Google and the future of search

By reeset / On / In Google

I was reading through my blog reader this morning and ran across Nicolas Carr’s somewhat snarky comment of an interview done by Google CEO Eric Schmidt (  It made me laugh, but I wanted to actually read the interview since the Google folks lately have been making some very oddly un-Googlish statements regarding privacy or, their insistence that privacy is an outdated idea and that we should just get use to living in a world where “ambivalent? (Google, etc.) corporate organizations have full personal and behavioral profiles on the “connected? population.  I have to admit, my favor quote from the article in the Wall Street Journal has to be:

Let’s say you’re walking down the street. Because of the info Google has collected about you, "we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are." Google also knows, to within a foot, where you are. Mr. Schmidt leaves it to a listener to imagine the possibilities: If you need milk and there’s a place nearby to get milk, Google will remind you to get milk. It will tell you a store ahead has a collection of horse-racing posters, that a 19th-century murder you’ve been reading about took place on the next block.

How so, Minority Report


O’Reilly Radar > Google Deprecates Their SOAP Search API

By reeset / On / In Digital Libraries, Google

This was reported on the O’Reilly blog.  Apparently, Google is deprecating their SOAP API.  If you ask me — this is a terrible decision.  Look up the current sets of books on Google Hacks, etc. and what you find is an entire ecosystem designed around these API.  This is why developers have traditionally liked Google — its why I’ve traditionally liked working with Google.  But I’m not so sure now.  Here’s a like to the O’Reilly article. 

Link to O’Reilly Radar > Google Deprecates Their SOAP Search API



Random Google Thoughts

By reeset / On / In Google, Microsoft

I was following a thread today talking about some of the legal wrangling’s related to Google and their Google Books project.  The message that made me laugh was a series where someone had commented that Google had long since forgotten their ‘do no evil’ philosophy and have become pure evil.  Of which, someone said it was a tie between Microsoft and Google, and then asked the question: What would happen if they merged? The end of civilization as we know it?, which put a smile on my face.

However, it did get me thinking — why do folks view Google in such a positive light?  Or, better yet, how did Google convince libraries (large academic libraries) to essentially give away their content for virtually nothing.  Well, I should qualify that — Google is spending a great deal of money digitizing library content — but the costs of digitization pale in terms of the total value of the collection itself and the value of the collection in terms of the collection development decisions that went into building a library’s materials.  In putting up some capital, Google is able to catch up as a cultural archive on nearly 200+ years of purchasing and collection management decisions and will have surpassed some of our finest academic libraries in terms of content and breath of collection.  Not a bad deal for them. 

But I’ll digress since that’s a different discussion.  I’m really fascinated by Google’s image and how they have been able to maintain their image as a socially conscious company that’s open for integration by others and open as in friendly to open source.  However, if you really think about it — that image doesn’t fit reality.  Google has in effect cultivated this image of “open” by making available bread crumbs into their systems.  Folks have often been able to do very cool things with these bread crumbs (Google Maps, Search API, etc) but these really are only a small part of the Google machine.  While Google offers api it also is, without a doubt, one of the most propriety companies that I’ve ever seen.  Their answers in fiscal filings are difficult to pin down (that’s just about any large corporation though) and they vigorously (actually, that’s an understatement) guard their search algorithems.  Folks should make no mistake — they are a big business and they act like any other business, but they’ve just somehow been able to wrap themselves in a cloak of openness.  In fact, I’ve started to wonder if Google isn’t the ultimate leech.  Now, leeches aren’t bad things.  They’ve used them in medicine for years — but leeches don’t produce anything — and lately, I’ve been starting to wonder what exactly Google has produced.  There is their search engine — which while still wildly popular, is no longer my first choice for all types of searches and then their add placement.  And while innovative in their time — even these services don’t really produce anything.  Outside of that — I can think of a lot of places where Google is taking other people’s content and repackaging it (or using it to sell versions of it) or are swallowing technologies and assimilating them into the collective.  Maybe that should be Google’s new motto, “Resistance is futile”, well, maybe not.  😉


Google turning spook?

