If you think of the internet as the wild west, then it’s safe to make the correlation of there being good guys, bad guys and everyone else.
Using this basis of comparison, who fits into what category is a completely arbitrary decision that changes between people and organizations. The search engines for example, Bing, Google, Yahoo etc, are they the good guys because of the services they provide? Or are they the bad guys because they can provide you with a basicly clear window to the internet? What about the RIAA, FCC and those of the same ilk. Are they good or bad because they want to be able to monitor online content, filter it according to rights and punish all who may dare to break their rules.
It’s a new age of content creation, distribution and monitoring, so I find it a little strange that the policy makers are pointing fingers at the big guy, Google. Their claim as a part of the proposed Web Censoship bill, is that Google (in a nutshell) is responsible for policing the internet and what their searches turn up. A spokesman for Google, Kent Walker was plain in his answer in saying that if this bill were to pass, then private companies will have a tremendous amount of power over Google and it’s behaviour. He also pointed out that there are flaws in any system, and that the bad eggs are out there specifically working on gaming the system and that just because a website has a link to content which may not be hosted by them, they shouldn’t be punished.
Because let’s be honest, as any web designer can tell you, a site can be created in about 20 minutes and uploaded and active online in 30 total. That site will then be crawled and placed in the index as appropriately as possible. Now the people trying to game the censorship system, all they have to do is create site after site, after site. The pages will be up and indexed faster than they could ever be taken down, any one with even half of an idea as to how the web works knows this.
If the bill should pass, it will mean new stringent guidelines to be adhered to and that god forbid you post something that becomes unliked by someone in power because you may just find yourself invisible in search no matter what you do. It’s an authoritorian rule, managed by those with the most power. And Scarface said it best:
In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power.
For further information and reading, you can find both sides of the argument at ArsTechnica. Both sides of the argument are discussed, those for the bill, and those against the bill.
Sometimes a discussion crops up about how the search game is dead, or about how the next amazing search engine will change the way the world searches. It’s a great idea, and one that should be pushed continually to it’s limits, it’s competition which develops innovation after all. In the end however, there are some elements of the game which just won’t change. At least not for the fore seeable future.
As a metphor, think of a wheel. Round, helps carry a vehicle of sorts to it’s destination. There are core elements which make up the ‘whole’ of the wheel. It’s shape, it’s internal to external strengthening in the manner of spokes of some kind and connected to a point to which it can spin. If you change any of those variables, then what you’ve created is no longer a wheel right?
The same core intricacies exist in the world of search. Google helped define what those core principles are, and while some of the players make their own additions or variations to them, they’re still part of the whole. Just like 1+1 will always equal 2, when you boil down the search algorithm used by the search engines out there, they all break down to the same basic structure.
When a user types their query, check the database. Do we have a match? Display the list.
From there is where it gets complicated, that’s where the refining comes in, the positive and negative values associated to all sorts of terms. Gambling, sex, government, medical etc.
The core of the game has never changed and won’t be changing for the immediate future. I don’t have a crystal ball in my possession, but until a company can come forward with a faster, more complete, and intuitive version of a search engine, the game will always be as it has always been.
The implements which are used by a trade expert or even a novice user to reach the end goal, the tools of the trade are most often key to the process of creation or discovery. It’s extremely rare when a person gets in trouble for using their tools to do their job, and it’s even rarer when they’re penalized heavily for it.
And yet, that’s exactly what an Italian court has decided to do, well sort of. Their first ruling this year was in regards to Youtube and their decision that the website is effectively a television station and as such needs to follow the same rules on them. Pinning the responsibility on Google to monitor the content being delivered to the country. Okay, so a couple of ip filters (very basic example) and they’d be good to go with Youtube maybe.
