Google: SEO Like a True Google Human Actor

April 18, 2019

We know Google’s search algorithm comprehends text, at least enough to produce relevant search results (though, alas, apparently not enough to detect improper comments in kiddie videos on YouTube). The mechanisms, though, remain murky. Yoast ponders, “How Does Google Understand Text?” Writer Jesse van de Hulsbeek observes Google keeps the particulars close to the vest, but points to some clues, like patents Google has filed. “Word embeddings,” or assessing closely related words, and related entities are two examples. Writing for his SEO audience, van de Hulsbeek advises:

If Google understands context in some way or another, it’s likely to assess and judge context as well. The better your copy matches Google’s notion of the context, the better its chances. So thin copy with limited scope is going to be at a disadvantage. You’ll need to cover your topics exhaustively. And on a larger scale, covering related concepts and presenting a full body of work on your site will reinforce your authority on the topic you specialize in.

We also noted:

Easier texts which clearly reflect relationships between concepts don’t just benefit your readers, they help Google as well. Difficult, inconsistent and poorly structured writing is more difficult to understand for both humans and machines. You can help the search engine understand your texts by focusing on: Good readability (that is to say, making your text as easy-to-read as possible without compromising your message)…Good structure (that is to say, adding clear subheadings and transitions)…Good context (that is to say, adding clear explanations that show how what you’re saying relates to what is already known about a topic).

The article does point out that including key phrases is still important. Google is trying to be more like a human reader, we’re reminded, so text that is good for the humans is good for the SEO ranking. Relevance? Not so much.

Cynthia Murrell, April 18, 2019

Phishers Experience Some Tiny Google Pushback

April 17, 2019

Hiding urls is a phisher’s best friend. Google wants to eliminate those pesky urls. The problem is that spoofing a Web site is easier when the GOOG simplifies life. There’s nothing like a PDF with malware to make one’s day.

If the information in “Google Takes a Tiny Step Toward Fixing AMP’s URL Problem” is accurate, the Google may be pushing back against the opportunities bad actors have to deceive a Web user. The write up does describe Google’s action as “tiny” and “tiny” may be miniscule. I learned:

When you click a link on your phone with a little lightning bolt next to it in Google search, you’re getting something in the AMP format. AMP stands for “Accelerated Mobile Pages,” and you’ve probably noticed that those pages load super quickly and usually look much simpler than regular webpages. You may have also noticed that the URL at the top of your browser started with “www.google.com/somethingorother” instead of with the webpage you thought you were visiting.

Yeah, about that “quickly.” Maybe not.

Phishers will be studying this alleged “tiny” change. Why? Phishing and spear phishing are one of the methods which are bring Dark Web type excitement to users of the good, old-fashioned Web. There are six or seven additional examples of metastatic technology in my keynote at the TechnoSecurity & Digital Forensics Conference in June 2019.

“Tiny”. Yep. And what about the “speed” of AMP pages?

Stephen E Arnold, April 17, 2019

Google and Identity Management

April 17, 2019

Google kills products. More than 100 since I did my last count. With that fact in mind, I read a second time “Google, Hyperledger Launch Online Identity Management Tools.” At first glance, the idea of a slightly different approach to identify management seems like a good but obvious idea. (Does Amazon have thoughts about identify management too?)

The write up explains:

Google unveiled five upgrades to its BeyondCorp cloud enterprise security service that enables identity and access management for employees, corporate partners, and customers.

Google wants to be the go to cloud provider of identity management services. Among the capabilities revealed, Google’s Android 7 and higher can be used as a two factor authentication dongle.

However, in the back of my mind is the memory of failed products and Google engineers losing interest in certain projects. No promotion, no internal buzz, then no engineers. The Google Search Appliance, for example, was not a thriller.

The idea that Google can and does lose interest in projects may provide a marketing angle Amazon can exploit. If Amazon ignores this “short attention span” issue, perhaps other companies will be less reluctant to point out that talk and a strong start are not finishing the race.

Stephen E Arnold, April 17, 2019

Google and Kiddie Data Allegations

April 15, 2019

I read a compelling essay published in TribLive. The title? “Protect Kids from Google Predators.” The short write up does a good job of identifying the basic mechanism for collecting information about students. Here’s a passage I noted:

Google now has 80 million educators and students around the world using G Suite for Education, 40 million students and teachers in Google Classroom and 30 million more using Google Chromebooks inside and outside the classroom.

The data collection is ubiquitous, just like other Google functions. These intercept and logging functions are baked into the system. As Google staff turns over, the specifics of some of these fundamental plumbing and utility services are like services buried in Windows 10 and Word. Fish don’t understand water; users don’t understand a non-Google environment.

