Posts Tagged ‘google’

Google's Search Party

Posted by andreaitis on May 12, 2009

The press got an “insider’s perspective on search” today at Google’s annual Searchology event.   There was  live-blogging, webcasting and twittering galore as Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience, and a  team of Googlers gathered in building 40 at the Googleplex.

Udi Manber kicks the event off saying “our job is to do rocket science that will be taken for granted.” But, he adds, “there is still a lot of work to do.”

He continues talking about growth throughout the centuries. “In the 20th century,” he explains, the dream was to conquer nature; I think the 21st centure will be about understanding people.”

“We have made a lot of progress, and you’ll see some more today. But, the most promising advance is that we are starting to ‘understand.'”

“We have very high confidence that this is what you’re looking for. It’s actually hard to do, but it looks easy to you.”

“Search has to be lightening fast, relevant comprehensive fresh, but the main point is that even that is not enough.”

He ends by juggling three eggs. Then saying “I wanted to highlight that things are not always what they seem,” he throws the eggs, and they bounce off the stage.

via Searchology: State of the Union of Search at Google – ReadWriteWeb.

During the event, Google announced three new search products coming soon:  Google Squared, Rich Snippets and a new Android application called Sky Map.  They also revealed that they had seen an early version of the much-anticipated Wolfram, a “computational knowledge engine” launching this month.

A little competition would be a good thing, for all of us…

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News, Algorithms and the Human Touch

Posted by andreaitis on May 12, 2009

With the rise of self-publishing tools and the decline of traditional newsrooms, the editor’s role  has been rigorously debated.  Today, looking at the latest updates to Google News, there is a loud voice saying the editor is not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have.  Why, you ask?  According to Techcrunch, Google News “still sucks” for  one reason:  no human touch.

Google News

The problem is that Google uses an algorithm to do this clustering. As the vastly superior news aggregator Techmeme, learned quite a while ago, there needs to be some human curation involved. While an algorithm may not be able to see the difference in iPhone stories (or Microsoft stories, or anything else in my example for that matter), a human could.

Further, the biggest problem with Google News when it comes to tech news is that many of the items that appear are laughably old. It’s fine if you want to say it’s for the masses to get a better overview of what’s going on, but at least indicate that these topics aren’t breaking items just because some site decided to write about it again a day or two days or a week after someone else published the story first.

via Google News Gets An Update. Still Sucks.

I  have long been frustrated by the Google News implementation.  But it’s been the only option for so long that we simply lower our expectations and adjust to the suckage.  To me, that’s the core issue with Google products: they make users adjust to them, rather than modifying their products to better meet consumer need.  They never actually finish a product.  They’ll get about 80% there, slap a Beta label on it and call it a day.  Meanwhile, the last 20% is typically the most important (and the hardest).  These are the details that make something fit, that make users nod their heads and smile, that build loyalty and frequency.   Google seems to lose patience and steam, and just move on.   We are left with a product that has great potential, but never really fits.

The algorithm, for example, is a great foundation. To make the Google News experience sing (or at least hum), it needs to have some human filtering, a feed of HSS instead of RSS.  The New York Times is moving in this direction with their brand new launch of  TimesWire.   And, of course, we have our True/Slant Network Activity Feed.

Will these replace Google News?  No.  But the door is open for alternatives and experimentation. Google will have to evolve more aggressively to keep ahead, figuring out along the way how to include the various rivers and streams of news.   With hope, entering a new phase of  human touch tech.

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Microsoft's Vine takes on Twitter, Facebook and Google

Posted by andreaitis on April 28, 2009

Microsoft Vine

One minute Oprah is the Internet’s new Tweetheart, the next minute hard-core twitterers are grumbling.  It’s like when hordes of people invade your favorite secluded beach spot.  Usually that means it’s time to find a new favorite secluded beach spot.  Enter Microsoft, and a new product called Vine.  It’s in early beta testing in Seattle, but it looks like they’ve zeroed in on core needs with the easy messaging of Twitter, the contacts and connections of Facebook, and the local news and Latitude of Google.  If it works better than Internet Explorer (a low bar),  it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.   Could this be the next big thing?

Vine is designed to keep family and friends in touch when other communication methods are either broken or not particularly efficient. Times of crisis usually involve a breakdown in mobile phone or other key communication infrastructures, and Vine is designed to be as hardy as possible to keep people connected. Vine can be accessed via a desktop client (Windows only for now), text message or email.

So what is it? Vine is a tool keep people connected during a crisis, but it’s also used to for more mundane, everyday tasks. My guess is it will hit a sweet spot with the masses. My parents, for example, are going to love this.

via TechCrunch:  Microsoft Vine To Connect Family, Friends When Crisis Hits

Posted in social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Residents Snap Over Google's Candid Camera

Posted by andreaitis on April 3, 2009

The headline caught my eye:  “Gang of villagers chase away Google car.”   Paints quite a picture, huh?  But these villagers were from an affluent area north of London.  They were not simply aghast at a tacky Google car marring their pristine corner of paradise. They were concerned about invasion of privacy and safety, about creating a detailed treasure map for would-be burglars.

Of course, there’s a difference between what’s legally right and what’s morally right.  Assuming Google was on public property, where do we draw the privacy lines?

Google Earth

Google’s ambitious plan to offer a 3-D street level view of communities across three continents hit a snag when angry residents of a UK village blocked the search engine’s camera car from photographing their homes.

“I was upstairs when I spotted the camera car driving down the lane,” resident Paul Jacobs told The Times of London.

“My immediate reaction was anger: How dare anyone take a photograph of my home without my consent? I ran outside to flag the car down and told the driver he was not only invading our privacy but also facilitating crime.