The Italian court however, has recently handed down a verdict on the realm of search. In one case in particular, Yahoo was found guilty for containing links which the court determined allowed copyright infringement. The same case however, was not brought up to Googles legal team, so that’s a little odd there. Also somewhat interesting, Yahoo doesn’t power it’s organic search anymore, it’s handled by Microsoft Bing. So if Yahoo (rightfully) passes the responsibilities to Microsoft, and they don’t take care of it, then does Yahoo get left out in the rain? Too broad a decision at best and leaves too much interpretation to the imagination. But then, things really get strange.. you didn’t think it stopped there did you?
Back to my tools to do the job analogy, Google, Yahoo and Bing all share near identical traits. The greatest of which is being a search tool for users to find their destination. Whether it’s a purchase, research, gaming or what have you. Search engines don’t create websites, they don’t create videos or publish webpages, they gatherm collate, and provide information as it’s requested by it’s users.
On to the weird stuff. This same court decided that users of AdWords platforms, could not be held liable for bidding on copyrighted terms for their ad spaces. Paid search advertising will not be held accountable for the terms used to place in search. Clear as mud then. Organic search results however, can be penalized under this new ruling. It’s not like Google, Bing and Yahoo are hiring massive development teams to create pages full of trademarked or copyrighted terms just to screw up the results and businesses. By this Italian court ruling however, they’re saying essentially that. Personally, I’ll be surprised if the ruling on search holds any water for more than a few days at most, it’s almost like the court has never used search to understand that it’s just a tool, not a content creator.
It’s another case of the copycat, not that it should be any surprise online, but Bing Deals has broken into the realm of online deal makers.
I guess it’s kind of a stretch to throw them in with the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial, because what Bing is doing is actually a little different. The way they said it, would probably be the best way to share:
“The value is that we’re aggregating these for you, bringing these all together so that you don’t have to go to all of these other places”
So Bing has taken the time to write the lines to mash all of the deals together in one place for thrifty shoppers out there. No need for an account to use the service, no spammy emails about deals locally, just a big old coupon book for you to browse. To pay, your information would be used on the vendors site. Simple enough really.
And to make things a little spicier and enticing again, Bing partnered up with a company called The Dealmap, which bills itself as the best place online to find local deals with over 200,000 unique offers across the US on your mobile device.
“The Dealmap is a leading source for people to find and share the best local deals, so naturally it made sense for us to team up with them to bring you the best experience.”Andy Chu, director of Product Management for Bing Mobile.
So it’s not quite copycat, but it’s Bing bringing to bear their own take to online shopping and local search incentives. A good idea which will attract a fair share of attention as it grows in offerings and popularity.
It shouldn’t be any real surprise that Charlie Sheen is a member in the trending topics of the day much like he has in the last few days. There’s also the trending topic of the Dior designer who’s being dropped by the fashion icon for their ranting of Jews and love of Hitler. It’s never a large surprise personally to find strange topics dominating the trending lists, but there are some news topics that surprise me from time to time.
Take for instance, the news from Statcounter that Yahoo has fallen to last place in the search wars, overtaken by Bing. At just under 4% search share, Yahoo reportedly fell to Bing who came in with 4.3% search share. Statcounter showed Google’s search dominance flying at it’s average of 89.9% of the search market. These are global search numbers, so they’re talking in the billions of queries. When you get a little closer to home, Yahoo is still leading Bing in the US.
The reason why all of these numbers don’t mean a thing, is there are really only 2 players now in the search market; Bing and Google. In 2009 Yahoo announced that Bing would power it’s search results and that they were going to join forces to try and take on the Google machine. Currently Bing is giving Yahoo results in the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Mexico. It’s Bing search pages and results, with a bright shiny Yahoo wrapper on it. It doesn’t matter how you try and portray it, it’s Bing and Google in the search game now.
The drama between Bing and Google is dieing down, it seems that both sides have thrown the punches at each other and the name calling is dieing down. There’s been shots fired across each others respective bows, the evidence however is still rather difficult to deny.
