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Web Sites Going The Way Of The Dodo

July 24, 2015

Apps are supposed to replace Web sites, but there is a holdup for universal adoption. Search Engine Watch explains why Web sites are still hanging tight and how a new Google acquisition might be a game changer: “The Final Hurdle Is Cleared-Apps Will Replace Web Sites.”  The article explains that people are “co-users” of both apps and classic Web sites, but online browsers are still popular.  Why is that?

Browsers are universal and can access any content with a Web address.  Most Web sites also do not have an app counterpart, so the only way to access content is to use the old-fashioned browser.  Another issue is that apps cannot be crawled by search engines, so they are left out of search results. The biggest pitfall for apps is that they have to be downloaded in order to be accessed, which takes up screen space and disk space.

A startup has created a solution to making apps work faster:

“Agawi has developed a technology to stream apps, just like Netflix streams videos. Instead of packaging the entire app into a single, large file for the user to download, the app is broken up into many small files, letting users interact with small portions of the app while the rest of it is downloading.  In the short term, it appears that Google wants to deploy Agawi for users try an app before downloading the full version.”

Google acquired Agawi, but do not expect it to be accessible soon.  Google enjoys putting its own seal of approval on all acquisitions and making sure it works well.  Mobile device usage is increasing and more users are moving towards using them over traditional computers.  Search marketers will need to be more aware than ever about how search engines work with apps and encourage clients to make an app.


Whitney Grace, July 24, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Scribd Obtains Social Reading

July 22, 2015

Access to books and other literary material has reached an unprecedented high.  People can download and read millions of books with a few simple clicks.  Handheld ebook readers are curtailing the sales of printed book, but they also are increasing sales of digital books.  One of the good things about ebooks is bibliophiles do not have to drive to a bookstore or get waitlisted on the library.  Writers also can directly sell their material to readers and potentially by pass having to pay agents and publishers.

It occurred to someone that bibliophiles would love to have instant access to a huge library of books, similar to how Netflix offers its customers an unending video library.  There is one and it is called Scribed.  Scribd is described as the Netflix of books, because for a simple $8.99 bibliophiles can read and download as many books as they wish.

The digital landscape is still being tested by book platforms and Scribd has increased its offerings.  VentureBeat reports Scribd’s newest business move in: “Scribd Buys Social Reading App Librify.” Librify is a social media reading app, offering users the opportunity to connect with friends and sharing their reading experiences.  It is advertised as a great app for book clubs.

“In a sparse press release, Scribd argues Librify’s “focus on the social reading experience” made the deal worthwhile. The news arrives at a heated time for the publishing industry, as Amazon, Oyster, and others all fight to be the definitive Netflix for books — all while hawking remarkably similar products.”

Netflix has its own rivals: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vimeo, and YouTube, but it offers something different by creating new and original shows.  Scribd might be following a similar business move, by offering an original service its rivals do not have.  Will it also offer Scribd only books?

Whitney Grace, July 22, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Publishers Out Of Sorts…Again

July 20, 2015

Here we go again, the same old panic song that has been sung around the digital landscape since the advent of portable devices: the publishing industry is losing money. The Guardian reports on how mobile devices are now hurting news outlets: “News Outlets Face Losing Control To Apple, Facebook, And Google.”

The news outlets are losing money as users move to mobile devices to access the news via Apple, Facebook, and Google. The article shares a bunch of statistics supporting this claim, which only backs up facts people already knew.

It does make a sound suggestion of traditional news outlets changing their business model by possibly teaming with the new ways people consume their news.

Here is a good rebuttal, however:

“ ‘Fragmentation of news provision, which weakens the bargaining power of journalism organisations, has coincided with a concentration of power in platforms,’ said Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center at Columbia university, in a lead commentary for the report.”

Seventy percent of mobile device users have a news app on their phone, but only a third of them use it at least once a week. Only diehard loyalists are returning to the traditional outlets and paying a subscription fee for the services. The rest of the time they turn to social media for their news.

This is not anything new. These outlets will adapt, because despite social media’s popularity there is still something to be said for a viable and trusted news outlet, that is, if you can trust the outlet.

Whitney Grace, July 20, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Microsoft Takes SharePoint Criticism Seriously

July 16, 2015

Organizations are reaching the point where a shift toward mobile productivity and adoption must take place; therefore, their enterprise solution must follow suit. While Office 365 adoption has soared in light of the realization, Microsoft still has work to do in order to give users the experience that they demand from a mobile and social heavy platform. ComputerWorld goes into more details with their article, “Onus on Microsoft as SharePoint and OneDrive Roadmaps Reach Crossroads.”

