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Lousy Search Results. An Attention Span Issue?

May 15, 2015

I read the enervating “Humans Have Shorter Attention Span Than Goldfish, Thanks to Smartphones.” Yep, thanks. When I am working and someone speaks to me, I often let out a squeal and twitch. I concentrate on the task at hand to the exclusion of the world. Some folks may lack this old-school concentration.

According to the write up, short attention spans are due to smartphones, not stupidity, a failure to exercise discipline over the mind, or the cranial wiring which permits one to focus. I learned:

According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer. Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms. The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds.

Right, 12 seconds. That is probably enough attention for pre-Millennials. Eight seconds is too darned long to concentrate on any one thing.

Is this the next Dark Web research specialist I will hire?

When one of the people lobbying me for work whips out a smartphone, scans an iPad, and lets his or her eyes roam around the room—that’s it. No work. The goldfish has a nine second attention span. The fish I have watched in the holding tank in a Chinese restaurant in Wu Han seemed to be able to fix their attention for far long. One red fish just hovered in place and regarded me for 30 seconds maybe more.

Instead of hiring humans, perhaps I should go with a giant koi? Are lousy search skills an example of what happens when one cannot concentrate? Nah, blame the vendor or the IT department. Entitlement management works well.

Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2015

The Desktop Search Model: Doomed?

May 6, 2015

Nah, doom is too strong a word. Desktop search will become a niche service. The future is mobile. Who wants to “work” from an old fashioned office? The switched on, 24×7 world is just so much more efficient. Check out the lines outside of the Washington, DC passport office or the traffic bottlenecks in Chicago. Mobility is the new modality.

I read “Now It’s Official: More Google Searches Are Coming from Mobile Than Desktop.” The write up reports:

Smartphones account for more than half of searches in 10 countries—including the U.S. and Japan—according to Google, which didn’t release exact percentages or a full list of countries. But it is playing up mobile at its annual AdWords Performance Summit, being live-streamed this afternoon. “The purchase funnel is officially dead,” proclaimed Jerry Dischler, vp of product management at Google. “What we’re seeing are these short bursts of activity that we’re calling micro-moments. We see the new challenge for marketers is to be there at those moments anytime, anywhere.”

The shift is likely to have some profound impacts. For Google, the company has to figure out how to keep its revenues flying high. For marketers, the methods for capturing attention have to be rethought. For consumers, the “search results” are likely to be skewed by the system and the advertisers.

My view of the shift is one of amusement. Those who are unable to identify and analyze information will be affected in ways large and small.

I like the old fashioned approach to research: Talking to people, reading, and using online and offline sources of information. Even then, getting a sense of what’s correct and what’s crazy is not easy.

Why work when one can allow a predictive algorithm and marketers to figure out what one needs to know? As Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, wrote:

“It is extremely difficult to obtain a hearing from men living in democracies, unless it be to speak to them of themselves. They do not attend to the things said to them, because they are always fully engrossed with the things they are doing. For indeed few men are idle in democratic nations; life is passed in the midst of noise and excitement, and men are so engaged in acting that little remains to them for thinking. I would especially remark that they are not only employed, but that they are passionately devoted to their employments. They are always in action, and each of their actions absorbs their faculties: the zeal which they display in business puts out the enthusiasm they might otherwise entertain for idea.”

Yep, the mobile thing. Busy schedules. No time to figure out what’s on the beam and what’s off.

Stephen E Arnold, May 6, 2015

Mobile Search: Google in Line for a Swift Treatment

May 4, 2015

In the Jack Black “Gulliver’s Travels,” the protagonist found himself tied down by little people. I love Swift’s words for the small ones: Lilliputians and Blefuscusians.

I would recommend the 1735 edition, but I know that the one or two readers of this blog prefer to consume their history via videos.

The article “Search Start Ups See Opening to Challenge Google in Mobile” is the child of an earlier blog post “Start-Ups Try to Challenge Google, at Least on Mobile Search.” Both write ups drive a single point:

The GOOG is big, clueless, and vulnerable.

The write up did not include an illustration of the comedian Jack Black, but I provided that to make clear how the New York Times perceive Mr. Google.

I learned:

Europe’s competition regulator filed antitrust charges against Google on the belief that the company’s search business had become so powerful that it was pretty much impossible to compete with.

Okay, “pretty much.” The thread knitting together the examples in the article is the notion of “deep links to connect mobile applications the way websites are linked on the web.” Oh, so that’s what a deep link is. I find that connecting applications is one function, and deep linking is another. But, hey, let’s not disrupt the flow of the Swiftian analysis.

I highlighted the names of the Lilliputians mentioned in the article:

  • Quixery
  • Reley
  • URX
  • Vurb

Why are start ups bedeviling the data hungry giant? The write up reports:

Mobile also has several special challenges for an entrenched player like Google. With its constellation of apps and competing operating systems, mobile is a highly fragmented universe, making it harder for one company to index all of the most relevant information the way Google has indexed the web. Also, the answer to many of the most common — and lucrative — queries is neatly structured inside popular applications like Yelp, the local directory service, making it easier to create focused search products that are unlikely to sink Google but could give it “a thousand tiny leaks,” said Jeremy Kressmann, an analyst at eMarketer who covers the search business.

