The EU Parliament and How Google Works

November 28, 2014

The search engine optimization crowd is definitely excited about calls to break up the Google. You will want to read (when sitting down, of course) “Oh No They Didn’t: European Parliament Calls For Break Up Of Google.” I am not sure if this write up is about the vision of search in Europe or the view of the search engine optimization brigands.

The idea in Europe has to do with memories of big companies and the difficulty ruling bodies have of controlling them. Think IG Farben and certain US outfits in the second world war. I assume the learnings from the Quaero investment and the market success of Dassault Exalead’s Internet search system and the more recent Quixotic Qwant.com, the adrenaline pumping Sinequa, and other European search efforts has made one fact clear: Google is the go to search system by a wide margin. How about 95 percent of the search traffic in Denmark, for example?

For the SEO crowd, the notion of splitting up Google is obviously a new idea. The write up states:

It’s clear there’s a lot of frustration — even exasperation — behind this vote and Europe’s seeming inability to date to “do anything about Google.” Europe has been unable to produce home-grown competitors that can challenge the online hegemony of internet companies such as Google and Facebook. The company’s PC market share is much higher in Europe than in the US and Android is the dominant smartphone operating system there by far.

Like an American pro football competition, there is a winner and Europe does not like the outcome. The SEO crowd owes its livelihood to Google’s indifference to objective search results. Don’t tip the apple cart, please.

In the view of the SEO crowd:

It’s very unlikely that the European Commission will actually try to “unbundle” Google’s search engine from the rest of the company. However it’s possible that in Europe Google will be compelled to unbundle its privacy policy and won’t be able to combine data-sets for personalization and ad-targeting purposes. We will also probably see some effort to curb Google’s control over Android as well.

I find it fascinating that the lessons of online are one that have not yet been learned by either regulators or the search engine optimization wizards. The only thing missing is a for fee analysis of the search scene by one of the mid tier consulting outfits. Dave Schubmehl, are you at your iPhone’s touch screen keyboard.

Oh, no. Oh, yes. How Google works is the issue.

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2014

Forgetting Is Costing Google More

November 26, 2014

“The right to be forgotten” law is certainly causing Google more harm than they had intended. ZDNet tells us in the article “French ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Decision Takes Link Removal Beyond Europe” that Google France is facing an 1000 euro fine each day, unless it stops linking to a defamatory article. The Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance passed the fine in September and it could set a precedent that the law could be enforced outside Europe.

Before the current decision, if someone wanted to be forgotten they had to sue Google in the US, now the search engine giant’s subsidiaries can be help accountable and forced to remove information. Google accepts and reviews requests to have links removed. If approved, the mentions of a subject are only taken down from European domains. Google still includes results when accessed through the Google.com link.

“A Google spokesperson told ZDNet the company is considering its options.

‘This was initially a defamation case and it began before the CJEU ruling on the ‘right to be forgotten’. We are reviewing the ruling and considering our options. More broadly, the ‘right to be forgotten’ raises some difficult issues and so we’re seeking advice – both from data protection authorities and via our advisory council – on the principles we should apply when making these difficult decisions,”’ the spokesperson said.”

Another issue forcing Google to police the Web. While the right to be forgotten helps some people, such as child abuse victims, it allows other people to whitewash over their criminal pasts. Another will follow this one incident in either France or another European country, getting the boulder rolling for more Google trouble.

Whitney Grace, November 26, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Hewlett Packard Shuffles Legal Deck Chairs

November 15, 2014

Short honk: I am not an attorney (heaven forbid). I found this somewhat opaque, inside baseball write up interesting: “Baker & McKenzie, Freshfields and Gibson Dunn Cross Fingers as HP Kicks Off Panel Tender.” The write up references HP’s “contentious year.” I would agree. When a football team makes changes, it is usually because the human element is not fitting into the team. I suppose with a new line up, HP will win more legal games. I would be happy if I could get my HP ink jet printer to work when the temperature drops. I wonder if Autonomy’s founder is making changes to his legal team? Dr. Lynch is probably too busy with his new businesses. HP, however, has some reason for making news with a legal shuffle.