The article states Microsoft’s current progress and future goals:

“With the advent of SharePoint Server 2016 (public beta expected 4Q 2015, with general availability 2Q 2016), Edwards believes Microsoft is placing renewed focus on file management, content management, sites, and portals. Going forward, Redmond claims it will also continue to develop the hybrid capabilities of SharePoint, recognizing that hybrid deployments are a steady state for many large organizations, and not just a temporary position to enable migration to the cloud.”

Few users chose to adopt the opportunities offered by Office 365 and SharePoint 2013, so Microsoft has to make SharePoint Server 2016 look like a new, enticing offering worthy of being taken seriously. So far, they have done a good job of building up some hype and attention. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and he has been covering the news surrounding the release on Additionally, his dedicated SharePoint feed makes it easy to catch the latest news, tips, and tricks at a glance.
Emily Rae Aldridge, July 16, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Mobile Search: A Rising Tide Lifts Boats Which Are in the Water and Float

June 22, 2015

Data about mobile search are plentiful. Everyone from unemployed middle school teachers to failed webmasters telling real stories outputs mobile information. For a venture firm’s viewpoint, navigate to “Presentation: Mobile Is Eating the World.” There is a slide deck and a video for those too busy to read.

The assumption on which the presentation is built appears to be “Mobile is making technology universal.” The idea strikes me as one which the original AT&T formulated, but that just useful technical DNA. Humans communicate. Mobile phones do the job. Ergo: Mobile is a big deal.

One of the more interesting visuals in the presentation is a reminder to companies whose business model is built on traditional approaches to computing. I wonder if Google realizes that its ad-centric revenue is a product of the desktop computing era? Here’s the graphic I printed out and tucked into my “Doom Is Approaching” folder:


The data come from the mid tier consulting firm Gartner, but the nifty orange line suggests that mid tier consultants along with other traditional outfits may have to rejigger their approach to the brave new mobile world.

If you are looking for information to support a mobile search initiative, Andreesen Horowitz has just what you may need. The presentation does not explore the information access limitations of mobile ubiquity. My hunch is that no one cares. The information world fits nicely in a small display.

Stephen E Arnold, June 23, 2015

Wisdom of Verizon AOL Deal Questioned

June 16, 2015

Sarah Lacy, founder and editor-in-chief at PandoDaily, is highly skeptical of the official rational behind Verizon’s recent acquisition of AOL. She posits, “Can’t We All Agree the Justifications for this AOL/Verizon Deal are Bat#### Insane?” The post begins:

“What is it about AOL mergers that make no sense?

“I’ve spent the morning intermittently reading various reports by the financial press about Verizon’s surprise/not surprise acquisition of AOL. Early on, they seem divided on whether it was about buying ad tech or content, with many pundits saying Verizon was going the Comcast route… and then it became clear that AOL’s biggest media asset, the Huffington Post, would likely be spun off. The press was similarly divided on whether or not Armstrong was long shopping this company or simply got wowed by how awesome Verizon is during a meeting at Sun Valley.

“But everyone — including the company– insists this deal was about two buzzwords: Mobile. Video. AOL put out some dizzying justifications and everyone nodded like they totally understood.

“Wait, what?”

Lacy doesn’t buy the idea that Verizon acquired AOL for its mobile and video chops (she has a point there). In fact, it quickly becomes clear that the writer’s main problem is with AOL chairman and ex-Googler Tim Armstrong, for she spends much virtual ink delineating his errors, past and present. (She’s especially critical of his handling of the Huffington Post.) Lacy also refutes official statements about this deal one by one, comparing the whole situation to a nonsensical Lewis Carroll scene. See the article if you, too, think this deal is fishy (or if, for some reason, you desire ammo against Mr. Armstrong.)

Cynthia Murrell, June 16, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Information Retrieval: Not Just Acceptable. Insanely Better

June 12, 2015

Like the TSA’s perfect bag, Google’s search is the apex of findability, according to “Google Now Has Just Gotten Insanely Better and Very Freaky.” What causes such pinnacles of praise? According to the write up:

Google announced at an event in Paris a Location Aware Search feature that can answer a new set of questions, without the user having to ask questions that should include addresses or proper place names. Asking Google Now questions like “what is this museum?” or “when was this building built?” in proximity of the Louvre in Paris will get you answers about the Louvre, as Google will be able to use your location and understand what you meant by “this” or “this building”.

How does the feature work when one is looking for information about the location of a Dark Web hidden services server in Ashburn, Virginia? Ah, not so helpful perhaps? What’s the value of a targeted message in this insanely better environment? Good question.

Stephen E Arnold, June 12, 2015

Your Mobile Is the Search Interface: In App or In Ept Revisited

June 7, 2015

I wrote an article for Information Today about the shift from having control of a search to being controlled by a search. The idea is that with an in app search function, the convenience makes the user in ept. With limited choices and the elimination of user defined filtering, the in app search converts searchers into puppets. The string puller is the ubiquitous and convenient search system.