By reeset / On / In Google

I’d be curious to know how much truth their is to the article found on the UK’s Register.  I was glancing through slashdot and was pointed to an article on Google working on ways to utilize a PC’s built-in microphone to essentially catalog the conversations, sounds, etc. around the machine to target advertising to the user.  Here’s the article:…  I’ve mentioned this before, but for a company whose mantra started as “Do no evil”, a somewhat obvious jab at the large mega software shop to their north, they have been doing just about everything that they can to snub privacy advocates and collect more data on you and me. 

What I will find curious will be how folks react if this indeed is a legitimate story.  I’ve noticed in the past that Google and to some degree Apple, gets a free pass when in comes to many issues dealing with privacy.  Will they continue to get this free pass?  Will less scrupulous individuals figure out how to utilize this new functionality to do things that might be less desirable (more than likely).  

Finally, at what point will folks start to look at the Googles, Microsofts, Red Hats as what they are — large companies that really don’t have the public or individuals best interests at heart.  They may provide some very useful services — provide some public good — but you’d better believe that every project is produced with some strategic purpose in mind.



Amazon jumps off the Google ship

By reeset / On / In Google, Microsoft

Its been noted in a few places around the blogsphere, but a number of notable Google-partners have been jumping ship.  The largest of these partners has been Amazon.  Amazon, who’s search engine, A9, utilized google to provide web search results, has moved to Microsoft’s new Live search service.  The switch came as a bit of a surprise, since Amazon hadn’t given any indications that a move was coming. 

Along that vain, I’m wondering if we will see Google become more isolated as it starts to move into direct competition with its former partner sites.  Amazon, for example, had to be concerned about Google’s own print service that it’s building.  I wonder who will be next and ultimately, who will be the beneficiary of these defections.  On Search Engine watch, there is a feeling that could come out the big winner, since they are the last of the major search vendors still providing Pure searching. 

And finally, I’d like to point out a post by Nicolas Carr at:  Carr looks at some of the things that appear to have Google nervous as Microsoft starts focusing more on search and Google in general.



Google Chat

By reeset / On / In Google

Just a few random thoughts about Google Chat.  Since use my Gmail account for quite a bit of communication, I find that I’m nearly always logged in.  Well, because of that, I use Google’s Chat a lot.  Generally, in other chat clients, I tend to never log my conversations — but just today, I was wishing I had and found that Google does.  I’m not sure what I think about that — personally.  On the one hand, it was really handy having an archive of this conversation — while on the other — there are many potential areas for abuse.  I realize that you can simply delete conversations as you would any email — but I’m not sure I like the direction Google has been going lately.  In the past, Google took a very hands off approach to software and feature development — essentially forcing users to opt in when giving up information.  However, that’s seemed to change to an opt out model.  Its a small change — but a big one. 


Google acknowledges security concerns with Desktop Search V.3

By reeset / On / In General Computing, Google

Its interesting to see how Google’s attitude towards many things have changed throughout the years.  In a recent article posted on ZDNET, Google’s representatives officially note that their new “Search Across Computers” feature in version 3 of their Desktop Search is indeed a concern for enterprise organizations.  But their answer is somewhat gauling.  They say:

“At the end of the day, each company should make its own decision. If they are uncomfortable, they shouldn’t enable the feature,” Ku said. “It’s about what a company deems to be best corporate policy.”

This is true — but each company’s policy will only be as good as those that implement it.  Since Google’s desktop search utility doesn’t have a simple method for administrators to limit the functionality of the tool (its either all or nothing, unless you have the enterprise tool) — all it takes is one person on a companies interanet to download, install and enable this feature and suddenly, the organization is exposed. 

But as I said, this isn’t the type of answer that I would have expected from Google — a company who’s mantra is “do no evil”.  While the company skirts close to a gray area — they certainly have provided software that potentially could be (and I’m sure has been) abused by its users simply because they don’t completely understand the new functionality.