Google News in Spain: The Sound of Declining Traffic

December 17, 2014

Well, the Googley conquistadores seem to have caught the attention of the Spanish news sites. I read “External Traffic to Spanish News Sites Plummets after Google Move.” I find it remarkable that “real” journalism outfits fail to understand the power of the GOOG. Axil Springer pumped millions into Qwant. I bet you use that Pertimm-based service each and every day, right? A quick dust up with the Google, and the German publisher rolled over like my clueless boxer Tess. She is deaf, has three good legs, and one eye. But Tess figures stuff out without have to do much more than be aware of her environment. Perhaps there is a lesson there?


Is Tess the rescue boxer smarter than the average European publisher chock full of “real” journalistic wizardry? I can make a good case for Tess. She uses Google to help me research Cyber OSINT and NGIA.

The write up states:

Spanish publishers are now asking for help from the government because of the impact of the law, even though Google warned that it would have to remove their links if the law was passed (any links to Spanish sites are also removed from other content on non-Spanish versions of Google News, but they remain available through a regular Google search).

The reality is that the folks with the wonky logo and teenagers on the payroll are the gatekeepers. If you are not in Google, you do not exist. This applies to cold blooded northern Europeans and the more excitable southern Europeans. Thomas Mann explained this is his novels. Well, some “real” journalists may want to refresh their memories. Reality check: Google has traffic power. Sartre provided some insight in No Exit. I have an idea. Let’s run a modern European literature class for “real” journalists. Yes, students, you can use Google. I excuse from class the wizards at IDG/IDC who suggested that Google pull out of Europe. Europe may request that Google remain available. Look for a report from IDC expert Dave Schubmehl explaining why Google should put its tail between its legs and scurry back to Silicon Valley.

Stephen E Arnold, December 17, 2014

A DeepMind Could Improve Google Search

December 16, 2014

DeepMind was invented by London-based genius Demis Hassabis to teach computers how to master complex tasks. He later taught the machines to play classic videogames, which caught Google’s attention and they bought DeepMind for $650 million. Technology Review looks at how the new technology can improve Google in, “Demis Hassabis, Founder of DeepMind Technologies And Artificial-Intelligence Wunderkind At Google, Wants Machines To Think Like Us.”

The article acts as a brief biography of Hassabis, highlighting his intelligence program. Computers programmed with the software were told to play Atari games, but were not programmed with any of the rules. Through trial and error the computers mastered the games through reinforcement learning.

“Artificial intelligence researchers have been tinkering with reinforcement learning for decades. But until DeepMind’s Atari demo, no one had built a system capable of learning anything nearly as complex as how to play a computer game, says Hassabis. One reason it was possible was a trick borrowed from his favorite area of the brain. Part of the Atari-playing software’s learning process involved replaying its past experiences over and over to try and extract the most accurate hints on what it should do in the future.”

Now called Google DeepMind, the team of seventy-five people work in London to apply the technology to all of Google’s products. While learning how to apply AI to Google, Hassabis also dreams of new ways it can be used for bigger and better projects. Until then they’re still playing Atari games.

Mr. Hassabis, start applying DeepMind to search.

Whitney Grace, December 16, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

A Fine Idea from IDG: Google, Bail Out of Europe

December 15, 2014

I found this write up presumptuous. Imagine a traditional publishing company and owner of the mid-tier consulting company IDC providing unsolicited suggestions to the Google. (IDC as you may recall employs the “expert” Dave Schubmehl, who has be known to sell work with my name on it via Amazon. Information is here.)

Navigate to this write up: “Why Google Should Leave Europe.” The story suggests that Google should turn its back on Europe. Okay, great idea. The wizards at IDG/IDC do not have a suggestion for replacing Google’s European revenue. The analysis appears to overlook the Android/Chrome business. The stroke of genius ignores the government contracts on which a few, industrious Google labors. Nope. Bail out. Abandon ship. Leave the market to the stellar alternatives like Qwanta, Exalead Search, and my favorite Yandex.

Here’s a passage I noted when I stopping laughing:

Google is more popular among the European public than any other region in the world. The company has higher than 90% market share in Europe simply because users there prefer it over alternatives. (The company has less than 68% market share in the U.S.) So European corporations and the politicians they lobby are out to destroy Google even as the European public loves Google. To summarize, you have government obsessively and shamelessly pushing unfair protectionism under the guise of various righteous bureaucratic causes and hammering away with censorship, fines, threats, bans and constant harassment. Sound familiar? It should. This is the situation found itself in China five years ago.

