Ads Appear Here, There, and Everywhere Across Google Landscape

September 12, 2016

The article on CNN Money titled Google Is Going to Start Showing You More Ads discusses the surge in ads that users can expect to barely notice over the coming weeks and months. In efforts to ramp up mobile ad revenue to match the increasing emphasis on mobile search, Google is making mobile ads bigger, more numerous, and just more. The article explains,

Google will be simplifying the work flow for businesses to create display ads with images. The company says advertisers need to “simply provide headlines, a description, an image, and a URL,” and Google will automatically design ads for the business. Location-based ads will start showing up on Google too. If you search for “shoe store” or “car repair near me,” ads for local businesses will populate the search results… The changes come as Google is trying to stay ahead of customers’ changing demands.

Google claims in the article that the increase is already showing strong results for advertisers, which click-through rates (CTR) up 20%. But it is hard to believe. As ads flood the space between articles, search results, and even Google Map directions, they seem to be no more significant than an increase in white noise. If Google really wants to revolutionize marketing, they are going to need to dig deeper than just squeezing more ads in between the lines.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 12, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:


Revolving Door Hires at Google

September 7, 2016

It looks like Google has determined the best way to address its legal challenges in Europe is to infiltrate and influence its governments. The Guardian reports, “Google: New Concerns Raised About Political Influence by Senior ‘Revolving Door’ Jobs.” The personnel-based tactic has apparently worked so well in the U.S. that Google is applying it to the European arena. Writer Jamie Doward cites research by the the Google Transparency Project, a venture of the Campaign for Accountability (CfA), when she writes:

New concerns have been raised about the political influence of Google after research found at least 80 ‘revolving door’ moves in the past decade – instances where the online giant took on government employees and European governments employed Google staff. … The CfA has suggested that the moves are a result of Google seeking to boost its influence in Europe as the company seeks to head off antitrust action and moves to tighten up on online privacy.

The article gets into specifics on who was hired where and when; navigate to it for those details. In sum, Doward writes:

Overall, the research suggests that Google, now part of parent company Alphabet Inc, has hired at least 65 former government officials from within the European Union since 2005.

During the same period, 15 Google employees were appointed to government positions in Europe, gaining what the CfA claims are ‘valuable contacts at the heart of the decision-making process’.

Anne Weisemann, CfA executive director, points to Google’s success influencing the U.S. government as a driving factor in its EU choices. She notes Google spends more to lobby our federal government than any other company, and that Google execs grace the White House more than once a week, on average. Also, CfA points to more than 250 of these “revolving door” appointments Google has made in the U.S.

For its part, Google claims it is just hiring experts who can answer government officials’ many questions about the Internet, about their own business model, and the “opportunity for European businesses to grow online.” There’s no way that could give Google an unfair advantage, right?

The article concludes with a call to reevaluate how government officials view Google—it is now much more than a search engine, it is a major political actor. Caution is warranted as the company works its way into government-run programs like the UK’s National Health Service and school systems. Such choices, ones that can affect the public on a grand scale, should be fully informed. Listening to Google lobbyists, who excel at playing on politicians’ technical ignorance, does not count.

Cynthia Murrell, September 7, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:

Watson Ads for Branded Answers to the Little Questions of Life

September 6, 2016

Here is a potent new way for brands to worm their way into every aspect of consumers’ lives. “IBM Watson Is Now Offering AI-Powered Digital Ads That Answer Consumers’ Questions,” we learn from AdWeek. Watson Ads will hook users up with answers to their everyday questions—answers supplied by advertisers. Apparently, IBM’s Weather-Company acquisition supplied the tools behind this product. Writer Christopher Heine explains:

IBM’s relatively new ownership of The Weather Company’s digital properties is coming into play in a serious fashion: Watson Ads will first appear on, the Weather mobile app and the company’s data-driven WeatherFX platform. Later, IBM plans to allow them to appear on third-party properties.

Campbell Soup Company, Unilever and GSK Consumer Healthcare are some of the brands that will run the ads in the coming days. Watson Ads’ pricing details were not disclosed.

Jeremy Steinberg, global head of sales, The Weather Company, described how they work, stating that ‘machine learning and natural-language capabilities will allow it to provide accurate responses. What we’re doing is moving away from keyword searches and towards more natural language and well-reasoned answers.