I read “How Google Is Taking Search Outside the Box.” Nifty title but the opposite, in my opinion, is what’s “appening.” Search is now within the mobile device.

The write up asserts:

But search is still the heart of Google, even though the division that once went by that name is now called “Knowledge.” This reflects an evolution of Google search from something that pointed users to relevant websites to an all-knowing digital oracle that often provides answers to questions instantly (or sooner!) from a vast corpus of information called the Knowledge Graph. The whole ball of wax is threatened by the fact that the I/O of billions of users is now centered on mobile devices.

Google is indeed threatened with a search revenue problem. One way to address providing information to a user is to move the interaction inside the Google “walled garden.” In Google Version 2.0, now out of print, I explained that the walled garden allows Google to control the messages, information, and search results. The user consumes what Google delivers. Convenience for many is more important than taking control of the information provided.

For me, it is very, very difficult to run queries on a mobile device. The size and the keyboards present a problem. The results are difficult to manipulate. When I run queries from my desktop, I am able to move content, save it, output it, and process it using tools which are not available on a mobile device.

I do not accept mobile outputs as accurate. Last week I was in Prague. My mobile device connected in Frankfurt, Germany, and the system required two days to figure out that I was working in Prague. The few stabs I took at getting maps for Prague required lots of thumb typing.

The combination of half cooked software, high latency mobile systems for content delivery, and the paramount need to display unwanted information were evident.

The fix, for me, was to take my laptop computer, locate a “neutral” Wi-Fi connection, and take control of the queries.

Those who mindlessly consume what an in app experience delivers are racing toward ineptness. Sorry. Consuming information without considering what’s presented, ensuring that the output is one that meets the needs of the user, and performing the filtering function oneself are pretty dangerous behaviors.

Google is about revenue. The logic of the math club is not an approach designed to help out users. The problem is that consumers of information are not able to think about the objectivity, accuracy, or the relevance of the information.

Not good.

Stephen E Arnold, June 7, 2015

Facebook Program May Disintermediate Google

June 5, 2015

Soon, Facebook users may not have to navigate to Google for relevant links then copy-and-paste them into posts and comments. TechCrunch reports, “Skip Googling with Facebook’s New ‘Add a Link’  Mobile Status Search Engine.” If this program currently being tested on a sample group makes it to all users, you can impress your “friends” a few seconds faster, and with fewer clicks. Actually reading what you find before you share the link is up to you. The article describes:

“Alongside buttons to add photos or locations, some iOS users are seeing a new ‘Add A Link’ option. Just punch in a query, and Facebook will show a list of matching links you might want to share, allow you to preview what’s on those sites, and let you tap one to add it to your status with a caption or share statement. Results seem to be sorted by what users are most likely to share, highlighting recently published sites that have been posted by lots of people. …

“If rolled out to all users, it would let them avoid Googling or digging through Facebook’s News Feed to find a link to share. The ‘Add A Link’ button could get users sharing more news and other publisher-made content. Not only does that fill the News Feed with posts that Facebook can put ads next to. It also gives it structured data about what kind of news and publishers you care about, as well as the interests of your friends depending on if they click or Like your story.”

Writers Josh Constine and Kyle Russell observe that, as of last year, Facebook drives nearly 25 percent of “social” clicks, and publishers are becoming dependent on those clicks. Facebook stands to benefit if their Add A Link button enhances that dependency. Then there is the boost to ad revenue the site is likely to realize by keeping users inside their Facebook sessions, instead of wandering into the rest of the Web. A move that will both please users and the bottom line– well played, Facebook.

Cynthia Murrell, June 5, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Unacceptable Planned Obsolescence of the Android

June 5, 2015

The op ed on Tom’s Hardware titled Google Can’t Ignore The Android Update Problem Any Longer inspects the release process for Androids, particularly the Android 5.0 Lollipop and the 5.1 iteration. The problem Google faces with its major upgrade per year schedule is that while the Lollipop garners 9.7 percent of the market, it might be several years before the majority of android users catch up to this version, by which time Google might be releasing Android 8.0 (Snickers? M&M?) The article explains the issues with transitioning,

“Because Android is open source and because so many (essentially) OEM-tweaked “forks” of it exist, a “clean” upgrade path is almost impossible. To have a clean standardized update system would mean all the OEMs would have to agree to abide strictly by Google’s guidelines for what they can and cannot modify on the platform.

However, as soon as Google tries to do something like that, the OEMs usually cry foul that Google is making Android more proprietary.”

Obviously Google does not want to lose the business of those OEMs, either. But the article argues that this is unlikely due to Android and iOS cornering the market. The final point is the weakness in the update system due to users desiring more secure platforms, meaning Android adoption will only lessen.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 5, 2014

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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