Google: What We Have Here Is a Failure to Innovate

February 23, 2018

Google is one of the top technology companies in the world and their services are employed on nearly every computer, phone, and tablet. Google is at the most innovative when it comes to developing new technology, but a former Google insider said the opposite. Steve Yegge writing for Medium explains his Google experience in his article, “Why I Left Google To Join Grab.”

Yegge loved Google and still considered it to be one of the best places in the world to work, but he left for some good reasons:

“The main reason I left Google is that they can no longer innovate. They’ve pretty much lost that ability. I believe there are several contributing factors, of which I’ll list four here. First, they’re conservative…Second, they are mired in politics, which is sort of inevitable with a large enough organization; the only real alternative is a dictatorship, which has its own downsides. Third, Google is arrogant…But fourth, last, and probably worst of all, Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused.”

Google has reached the apex of its innovative spirit and has gone the way over all corporations and, arguably, politicians. Google has grown so big and powerful, hires the top players in the field, and controls so many products/services that it does not want to lose face, its employees have ego problems, and they serve the almighty dollar. It is a repetitious pattern that has been playing out for ages. One of the greatest examples was the British Empire. The British Empire became so big and powerful that the resources were spread too thin, the ruling parties were arrogant, the subjects suffered, and those in power never wanted it to change. It sounds like Google, does it not?

Yegge then talked about the new endeavor called Grab and stresses the importance of keeping your ear to the ground in order to make and grow a business. Google has gotten too big, but it still has a lot of powerful and it will be awhile before it falls. Another company will pick up the slack. Someone always does.

Whitney Grace, February 23, 2018

Facebook and Google: Set Up a Standards Entity

January 25, 2018

Ah, governance. A murky word which means figuring out the rules of the road. Tough job.

I read “UK Advertisers urge Facebook and Google to Set Up Standards Body.” The idea is interesting. It reminds me of the hapless part time teacher who was supposed to manage my high school science club. Shortly before one of the wags ignited a smoke bomb in chemistry class, our science club was asked to stop playing pranks. Yep, that notion lasted less than 24 hours.

I think of Facebook, Google, and some other outfits as high school science and math clubs whose DNA is now more mature—just with niftier technology.

The write up ignores what I perceive as the basis of some interesting corporate behavior. I learned from the article:

Advertisers have called on Facebook and Google to establish an independent body to regulate and monitor content on both of their platforms.

Okay, both companies are supposed to generate a return for their shareholders. Both companies are not too keen on people not working in a sufficiently advanced field offering suggestions. This is similar to the concierge of a fancy hotel telling the bank president financing the outfit what to have for breakfast.

The write up opined in a “real” news way:

Google and Facebook should “thrash out some common principles” over content moderation and removal that could be adopted and enforced by an independent body, which they would fund, he [Phil Smith, director general of the Incorporated Society of British Advertiser or ISBA] said.

The write up reported:

Mr Smith, a former marketing director of Kraft, said advertisers expect the big technology companies to take action because consumers are becoming skeptical of digital advertising. “Our consumer research tells us that digital advertising is intrusive and not being trusted,” he said. Consumers “know that television advertising is regulated in some way – both the advertising and the content – but they don’t believe that to be the case in any respect when it comes to digital”.

Yep, great idea.

I believe that regulators are interested in paying more attention to Facebook and Google. I would toss Amazon and Apple into the basket as well.

However, the interest is less about sales and more about tax revenue.

How would a regulatory body go about making a modification to an automated algorithm which reacts to what users do in real time?

Facebook and Google operate in interesting ways; regulatory authorities may not be into the “interesting” thing.

Stephen E Arnold, January 25, 2018

Palantir Awaits a Decision on its US Army Matter

October 28, 2016

More information is available about the Palantir – US Army legal matter. You can find the write up at this link. The decision, according to Bloomberg, may arrive on Monday, October 31, 2016. Palantir awaits its trick or treat day.

Kenny Toth, October 28, 2016

Governance for Big Data. A Sure Fire Winner for Consultants

July 28, 2016

I read “What’s Next for Big Data Analytics?” I didn’t know the answer to this question, and I still don’t. The angle of attack is common sense. Companies with experience is dealing with digital information often have viewpoints different from the marketing collateral produced by their colleagues. This write up seems to fall in the category of Mr. Bush’s request, “Please, clap.”

The idea is that an organization has to have information policies. That sounds like consultant speak. Most organizations struggle to figure out what their company party policies are. Digital data policies are one of those tasks that senior managers allow others to wrestle to the ground and get a tap out.

The write up includes a number of diagrams. I highlighted this one:


The red area is the governance and management thing. Good luck with that. Companies need revenue. Big Data is supposed to deliver. If not, those policies and governance meeting minutes along with the consultants who billed big bucks for them are going to the shredder in my opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, July 28, 2016

MarkLogic: Not Much Information about DI2E on the MarkLogic Web Site

April 11, 2016

Short honk: I have been thinking about MarkLogic in the context of Palantir Technologies. The two companies are sort of pals. Both companies are playing the high stakes game for next generation augmented intelligence systems for the Department of Defense. Palantir’s approach has been to generate revenues from sales to the intelligence community. MarkLogic’s approach has been to ride on the Distributed Common Ground System which is now referenced in some non-Hunter circles as Di2E.