Yep, an expert who is an analyst in eMarketing.

But Google, according to the write up, may not be a dead mobile search goose yet. The write up says:

The company’s biggest bets have been a voice-searching tool, along with Google Now, an application that tries to predict what users are looking for by showing a stack of cards with timely information, using cues like coming events in the user’s emails or recent activities on mobile apps and the web. Like her start-up competitors, Ms. Chennapragada is still unsure exactly what people want. “Google Now is such an early effort,” she said. “We’re still trying to figure it out.”

Poor Google. Just not able to “figure it out.”

My thought is that vendors with mobile search technology may want to pursue a slightly different path than one that pesters the Google. SRCH2, another mobile start up founded by a Xoogler, is focusing on providing a service to larger outfits that need a mobile search solution.

My hunch is that the opportunity to suggest that Google is a vulnerable giant was more important to the write up than fiddling around with deep links and looking beyond the names of outfits with pipelines to eMarketers.

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2015

Microsoft Goes Mobile with Delve

April 30, 2015

Microsoft has made enhancements to the core functionality of Delve, as well as rolling out native mobile app versions for iOS and Android. ZDNet breaks the news in their article, “Microsoft Delivers iOS, Android Versions of Delve.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft has made native mobile versions of its Delve search and presentation app available for Android phones, Android wear devices and iPhones. Delve presents in card-like form information from Exchange, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online and Yammer enterprise-social networking components. Over the coming months Delve will be adding more content sources, including email attachments, OneNote and Skype for Business.”

This seems like a Microsoft component that has great potential for mobile use, since its focus is “at a glance” information retrieval. Keep an eye on to see what Stephen E. Arnold has to say about it in coming months. Arnold has made a career out of following all things search and enterprise, and he reports his findings at His dedicated SharePoint feed collects a lot of interesting reporting regarding SharePoint and the rest of Microsoft productivity offerings.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 30, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Retail Feels Internet Woes

April 29, 2015

Mobile Web sites, mobile apps, mobile search, mobile content, and the list goes on and on for Web-related material to be mobile-friendly.  Online retailers are being pressured to make their digital storefronts applicable to the mobile users, because more people are using their smartphones and tablets over standard desktop and laptop computers.  It might seem easy to design an app and then people can download it for all of their shopping needs, but according to Easy Ask things are not that simple: “Internet Retailer Reveals Mobile Commerce Conversion Troubles.”

The article reveals that research conducted by Spreadshirt CTO Guido Laures shows that while there is a high demand for mobile friendly commerce applications and Web sites, very few people are actually purchasing products through these conduits.  Why?  The problem relates to the lack of spontaneous browsing and one the iPhone 6’s main selling features: a big screen.

“While mobile-friendly responsive designs and easier mobile checkouts are cited as inhibitors to mobile commerce conversion, an overlooked and more dangerous problem is earlier in the shopping process.  Before they can buy, customers first need to find the product they want.  Small screen sizes, clumsy typing and awkward scrolling gestures render traditional search and navigation useless on a smartphone.”

Easy Ask says that these problems can be resolved by using a natural language search application over the standard keyword search tool.  It says that:

“A keyword search engine leaves you prone to misunderstanding different words and returning a wide swath of products that will frustrate your shoppers and continue you down the path of poor mobile customer conversion.”

Usually natural language voice search tools misunderstand words and return funny phrases.  The article is a marketing tool to highlight the key features of Easy Ask technology, but they do make some key observations about mobile shopping habits.

Whitney Grace, April 29, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Mobile Office 365 Usage on the Rise

April 16, 2015

A recent study by has found that Mobile Office 365 is growing quickly among its users. Mobile is a huge consideration for all software companies, and now the data is proving that mobile is the go-to for even heavy-hitting work and enterprise applications. Read more in the AppsTechNews article, “The state of mobile Office 365 usage in the workplace – and what it means for SharePoint.”

The article begins with the research:

“24% of mobile users are now using mobile Office 365 in the cloud, compared to 18% six months ago. Not surprisingly, the most popular activity conducted by business users on mobile devices was online and offline document access, according to 81% of the vote. 7% most frequently use their mobile devices to add a SharePoint site, while 4% prefer to favourite documents for later offline access.”

Retrieval is still proven to be the most common mobile function, as devices are still not designed well for efficient input. To keep up with future developments regarding mobile use in the enterprise, stay tuned to Stephen E. Arnold has made a career out of following all things search, and his SharePoint feed is an accessible place to stay tuned in to the latest SharePoint developments.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 16, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Yahoo: A Portion of Its Fantastical Search History

April 15, 2015

I have a view of Yahoo. Sure, it was formed when I was part of the team that developed The Point (Top 5% of the Internet). Yahoo had a directory. We had a content processing system. We spoke with Yahoo’s David Filo. Yahoo had a vision, he said. We said, No problem.

