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Google X Labs Just Buys a Better Idea

January 23, 2015

Short honk: X Labs was to be part of the Google innovation push. The idea was “moon shots.” Well, Google came up with balloons, self driving cars, and a linguistic innovation, Glassholes.

Now Google and by extension gets a better idea. I read “Google Wants Life on Mars in $1bn SpaceX Investment.” Fueled by ad revenue, Google is into satellites and rocket ships.

The article said:

Google is racing to spread internet access as it looks for new ways to boost its user base and sell more digital advertising. By teaming up with SpaceX, Google would be seeking to gain an edge over rivals such as Facebook, which is working on projects to deliver Internet service to underserved regions by building drones, satellites and lasers. WorldVu Satellites, backed by Qualcomm and Virgin Group, has begun a similar effort. “Google needs to find additional sources of revenue,” said Greg Sterling, vice-president of strategy and insights for Local Search Association, whose members operate in the location-based advertising market. “If they can expand into new markets, obviously they can expand their revenue and keep investors happy.”

The issue for me is innovation. After 2006, Google began to flag in the innovation department. Amazon did the cloud thing. Facebook did the relationship thing. AirBnB and Uber did the sharing thing.

Google continued to keep its infrastructure chugging along in order to sell ads.

Don’t get me wrong. Google is a giant outfit. I find it interesting that Google X Labs came up with balloons and Elon Musk came up with a better idea. To get that innovation, Google has to write a check, not rely on its 50,000 plus really smart folks.

Interesting. Loon balloons trumped by satellites and rockets. What’s that line about soaring like an eagle?

Stephen E Arnold, January 21, 2015

Satellites or Balloons?

January 19, 2015

I enjoy conversations about how innovative Google is. Prior to 2006, I was on the Google is the leader bandwagon. Now it may be time to shift from the GOOG to the Musk.

I read “Elon Musk touts launch of ‘SpaceX Seattle’.” Tucked in the encomium to Mr. Musk was this passage:

As guests drank beer and wine and sipped Champagne from glasses etched with the SpaceX logo, Musk outlined an audacious plan to build a constellation of some 4,000 geosynchronous satellites, a network in space that could deliver high-speed Internet access anywhere on Earth. Those satellites are to be designed by software and aerospace engineers in SpaceX’s new engineering office in Redmond.

Now satellite communications is not new. Anyone remember Equatorial Communications? History lesson aside, Google wants to deliver the Internet via balloons which rhymes with loons.

According to eBalloon.org, the first hot air balloon was launched in 1783. Satellites came along when I was in grade school.

It seems that Google is not thinking on the Musk scale. Wasn’t X Labs supposed to do moon shots. Mr. Musk now does transportation and digital thingies.

In terms of search, I question whether Google’s innovations in search as described by “How Google Tries To Figure Out Our Hidden Needs” improves relevance or tweaks the PT Barnum formula for revenue.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2015

Did You Know Oracle and WCC Go Beyond Search?

January 10, 2015

I love the phrase “beyond search.” Microsoft uses it, working overtime to become the go-to resource for next generation search. I learned that Oracle also finds the phrase ideal for describing the lash up of traditional database technology, the decades old Endeca technology, and the Dutch matching system from WCC Group.

You can read about this beyond search tie up in “Beyond Search in Policing: How Oracle Redefines Real time Policing and Investigation—Complementary Capabilities of Oracle’s Endeca Information Discovery and WCC’s ELISE.”

The white paper explains in 15 pages how intelligence led policing works. I am okay with the assertions, but I wonder if Endeca’s computationally intensive approach is suitable for certain content processing tasks. The meshing of matching with Endeca’s outputs results in an “integrated policing platform.”

The Oracle marketing piece explains ELISE in terms of “Intelligent Fusion.” Fusion is quite important in next generation information access. The diagram explaining ELISE is interesting:

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Endeca’s indexing makes use of the MDex storage engine, which works quite well for certain types of applications; for example, bounded content and point-and-click access. Oracle shows this in terms of Endeca’s geographic output as a mash up:

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For me, the most interesting part of the marketing piece was this diagram. It shows how two “search” systems integrate to meet the needs of modern police work:

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It seems that WCC’s technology, also used for matching candidates with jobs, looks for matches and then Endeca adds an interface component once the Endeca system has worked through its computational processes.

