product manager Ardan Arac wrote in a blog post. Tap any link to read or watch exactly what you’re interested in. For example, if you search for NPR, you’ll see links to all their latest articles and videos.”

Google is doing its best to improve mobile search, a task that has usually evaded mobile devices. Mobile technology needs to have more features that are readily available on laptops and computers to make them more reliable and useful.

Whitney Grace, February 26, 2015
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Google Search: Live Chat, But Relevance?

February 25, 2015

i read “Google Tests Live Chat With Businesses From Search Results.” According to the write up:

Google is testing out a service that incorporates live chat with businesses right into search results, via a new link that shows whether a business is currently available, and immediately launches a chat via Google Hangouts (on either desktop or mobile) if they are.

I have been doing the online research thing for years. Ellen Shedlarz, formerly Booz, Allen New York’s head information guru, exposed me to commercial online systems in 1973 or so. She was kind enough to let me fumble away with a dorky dumb terminal with bunny rabbit ears.

In the last 40 years, I have to make a confession about my stupidity. I never wanted to enter into a live chat with a person who wrote an article, offered a product, or pretended to be an expert like a mid tier search expert with a degree in English.

I wanted to perform what I naively thought was research. I would obtain information, either print out information or copy it on the 5×8 inch note cards my debate coach in high school mandated I use for research, thus forming a life long habit. I would then read the information I gathered, make notes, and prepare more note cards with identifiers that allowed silly old me to find the connections among the note cards.

After I knew what the heck I was learning, formulating my questions, and then thinking about whom I could approach for more information—then I wanted to talk to a human with alleged expertise.

No wonder I am a loser. When I enter a query for “terminal”, I want to enter a category code so I get the exact meaning of terminal I have in mind and information directly related to documents with that notion of terminal. When I want terminal for a train, I want train stuff.

I suppose now I can run a query for terminal and see these “relevant” results:


Perhaps I can ring the director of the motion picture and ask the fellow where the train station is. Seems very useful, just not to me. Google, how about a return to relevance?

Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2015

Smart Software: A Semi History

February 25, 2015

Wondering how smart software came to be, how it works, what it can do? Navigate to “The Believers.” There’s information about a number of smart software initiatives, but I enjoyed the Google references.

For example, Geoffrey Hinton  A 67 year old Googler shares some ideas and is quoted as saying, “Well, I design the neural networks that recognize what you say.” Zen like.

I noted this statement: “If you want to understand how the mind works, ignoring the brain is probably a bad idea.”

The write up reveals: “Google uses deep learning in dozens of products.”

The end of the article is interesting. The author learns that a machine is better than the author at recognizing two numbers.

Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2015

The Fraying of the GOOG: Blogger and Gmail Autocomplete

February 24, 2015

I love the GOOG. The only thing I love more is an expert who resells my content on Amazon without my permission. Yep, I remember the Dave Schubmehl adventure. I think of IDC and I think of fraying or bad intellectual tailoring.

To the business at hand. I noted two items in my Overflight round up this morning. Both of these suggest that some of the wonderfulness of Google may be fraying. You know. Fraying. Like the cuff of my too long exercise pants. The pants are perfectly okay for the gym. Just fraying.

The first item points out that the GOOG is trimming unsavory images from its blogging service. The details appear in “Adult Content Po9licy on Blogger.” Google bought Blogger a decade ago. Quick reaction time I suppose. I am okay with editorial policies for content. But 11 years?

The second item to a function that many love. I absolutely loathe it, however. Start typing and the system fills in what you mean. Well, what the algorithm calculates you mean. Navigate to “A Weird Gmail Bug Has Tons of People Sending Emails to the Wrong Contacts.” The rip in the tightly spun Google technical fabric is, according to the write up:

Google’s mail service seems to have a bug in its auto-suggest feature that’s causing a bunch of people to send messages to the wrong contacts. Instead of auto-completing to the most-used contact when people start typing a name into the “To” field, it seems to be prioritizing contacts that they communicate with less frequently.

What am I to make of decisions a decade in the making and upside down algorithms? Maybe fraying. You know. Good for the gym but I wouldn’t wear the pants to a funeral.