The Point became part of Lycos, embracing Fuzzy and his round ball chair. Yahoo, well, Yahoo just got bigger and generally went the way of general purpose portals. CEOs came and went. Stakeholders howled and then sulked.

I read or rather looked at “Yahoo. Semantic Search From Document Retrieval to Virtual Assistants.” You can find the PowerPoint “essay” or “revisionist report” on SlideShare. The deck was assembled by the director of research at Yahoo Labs. I don’t think this outfit is into balloons, self driving automobiles, and dealing with complainers at the European Commission. Here’s the link. Keep in mind you may have to sign up with the LinkedIn service in order to do anything nifty with the content.

The premise of the slide deck is that Yahoo is into semantic search. After some stumbles, semantic search started to become a big deal with Google and rich snippets, Bing and its tiles, and Facebook with its Like button and the magical Open Graph Protocol. The OGP has some fascinating uses. My book CyberOSINT can illuminate some of these uses.

And where is Yahoo in the 2008 to 2010 interval when semantic search was abloom? Patience, grasshopper.

Yahoo was chugging along with its Knowledge Graph. If this does not ring a bell, here’s the illustration used in the deck:


The date is 2013, so Yahoo has been busy since Facebook, Google, and Microsoft were semanticizing their worlds. Yahoo has a process in place. Again from the slide deck:


I was reminded of the diagrams created by other search vendors. These particular diagrams echo the descriptions of the now defunct Siderean Software server’s set up. But most content processing systems are more alike than different.

Read more

Apple and App Search: Maybe a New Approach Will Work

April 13, 2015

I remember looking for a teleprompter app via my iPad. I used the Apple store and punched in the query “teleprompter.” I got some hits, but the information returned forced me to download apps, test them, and then do some poking around on message boards.

The finding part of the Apple app search worked okay. It did nothing to reassure me that I was not overlooking an app presented with different terms used to describe what I needed: A way to display a script on an iPad. The most important feature I needed was simply not findable via the Apple search system. Run this query: “Support for Wi Drive.” Let me know how that works out for you.

I read “Report: Apple Acquired Startup Ottocat for Its App Store Search Technology.” The important point is that Apple is now taking a look at its existing technology and reaching what I perceive as a pragmatic decision: Buy something that maybe sort of works.

According the write up:

Ottocat’s technology allows the app shopper to use increasingly specific search terms to zero in on the right app. The technology also adds some metadata around the app listing — things like star ratings and percentile rankings. Ottocat also created tools for app developers to get their apps in front of just the right kind of user.

Will it work? Who knows but I hope so. The iPad’s been around with its many apps for five years. Speed is relative but not precision and recall.

Stephen E Arnold, April 13, 2015


Image Search Might Not Be Enough

April 9, 2015

Did you know there is a Google of image search? No, it is not the image option on the actual Google search engine.  Rather it is Giphy aka the Google of GIFs (and a way to kill an hour) is stepping up into the world by buying other startups.  TechCrunch reports that, “Giphy’s First Acquisition, Nutmeg, Is A Big Step Towards Mobile.”

Giphy has been interested in expanding its mobile search offerings and they recently acquired Nutmeg, a mobile GIF messaging app that makes it easier to send those fun moving pictures in a text message.  Giphy founder Alex Chung and Nutmeg founder Julie Logan have discussed a partnership for the past year and after a recent $17 million round of funding by Giphy it felt like the right time.

“ ‘Nutmeg and Giphy share the same philosophy, but Julie brings a lot of expertise around what we’re doing from the mobile perspective, and that’s invaluable,’ said Chung. ‘The simplicity, the curation and the UX and the UI, drew us to Nutmeg.’ ”

GIFs are a universal Internet language with many of them transforming into memes and making the Reddit rounds.  GIFs lucrative market due to their popularity and there is money to be made there.

Whitney Grace, April 9, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Remotely Search Your Files

March 28, 2015

While it is a pain having to switch between apps to complete tasks, it is an even bigger pain trying to securely search your laptop or desktop computer for files using your mobile device. Sure, there are cloud storage services and the ability to log into your computer via remote Web apps. The problem still remains that you have to log on and connect with your computer. X1 Mobile Search takes off that problem and TechWorld has an oldie, but a good review on the app: “X1 Mobile Search Review.”

For a mere fifteen dollars, you download the X1 Mobile Search app on your computer and mobile device and then you can not only search for your files, but also edit them from within the app. It sounds too good to be true, but the X1 works. The application must be downloaded on both devices and connected to the Internet.

TechWorld says the mobile device is a worthy investment:

“Unlike some other programs that allow you to share files between mobile devices and PC and Macs, this one is designed for searching the whole computer, rather than just sharing specific files or pieces of information. You’ll find it a great complement to other programs such as Evernote and SugarSync.”

Give it a whirl.

Whitney Grace, March 28, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of CyberOSINT

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