You can get a sense of what MarkLogic makes available by navigating to and running a query for DI2E or DCGS.

The Plugfest documents provide a snapshot of the vendors involved as of December 2015 in this project. Here’s a snippet from the unclassified set of slides “Plugfest Industry Day: Plugfest/Mashup 2016.”

palantir vs marklogic plugfest

What caught my attention is that Palantir, which has its roots in CIA-type thought processes, is in the same “industry partner” illustration as MarkLogic. I noticed that IBM (the DB2 folks) and Oracle (the one-time champion in database technology) are also “partners.”

The only hitch in this “plugfest” partnering deal is Palantir’s quite interesting AlphaDB innovation and the disclosure of data management systems and methods in US 2016/0085817, “System and Method for Investigating Large Amounts of Data”, an invention of the now not-so-secret Hobbits Geoffrey Stowe, Chris Fischer, Paul George, Eli Bingham, and Rosco Hill.

Palantir’s one-two punch is AtlasDB and its data management method. The reason I find this interesting is that MarkLogic is the NoSQL, XML, slice-and-dice advanced technology which some individuals find difficult to use. IBM and Oracle are decidedly old school.

MarkLogic may not publicize its involvement in DCGS/DI2E, but the revenue is important for MarkLogic and the other vendors in the “partnering” diagram. Palantir, however, has been diversifying with, from what I hear, considerable success.

MarkLogic is a Silicon Valley innovator which opened its doors in 2001. Yep, that’s 15 years ago. Palantir Technologies is the newer kid on the block. The company was set up in 2003, that 13 years ago. What I find interesting is that MarkLogic’s approach is looking a bit long in the tooth. Palantir’s approach is a bit more current, and its user experience is more friendly than wrestling with XQuery and its extensions.

What happens if Palantir becomes the plumbing for the DCGS/DI2E system? Perhaps IBM or Oracle will have to think about acquiring Palantir. With technology IPOs somewhat rare, Palantir stakeholders may find that thinking the unthinkable is attractive.

What happens if Palantir takes its commercial business into a separate company and then formulates a deal to sell only the high-vitamin augmented intelligence business? MarkLogic may be faced with some difficult choices. Simplifying its data management and query systems may be child’s play compared to figuring out what its future will be if either IBM or Oracle snap up the quite interesting Palantir technologies, particularly the database and data management systems.

Watch for my for-fee report about Palantir Technologies. There will be a discounted price for law enforcement and intelligence professionals and another price for those not engaged in these two disciplines. Expect the report in early summer 2016. A small segment of the Palantir special report will appear in the forthcoming “Dark Web Notebook”, which I referenced in the Singularity 1 on 1 interview in mid-March 2016. To reserve copies of either of these two new monographs, write benkent2020 at Yahoo dot com.

Stephen E Arnold, April 11, 2016

US Control of Internet Over

March 20, 2016

Short honk: I read “Quietly, Symbolically, US Control of the Internet Was Just Ended.” The write up explains that at a meeting in Morocco, people who run the “Internet’s naming and numbering system” have a plan

to end direct US government oversight control of administering the internet and commit permanently to a slightly mysterious model of global “multi-stakeholderism”.

What’s multi stakeholderism? I noted the reference to Snowden but multi stakeholderism?

Stephen E Arnold, March 20, 2016

Alphabet Spells Fiscal Controls

February 17, 2016

I read “Google’s Alphabet Poaches Intel Veteran Jim Campbell as Its First Controller.” My father was a controller at one time. He told me that he was not the most popular person at budget reviews. Gee, I thought he was lovable year round.

Here’s the passage I highlighted:

When speaking about the Alphabet reorg (particularly to Wall Street), the company’s execs have stressed that its intent was to instill tighter financial discipline around its various projects, particularly those outside of core Google, lumped on the balance sheet as Other Bets. “

I like the notion of investments as bets. I wonder if the controller will be able to reign the gambling losses as Google bets. I would bet on death remaining an unsolvable problem. Loon balloons? Pony up.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2016

Photo Farming in the Early Days

November 9, 2015

Have you ever wondered what your town looked like while it was still urban and used as farmland?  Instead of having to visit your local historical society or library (although we do encourage you to do so), the United States Farm Security Administration and Office Of War Information (known as  FSA-OWI for short) developed Photogrammer.  Photogrammer is a Web-based image platform for organizing, viewing, and searching farm photos from 1935-1945.

Photogrammer uses an interactive map of the United States, where users can click on a state and then a city or county within it to see the photos from the timeline.  The archive contains over 170,000 photos, but only 90,000 have a geographic classification.  They have also been grouped by the photographer who took the photos, although it is limited to fifteen people.  Other than city, photographer, year, and month, the collection c,an be sorted by collection tags and lot numbers (although these are not discussed in much detail).

