Browsing "internet news"
So Google was given a bit of a tap on the wrist after the whole Street view debacle. It’s ended up seeming like the agencies in charge of investigating the search giant on the privacy charges have taken them at their word when they say “We’re sorry, we didn’t mean it.”
Taken a step further yet, it’s surfaced that while you can opt out of having your home, face or anything else blurred or removed, you don’t even technically need to have a stake in the location. If you search an address on Google Maps, use the street view option, on the bottom of the page there’s a tiny grey text link stating simply “Report a problem”. Now clicking this link, will open a new page for you, where in you can describe the problem you’ve encountered in a neat little form. It could be a privacy issue, an inappropriate picture or the ubiquitous “other”. Upon filling out the few fields of informations, selecting the image you have a “problem” with, Google sends you a confirmation email and that’s that. In a few days, the site disappears; interestingly enough, there’s no corroboration as to whether or not you have any claim on the image you report. Possibilities abound.
More from Google and privacy? Okay! Anyone remember Google Buzz? Wouldn’t surprise anyone really I think if there wasn’t much mention of it, it was rather short lived in the social media sector. When Google flipped the switch on Buzz, they made a life ending (for Buzz) mistake; they exposed peoples Gmail contact lists. It didn’t take them long to fix it, but in the instant it was discovered, it doomed the idea. And because we all have something to hide, a class action was brought against the company stating in essence that “..Buzz publicly exposed data, including users’ most frequent Gmail contacts, without enough user consent.”
The courts have reached a resolution in the matter, and in the end US based Gmail users get nothing. In their email to users Google stated: “The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users’ concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be. Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011.”
And to put a final twist on the Google of today, they want you to hack them! From their security blog posting “Today, we are announcing an experimental new vulnerability reward program that applies to Google web properties. We already enjoy working with an array of researchers to improve Google security, and some individuals who have provided high caliber reports are listed on our credits page. As well as enabling us to thank regular contributors in a new way, we hope our new program will attract new researchers and the types of reports that help make our users safer.”
As was evidenced by all of the closed testing they could muster (Buzz), nothing can substitute for opening up the gates to the world and saying “Break it if you can so we can fix it!” It’s all laid out in their post here, and who knows, if you’re good enough you may receive their top pay of $3,133.7.. those who know, know.
The term “Google it” has grown in such wide spread popularity it’s not a strange phrase to hear anymore on a day to day basis. It may be in an ad, a conversation with a colleague or something you catch in a story online. The search engine and company, Google, has grown in such a way it’s actually a verb. Not too bad for a string of letters and numbers whose conceptual purpose was to bring order to chaos of sorts.
There’s been a host of contenders in the search space, Live search now Bing, Yahoo which is now powered by Bing, as well as some who fell by the wayside and were either forgotten, or scooped up to be made part of a larger whole. Fast, Jellyfish.com, Powerset, Cuil and Wolfram Alpha. But none have been able to reliably hold a card to the power that Google commands of the web. Bing has it’s share and niche, and there are users who are comfortable with the new and sometimes bothersome Facebook integration; who still needs to learn the difference between opt-in and opt-out.
The newest kid on the block, is Blekko.com, whose choice to serve the the search audience with vertical, more specific searches, as opposed to horizontal encompassing search results. Founded by Rich Skrenta, Blekko aims to improve search results by leveraging the supposed wisdom of the crowd.
“We realized we could make Web tools that let users sign up and help make the search engine better. If we opened up the process, we could not only get orders of magnitude more people involved than we could ever hope to employ, we could also create an open, accountable process around the search engine relevance data.”
In short, by signing up you can create what Blekko calls slashtags, which work similar to Twitters hashtags to categorize tweets. The end result being search results which ignore irrelevant results or farm content.
The downside noticed with the engine so far, is that the key which makes it unique (the slashtags), also allows it to be manipulated. Blekko seeks to create highly relevant results with this method based on human user input as to what is deemed important. The big problem with people of course, is we’re fallible. What’s important on a topic to me and you, isn’t neccisarily important to anyone else on the same subject. It’s an interesting search engine, it delivers hazy results at present, but it does sport the word “beta” on it’s page, so what the tech will shape up to be is yet to be seen.
Google has rolled out another new feature to search, and this time they’re getting to your roots. Currently dubbed Place Search, the idea is that all of the local information of Google Maps and listings are being turned into a searchable interface.
Couple in Google Instant, and the search page changes to show you their prediction as to what you’re looking for. Restaurants, appliance sales and repair or what ever else might tickle your fancy, if it’s local, it will have a new search results page. What you’ll find when the page comes up is phone numbers, address, a brief description of the ad as well as reviews if you happen to make a choice and click on a link.
Jackie Bavaro – Place Search’s product manager:
“Today we’re introducing Place Search, a new kind of local search result that organizes the world’s information around places. We’ve clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go…”
“Place Search results will begin appearing automatically on Google when we predict you’re looking for local information.”
