Social Networking, Copyright, & Economics

Lawrence Lessig - The Comedy of the Commons (1.61 hr audio)

Mitch Ratcliff is to launch a social network mapping product.

Online Social Networks conference 2005 - not sure how I missed it but it looked cool.
New Media Ecosystem Flowchart
Deception Detection Techniques for Journalism

Secrets of Journalism Success. Jon Stewart style (mov file)

Berkshire Hathaway 2004 Annual Report (PDF) - not related to search, but probably some good investing and economic tips.

Yahoo! Netrospective, Lycos Powered by Ask Jeeves, Political Linking

1 decade down:
Yahoo! Netrospective: 10 years, 100 moments of the Web

Switch:
Lycos now powered by Ask Jeeves

the $35,000 link:
Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over. I will likely be moving or going to jail before I pay taxes for linking to other sites.

Problems with Google Print, SMA UK to launch

Google Print:
Recording history, 1 digitized Anglo-Saxon book at a time

SMA UK:
to launch soon

Funny Jon Stewart Clip:
on blogs

More Malcolm:
Malcolm Gladwell on IT Conversations again (about 20 minute audio clip).

Malcolm is also going to be at the South by Southwest festival, which is looking rather appealing. I am thinking of going and seeing if I can snag is autograph on my copy of The Tipping Point or Blink. Anyone ever went to South by Soutwest? What did you think of it?

New York Times Co buys About.com

NYT Company buys About.com for $410 million

Problems with About.com's Ugly Ads:
Last year at NYC SES (which is coming up again in a week) I remember hearing Jennifer Laycock (then Web Search Guide for About.com) express disappointment about the layout of the About.com pages, but she could do nothing to change it. She now is an editor at SearchEngineGuide.

I do not know the current Web Search guide much, but I do know I read that site less than I did a year ago.

Leveraging a Market Position:
Some of the blog & guide networks gain significant distribution and credibility by being part of a large cross linked and heavily referenced network, but that also has limits.

Is About.com Overpriced?
The NYT Company paid about $410 million, which is a value of around a million dollars per channel, which seems a bit expensive to me. Here is why:

  • With the decreasing cost of publishing one wonders how many people will start their own niche sites instead of being glued to a company that can change its advertising and publishing policies any day.

  • As search gets more sophisticated it is likely that being part of those large networks will not provide as much of a benefit as it does today.
  • RSS readers are still rather primative. As they get more advanced people will be better able to subscribe to ideas instead of just subscribing to channels.
  • Sites like Topix and Google News make it easy for me to collect a variety of views about a story without commiting to any particular site.
  • Contextual advertising programs such as Google AdWords make it easy for any person interested in a topic to write and sell ad space, even if they had no idea what their ad space is worth.
  • Cheap / niche topics may be prohibitively expensive to cover using the About.com business model. As an individual I can create a few different channels about various niches I am interested in.
  • As ideas become hot market competition increases and strongest brands and most original or useful sites seem to rise to the top.
  • Large networks present a limited personal branding opportunity. Creating your own site allows you to create a much stronger personal brand than conglomerates do. With that brand and market position you can sell many other products or services which would not fly if you were stuck purely in an editor position at some conglomerate site.
  • Editorial guidelines may prevent people from displaying how human they are. It is much harder to subscribe to the ideas of a robot than a person.

Personal Experience:
In the past I signed up to be a guide at other similar networks, but I was too lazy to write it.

It seems to me that so long as you are interested in a topic it is not that hard to start a blog of your own, and so I did ;)

Even if your blog sucks off the start (which I am sure mine did and many will argue that it still does) you can gain a wide readership just by participating in the community you write about.

Mitch Ratcliffe has a good article about what is to come with the convergence of large media and personal publishing technology.

[added: I just noticed Andrew Goodman has a wish list for About.com]

Usability, Syndication, Spam, & Open Source

On the Usability Front:
The Biggest Web Design Mistakes of 2004
Steve Krug Interview (found on Web Words)

On the Syndication Front:
I finally added syndication buttons to the site :) thanks to Andy Hagans for making them.
Why Bloglines Sold: It's Not a Business

On the Spam Front:
Pfizer Inc. and Microsoft Corp. teamed up to target e-mail spammers who peddle phony Viagra

On the Open Source Front:
Ask Jeeves may want to open source their desktop search, may create a browser
Google may host Wikipedia. This artilce states they may want to control the information to block other search engines. I seriously doubt it, I think they are smart enough to do it for good karma points alone.
Is MSN Dying?

Yahoo! Firefox Toolbar, Google Investor Day, & Cold Calling

Yahoo! FireFox Toolbar:
released, reviewed by Danny Sullivan.

Wonder when Google will do the same, they are likely missing out on some amazingly valuable data by not having an official one.

Newsburst:
Cnet creates an online aggregator that will compete with Bloglines & Rojo

Brand Pyramid:
Good post about building products and services at various price points. Also, Rob Frankle on how CEOs screw up branding.

Google Investor Day:
was yesterday. slides and audio if your into that sort of stuff. some of the sides:

  • 60: their revenue was split nearly 50 / 50 between Google.com and their partner network.