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2014

Why I Dismiss Search Vendors Who Sell Customer Service Solutions

November 13, 2014

I have had feedback over the years about the baloney generated by mid tier consultants, struggling enterprise search vendors, and failed webmasters about their expertise in customer service.

Customer service means cost cutting or worse to me. I ignore the silliness of Comcast apologists too.

I wish to offer a tiny bit of possibly true information from the annals of real customer service; that is, attention to customers the it is, not as it is supposed to be.

Navigate to http://bit.ly/112cWdc. Allegedly this is a “real” letter from a former Amazonian to big cheese bits at the digital WalMart with drones, Amazon.

As I read this allegedly accurate epistle, a person asserts that the digital WalMart wanted an Amazon professional (now apparently seeking a future elsewhere) to prevaricate. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

I tried to get Amazon to address what I believe to be misleading and deceptive, and possibly criminal ?nancial fraud issues related treatment of an Amazon advertising customer while I was an employee at the company. I was subsequently terminated for raising the internal ethics complaint even though Amazon’s own policies require that employees report events of this nature. To be terminated for that is wrong and is the subject of current litigation which I have asked the Washington Attorney General’s office to assist in resolving, since it deals with important issues related to misleading,deceptive, and what I believe to be ?nancially fraudulent trade practices that relate to Amazon customers and employees.

Is this perhaps the first instance of alleged misconduct in the handling of “customer service” issues? If so, mark it down. If not, my views of customer service have been affirmed.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2014

Google Road Show: Annoying the Audience?

November 4, 2014

I wonder if the European officials are finding Google’s methods annoying. I read “Google’s ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Roadshow Is Just a ‘Distraction’ – EU Digital Rights Group.

I found this comment interesting:

“Google is in the perfect position to drive much needed change in this area, but the truth is that Google doesn’t want to restrict its own freedom to maneuver. It doesn’t want more regulation and misrepresenting this whole ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling is a way to distract from that,” claimed McNamee [EDRi executive director Joe McNamee].

The Google approach was quirky and charming to some. No more it seems.

Stephen E Arnold, November 4, 2014

Google Not Accurate in Search Results

October 28, 2014

I read “Is Google Responsible for Delivering Accurate – And Truthful – Search Results?” The main idea of the write up is that at least one person perceives Google’s search results as “riddled with lies, deception, even criminal intent.”

Google?

My goodness. A locksmith is taking Google to court over his allegations about Google’s search results. The aggrieved locksmith is quoted as saying:

“People think this search engine stuff is accurate. A lot of times it isn’t.”

Who knew.

The article reports:

It’s not just locksmiths, either, said Baldino. His belief is that listings for many occupations are contaminated with links to the unqualified and the unlicensed, because apparently Google acquires many of its listing from third parties including bogus locksmiths who create misleading web pages. Remember this because it may be key to how the law plays out. Nonetheless, it would be easy, Baldino added in the interview, for Google to double-check its listings. For locksmiths, he said, the company could cross-reference listings with state records of locksmith licenses. No license in the state database, no listing in Google; it’s that simple, he [the locksmith] said.

Double my goodness.

Stephen E Arnold, October 28, 2014

Hewlett Packard Autonomy: Law Firm Spat

October 20, 2014

I read “HP Shareholder Wants Scrutiny of Wachtell Role in Controversial Settlement.” Quite an interesting write up. The proper nouns alone make the article a stunner. Here’s a sampling:

  • Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom;
  • Proskauer Rose, Choate
  • Brown Rudnick
  • Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy
  • Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd
  • Greenfield & Goodman

The proper nouns point not to actual humans in most cases but to law firms.

In addition to the HP management decision to buy Autonomy for billions of dollars, the litigation is acting like a magnet for attorneys eager to help their clients and help blind justice remove the occlusion from her eyes.

Here’s a passage I noted:

“Wachtell inappropriately represented simultaneously both HP and the individual director and officer defendants,” the brief said, “and seemingly succumbed to the pressure to construct a settlement that unjustly benefited the individual defendants and provided, at best, nominal value to the company. Since the interests of the company were wholly incompatible with the goal of the individual defendants to eliminate their liability, Wachtell should not have provided such de facto dual representation.”