For Oracle, ELISE and Endeca provide two legs of Oracle’s integrated police case management system.

Next generation information access systems move “beyond search” by integrating automated collection, analytics, and reporting functions. In my new monograph for law enforcement and intelligence professionals, I profile 21 vendors who provide NGIA. Oracle may go “beyond search,” but the company has not yet penetrated NGIA, next generation information access. More streamlined methods are required to cope with the type of data flows available to law enforcement and intelligence professionals.

For more information about NGIA, navigate to www.xenky.com/cyberosint.

Stephen E Arnold, January 10, 2015

Stanford Finds the First Web Site: Guess Who?

November 9, 2014

I read “Stanford Libraries Unearths the Earliest US Website.” Guess which outfit created the first Web site according to the Stanford Wayback Machine? Give up? It was Stanford. Never heard of the Stanford Wayback? Neither had I. Here’s a link. I suppose the original CERN demo page I saw in the mid 1990s does not count. Well, CERN is obviously not Stanford. Tim Berners who? Next Stanford may discover from its Stanford resources that the university invented fire.

Stephen E Arnold, November 9, 2014

Harvard Professors Brawl of Words over Disruptive Innovation

July 21, 2014

The article titled Clayton Christensen Responds to New Yorker Takedown of ‘Disruptive Innovation’ on Businessweek consists of an interview with Christensen and his thoughts on Jill Lepore’s article. Two Harvard faculty members squabbling is, of course, fascinating, and Christensen defends himself well in this article with his endless optimism and insistence on calling Lepore “Jill.” The article describes disruptive innovation and Jill Lepore’s major problems with it as follows,

“The theory holds that established companies, acting rationally and carefully to stay on top, leave themselves vulnerable to upstarts who find ways to do things more cheaply, often with a new technology….Disruption, as Lepore notes, has since become an all-purpose rallying cry, not only in Silicon Valley—though especially there—but in boardrooms everywhere. “It’s a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation, and shaky evidence,” she writes.”

Christensen refers Lepore to his book, in which he claims to answer all of her refutations to his theory. He, in his turn, takes issue with her poor scholarship, and considers her as trying to discredit him rather than work together to improve the theory through conversation and constructive criticism. In the end of the article he basically dares Lepore to come have a productive meeting with him. Things might get awkward at the Harvard cafeteria if these two cross paths.

Chelsea Kerwin, July 21, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Patent Excitement: Smart Software for Those Who Want to Invent Photography

May 11, 2014

I recall that Amazon or a similar firm patented photography. I have been struggling with how to capture my Eureka moments. A solution is at hand, and I think it will apply to many sophisticated tasks including search and retrieval.

Navigate to “Transform Any Text into a Patent Application.” Either download the open source files or just read the article. You are on your way.

A sample is provided:

“An apparatus and device for staring into vacancy” (The Hunger Artist by Kafka)

Whipping up some systems and methods for struggling search and content processing companies to file is getting easier. Making up baloney for marketing pitches is, alas, still easier. But where there is a will, there may be a way. Now how can these financially challenged Big Data, metatagging, social search companies produce revenues? I have no clue.

Stephen E Arnold, May 11, 2014

 

New York Public Library Posts Maps

April 5, 2014

The New York Public Library has a massive collection of beautiful maps, but instead of keeping them locked in an archive Motherboard reports, “The New York Public Library Releases 20,000 Beautiful High Resolution Maps.”

All of the 20,000 maps are available via open access. What is even more amazing is that the NYPL decided to release the maps under the Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. If you are unfamiliar with a Creative Commons license, it means that users are free to download content and do whatever they want with it.

“Combined with its existing historical GIS program, the NYPL wants its users to engage with the maps, and allows them to warp (fitting together based on corresponding anchor points) and overlay the historic maps with modern geoweb services like Google and Open Street Map. Users can export WMS, KML files, and high-quality TIFFs. The historic map appears side by side with the modern maps, and users are invited to mark corresponding points on each, so you can overlay the historic map over the current day’s.”

Google Maps using old maps to explore the world of the past. It is yet another amazing use of modern technology and makes one wonder what people of yesterday would have thought about exploring their world via a small box.