  • 72: the top 20 markets have a 17.6% web penetration.
  • 73: shows 66% of revenue was domestic.

This guy thinks they will be worth a trillion dollars in 20 years.

In 20 years nobody will remember his prediction, but Battelle gave him a link yesterday and I gave him one today. Random arbitrary predictions are a good way to gain free links ;)

Atomz:
site search provider gets snarfed up by WebSideStory. More people should use the word snarf.

Google's Search Results are Crap?
Danny says people should not be so quick to discout the opinions of SEOs.

Hiring:
Ammon Johns is hiring.

Cold Calling:
is evil. Nick W has some tips on how to cold call. My personal goal when people cold call me is to ensure I drastically increase the likelihood they will have a bad day, and to hopefully lead to eventual attrition at their work place.

Own any domain exploit, no defense exists

Just a friendly exploit reminder as phishing will surely take off in a hurry with this one.

Vulnerable browsers include (but are not limited to):

Most mozilla-based browsers (Firefox 1.0, Camino .8.5, Mozilla 1.6, etc)
Safari 1.2.5
Opera 7.54
Omniweb 5

Amazon Margins Drop, Stock Tanks, Amazon offers Cheaper Express Shipping? , John Battelle Interviewed, AIRWEB Conference

Amazon:
Amazon reported their quarterly results, which fell well below expectations due to lower margins.

They then announced a new program by the name of Amazon Prime, where you get unlimited express shipping for the whole year for a one time $79 fee.

John Battelle:
Interviewed

Interesting Sounding New Conference?
First International Workshop on Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web

from an email I got

The attraction of hundreds of millions of web searches per day provides significant incentive to content providers to do whatever necessary to rank highly in search engine results. The use of techniques that push rankings higher than they belong is often called spamming a search engine. Such methods typically include textual as well as link-based techniques. Like e-mail spam, search engine spam is a form of adversarial information retrieval; the conflicting goals of accurate results of search providers and high positioning by content providers provides an interesting and real-world environment to study techniques in optimization, obfuscation, and reverse engineering, in addition to the application of information retrieval and classification.

The workshop solicits technical papers and synopses of research in progress on any aspect of adversarial information retrieval on the Web. Particular areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

- search engine spam and optimization,
- crawling the web without detection,
- link-bombing,
- reverse engineering of ranking algorithms,
- advertisement blocking, and
- web content filtering.

Papers addressing higher-level concerns (e.g., whether 'open' algorithms can succeed in an adversarial environment, whether permanent solutions are possible, etc.) are also welcome.

IMPORTANT DATES

11 February 2005 E-mail intention to submit (optional, but helpful)
25 February 2005 Deadline for submissions
25 March 2005 Notification of acceptance
8 April 2005 Camera-ready copy due
10 May 2005 Date of workshop

The real question of course, is why would you give away spam white papers to a conference where many current search engineers are part of the program committee?

Lots of Random Stuff...

Searchtextual Ads:
AlmondNet launches an ad network based on search behavior, and apparently they have a patent for it too.

Future of writing:
Steven Berlin Johnson writes about how technology will forever change writing.

Branding:
Apple replaces Google as brand of the year.

ClickTracks Optimizer:
new mid level analytics software

Digital Identity:
MP3 streams from Future Salon on Digital Identity

Hyperlinkage:
new Bloglines competitor

VLIB Update:
A friend of mine is one of the maintainers of the VLIB. I just got off the phone with him and he stated that they are cleaning up the VLIB using technologies such as XML.

Survey Says:
take a Google Survey and read some survey results from another recent survey.

New Wiki Based Search Engine:
loots data from WhoIs database.

Iraq Election:
UN pays bloggers to shill

Merger:
SBC to buy AT&T.

Excrement:
Man peed way out of avalanche
2,000-ton pile of burning cow manure
hat tip to Frankie from TP on the excrement links.

AdSense Premium, Blog Spamming Your Own Blog

AdSense Premium Publishers:
can boost CTR by 500% when compared to regular AdSense publishers. Looks like I need to make about a million posts, get a few hundred thousand links, throw AdSense ads on my site, and then give it a try real quick...

Overture : Only for the Big Guys?
Not so. One of my friends told me that he was recently cold called by an Overture ad rep interested in placing ads on his somewhat new site.

Placing Porn in Your Own Comments:
Not that long ago I saw a blog rank for a rather gross porn related term (was trying to gross a friend out) and I got to thinking, now that there is the rel=nofollow you really could get away with just saying that you were too lazy to moderate your old comments and re engineer old pages to rank well for many many many many adult terms (I accidentally rank for some by accidentally using occasional foul language).

How could search engines know the difference between a blogger who is lazy with comment deletion and one who is intentionally marketing that way? When blogs naturally rank for random things it could be really easy to make good bank with a false blog set up cleanly using the NoFollow comment effect.

A Third of Shoppers:
often shop the web and buy at the store

Metcalfe’s Law:
eBay took a beating in the stock market recently due to slower growth. After a ton of brokerage firms downgraded eBay Legg Mason gave them an upgrade.

More Networking Questions:
FCC chairman Powell resigned...wonder who's next? and how that will effect the web? It is amazing how many people in the administration have resigned. Surely a sign that something isn't right.

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