Gang of villagers chase away Google car –

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200 Employees Say G'bye to Google

Posted by andreaitis on March 26, 2009

Now we know things are really, seriously bad.

Make it official: Google’s not immune from the bad economy and plummeting ad market. We’ve been hearing for weeks that Google would have layoffs. Google is cutting 200 employees today, the company now confirms.

via Confirmed: Google to Lay Off 200 Employees.

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Trust, But Verify?

Posted by andreaitis on February 17, 2009

Mark Zuckerberg talking on Facebook (of course) about the change in their terms of use.  He actually calls it a clarification, and I believe it is.  The snippet below stood out for me as I read through Zuckerberg’s post:

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment.

On Facebook, People Own and Control Their Information | Facebook.

So I got to thinking:  Who do I trust more, Facebook or Google?  I’ve put off trying Google Latitude yet just because it’s one more avenue for Google to invade my space.  Yes, yes, I’m inviting Google into my space.  But by now, Google probably knows more about me than my mother (minus that incident sophomore year).  Google sometimes gives me the creeps; Facebook does not.  Maybe it’s because I am largely in control of the information I’m putting into Facebook, so I know what they can pull out.  Not entirely the same with Google.  I feel like there are boundaries around my Facebook experience, and I can go beyond those or not, at my discretion.  I pretty much know what Mark Zuckerberg plans to do, at least at a high level.  Google, on the other hand, seems all about breaking boundaries and connecting information whether I want it connected or not.  Google’s overall intentions are still unknown, a giant galactic vacuum sucking up bits of me from here and there.  And I’m not sure how they’ll piece it all together just yet.

So, we can’t really verify.  Which means it does, in the end, come down to trust.  It all made me think of, well, Ronald Reagan first…but then Elvis Costello:

“You said you’d stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three
But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four, Five and Six”

Dare ya to sing along with me.

Posted in facebook, news, social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Google Goes Back to the Future

Posted by andreaitis on February 14, 2009

Perhaps they’ll also show views of the world BG and AG — Before and After Google.

Google Earth Goes Into the Past, Underwater–And Deep Into Your Computer’s System

Google Earth Goes Into the Past, Underwater–And Deep Into Your Computer’s System – Faster Forward.

Earlier this month, Google released a beta-test release of the newest version of Google Earth. Google Earth 5.0, a free download for Windows 2000, XP or Vista, Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5, and most versions of Linux, adds some fascinating new perspectives on this planet–and one other–but I’m not going to rush to install it.

Unlike earlier releases, this treasure chest of 3-D cartography doesn’t just show what’s on the ground today. It includes a collection of overhead views from earlier years and lets you view the majority of the Earth’s surface covered by its oceans.

The historical imagery is likely to be the biggest time-suck. To see what a place looked like before, click the clock icon in Google Earth’s toolbar, then move a slider back to earlier years. For example, you can see that in 1949, there was only one 14th Street Bridge going over the Potomac (although a second span was under construction). The Las Vegas of 1950, meanwhile, is a barren, lifeless desert.

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Posted by andreaitis on January 7, 2009

Model Sues Google Over Snarky Blogger Remarks

Canadian model Liskula Cohen has sued Google for a number of snarky remarks that were made by a blogger using the company’s Blogger service. The NY Daily News reports that the former Vogue cover girl has been called ‘skanky’ and ‘an old hag’ by an anonymous blogger on a website called Skanks in NYC (could be deemed NSFW).

The defamation suit, filed in Manhattan, seeks a court order compelling Google and its Blogger service to identify the anonymous blogger. Google declined to discuss any specifics, only responding to the claim by saying they sympathize with victims of cyberbullying but “take great care to respect privacy concerns and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order”, so we’ll leave you with a quote from Cohen instead:

“I’m tall, I’m blond, I’ve been modeling for many years, and people get jealous,” she said. “If I had to deal with everyone who is jealous, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.”

Model Sues Google Over Snarky Blogger Remarks –

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the google garden

Posted by andreaitis on September 2, 2008

google chromes microsoft

google chromes microsoft

a heated debate raging on techcrunch today over the pronouncement that google’s imminently-launching browser will, in effect, kill windows.    if that prediction comes true, it would certainly be a slow and agonizing death.  windows still has over 70% of the browser market.

besides, there’s nothing to fear here.  google announced it with a comic book. see?  they’re funny and quirky, those googlers.

except…there’s something uncomfortable here.  like the walls are closing in, despite the trumpeting of openness, the “do no evil” mantra.  they have me surrounded. gmail…gtalk…docs…youtube…search…googlemaps…targeted ads…and so on.

they probably know me better than anyone else — whether i want them to or not.  and i’m not the only one who’s worried.

gigaom says: Not having seen Chrome, I will withhold any final judgement myself, but I would look at the privacy implications of Chrome very, very carefully. I have long since stopped buying into the “do no evil” drivel the company keeps espousing.

having come from the walled gardens of aol, i know the signs.  blugh.  i have to go.  gotta google ‘claustrophobic’ now…

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jew knew?!?

Posted by andreaitis on July 17, 2008

we all feel big brother breathing down our necks these days, with the court case featuring google / youtube vs viacom, loopt’s gps privacy fumbles, and the aclu taking on the foreign intelligence surveillance act (fisa).

and then, just when i thought i could fear no more,  i stumbled across david berkowitz’s blog post.  it was prompted by this ad on facebook:

facebook using jewdar targeting?

facebook using jewdar targeting?

david jumped right on this schmear campaign….sorry, couldn’t help myself.   ;-j   but it’s good reading.

he asked the penetrating question: does facebook know i’m jewish??  see the answer in his blog post, and more in his column on the chutzpah of facebook’s jewdar.

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