“In addition, you’ll find a new link for “Places” in the left-hand panel of the search results page so you can switch to these results whenever you want. For example, when I’m in New York, I love to go out and play foosball, but a search for [foosball] doesn’t automatically show me Place Search results. If I click “Places” I get the new view.
“We’ve made results like this possible by developing technology to better understand places. With Place Search, we’re dynamically connecting hundreds of millions of websites with more than 50 million real-world locations. We automatically identify when sites are talking about physical places and cluster links even when they don’t provide addresses and use different names.”
Local search just took a huge leap for Google, in a way it’s their answer to FourSquare local reporting and listing power. If you’re not being found now on Place Search, it’s the next step in the powerful world of SEO, and there’s only two places in the race for the top. Page one, or page none. Where are you?
In the not so new news, the death of SEO is being cried again. The cause this time is the Facebook and Bing partnership. I’ve read about the social search changes that have been incorporated, and just as Google shrugged it off, I’m inclined to do the same.
The changes that Bing and Facebook bring together is definitely interesting, no doubt. However, the idea that the entire industry of search marketing, search engine optimization and search engine rankings being dealt a deathblow by this partnership is laughable. If anything, the new partnership relies on SEO and SEM to function appropriately.
For another perspective, imagine going into a hardware store, and seeing all of the isles and rows numbered and having short labels for the contents of each row. Makes your shopping trip quick and efficient to know that you can find power drills and skill saws in the power tools isle. This would be a very basic example of SEO. Now applying the new Facebook/Bing method, you’re in that same hardware store, nothing is labelled or itemized (because it’s killed SEO remember) but you know there’s a power drill in there that your friend likes and owns. Great to know that your buddy has a favorite tool that you were thinking about, but how do you go about finding it?
Two very basic examples, but they illustrate the interpretation of the new personalized search Bing and Facebook are rolling out. Social Media Optimization (SMO) isn’t a new idea, it’s not revolutionary, it’s adwords on a more personal level. It displays information relative and relavant to your account and what it knows about you, not for your searchs. One last point to consider and digest, without search engine optimization, social media optimization wouldn’t exist, and without SEO, SMO will disappear.
Google and their Street View cars and maps have had their fair share of troubles the last while. What with capturing unssecured Wi-Fi connections data and all. The idea that someone could drive down the road and capture all of your data just floating in the air is rather disturbing. Since getting their hands slapped with the mis-step, Google has been working hard to clean up the gathered data to each countries specification. It was thought for a while that they only captured fragmented data, but a recent blog post says somewhat to the contrary.
“It’s clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords,”
wrote Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research.
The post of course wasn’t so short as to say “Whoops we made a bigger mistake than we thought” he went on to say that they’re under way to destroying the information to everyone’s satisfaction.
In the end, Google has made some steps forward as well to increase security and privacy protection policies are adhered to, for all staff. From prorgammer to exec. In addition, compliance will also be tightened, including a provision that all engineering project leaders maintain a privacy design document for each project they’re working on. “This document will record how user data is handled and will be reviewed regularly by managers, as well as by an independent internal audit team,” Eustace wrote.
Apple announced really impressive earnings over the last while, a billion here, a few million there. And Jobs had a short monologue prepared to address some of the players in the industry; and focused most of his time on the Google problem.
Apple has a history of “not playing well with others”, but Jobs even went so far as to justify dismissingly (to himself really) RIM/Blackbery, and Android. He spent only a few lines on RIM, he feels that they’re not a contender in their arena of handheld media. He did however, focus a good 5+ minutes on Google and their open software platform, Android. Citing that because of there being so many versions of Android out in the wild, that it makes it troublesome to develop reliable apps across all of the versions. The creator of Android itself, Andy Rubin, defended the platform via Twitter with a single line of code; illustrating what open software allows. And in almost storybook form, the creators of Tweetdeck, a third party program used to access Twitter, also came to the rescue of Android. Jobs’ argument was there are so many versions available it makes it difficult to develop apps, and the Tweetdeck creators fired back.
Iain Dodsworth, CEO of TweetDeck “Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn’t. It wasn’t. We only have 2 guys developing on Android TweetDeck so that shows how small an issue fragmentation is.”
It’s not an uncommon sight to see fear take hold when someone is beginning to encroach on territory. But Jobs using an impressive earnings release to try and undermine some of the strong following that Android has garnered can only leave you to wonder if it’s his confidence talking, or if he’s scrambling in the midst of a threat he never expected.
It’s been a busy few days in the search world. Last week Bing and Facebook announced their joint partnership in delivering fully personalized search results to people using Bing as their engine. Google responded with an unenthusiastic “Ok, and? Our mobile made oodles of dollars.” and as of this Monday, Facebook is still making news.