Stephen E Arnold, February 24, 2015

Simplifying Google and Microsoft: Okay, Just a Wild Swing

February 20, 2015

I know the feeling. A deadline looms and the “real writer” casts about for a trope, an angle, a hook on which to hang a story. I read “Microsoft Is the New Google, Google Is the Old Microsoft.” The write up is a stuffed with product names and MBAisms. Here’s a passage I noted:

Meanwhile Microsoft makes the point that it is still thinking big with arguably the most interesting moonshot program in all of tech right now: Windows Holographic. Holographic is an eye to the future to excite consumers and investors while the company still remains laser focused on the present.

Prior to 2006, Google wanted to squish Microsoft. After 2006, Google began to show signs of progeroid syndrome. The problems had more to do with management issues than flaws in the company’s engineering. By 2010, engineering showed signs of reduced blood flow to the brain of Google. The manifestation of these problems were evident in the reorganizations and the drift from the company’s push to capitalize on research computing harvested for ideas that could be integrated into the firm’s information factory. The problems Google faces are rooted in management and engineering. The visible effects are some wild and crazy decisions about products, what the company can do to deal with the non Google world, and the realization that the business model inspired by GoTo, Overture, and Yahoo was getting long in the tooth.

Microsoft, on the other hand, had its own set of problems. These ranged from bureaucratic hardening of the arteries to really bad engineering. Toss in the shift from the desktop monoculture to a more diverse ecosystem. Microsoft became a value stock and uninteresting to all but the most devoted resellers, Windows lovers, and corporate information technology gurus certified by Microsoft. After much thrashing, the company moved from Gates Ballmer to a manager less inclined to chase his tail without snagging it.

Net net: Both companies have challenges, but there firms have not swapped outfits like twins in a slapstick comedy. Both companies are making decisions in an effort to maintain their revenue and profitability. It is unclear how each company will deal with the challenges in enterprise markets, consumer markets, non US markets, and management processes.

Forbes wants to paint a simple word picture for these two large and deeply stressed organizations. My focus is search. So consider that utility function. Neither company delivers high value findability for its constituents. When two firms whiff at bat, one must look beyond the appearance of failure to identify the root cause. Why has Google search gone off the rails? What’s up with the Bing thing? Is a failure with a utility function a manisfestation of more substantive issues?

For now, considered analyses of the weakness of Google and Microsoft is what I want to find in “real journalism”, not generalizations about goofy products or “moon spoon” metaphors. Even I tire of referencing the Loon balloon.

Stephen E Arnold, February 20, 2015

China Questionable. Is Russia the Next Down Market for Google?

February 18, 2015

I read “Google Faces Russia Android Probe after Yandex Protest.” The main idea is that the quite good Yandex search engine perceives itself to be disadvantaged due to Google policies for Android search. Who knows if the hurdle is real or imagined. Perception is everything. Think about the idea of Mr. Putin endorsing certain types of nation state interaction. Perception.

The write up opines:

Google may try to defend itself by noting that manufacturers are free to install rival services if they choose not to pre-load its other software. It is also likely to argue that customers can carry out searches via other software – including Yandex’s search app – after buying an Android handset or tablet.

Seems reasonable. The problem is that Google is not exactly an insider in Russia. Mr. Brin was to ride a Russian space ship. That seemed to fizzle.

If Yandex gets a decision that pegs Google as a bad boy, Russia like China may become a market that becomes difficult for Google to dominate.

Stephen E Arnold, February 18, 2015

In Google We Trust

February 18, 2015

According to a recent report, it appears that people trust the aggregator more than the sources it aggregates. Wait, what? Search Engine Journal (SEJ) informs us that “Google Is a More Trusted Source of News than Traditional Media [Report].” Of the 27,000 people surveyed for the report (published by Quartz), 72% trust “online search engines,” 64% trust traditional media, and 59% trust social media. (Personally, I find that last figure most troubling; but I digress.) Writer Matt Southern tells us:

“Where the trust stems from is a search engine’s ability to give users an at-a-glance look at news and information from a variety of sources. That is, apparently, more dependable for most people than getting news and/or information from a single source.

“What this really means is getting news from more than one source is preferable compared to putting sole trust in the reporting of one publication….

“On the other hand, you must also consider that Google’s algorithm takes into account your search history when serving up search results. So, for example, if you often come to SEJ for your SEO news then you’ll see more results from SEJ when conducting a search.”

We seem to be choosing ease-of-use over being well-informed from a wide range of viewpoints. Some people make that trade-off knowingly. Others, apparently, believe their personalized “variety” of sources actually give them the full picture. Let us not mistake convenience for trustworthiness; being well-informed sometimes takes a little effort.

Cynthia Murrell, February 18, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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