Google setup some search results in order to determine if their hunch was correct about Bing skimming reseults. It can be construed as underhanded to setup a competitor, realisitcally though it proved their point. What Google found was that when a user searched using the Google engine, in the IE8 browser those results are (allegedly) being used as data to build the Bing search results. Bing fired back with the examples of the image search, search results layout and a few other technological upgrades that Google has incorporated into their search.
You can find more than enough information about the row between the two search giants anywhere online with a quick search ironically. Everyone has an opinion on the matter of course, but I think the white elephant in the room has to be mentioned. Tech companies always borrow, beg and steal ideas and methods from each other, especially if those methods work and draw an audience. Google realized from a visual perspective, that the elements Bing had incorporated into their results pages were popular to users. On the other side of the fence, Bing used user data and click throughs from the IE8 browser and use of the Bing bar to help build their results pages.
One company borrows visual elements to a search page, the other company borrows the actual contents of the search results pages. Apples and oranges in my opinion, but as I said earlier we all have one.
The internet is running out of IP addresses, Bing is copying Google, Facebook can’t handle your data and locally we’re resisitant to change. The loss of IPs online has been broached in the last few days, and the as the last block allocations are doled out I’m certain that the naysayers will be heralding the end of the world (wide web). At least on some level of course.
Bing copied Google’s search results on a really obscure search term, as Bing cries foul over Google copying some of their display methods. It’s one thing to copy a snippet tool to display where on a page information was located and a change in how images are displayed. It’s an entirely new bag of snakes when you literally build your results based upon the users actions on another search engine. Bing has cried foul as well over being setup in Google’s honeypot action and well, that was the point. Google noticed a trend of Bings top 10 searches bearing much the same results as Googles. A hypothesis was formulated as to why and how this could happen, and a test was executed. It just so happens that the test came back positive, and Bing has been caught red handed sneaking results. Deal with it, learn from it, for Gods sakes admit it and carry on.
And just to switch things to a local, Winnipeg front for a moment. A downtown restaurant, long heralded as an icon in it’s uniqueness, the Paddlewheel Restaurant is to be closed and renovated. In the story I’ve most recently read about the eatery, the vast majority of the comments and content were unhappy with the coming closure, citing their memories of past visits with friends and family as evidence of enduring success. “It doesn’t need to change” and “It shouldn’t change” were the over lording tones of the piece. There was a video accompanying the story, and while it was somewhat saddening to hear about how a visit to the restaurant with their mother and grandmother for a plate of fries and a coke would be gone with the change, change needs to happen. By the way, the aforementioned visit with family, the fries and coke cost 15 cents to purchase. The video was filled entirely with elderly visitors, no doubt the frequenters of the establishment with the exception of one gentleman interviewed whose thoughts were simply “I understand it’s popular among those with a history of coming here”. The idea that change is bad needs to leave the collective thought process of this town, change is anything but bad. Scary, exciting, turbulent and it can even be smooth, safe and uneventful. But it’s never a bad thing. Change is inevitable, it’s when people, places and the environment they exist in cease to change that they wither and die. Take a clue from one of the oldest businesses still in operation today, in order to survive, they need to change.
In the midst of the unrest in Egypt, the name calling and hand slapping that’s been going on between Google and Bing. There’s only one other interesting point of note that’s about to occur within the online tech industry.
The world wide web, is about to run out of IP addresses. Just like back when the toll free system ran out of 800 numbers, it won’t be the end of absolutely everything, or anything for that matter, it’s only an eventuality that was expected. The speed at which it’s happened however was a surprise to the web watchers out there. IPv4 has been touted for a long time as being an outdated system, and a backup has long been in the works, there’s only one small catch. At it’s present state, the new standard of IPv6, isn’t compatible with IPv4. One of the biggest issues with compatiblity however is simply an issue of age. A lot of the older software and hardware isn’t quite ready to be compatible with the 64bit addressing system due to come into play. The world of business and productivity has long been overdue for an overhaul in technology, and as the newer IPv6 comes more and more to the forefront as the addressing system of the web, the change will become mandatory.