The Facebook/Bing partnership is an interesting twist in the “World of Mouth” direction of the web. Using Bing as your search engine, you will see your results with social search automatically enabled for you; Facebooks rather famous “opt-out instead of in” ideology. You’ll be able to peruse what your friends and family on Facebook felt about the subject you’ve decided to search on. It adds that familiar ” Likes this” to your SERPs. A module built into Bing which you can disable, but with a forward looking future, able to deliver more dynamic personalized results.
“Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that even the inadvertent passing of UIDs is prevented and all applications are in compliance with our policy.”
It’s estimated that millions of apps users are affected by the programming error, and that the top ten most popular apps all had the issue. Farmville, Mafia Wars and other Zynga titles were all sharing unique, private Facebook User ID’s. A blatant breach of privacy, to add to the list of concerns already with the social networking giant. And if that isn’t enough to make you stop harvesting crops on Farmville, or knocking over a bank in Mafia Wars, Facebook doesn’t even know how to fix the privacy problem.
Why does this relate in anyway, other than name, to the Facebook/Bing social search partnership? It bears mentioning that if the module works the way it’s described, it accesses your personal information on your computer in order to build your personalized results. Imagine all of the cookies the average Facebook user has in their browser history for that module to munch on; and share.
There was the big conference today from Microsoft Bing and Facebook, and from the sounds of things they’re trying to give the world of search a stiff shake. The partnership idea that’s been rolled out (very small snippet) is when you search for an item or topic on Bing, your socially relevant searches would appear first. Your friends likes/dislikes on a subject or topic that you’ve plugged in. Some good questions have been asked from the conference, items of privacy of course what with Facebooks infamous history thus far, and of course someone asked about the money incentive (no answer on that last one). The far reaching goal is that your search is tailored exclusively for you. It’s personalization of the SERPs for *everyone* who uses Bing.
About the privacy factor, the social search angle is functioning like a module within Bing. A module, which can be turned off should you choose to shut it.
Zuckerberg stated : “We have this idea. 500 million people can look you up on Facebook. We think why shouldn’t applications be able to do this to?”
Because everyone is searchable on Facebook, set to private or not, the train of thought is to allow applications the same level of trust. Bascially you’re allowing Bing, to see all of your informationg you’ve made public on Facebook, and makes that information searchable to your friends list.
The social search angle isn’t meant to completely remove the traditional SERPs page you’re accustomed to seeing, it’s being added to help personalize your queries and provide you with unique results, relevant to you. It’s an updated twist on the personalized search results you start to see within Google for example, minus the cookie saving sessions. The negative side I personally see at this juncture, would be the fact that you need to Opt-out of the service should you choose not to use it. Some would think Facebook learned their opt-in, opt-out lessons by now. Only time now will be the determining factor on this new idea.
Google Instant is now fully rolled out to search users, and while the jury seems to be split on it’s usefulness, it’s here to stay. It’s simple enough to turn off, and does a reasonably good job of returning relevant results to a search in progress. Over the past week, they’ve added an additional, if somewhat unubtrusive, addition to the Instant results. A small blue arrow began appearing next to the first search result of the search in progress. Additionally, holding down the enter key after completely your query, you’ll be brought directly to the first result, somewhat like a Google Instant version of “I’m feeling lucky!” button. You can also reposition the tiny selector if you use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it to a different result. Interesting some, but useful? That, just like the usefulness of Instant, is yet to be seen.
Additional noise has been cropping up as well, that Google has been offering mouse over previews of sites displayed in the results. It’s not a new technology per say, as Bing uses the same idea to deliver a snapshot of a potential website to a searcher. It’s a relatively new twist on the idea, as the snapshots that have been appearing, seem to be realtime views of the results. Questions to Google have gone largely unanswered, except for the one phrase: “At any given time there are 50-200 experiments being run” Who knows what may be coming from the search giant, no one can really tell.
All of the talk about people moving their purchasing power to the internet, isn’t complete hogwash. According to StatsCans newest numbers, Canadians online expenditures have increased to $15 billion (2009) from $12 billion (2007).
The total was broken down into 95 million transactions, at an average of $1,420. You might be thinking that doesn’t sounds so huge, but if you factor in the population of our country is only around the 34 million mark, it’s a fair amount of money per person. As for some contrast, in 2007 Candians only spent $12 billion on line over 69 million transactions. One of the more interesting figures is the expenditures per person in 2007 was $1,520 as opposed to the $1,420 of 2009.
That difference is coming from the increased consumer base. As the internet and the web become more accessible, and online shopping becomes a more and more trusted means of acquisition, while the average may drop per person, overall spending will continue to increase.
And if you carry inventory in store, there’s no need to worry. StatsCan also reported that over half of Canadians online, would “window shop”, researching their purchases prior to buying them. Ensuring that you have a quality website, backed with service and sales in store is a great way to drive people to your site, and your address.
The chances grow daily that as someone is researching a purchase idea, they’re asking their friends, families and connections on Facebook, twitter or other social media about their thoughts and experiences. The web has become an incredibly powerful marketing tool when used correctly, and the proof is in the numbers.