While farm photographs from 1935-1945 do not appear to need their own photographic database, the collection’s history is interesting:

“In order to build support for and justify government programs, the Historical Section set out to document America, often at her most vulnerable, and the successful administration of relief service. The Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) produced some of the most iconic images of the Great Depression and World War II and included photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein who shaped the visual culture of the era both in its moment and in American memory. Unit photographers were sent across the country. The negatives were sent to Washington, DC. The growing collection came to be known as “The File.” With the United State’s entry into WWII, the unit moved into the Office of War Information and the collection became known as the FSA-OWI File.”

While the photos do have historical importance, rather than creating a separate database with its small flaws, it would be more useful if it was incorporated into a larger historical archive, like the Library of Congress, instead of making it a pet project.

Whitney Grace, November 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

ZL Technologies: From Ziplip to Enterprise Search

November 5, 2015

Ziplip opened for business in 1999. That works out to 16 years ago. I looked at the company’s archiving technology when I did a comparison between Ziplip and Index Engines, an outfit which has some tendrils originating at the post Judge Green Bell Labs.

I took another look at Ziplip, respoitio0ned as ZL Technologies, in 2009. ZL had a bone to pick with a mid tier consulting firm. Complaining about mid tier consulting firms, their approach to analysis, and the business models is a game some vendors play. The vendor believes it should be a highly rated, but the vendors gets low marks. Aggrieved the vendor complains about the mid tier consulting firm.

I thought about ZL when I read this item, “ZL Technologies to Establish the ROI of Information Governance at Enterprise Search and Discovery Conference 2015.” What I found interesting is that Ziplip has allegedly solved a problem which has given headaches to licensees of search and content processing systems; namely, laying out a method for calculating “true ROI.” I assume that regular MBA ROI is not going to do the job. Hence, we have the “true value” angle.

This paragraph caught my attention as well:

For enterprise-scale organizations, the difficulty in calculating true numerical ROI for data management initiatives has traditionally posed a major roadblock to planning and securing funding for governance architecture. This has been especially true for firms driven by quarterly performance; given specific requirements and constrained budget, this has often resulted in an ad hoc “point solution” approach, spawning multiple data silos and paradoxically increasing the overall long-term cost of information governance. The session hosted by ZL Technologies takes a strategic approach to calculating true ROI, examining oft-neglected factors and broad interdepartmental benefits of holistic governance practices.

I am old fashioned and think that ROI can be a slippery fish. Here’s a basic definition:

A profitability measure that evaluates the performance of a business by dividing net profit by net worth .

The key seems to be how one captures cost, converts the fuzzy notions into more numbers, and then using a mathematical procedure baked into Excel. Hey, it’s not perfect, but it is close enough for horses shoes.

The key, of course, is the assumptions for the calculation, the process for capturing and verifying the data, and the methodology to pin down the “worth” and “value” generalities. In short, spending money on search requires that a wide range of direct and indirect costs be captures, diligence to ensure that downstream costs are collected, and that the assumptions line up with the numerical recipe.

What has baffled me about ZLTech’s approach is that the approach is based on “information governance.” I don’t know what that means. Furthermore, I am not sure how an archive converts to enterprise search. What happens to the social media, the videos, and the images.

My hunch is that ZL is mounting a marketing campaign and using as many buzzwords as possible. Will MBA classes embrace the ZL approach to “true worth”?

Nope. After 16 years, a revolutionary value method has had plenty of time to filter into the mainstream of ROI methodology.

Stephen E Arnold, November 5, 2015

Google to the French: Wrong to Be Forgotten

July 31, 2015

i read “Google Says Non to French Demand to Expand Right to Be Forgotten Worldwide.” When third parties want the GOOG to do something, those suggestions face headwinds. It is okay for the Google to terminate unused Gmail accounts. It is okay for the Google to nuke APIs. It is okay for the Google to deliver “relevant” results which are beyond the statistical embrace of precision and recall analyses.

But when a third party wants to be forgotten? According to the write up from the increasingly anti Google folks in the UK, I learned:

Google has rejected the French data protection authority’s demand that it censor search results worldwide in order to comply with the European Court of Justice’s so-called right to be forgotten ruling. The company’s rejection of the ruling could see its French subsidiary facing daily fines, although no explicit sanction has yet been declared.

The write up also reminded me of Google’s official view of third party requests to be forgotten:

In a blog post, Peter Fleischer, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel, said: “We believe this order is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users – currently around 97% – access a European version of Google’s search engine like, rather than or any other version of Google.” Additionally, Fleischer added, the company is concerned that complying with the French courts could potentially set a precedent that one country’s laws can control access to content globally.

My hunch is that Google wants its policies and procedures applied globally. Google has suggested that some nation states alter their behavior to better mesh with the Googley universe.

Standing by for more Google vs. France dust ups.

Stephen E Arnold, July 31, 2015

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