Google: A Tuneful Allegation about Indexing and Search Results

June 17, 2019

Google continues to attract criticism. DarkCyber noted an interesting twist on cleverness. Google has been a clever outfit. Now there may be evidence that a company with song lyrics may be slightly more clever. According to Boy Genius Report, a company with a database of song lyrics allegedly believed that Google was copying the lyrics and using them without permission. Remember. This is an allegation, and anyone not clever can make an allegation do a two step. The company with the lyrics is named Genius, and allegedly Genius inserted a coded message within its lyrics. Thus, when Google acquired these lyrics, Genius alleges that the coded messages appeared in Google’s lyrics. Smoking gun? How long has Genius been aware of the GOOG’s alleged improper use of lyrics? The answer, according to the article, is two years.

Several observations:

  1. This is an allegation, so it seems that legal eagles will take flight
  2. The use of “codes” is interesting because it suggests that the intake, indexing, and content processing system in use at Google may operate in an indiscriminate manner. The scraping may give a bad actor an idea for injecting certain types of data into a Google system. (I cover this type of exploit in my lectures about the flaws in the most widely used algorithms in content processing. Now we have allegations of a big time use case.)
  3. The allegation may provide some additional information about how Google allegedly favors its own content over that of third parties. The idea which could inspire some legal analysis is that: [a] Google knows via its analytics which content is hot, [b] Google seeks to acquire that content in some manner; and [c] when a query is run for something in that corpus, Google displays its content, not that of a third party.

Net net: Google is indeed clever, but this may be an example of a smaller company being clever-er. Worth watching what fancy dancing the Google uses to deal with this allegation of “genius.”

Stephen E Arnold, June 17, 2019

Amazon and YouTube: The Hong Kong Protests Mark the Day that Made Clear the Limitations of YouTube

June 16, 2019

I heard there was a small protest underway in Hong Kong. The time is now 6 30 am US Eastern time. I navigated to YouTube, entered the query “Hong Kong protest”, and I saw links to videos from a day ago (today is June 16, 2019). I navigated to the YouTube “Live” page which provides a limited selection of streaming videos on YouTube. If you have not seen that somewhat incomplete index, navigate to No live stream of the Hong Kong protest.

If it’s not on YouTube, then it doesn’t exist, goes some old times’ catchphrase.

Well, not quite.

Navigate to Amazon’s Run a query for Hong Kong. Here’s what I saw before I clicked on the live stream of Unable to Breath.


Amazon search result. The Unable to Breath stream is not one but an aggregate of eight separate feeds from Hong Kong.

Front and center was a link to Unable to Breath, which presents this streaming image:


This is a screen shot of a single screen which is eight different feeds showing different views of the handful of people who are participating in the event. Note: Handful means more than one million.

Notice that three are eight live streams of this modest protest. This is one live stream with eight separate views of the modest demonstration in Hong Kong. Eight in one stream! No registration required. No in stream pop up ads. Just high value intelligence in pretty good streaming video quality.

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Google Translate: Refactored via India and Fixed via SEO Expert

June 14, 2019

Navigate to Republic World, produced in India. The article “Google Translation of I Am Sad to See Hong Kong Become Part of China Converted the Word Sad to Happy.” DarkCyber does not know the source of this translation, nor does DarkCyber know if the information in the story is accurate. We noted this passage in the Republic World story:

Google users discovered that when people entered the phrase “I am sad to see Hong Kong become part of China” the suggested translation in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese converted the word “sad” to “happy”.

Here’s the kicker. Search engine optimization expert and now low profile Google “search” expert was allowed to state:

It was not immediately clear what caused the blunder but Danny Sullivan, an official at Google, said in a tweet “we’re looking into why we had this translation and expect to have a fix to resolve it soon”.

Yep, a fix. According to the next paragraph in the story, “The error has now been fixed.”

Fast action from the Google.

It is amazing what search engine optimization experts can accomplish.

Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2019

Google and Bungle: Math Meets PR

June 14, 2019

i read “Announcements Made Carlos Maza’s Harassment Worse” written by a student. I found the write up interesting but probably not for the reasons the editors of Vice did. The main point of the write up strikes me as:

In the hours following YouTube’s announcement, a range of far-right users received notices from the platform indicating that they could no longer convert their viewership into ad revenue. This is not the first time YouTube has enacted sweeping changes that affect content creators: in the past year or so, users have come to expect so-called “Adpocalypses” as YouTube attempts to stay advertiser-friendly.  This time, however, users weren’t only blaming YouTube—they were blaming a Vox journalist and YouTube creator who was now facing a torrent of abuse thanks in part to YouTube’s fumbling and poorly-timed announcements.

Online harassment may be like explaining the Mona Lisa. Is the figure smiling? Do the eyes follow a viewer? Is Mona Leonardo is a “get up”? Art history students are not likely to reach agreement. Google has discovered that it has its Mona Lisa smile moment.

For DarkCyber, the student essay is interesting and valuable because it reveals the disconnect between the scrambling Alphabet and the clown car of YouTube content. Now the clown car is displaying ads which explain what’s going on with filtering.

Why the disconnect the student captures in the essay?

The answer is that management precepts based on “we know better” and “sell ads” does not translate well. The Alphabet Google approach grates on the sensibilities of its “creators.”

When a person younger than I captures the consequences of high school wizards making decisions for the entire school, the message is, “Alphabet Google is not communicating effectively across the board.”

Thus, the student’s write up captures a moment in management history. If there were viable MBA programs, perhaps a bright student would study the “bungle” and Google management processes with a critical eye.

For now, we have student essays explaining how the world’s smartest “bungle” and with public relations no less. Where are the math wizards, the computer scientists, the engineers? Right, right. In management.

Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2019

Google: The Ad Innovator Trying to Fend Off Amazon

June 14, 2019

Google earns the majority of its revenue from advertisements. The search engine giant is always searching for new ways to improve its users’ and customers’ service, especially for those who line its profit margins. The Media Online shares how Google has improved its advertising features: “Five New Google Features That Will Change The Digital Marketing Landscape.” All of these new features could change how advertisers approach digital marketing.

Google is releasing new types of ads respectfully called Discovery Ads and Galley Ads. Discovery will allow advertisers to promote brands through attractive native ads that change based on its target audience. The advertiser creates variations of an ad with images and copy, then based on the audience’s feed Google’s algorithm will deliver original ads. Galley ads are Google’s first ads that include a graphic element. The galley ads will feature images that can expand into a full-page experience and allow potential customers to interact with the products.

Google will also make four changes to its conversion and ad bidding process. Advertisers will be able to make seasonal adjustments to their bidding campaigns, set conversions at a campaign level, and there will be a new smart bidding strategy to maximize conversion values and their rules. There will be brand new video ads called “bumper ads” that will automatically generate six-second bides from longer videos.

Sentimental analysis comes into play for targeting audiences:

“The search giant is developing a more enhanced automatic targeting function in their display advertising and will publish it as a new tool on the audience side. Rather than just being able to choose between conservative and aggressive, Audience Expansion allows you to select degrees of specificity. There is even a special forecasting mechanism that predicts the change in ad spend, clicks, and conversions. This allows brands to focus on audience segments that work for the brand and incrementally increase the reach while still being able to control campaign performance.”

Google shopping is about to become smarter too. No longer with Google Shopping solely focus on searching for products. It will instead curate a personalized page based on past shopping history, similar to Amazon. Also there is more support for Google Shopping Ads, where brands can share budgets based on local retailers. This means shoppers can purchase directly from their search results using payment options stored in Google. It eliminates a step in shopping.

Will these ad innovations prevent Amazon from encroaching? Privacy? Regulators? Interesting questions.

Whitney Grace, June 14, 2019

Google Rivets: Strong or Brittle?