Now if I am not mistaken, Google’s issues with China are country specific, not a couple of dozen countries with only a subset of “Europe” united, however loosely, by the European Community thing.

The logic of the mid-tier thinkers is that Google should bail out.

I don’t want to spend any time pointing out that the idea has some hurdles to overcome. I would remind you, gentle reader, that Google has stakeholders. Some of these folks are “European.” Nuking the value of the company with the IDG/IDC approach would create what I would describe as pushback.

You can identify two or three other reasons why cutting ties with Europe might not be a great maneuver at this time. Are you familiar with Google’s employees in Europe? What about Google’s operation in Switzerland? Oh, well, details do not trouble an outfit that sells my content without my permission on a digital Wal-Mart.

If Google does follow this advice, I would be mildly surprised. Perhaps IDG and IDG should turn its attention on remediating its contract processes, its reselling of my content without my permission, and coming up with forecasts that are able to put McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group to shame.

That, however, is probably of less interest than offering Google unsolicited advice that sails into the digital aether to disappear. Quickly I assume.

Stephen E Arnold, December 15, 2015

Google: Not Yet the Conquistador of Spanish News

December 11, 2014

I have zero idea if this is a tire change on Google’s run to the trophy at el Gran Premio de España or a spin out. (By the way, I don’t care.)

Here’s the write up from my favorite pro physical punishment news outlet: “Google’s rough time in Europe continues with closure of Google News Spain.”

If accurate, some publishers in Spain are throwing roses because the GOOG has turned off its Spanish Google News service. Olé. If I understand the situation, the Google would have to pay a “tax” to use story links. Olé.

I noted this passage:

The move is likely to mean a huge drop in traffic for many of the Spanish media outlets that regularly appear on Google’s news site in the country, a situation that could ultimately lead to a climb-down by the Spanish government.

“Likely” strikes me a limp word. Anyone recall how quickly a certain German news and information company did an about face when its traffic cratered? Well, I do. Axel Springer, which owns it own Google goblin in the somewhat fascinating logic of Google’s senior managers, now understands what traffic means. Stated simply, if one’s Web page or Web whatever is not in the Google index, that Web whatever does not exist for most of the Internet world. Is this a monopoly position? What about that one click away from another search system? Is that baloney? Is Mr. Vanderbilt proud of Google from his perch in capitalist heaven? Will Spain get the message?

Yep, eventually. Anyway the news outlets can work hard to get big time traffic from Exalead Search or Yahoo. (Remember the yodel?)

I wonder if Google questions why pesky countries cannot understand the Google way. Nah.

Stephen E Arnold, December 11, 2014

Google: More Ad Pain Coming

December 10, 2014

I am not sure if the information in “Facebook Video Is Driving YouTube Off Facebook” is spot on. Counts of user behavior without the actual log files are subject to interpretation. But the main point is darned suggestive. Facebook video may be cutting into uploads to Now the Googlers are trying to make YouTube into a bigger money spinner. If Facebook pushes into video, advertisers are going to want to put their messages in front of Facebook viewers of hot videos. Bad news for Google.

The passage from the article I noted was:

It is evidence of a dramatic shift in power: Until recently Facebook was not even considered a destination for video. Page owners simply shared their YouTube videos on Facebook, and that was that.

My view is that Google struggles to convert social into a service that can compete with Facebook. If Facebook figures out how to play nice with China, the GOOG has a yellow alert flashing. Is the answer in “How Google Works”?

Stephen E Arnold, December 10, 2014

Google Maps: What Unlimited Resources Deliver

December 9, 2014

There are quite a few mapping and geo outfits. But there is only one Google Maps. Whether you are into maps or not, Google Maps is a big dog in the lat long world.

When I was beavering away in Washington, DC, I had to do a job that involved one of the US government’s mapping outfits. Most government type map outfits are pretty low profile. I was in the lowest of the low profile operations and the issue was next generation maps. The government outfit had traditional mapping assets. You are familiar with some of these; for example, ESRI, European sources, and some of the giant defense contractors.

But the buzz was that Google was making maps more exciting than it normally was for geo geeks. That was shortly after Google bought Keyhole and make some of the functions available via Google’s notion of programmer friendly methods.

Flash forward six or seven years, and the information in “The Huge Unseen Operation Behind the Accuracy of Google Maps” seems like “real” news. Like so many of the breathless paean about the GOOG, the write up gains some zip due to the miserable job “real” journalists and Google cheerleaders deliver.

The map game is shifting toward the Google. Those who find Google’s investment and effort interesting should ask one question, “In what other information centric activities is Google engaged?”

Reading about Google many years after the disruption took place makes clear how little most folks know about that so handy online ad delivery company.