Would a law firm behave in this manner? I assume that the resolution of this matter will clarify the situation. I had the same silly notion about the settlement between i2 and Palantir. I am hopeful, however.

Stephen E Arnold, October 20, 2014

College Students Turn to Illegal Downloads for Textbook Materials

October 10, 2014

There is a well-known crisis in academic publishing. Most of the discussion centers on journal articles with many librarians and other thought leaders publicly denouncing the skyrocketing price increases. And while the serials crisis has been ongoing in some part for at least two decades, more recent attention has turned to inflated textbook prices.

This recent Reddit thread, “More students are illegally downloading college textbooks for free,’ laments rising costs and their effects on students. One disgruntled student sums up the issue:

“Yea, this is what happens when costs skyrocket and become generally un-affordable to students (who are already broke teenagers). You create an ‘underground’ market for people who can’t afford the legal price of the book. Publishers often create new versions every year, with little to no difference in content, but charge a few hundred dollars. And the people that write the book chapters (often professors with specialized research areas, or even post-doctoral students) don’t get royalties of the book.”

This thread was inspired by a Washington Post article, “More Students are Illegally Downloading Textbooks for Free.” And while piracy is never laudable, it does reveal weaknesses in systems, in the textbook system in this case. The students’ and concerned professors’ criticisms are sincere. The industry has responded by offering textbook rental plans and digital offerings in recent years. But anyone who crunches the numbers will see that those new means of access do not put a dent in the corporate greed at the center of the controversy, nor does it address the inequity of not paying professors and other writers for their work in assembling the material.

Emily Rae Aldridge, October 10, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Google and Images: What Does Remove Mean?

October 4, 2014

I read “After Legal Threat, Google Says It Removed ‘Tens of Thousands’ of iCloud Hack Pics.” On the surface, the story is straightforward. A giant company gets a ringy dingy from attorneys. The giant company takes action. Legal eagles return to their nests.

However, a question zipped through my mind:

What does remove mean?

If one navigates to a metasearch engine like Devilfinder.com, the user can run queries. A query often generates results with a hot link to the Google cache. Have other services constructed versions of the Google index to satisfy certain types of queries? Are their third parties that have content in Web mirrors? Is content removed from those versions of content? Does “remove” mean from the Fancy Dan pointers to content or from the actual Google or other data structure? (See my write ups in Google Version 2.0 and The Digital Gutenberg to get a glimpse of how certain content can be deconstructed and stored in various Google data structures.)

Does remove mean a sweep of Google Images? Again are the objects themselves purged or are the pointers deleted.

Then I wondered what happens if Google suffers a catastrophic failure. Will the data and content objects be restored by a back up. Are those back ups purged?

I learned in the write up:

The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday published a letter to Google from Hollywood lawyers representing “over a dozen” of the celebrity victims of last month’s leak of nude photos. The lawyers accused Google of failing to expeditiously remove the photos as it is required to do under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They also demanded that Google remove the images from Blogger and YouTube as well as suspend or terminate any offending accounts. The lawyers claimed that four weeks after sending the first DMCA takedown notice relating to the images, and filing  over a dozen more since, the photos are still available on the Google sites.

What does “remove” mean?

Stephen E Arnold, October 4, 2014

Google May Show Pesky German Publishers Its Traffic Power

October 2, 2014

I read “Google Bows to Pressure, Removes News Snippets from German Search Results.” This is a “real” journalism story from the same folks that delivered the Dave Schubmehl sale of my information on Amazon.

Not surprisingly, I interpreted the friskiness of the German legal eagles in a way that is quite different from deal old Computerworld’s.

Computerworld states with its real news authoritarian tone:

In a move to minimize legal risks, Google has stopped showing news snippets and thumbnails for some well-known German news sites in search results.

My view is that Google will allow publishers to witness a shift in their referral traffic from Google. Changes in either presentation in a Google page or results list can have an immediate and direct impact on traffic.

In my view, the Google perceives some countries as “not getting it.” What looks like a retreat may not be a signal of Google cowardice. Too bad traffic reports for German media properties are not as popular as Miley Cyrus concert attendance.

If one is not in Google, one may be hard to find or may not exist to some of the digital crowd.

Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2014

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