Heine outlines Campbell’s plan as an example—their Watson Ads will present “Chef Watson,” the helpful AI which suggests recipes based on criteria like available ingredients, the time of day, and what the weather is like. Those recipes will be pulled from Campbell’s existing site Campbell’s Kitchen. Not surprisingly, their ingredient lists rely heavily on Campbell’s product line (which goes well beyond soup these days).

Another Watson Ads client is GSK Consumer Healthcare, which plans to use the tech to help users make better real-time health decisions—a worthy project, I’ll admit. I am curious to see how Unilever, and other companies down the line, will leverage their digital voices of authority. See the article for more details on the project.

Cynthia Murrell, September 6, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link:

Thunderstone Gets an Upgrade

September 1, 2016

Pokémon Go is the latest mobile gaming craze and all of the players want to have a Pikachu as their main Pokémon.  Eventually players will evolve their Pikachu into the more powerful Raichu using candy and stardust, but old school Pokémon gamers know that the true way to evolve a Pikachu is with a Thunderstone.  The hardest part of evolving a Pikachu, however, was finding the actual Thunderstone.  Compulsive searchers have their own difficulties trying to find their information and other related content in their systems.  There is a software search solution coincidentally named Thunderstone and it recently went through an upgrade: “Thunderstone Releases Version 16.”

Thunderstone’s newest release includes updates that improve search quality across the board: intranets, aggregators, and public facing Web sites.  There also are more authorization options for better security, including a central authentication service and negotiate Kerberos option.  Perhaps the biggest upgrade is the following:

Simplified crawl configuration

  • Sitemaps allowing easier crawling of sites where URLs are not easily determined from a crawl.
  • XML/XSL site support by applying stylesheets to sites that deliver content via XML and XSL instead of HTML; the searchable text is better identified.
  • Proxy Auto-config (PAC) file support which makes it easier to index and crawl enterprises composed of different networks with varying proxy rules: the same config files used by browsers may now be used at crawl time.

The Ajax crawlable URL scheme from Google is supported, allowing Ajax based dynamic sites that support it to be crawled and indexed more effectively.”

Thunderstone now packs a more powerful punch for search quality and returning results.  Now if only finding Cubone could be improved as well.

Whitney Grace, September 1, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Offers Free Cloud Access to Colleges

August 29, 2016

Think Amazon is the only outfit which understands the concept of strategic pricing, bundling, and free services? Google has decided to emulate such notable marketing outfits as ReedElsevier’s LexisNexis and offering colleges a real deal for use of for-fee online services. Who would have thought that Google would emulate LexisNexis’ law school strategy?

I read “Google Offers Free Cloud Access to Colleges, Plays Catch Up to Amazon, Microsoft.” I reported that a mid tier consulting firm anointed Microsoft as the Big Dog in cloud computing. Even in Harrod’s Creek, folks know that Amazon is at least in the cloud computing kennel with the Softies.

According to the write up:

Google in June announced an education grant offering free credits for its cloud platform, with no credit card required, unlimited access to its suite of tools and training resources. Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud services both offer education programs, and now Google Cloud wants a part in shaping future computer scientists — and probably whatever they come up with using the tool.

The write up points out:

Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud services offer an education partnership in free trials or discounted pricing. For the time being, Microsoft Azure’s education program is not taking new applications and “oversubscribed,” the website reads. Amazon Web Services has an online application for its education program for teachers and students to get accounts, and Google is accepting applications from faculty members.

How does one avail oneself of these free services. Sign up for a class and hope that your course “Big Band Music from the 1940’s” qualifies you for free cloud stuff.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2016

Defining AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning

August 28, 2016

Confused about the jargon marketing professionals hose at you? No need. Navigate to “AI vs Deep Learning vs Machine Learning.” The truth is revealed. Here’s what my take on the definitions is:

  • Artificial intelligence is an umbrella term. One can use it for almost any sales pitch.
  • Deep learning. This is pattern recognition with human inputs.
  • Machine learning is pretty much like deep learning.

There are some other concepts may be found in search and content processing vendors’ slideshows, sale pitches, and marketing collateral; for example:

  • Cognitive computing
  • Semantics
  • Natural language processing.

What do these terms mean? I have no idea. I understand counting entities and using methods to perform query expansion. On a good day, I can name a couple of ways to perform clustering.