Only a quick note on the he said/he said drama between Bing and Google, this time it’s Microsoft firing back at the search giant. While the Bing team hasn’t come right out and said “no we don’t swipe Google’s searches” they’ve said that they do use 1,000 different search variables in building their results pages. Additionally, they’ve made it a point to mention that Google has copied some of the search display features which were implemented in the Bing engine. While Google did indeed copy the display of the results, they did not however, scrape results from Bing searches as it’s becoming more and more apparent that this was the tactic used by Bing.
Both of these factors in tandem are set to change the internet and the world of search. It may be time to hang on as it has the potential to be a wild ride.
In the midst of all of the brouhaha with Microsoft and Google pointing fingers at each other, there’s a few key points that need to be brought to bear.
Yes, this is the online world where an original idea is like a spark from a fire in the night, brilliantly bright and hot and burning out in seconds. That doesn’t mean however that in working in an additional business model, plagiarism is the best route forward. The “sting operation” as it’s been called, which Google used to confirm their suspicions that Bing was directly copying their search results were based around gibberish searches. Around a search term of “mbzrxpgjys” for example. Google ensured from the get go that the term returned no search results in either engine, and when a few weeks later after setting up the trap the same results appeared, the evidence was, well, evident.
The other main argument that’s being circulated in the news and blogs around the web is similar to the first, that all Bing did was keep up the pace with the big dog in the (search) game. It’s easy to concede the point that when you see a successful business model, with room for more in the same field, that it should be somewhat free game to copy a step here and there. Take Groupon and the plethora of clones which have been springing up using the same business model. Bing however, went over the line in copying a step or two. The point which is being left out in the stories as of late, the Bing results were populated via click through data pulled from users of Internet Explorer searching via Google. Users of Internet Explorer, used Google to search for the term “mbzrxpgjys”, and that click through data was used to populate Bing results.
Microsoft Internet Explorer tracks your search query, your click through data and then uses that data from a competing search engine to build their own (Bing) search results page.
Gee, and people worry about Google keeping things private.
The internet was born out of the idea of collaboration. That you could work on an idea and have your coworker be from the other side of the globe and it would make everything seem that much closer to home and cozy. It’s not a huge surprise that technologies are borrowed and repackaged and used as companies own, but it’s rare that one gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar so to speak. And yet Bing, has just been caught.
Google has come out and said pointedly that Microsoft Bing has been cheating in their search results, and stealing Googles results pages and displaying them as their own. Normally this kind of finger pointing can be downplayed as a type of borrowing, as it’s mainly the idea that’s been used, but in this case Microsoft actually admitted it.
Stefan Weitz, director of Microsoft’s Bing
As you might imagine, we use multiple signals and approaches when we think about ranking, but like the rest of the players in this industry, we’re not going to go deep and detailed in how we do it. Clearly, the overarching goal is to do a better job determining the intent of the search, so we can guess at the best and most relevant answer to a given query.
Opt-in programs like the [Bing] toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites. This “Google experiment” seems like a hack to confuse and manipulate some of these signals.
How did Google work out what was going on? Aside from doing individual searches and directly comparing results, Google started noticing a rapidly rising overlap in top 10 results pages with Bing. So in order to verify their suspicions, Google rigged some searches. They created a bunch of fake searches which returned little to no results in Google and in Bing, and then placed a page at the top of those results in order to catch them with their hand in the jar. Because the pages were artificially placed in the results, it would be easy to confirm or deny their suspicions. The full fledged experiment began in mid December, and in just a couple of weeks the results began showing up in the Bing results.
In the end, Bing isn’t really really doing anything illegal, if anything it’s like they’re cheating on their math test. Google does all of the work, Bing reaps the same reward as their search opposition. Because no action could realistically be taken, the decision is in the hands of the users, and it puts a taint on all searches performed in Bing. Are they genuine search returns? Or are they just what they’ve managed to snag from the Google results pages.