Stephen E Arnold, December 9, 2014

Google Ads: And the Research Means…?

December 8, 2014

I read “5 Viewability Findings from Google.” Frankly I am not certain if the five results are good news or bad news.

Here’s an example:

56.1% of all display ad impressions never appeared on a screen, Google’s research found.

Does this mean that Google needs to do more to get ads viewed? One approach would be to use the incredibly annoying approach that displays an ad, hides the “skip” or “close” option, and uses flashing text to communicate its powerful message. Perhaps soon?

Another example:

Page position isn’t always the best indicator of viewability, Google’s research found. In fact, far from all above-the-fold ad impressions are viewable, and many below-the-fold ones are. The median viewability for ad units above-the-fold was 68%, Google said, compared with 40% below-the-fold. Perhaps counter intuitively, the most “viewable” ads were not placed at the top of publisher pages, but were actually located directly “above-the-fold,” at the bottom of the visible part of a webpage immediately after it loaded.

So ads can be anywhere to be viewed? I like the “counter intuitive angle” because it suggests that Google data are clarifying what users really do. Don’t users look for results that answer their question? I suppose that too is counter intuitive.

Please, work through the other three findings.

It seems to me that Google ads appear to be chugging along as long at the user is accessing search results using a desktop computer. Don’t most folks access Google and other online information via a mobile device? Less screen real estate, right?

Are there other source of revenue that will replace the difference between the ad power of a dinosaur type of access and the new breed of cat access?

Stephen E Arnold, December 8, 2014

Proposal to Allow Google to Think for Students

December 5, 2014

What a brilliant idea? With search traffic waffling around in mobile no man’s land, a Harvard professor has an idea that will tickle Google’s ad sales teams. “Allow Pupils to Use Google in GCSE Exams, Says Academic” is a fine idea. The article reports:

Teenagers should have access to the internet and discuss questions with friends during exams because GCSEs and A-levels are setting pupils up to “fail at life”, according to a leading academic.

Yes, and the assumption is that Google is without error. That is a fine assumption.

How long will it be before the professor realizes that armed with a phone or tablet, the student will be able to buy real time assistance with the exam? Or, what happens if the clever student discovers I wouldn’t go to such extremes. I would just ask my friends via one of the many chat services what the answer should be.

I think the physics professor should look for a new career as an advisor to Google. Perhaps he could do an interview with that Google cheerleading outfit located in Boston?

Stephen E Arnold, December 5, 2014

Bye-Bye Google Glass Stores

December 4, 2014

The great thing about owning an Apple product is when you need service all you have to do is schedule an appointment and visit a store. Apple is quite unlike any other company with technical support, because they actually help resolve issues without trying to sell you more products at the same time. Also person-to-person help is more effective than phone support.

Google must have been thinking the same thing, because Digital Spy reports in “Google Glass Basecamp Stores Closing In The US?” the search giant opened three Glass Basecamp storefronts for Google Glass tech support and to buy accessories. Just as quickly as they opened, the storefronts are closing in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

According to the article, the stores were not meant to be permanent, which is strange considering the consumer version of the Google Glass is set for release soon.

“Earlier this month, it was reported that the launch of the consumer version could be delayed until 2015.

The apparent delay comes as developers are reportedly losing interest in the technology, with some pulling out of making apps.

While there are almost 100 apps available, there are some notable omissions including Twitter, who stopped supporting Glass in October.”

It sounds like Google has a blunder on its list along with forcing all users to sign up for Google Plus. Is the world ready for technology like Google Glass, the answer is yes. The technology, however, is still clunky and not widespread. What can it be compared to? There is Nintendo’s Virtual Boy and Power Glove, the DIVX player, and laser discs.

Whitney Grace, December 04, 2014
Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Xoogler Provides Google Plus Analysis

December 1, 2014

I don’t use Google Plus. I think an account was created when we set up Google Mail, but I am not sure. Furthermore, I am not sufficiently motivated to find out more.

But someone cares a lot about Google Plus. You can get a fairly interesting look at some of Google Plus’s “issues” by reading “Thoughts on Google+”: I F**ked Up. So Has Google.”

Google’s efforts, meanwhile, seem disjointed and confused, despite significant improvements to their settings and security features. If Google+ was intended to serve as Google’s “social backbone”, it should be the locus of control and access over the kind of information I’ve described above. And yet… it’s not. Far from it, in fact.

One of the factoids in the write up was that 3,000 people work on Google Plus. How many work on the Google Search Appliance? Two, six, seven?

Keep in mind the author of the analysis likes Google’s Loon balloons.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2014


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