The write up adds:

K-12 children in tens of thousands of schools began the academic year by lining up at the library to create Gmail accounts and Google Classroom logins without parental notification or permission. There’s no escape: No Google, no access. No access, no education. “Hell, some of the teachers don’t even teach the kids,” one parent complained to me. Instead, they “watch videos on Canvas or on their Chromebooks. Canvas (by Instructure) is one of myriad “learning management systems” that stores students’ grades, homework assignments, videos, quizzes and tests — all integrated with almighty, all-powerful, omniscient Google. Google apps such as ClassDojo collect intimate behavioral data and long-term psychological profiles encompassing family information, personal messages, photographs and voice notes. The collection of such data is a nanny state nightmare in the making, as a new Pioneer Institute report on “social, emotional learning” software and assessments outlined this month. Meanwhile, preschoolers are being trained to flash “Clever Badges” with QR codes in front of their Google Chromebook webcams. These badges “seamlessly” log them into Google World and all its apps without all the “stress” of remembering passwords. Addicted toddlers are being indoctrinated into the screen time culture without learning how to exercise autonomy over their own data.

DarkCyber believes that more attention to this Google “feature” may be warranted. I know an apology from Google may be forthcoming, but perhaps parents are tiring of apologies and having their children tracked and their privacy compromised?

Stephen E Arnold, April 15, 2019

Amazon Moved a Knight. Google Pushes a Pawn

April 10, 2019

If you care about search and retrieval, you may be interested in the chess game underway between Amazon and Google. Amazon seized the initiative by embracing the open source Elasticsearch. Google, an outfit whose failures in search are known to anyone who licensed a Google Search Appliance, has responded. The pawn Google nudged forward is Elastic, the outfit which has been a big dog in search and retrieval for several years.

According to “Elastic and Google Cloud Expand Elasticsearch Service Partnership”:

Elastic (NYSE: ESTC) and Google Cloud (GCP) announced the expansion of their managed Elasticsearch Service partnership to make it faster and easier for users to deploy Elasticsearch within their Google Cloud Platform (GCP) accounts. Building upon the partnership to deliver Elastic’s Elasticsearch Service on GCP, the companies announced a fully managed, cloud-native integration for discovery, billing, and support for Elasticsearch Service within the GCP Console.

We also circled this statement, which is quite fascinating when interpreted in the context of Amazon’s open source tactic:

Elastic’s Elasticsearch Service on GCP gives users a turnkey experience to deploy powerful Elastic Stack features of Elasticsearch and Kibana, including proprietary free and paid features such as security, alerting, machine learning, Kibana spaces, Canvas, Elasticsearch SQL, and cross-cluster search. In addition, users can deploy new curated solutions for logging, infrastructure monitoring, mapping and geospatial analysis, and APM; optimize compute, memory, and storage workloads using Elastic’s customizable deployment templates such as hot-warm architecture for the logging use case; and upgrade to the latest version of Elasticsearch and Kibana as soon as it is released with a single click.

The chess timer is Amazon’s. Will the company make a lucid move?

Stephen E Arnold, April 10, 2019

High School Science Club Management Method Number Three: Lay Low

April 10, 2019

I spotted a business related post in the article “Google Founders Have Skipped All Of The Company’s 2019 Town Hall Meetings.” The write up states:

Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have yet to make an appearance at any of the company’s weekly “TGIF” town halls in 2019.

The “real news” story opines that transparency may not be a Google core competency. I noted this passage:

Their withdrawal isn’t entirely unexpected, according to a company source. The cofounders planned to step back their Google involvement when they formed Alphabet in 2015 — a holding company that contains Google proper along with “other bets” in areas such as Waymo’s self-driving cars, and companies focused on life science and anti-aging. The idea was to give Google CEO Sundar Pichai the ability to assert his own leadership during a tumultuous time. The cofounders remain actively involved with the other bets.

Okay, a reorganization, creating a new “face” for the company, and avoiding any type of spotlight which might lead to awkward questions about business practices—these are part of the standard operating procedure for those embracing the high school science club approach to management.

“Bro” culture doesn’t capture the spirit of HSSCMM or H2CS2. That is unfortunate because a failure to recognize the hallmarks of perceive entitlement makes it difficult to realize that the leaders of Facebook are going to be scrutinized. Google is simply more skilled at H2CS2.

Stephen E Arnold, April 10, 2019

Singapore Enters the War Against US Social Media

April 7, 2019

Wow, the high school science club companies may have to duke it out with the student council. That’s a metaphor. The Facebooks, Googles, and other social media ad giants may have to deal with politicians. Horror of horrors.

I read “Singapore’s Fake News Laws Upset Tech Giants.” The main point is that a city state which takes a hard line on chewing gum is “adopting tough measures” related to fake news. (I assume the write up in Phys.org is accurate, of course.)

The article noted:

Singapore is among several countries pushing legislation to fight fake news, and the government stressed ordering “corrections” to be placed alongside falsehoods would be the primary response, rather than jail or fines.

The trick is that some person or some algorithms has to spot fake news. If that person is an individual who perceives a misstatement, that may be contentious. If a smart algorithm from the science club crowd misses fake news, that’s probably a thorny path as well.

