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Thursday, May 3

Bytes · iGoogle goes haywire - Blogging stalls? - AdWords malware

  • Your Google homepage is now iGoogle. Mine's fine but it's been going haywire for others, which has led many to question Google's data security. If they lose your homepage settings, what about all the rest of your files and email?!

    This is Google going down the personalisation path, with MyMaps and Web (not just Search) History, docs and spreadsheets all coming together in one, online Suite.

    Over the next year, more bits will be added. Google appears to be quite open about using existing members as guinea pigs and promise no personalised adverts — yet.

    What is also new with this is that you'll be privy to all the data Google already holds on your surfing.

    The end benefit is expected to be something like this:
    The more we give users the opportunity to give us data, the more we can do with it and the greater our coverage will be. One thing that we noticed was that the longer people use personalized search, the more queries that it impacts and that’s for two reasons: The first is that the more we know about their search history, the better it becomes. The second is that people who are just starting to use search history have been used to unpersonalized search, so they tend to oversimplify their query. For example, they type in something like "Boston Public Library" when in their head they're thinking "Public Library". They translated because they think the search engine needs that extra step of specificity. When they use personalized search they realize that the search engine will give them the right result for "Boston Public Library". They tend to make less specific queries over time, shorter queries and it's quicker and easier for them. And this affects more and more of their searches. So two things happen. One is that personalized search becomes more effective with the more history we collect and the second is that user’s behavior changes, the queries become easier and more natural to them, rather than what they think the search engine needs to understand.
    Sep Kamvar, engineering lead for personalization at Google
  • Active blogging has stalled, according to new numbers from Technorati.

  • Security software maker Exploit Prevention Labs claims to have uncovered hard evidence that malware distributors are using advertisements placed via Google's automated AdWords system to infect unsuspecting end-users with virus code.

  • is a US version of MySociety. Similarly, it creates custom data mashups that use information scraped from public databases to draw correlations between every vote cast and every dollar spent in Washington.

    Information re-presented by the site has already helped defeat pro-logging legislation in California. They are developing widgets which would enable political blogs to track the effects of campaign contributions on congressional votes.

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