Whitney Grace, April 5, 2014

How Google Innovates: According to Google and MIT

March 18, 2014

Navigate to “Why Google Doesn’t Have a Research Lab.” You will read how Google does research without a Bell Labs’ type operation. According to the write up:

“There doesn’t need to be a protective shell around our researchers where they think great thoughts,” says Spector. “It’s a collaborative activity across the organization; talent is distributed everywhere.” He says this approach allows Google make fundamental advances quickly—since its researchers are close to piles of data and opportunities to experiment—and then rapidly turn those advances into products.

If you are not familiar with Dr. Spector, you can get the Google biography at http://bit.ly/1fVC4qM.

With regard to Glass, the article states:

Spector even claims that his company’s secretive Google X division, home of Google Glass and the company’s self-driving car project (see “Glass, Darkly” and “Google’s Robot Cars Are Safer Drivers Than You or I”), is a product development shop rather than a research lab, saying that every project there is focused on a marketable end result. “They have pursued an approach like the rest of Google, a mixture of engineering and research [and] putting these things together into prototypes and products,” he says.

I find this interesting. My exposure to synthetic biology suggests that something more than a group of cubicles and some lab equipment is likely to be needed. For example, the machines required to engineer nanodevices require robots. Perhaps Google’s interest in robots is more than high tech gadget collecting?

When fooling around with protein manipulation, some basic requirements are not likely to be found in a Silicon Valley slap up building.

Important? Probably not. Dr. Babak Amirparviz can probably work out of his tiny garage. No official Google bio is available for this innovator. You may find his inventions with Dr. Whitesides’ interesting (US 8,574,924) or Dr. Amirparviz’ patent document Assay Device and Method (US 20100279310). I suppose these systems and methods can work in a Google snack area next to the microwave and coffee machine.

Red herrings probably thrive in Google’s “projects” set up.

At least, MIT finds this plausible.

Stephen E Arnold, March 18, 2014

Ads Gone Wrong

February 2, 2014

I came across an outfit called Tribune Online. The company offers a news aggregation service. You can examine the different content slices at http://www.frenchtribune.com. There are several interesting characteristics of the site.

First, the company offers country specific “Tribunes online.” One example is http://austriantribune.com/klasse/legen/united-states. Try to navigate to this country specific listing of articles from a range of sources. The information is in English and provides a country-specific “brand” for content available from the main Web page. The company lists some of the country-specific “brands”, but I could not locate a comprehensive list.

Second, the advertisements are flagged. What is intriguing about the paid articles is that they are scattered across different business sectors. I am not sure how many people will related to technology for indexing spun out of SAIC, a new diet for chubbies, and a listicle of metal detectors. I am finding less and less relevance in the online ads displayed to me. I thought technology like Bing’s, Google’s, and other ad services was to deliver relevant advertising.

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Third, the name of the company is listed as Tribune Online. The principal office appears to be in France. I could not determine if the US news and information company using the word “Tribune” in its name was involved. Running a query on a public Web index company is interesting. Confusion between US Tribune publications’ online presence and “Tribune Online” was interesting.

If you are a Euro news maven and want to get non-European Commission sponsored aggregation of articles, check out some of the Tribune Online’s services. I liked this one: http://frenchtribune.com/categorie/emplacements/spain.

I did not spot a search function. Have we entered the post-search era?

Stephen E Arnold, February 2, 2014

Google is Innovating While Other Companies Rest on Laurels

January 2, 2014

An article on SVBTLE Magazine by David Litwak titled Google is the new Bell Labs makes the startling and insightful announcement that Google is an unusual business. The Bell Labs the article refers to is the research sector of AT&T and Western Electric Research Laboratories, which takes credit for 7 Nobel Prizes and the invention of (to name a few items off the list) the laser, transistor and UNIX.

The article explains the connection between the two companies:

“Google is acting in the same spirit as Alexander Bell, using their incredibly lucrative money-maker (Google Adwords) to finance moonshots and ambitious side projects. Both GMail and Google Maps are great examples, and they are ahead of the game with a truly integrated travel search engine in Google Travel (2-3 years in my estimate), Google Glass/wearable computing (at least 5 years before its time), autonomous cars (maybe 10 years) and household/military robotics (15 years?).”

Comparing this with the work of Microsoft, Apple or Amazon seems almost unfair, or at least a faulty comparison. (Apples and oranges?) The article does credit Apple with the creation of the smartphone industry, but points out that since then they have not really branched out the way Google cannot seem to help doing. Google is in the business of innovation and industry making. Good thing someone is around to remind everyone.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 02, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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