Facebook and Google are on the scene. I noted this statement in the write up:

Google, Facebook and Twitter have their Asia headquarters in Singapore, a city of 5.6 million which is popular with expats as it is developed, safe and efficient. But there were already signs of tensions with tech companies as the government prepared to unveil the laws. During parliamentary hearings last year about tackling online falsehoods, Google and Facebook urged the government not to introduce new laws.

I interpreted this to mean, “Yikes, lobbying does not work in Singapore as it does in the USA.”

Another tiny step from non US regulators to get certain firms to abandon some of their more interesting and possibly cavalier and entitled practices. Can the mere government of Singapore deal with the corporate countries US laws have enabled?

Stephen E Arnold, April 7, 2019

Alphabet Google Ethics Board: Planning R Us

April 5, 2019

I found this item amusing: “Google Cancels AI Ethics Board in Response to Outcry.” Google’s attempt to get — in the words of a PR expert I once knew — in front of the building tsunami of government push back against the online ad company is no more. That which made me laugh was that Facebook’s call for regulation did not seem to stimulate such robust activity. I assume that someone younger and brighter than I might make a case that public opinion is discriminating against Facebook.

The write up states:

Google told Vox [my real news source] on Thursday that it’s pulling the plug on the ethics board. The board survived for barely more than one week.

Each time Amazon launches a new service, there’s an expectation that the oddly named and almost monikers will continue to chug along no matter what the online bookstore does. Sure, Amazon killed its mobile phone and a bunch of third party sellers. That’s not quite the pace of ideas-killed-off for the GOOG.

Let’s set aside the notion of people who wanted to help Google figure out AI ethics for a moment. The key fact for me is that high school science club management methods are in use.

Planning? Check.

Efficiency? Check.

Staff management? Check.

Participant recruitment? Check

What could go wrong? Apparently quite a bit.

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2019

Intelligence Community Braces for AI-Generated Fake People

April 4, 2019

AI trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. Chatbots have been around so long, they seem to have become a generic term. More recently, the news that fake videos can be produced of famous people saying, well, anything have surfaced. But a new, more subtle threat looms in the act of making realistic photos of non-existent people. We learned more about this odd threat in the Mashable article, “This Website Uses AI to Generate Faces of People Who Don’t Really Exist.”

According to the story:

“As for the societal impact of this technology, Wang said the more people are aware of it, the better they can be prepared for these images…A powerful enough GAN [the face making technology] could be used to create an image of a loved one, which could be used for manipulation, he said. Or a big enough dataset could be used to create all sorts of realistic images, from scratch.”

We assumed that Google’s external AI board might have provided some insight, ideas, and inspiration with regard to digital manipulations. It seems, however, that the AI board has become mired in in-fighting. Real, not fake.

That’s real, which throws a bit of water on the idea of figuring out what’s false.

Patrick Roland, April 4, 2019

Japan Times Interprets Google Behavior and Gomen Nasai Will Not Be Enough

April 3, 2019

I don’t want the Japan Times analyzing my behavior. Google, however, gets to enjoy this East Meets West experience. You can too. Just navigate to “Google Needs a Lesson in Patriotism.” The article is authored by Hal Brands, Johns Hopkins University.

The hook for the criticism of Google is the world’s largest online ad supported search system’s work on Dragonfly. That is/was the code word for a search engine tailored to meet the tastes of the Chinese government’s leaders.

Google tap-danced around Dragonfly, but the fact of creating a search system which would fit the needs of China’s leader like a personalized online ad annoyed some people. One of those who interpreted Google’s actions as unpalatable was General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Dunford, according to the Japan Times’ article, turned the spotlight on a

“larger problem with Google’s behavior. A company that prides itself on seeing around the corner of history is living in a world that no longer exists.”

In short, smart Google is stupid.

The article points out:

It is no surprise, then, that Dunford and other U.S. officials have been seething over Google’s behavior. A company that has grown fantastically wealthy, in part because it is based in the United States and benefits from the American-led global order, has decided that its “values” don’t allow it to cooperate with Washington, but that it is happy to help the Chinese Communist Party defend an authoritarian political system and scale the commanding heights of global technological superiority. Google’s conduct, in turn, reveals a deeper intellectual failing: The inability to see, or perhaps the refusal to acknowledge, that the post-Cold War era has ended and the world has entered the Age of Rivalry.

The bro culture may be leading Google into a “showdown with an angry Congress—or an angry president—in the future.

Messrs. Page and Brin, the prime movers of the culture of exceptionalism, have distanced themselves from Google. The current management team may not be able to fancy dance their way into the finals of the marathon which awaits them.

And once the US prom wraps up, other countries will strike up their bands. Google may end up with more than sore feet and some taps from an academic.

Why did the Japan Times run this essay? Google’s behaviors have offended more than General Dunford. I surmise that Google is indifferent to criticism of its business practices.

The article references a lack of patriotism, but it implies a much deeper problem. A serious malfunction which a simple fix cannot repair. Sad.

Stephen E Arnold, April 3, 2019

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