This buzzword blizzard just confuses me. Most Star Trek systems require rules and human crafted training. Then every once in a while one has to retrain the smart software. Progress in marketing is outpacing progress in some of the technology described by marketers.

Stephen E Arnold, August 28, 2016

Has IBM Channeled Palantir with Augmented Intelligence?

August 17, 2016

I have been compiling publicly available information about Palantir Technologies, the former $20 billion unicorn. One of the factoids I located in my research was Palantir’s use of the notion intelligence augmentation. Palantir tries to make clear that humans are needed to get the most from the Gotham and Metropolitan products. This idea is somewhat old fashioned. There are some firms who explain that their content processing systems are intelligent, automatic, and really smart. As you may know, I think that marketers who suggest a new magic world of software is here and now are full of baloney. For some reason, when I describe a product or service as baloney, the wizards responsible for the product get really annoyed.

Augmented intelligence is a popular phrase. A quick check of my files related to search and content processing, turned up a number of prior uses of the phrase. These range from MondoBrain which offers “the most powerful simplest decision making and problem solving solution” to the slightly more modest write up by Matteo Pasquinelli.

In the intelligence niche, Palantir has been one of the companies bandying about the phrase “augmented intelligence” as a way to make clear that trained personnel are essential to the effective use of the Palantir framework. I like this aspect of Palantir because humans really are needed and many companies downplay that fact.

I read “IBM: AI Should Stand For ‘Augmented Intelligence’.” I love the parental “should” too. IBM, which owns the Palantir precursor and rival Analyst’s Notebook system wants to use the phrase too. Now the world of government intelligence is a relatively small group when compared to the users of Pokémon Go.

IBM, via what seems to be some content marketing, takes this position:

IBM says it is focused on augmented intelligence, systems that enhance human capabilities, rather than systems that aspire to replicate the full scope of human intelligence.

I am okay with this approach to smart software.

The write up adds this onion to the goulash:

IBM also acknowledges that AI must be trustworthy. The company argues that people will develop trust as they interact with AI systems over time, as they have done with ATMs. The key, the company suggests, will be ensuring that systems behave as we expect them to.

I check ATMs to make certain there is no false swiper technology attached to the user friendly gizmo, however.

The write up adds:

AI, IBM concludes, represents a partnership between people and machines, one that may alter the job landscape without eliminating jobs overall. The partnership comes with risks, the company says, but contends that the risks can be managed and mitigated.

My hunch is that IBM’s use of augmented intelligence may be a gentle poke at Palantir. Imagine a presentation before a group of US Army procurement professionals. IBM is pitching IBM Watson, a system consisting of open source software, home brew code, and technologies acquired by acquisition as the next big thing. IBM then tosses in the AI as augmented intelligence bedrock.

Palantir has made a similar presentation and presented Gotham and its integrated software system as an augmented intelligence framework.

How does a savvy US Army procurement professional determine how alike or dissimilar are the IBM and Palantir systems.

My thought about this semantic muddle is that both Palantir and IBM need to use language which makes the system differences more distinctive the way Endeca did. As you may know, Endeca in the late 1990s described its presentation of related content via links as “Guided Navigation.” The company then complained when another firm used its phrase. I think more about Endeca’s policing of this phrase as an innovation than I do Endeca’s computationally intensive approach to content processing.

I know I don’t use “Guided Navigation” when I am rested and talking about facets.

If I were IBM, I would search for lingo that makes sense. If I were Palantir, I would find a way to communicate the Gotham benefits in a distinctive manner.

There are significant differences between IBM Analyst’s Notebook and Palantir Gotham. Using the same phrase to describe each confuses me. I am pretty confident government procurement officials are not confused too much. Is it possible that IBM is having some fun with the AI definition as “augmented intelligence”?

Stephen E Arnold, August 17, 2016

Watson Weakly: Everything about Watson Mostly

August 16, 2016

We know you want to know everything about Watson. Well, almost everything because you are, gentle reader, a “smart person.” You can get IBM’s collection of information you and other “smart people” definitely want to know. Navigate to this Cubic Zirconia gem of a content marketing “news” story: “IBM Watson: The Smart Person’s Guide.”