June 14, 2019

An app that helps kids learn to read sounds like a great Googley idea. And (concerns about potential advertising to or tracking of minors aside) it would be—if only it were easy to access. One frustrated father at Ausdroid reports, “Google’s New Kid-Focused Reading App Revit is Incompatible with Their Kid-Focused Family Link Accounts.” After checking out the app for himself, writer Duncan Jaffrey decided it was worthy of setting up for his daughter. He had no problems using the parent-side setup from his Google account. But when he got to the tablet’s Family Link account, things went awry. He writes:

“Surely this app – an educational app for kids – should be able to work nicely with Family Link. Well, no, it doesn’t. It appears there’s no way for me to sign into Rivet using my Google account, using its authorization process on an Android device running a kids Family Link profile, unless I happen to have a Google for Education account myself. Which I don’t.

We noted this statement:

“So, I figure it’s a reading app, it’s not that bad if I just allow complete access for this app, so I try to sign into Rivet with my daughter’s Google Family Link account … you guessed it a child’s Family Link account is not allowed to be used to sign into Rivet. Agrahhhhhhh.

The article added:

“So, what was I left with? I had to run the app not signed in, which means you’re not getting the progress and usage tracking, it also means that when your child accidentally hits the persistent LOG IN button that’s always on screen it pulls them out of the story their reading with the resulting tech-inspired outrage you’d expect from a child.”

Jaffrey does note that Rivet was created by one of Google’s labs, Area 120, which operates more or less independently. Perhaps, he grants, that is why the apps do not play well together. Whatever the reason, the author has asked Google about a work-around; there are no updates, though, as of this writing.

Cynthia Murrell, June 14, 2019

Google: Does That Clown Car Have a License Plate Which Reads Credibility000?

June 13, 2019

I am not going to write about the YouTube clown car regarding hate speech. Vice News makes the issue clear: High school science club management (HSSCM) does not deliver what practitioners hope and dream. I am not going to write about the pain Google caused. The Verge provides plenty of information on that angle.

In my opinion, Google’s after-the-fact explanations are unlikely to work like a dentist’s temporary anesthetic. I am getting tired of wading through reports about these types of HSSCM missteps.

I do want to call attention to Google’s explanation that “Chrome isn’t killing ad blockers.” The company is making “them” safer. The “them” are the developers trying to strip out obnoxious, never ending ads which are enhancing one’s experience when trying to read a one page article of interest. You can read the Googley words in “Improving Security and Privacy for Extensions Users.”

Here’s an example of the argument:

The Chrome Extensions ecosystem has seen incredible advancement, adoption, and growth since its launch over ten years ago. Extensions are a great way for users to customize their experience in Chrome and on the web. As this system grows and expands in both reach and power, user safety and protection remains a core focus of the Chromium project.

Here in Harrod’s Creek, some of Google’s innovations appear to be created to provide two things:

  1. More control over what users can do and see; e.g., ad blocker blocking
  2. Keeping users within Google’s version of the Internet; e.g., AMP.

We understand why a commercial enterprise, so far unregulated, takes these actions: Revenue. That’s the “law of the land” in the Wild West of Silicon Valley bro capitalism. Google needs cash because it costs the company more and more to get and keep users, to fight Facebook and Microsoft, and to fund the out-of-coontrol overhead the high school wizards put in place and have expanded. There’s none of the Amazon rip-and-replace thinking that hit Oracle in the chops earlier this year.

DarkCyber thinks that Google might have a bit more credibility if the company were to say: “We need ads to survive. If you use Chrome, you are going to get ads, lots of ads. We’ve relaxed our semantic fence to make sure more of these valuable messages are likely to be irrelevant to you.”

Some might find this type of clarity distasteful, but directness without inventing crazy rationales might restore some of the pre-IPO and pre-Overture/ luster to the online ad giant. Calling itself a “search” engine doesn’t do it for a couple of the people I know in Harrod’s Creek.

Directness, clarity, and even a touch of honesty? That’s a stupid idea I assert. Making stuff up as the clown car rolls down the Information Highway may blaze trails the Bezos bulldozer will convert into monetization opportunities sooner rather than later.