What does a “smart person” want to know? The write up answers that question for you. Here’s a run down of the article and its content about Watson:

  • Four TechRepublic stories about the origins of Watson, a case study, machine learning for a “smart person”, and a peep into the future
  • Five TechRepublic stories about case studies of Watson in action, a write up about what companies do with Watson, photos of products with Watson inside, a glossary of Watson speak, and an answer to the question “What Is Watson?”
  • Five TechRepublic and ZDNet stories about IBM declaring a “new era,” the Watson Health medical image initiative, Watson in Cisco routers, an apology for slow revenue growth, and Watson in robot restaurants
  • Six articles about the “affect” of Watson including how Watson detects early stage dementia, Watson and health analytics, Watson as a short cut to treating cancer, a partnership with the American Diabetes Association, how Watson delivers personalized customer experiences, and some objective information that says 63 percent of business will benefit from artificial intelligence, recently renamed by IBM to augmented intelligence
  • The timeline for all things Watson; for example, seven articles about autonomous vehicles, Cisco again but this time with WebEx, eight universities on the Watson bandwagon, the “saving Macy’s” application of Watson, digital wellness [wait, shouldn’t that article have been in the health care group?], Watson delivering cloud based cyber security, and Watson helping a Spanish bank
  • How to license Watson is easy with these articles: Six lessons from an early adopter [Isn’t that a how to?], the Watson ecosystem, the Watson developer cloud, Watson health [wait, doesn’t that belong in the health care dot point too?], Watson university programs [wait, wait, don’t tell me that belongs with the earlier reference to universities on the bandwagon].

All in all the write up is an amazing illustration of how much content marketing IBM is pumping through the TechRepublic channel. That’s good for TechRepublic. How good is this investment for IBM? Who knows.

What is clear is that some more logical clustering of Watson marketing collateral seems to be needed. A question: What if this categorization of items you as a smart person need to know was performed by Watson? Hmm. There are some rough edges. Perhaps the subject matter expert providing the “augmentation” did not focus on his or her job. If fully automated, how accurate is this Watson technology?

Sorry, smart person, I have no answers. That’s because I am not a smart person and I did not read this cornucopia of marketing collateral. You will, right?

Stephen E Arnold, August 16, 2016

These Are the False Records of the Starship Google

August 12, 2016

Star Trek technology was/is designed by prop masters and special effects artists based on preconceived notations of the time.  The original Trek series ran on analog, while the franchise reboot has holograms and streamlined ships free of the 1960s “groovy” design.  Google wants to make Star Trek technology a reality and in manner ways they have with a search engine and a digital assistant that responds to vocal commands.  Is Google getting too big for its britches, however?  STAT asked the question in its story, “’Silicon Valley Arrogance’?  Google Misfires As It Strives To Turn Star Trek Fiction Into Reality.”

Google wanted to create the Star Trek tricorder, a handheld computer that records, scans, and processes any type of data from soil samples to medical information.  Google created a biotech venture, Verily Life Sciences, to invent a cancer scanning tricorder, but the project is not doing so well.  The cancer tricorder is only one example of Google’s misfire in medical technology.  Verily appears to be working on projects that are more in the realm of science fantasy and are used as marketing devices to promote Google as the “technology company of the future.”

Google wants to maker new scientific inroads in medical technology, pulling on their expertise with big data and their initiative:

“’Part of the Silicon Valley ethos is about changing the world, about disruptive technology, about ignoring existing business models,’ and ‘taking on grand challenges,’ …

‘That’s admirable,’…but in Verily’s case, ‘it also feels pretty quixotic.’”

Fantasy drives innovation, which is why science fiction series like Star Trek are inspiration.  Much of the technology from the original Trek series and later installations are available now, but we are still far from making everything from the show a reality.  We should not halt experimentation on new technology, but big claims like Google’s are probably best kept silent until there is a working prototype.


Whitney Grace, August 12, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link:


WCC and Elm Developers

August 10, 2016

WCC is a specialist search and content processing company. The firm maintains a low profile, which sparks my interest. I noted that WCC is hosting an Elm programming language meet up. What’s interesting is the write up announcing this initiative. I have reproduced some of the lingo used to make this meet up known to the fans of WCC and, of course, Elm:

WCC is excited to host this meetup at her headquarter. Being very interested in the latests software development technology and the advancement of knowledge, we are happy to facilitate this meetup at our offices. Elm is a functional programming language for declaratively creating web browser-based graphical user interfaces.

Anyone can misspell a word. But I particularly liked “her headquarter.” I was expecting “the company’s headquarters.”

Stephen E Arnold, August 10, 2016

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