Stephen E Arnold, June 13, 2019

Google: Can Semantic Relaxing Display More Ads?

June 10, 2019

For some reason, vendors of search systems have shuddered if a user’s query returns a null set. the idea is that a user sends a query to a system or more correctly an index. The terms in the query do not match entries in the database. The system displays a message which says, “No results match your query.”

For some individuals, that null set response is high value information. One can bump into null sets when running queries on a Web site; for example, send the anti fungicide query to the Arnold Information Technology blog at this link. Here’s the result:


From this response, one knows that there is no content containing the search phrase. That’s valuable for some people.

To address this problem, modern systems “relax” the query. The idea is that the user did not want what he or she typed in the search box. The search system then changes the query and displays those results to the stupid user. Other systems take action and display results which the system determines are related to the query. You can see these relaxed results when you enter the query shadowdragon into Google. Here are the results:


Google ignored my spelling and displays information about a video game, not the little known company Shadowdragon. At least Google told me what it did and offers a way to rerun the query using the word I actually entered. But the point is that the search was “relaxed.”

The purpose of semantic expansion is a variation of Endeca’s facets. The idea is that a key word belongs to a category. If a system can identify a category, then the user can get more results by selecting the category and maybe finding something useful. Endeca’s wine demonstration makes this function and its value clear.

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Google: Are Stress Cracks Appearing?

June 9, 2019

I thought briefly about doing an item about the clown car YouTube. Instead I will focus on stress cracks evident from Google’s more aggressive marketing. Google may be implying that Apple’s iPhone is overpriced. The price angle is important because Google is pushing one of its devices as a great deal.

What difference does a little letter “i” make? Not much in one recent ad campaign, because it can be considered implied. “Google Rips iPhone for Being a Rip-Off,” reports ZDNet. Writer Chris Matyszczyk noticed that Google’s ads had been comparing their Pixel 3a, at $399, to “Phone X,” priced at $999—the same cost as a 64GB iPhone X, as it happens. However, he insists, this is about as accurate as comparing a Mini to an Audi A8. The write-up observes:

“In essence, then, Google wants you to believe that its 3a is just as good as an iPhone that’ll cost you more than twice as much. … I don’t dispute for a nanosecond that the Pixel 3a isn’t a very fine phone. Some might say, though, that its specs might bring it closer to an iPhone SE than an iPhone XR. If you buy a 3a, you’ll make so with a single camera for your selfies — the shame of it. You’ll also have a far slower processor. Oh, and you won’t be able to drop it down the toilet or in the swimming pool without ruining it. One more thing. Your wireless charging joy will be extinguished.”

Still, Matyszczyk concedes Google may have a point to make about inflated phone prices. Few people are prepared to pay a grand for their phone, so Android will benefit if Apple is painted as a brand for elites. The author wonders, though, whether some buyers will be disappointed in their Pixel 3a’s in the end.

The importance of this tiny stress crack is significant. Google and its approach to management are now dipping into the textbooks which explain how to sell commodities. Perhaps the methods of used car sales people will have more utility as Google wobbles forward, burdened by regulators, employee pushback, and the emissions of the Bezos bulldozer powering through the advertising landscape.

My goodness. Google is marketing the old fashioned way.

Cynthia Murrell, June 9, 2019

Google Makes Search, Mmmmm, Better

June 7, 2019

First AR Objects Launch in Google Search with 3D Animals” reports that Google makes search better again. Search for an animal on a supported device while you are doing the Google Lens thing and you will see a three dimensional animal. I would be thrilled if a query returned relevant results. Plus, I am okay with relevant links directing me to a relevant document which may or may not contain an illustration. Ah, progress. What happens if Google reconnects with a robot company so that as one looks at an AR rendering of a tiger, a robot tiger comes to the user’s location and snarls. Relevant? Heck, yes.

Stephen E Arnold, June 7, 2019

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