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Saturday, June 16

Bytes · Web2.0 distracts - Fat Long Tail - Climate myths

catch up ..

The effects of global warming are already being felt worldwide. The Larsen-B Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula collapsed over 35 days in early 2002, prompted by 3°C of warming since the 1940s. (NASA image by Jesse Allen, based on MODIS data.)

"I Got a Crush...On Obama"; By Obama Girl

"They found a crew and the model through Craig's List and did it in 2 hours". 750k views in three days.

Phil de Vellis, author of Hillary 1984, talks about ObamaGirl on Huffpost.

Friday, June 15

Clearing search pollution?

Now here's an interesting proposition ..

Today I'm thrilled to announce the Mahalo Greenhouse, a place where the public can build search results that-if accepted by our Guides-will be included in the Mahalo search index.

Oh yeah, if we accept your search result we will pay you $10 to $15 per search result (the range is based on how many search results you've completed: more here).

Now, if you're a disciple of Yochai and you absolutely will not work on a web-based project for money, we've got an amazing proposition for you: make the web better by writing spam-free search results and we'll donate your fees to the Wikimedia Foundation. So, you can make the world better 2x: first by making clean, spam- free search results and second by helping keep the Wikipedia running (those server bills ain't cheap!).

We've earmarked up to $250,000 in donations to the Wikipedia this year.

I love Wikipedia. They've got me already. Have lost several hours in Wikimapedia, which is brilliant and growing. I just tried 'Paradise garage' and got nowt though ... it'll grow..

Web Guru, Dan Gilmor, loves it. He blogs that Maholo founder Jason Calacanis, at the NMK event in London this week, called for wide efforts to rid the Net of the pollution he says threatens to choke off all of the value.

Calacanis hates SEO, calling them 'one of the worst polluters. (Click on his slide, left, to see a trajectory of decline.).

But, he says, blogs have so far responded fairly well with antibodies. (The “blogs” slide at right has a happier ending.) Naturally, he pitches his new company as an andidote for part of the problem.

There’s no question that the major Internet companies (read Google, Yahoo, Microsoft et al) have not done enough to curb the pollution. But do we really want to toss out the part of this that machines handle so well? I don’t think so.

Gilmor is reminded of the Open Directory Project, which ironically is a pillar of Google - "but this time with payments for the editors. Not a bad idea."

As I said, not a bad proposition ...

Wednesday, June 13

Toronto Transit Camp

What to say? Genius ... resultant website looks terrible, but the customers like it!

Tuesday, June 12

GMaps UK - finally

Just noticed (thanks Google Sightseeing), that Google Maps appears to have updated England to high-res — including one of my favourite places in the Whole Wide World .. Sheringham. yay!

Here's the boating pond ...

Tide's in. Here's the beach where I once rode on a Donkey ;]


Monday, June 11

Google and privacy. And?

Following John Battelle on Google's big slap (BBC etc) on privacy:

The original release from Privacy International (yow, that's not good).
The Media Story. (ouch, wow, says Average Joe Newsreader, Google sucks).
Danny (the counterintuitive Google defense).

In the end, this is only going to play poorly for Google. Sure, folks like us might read Danny or TC and realize the story has more than one angle. But two or three orders of magnitude more folks will only read the Media Story.

Google, get out in front of this one....

According to GMSV:

Google has countered that the PI report misunderstands its services and is based on inaccurate information. Google also apparently pointed out that a member of the PI advisory board works for Microsoft and therefore the watchdog group has an anti-Google bias, which drew an open letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt from PI Director Simon Davies demanding an apology.

Battelle suggest I read Donna Bogatin (her of the 'Inside Chatter'). She thinks:

Google is WRONG On Consumer Privacy

She mainly has a go at Matt Cutts, one of Google's Bloggers.

Google defied the {Department of Justice] DOJ not in solidarity for its users, but in defense of its business model and competitive stance.

In any event, Google may not even be able to find its users data to comply with all of the DOJ’s demands! I recently discovered a “reason” for Google’s inconsistency in its privacy and data practices: Google apparently does NOT readily know where its users’ data is in the Google cloud, according to its top privacy point man!

Peter Fleischer indicates that Google doesn’t automatically know where user data is. So what, he nevertheless suggests. Fleischer is Global Privacy Counsel for Google and, as Google proudly declares, sits on the Board of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

And ... ?

It is surprising then that he cavalierly declares “Your data is in the cloud,” somewhere.

Surprising? Not only does this expose the real lack of depth of understanding by PI but also the - frankly - luddism.

As Bogatin constantly returns to, Google's interest is itself.

And ... ?

There are gawd knows how many companies who would have to say - “Your data is in the cloud”. What's it with Google, eh?

They have no interest in breaking the basic bond on privacy with their customers. That would end their business (the Googlers would get terribly upset for one thing ...). Do they actually want Google to stop producing stuff like Maps and Earth until they approve it?

Here's Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land:

Privacy International’s report is based on quite a bit of secondhand information there. “Overall, looking at just the performance of the best companies PI found shows that Google measures up well–and thus ranking it the worse simply doesn’t seem fair,” he writes. “But the bigger issue is that the report itself doesn’t appear to be as comprehensive or fully researched as it is billed. Frankly, about the only thing saving Privacy International from many more companies or services being upset over this report is that they singled out Google as the worst. That’s almost guaranteed to make players like Microsoft and Yahoo shut their mouths and point at this silently as vindication they aren’t so bad.”

I just Googled 'Google and privacy' and look what's top:

News results for Google and privacy

- View today's top stories
Group Criticizes Google Over Privacy Practices - FOX News - 3 hours ago
Defending Google's approach to privacy - Guardian Unlimited - 9 hours ago
Google Maps aids terrorists, NY lawmaker warns - Register - 3 hours ago

Google as Big Brother

Inquiries to Google about their privacy policies are ignored. When the New York Times (2002-11-28) asked Sergey Brin about whether Google ever gets ... - Similar pages - Note this

Google's Privacy Policies

UPDATE 2004-07-18: A new California law, the Online Privacy Protection Act, went into effect on July 1, 2004. Google changed their main privacy policy that ... - Similar pages - Note this
[ More results from ]

Google balances privacy, reach | CNET New

Sunday, June 10

Bytes · Smart kids - BBC3 satirised - Satisfaction is key

Way too busy to blog much so here's some clips:

  • Tom Steinberg's 'Power of Information Review' is available in PDF here.
  • Marc Andreessen (Netscape) has popped the idea that we're in another dotcom 'bubble' on his new blog.
  • According to The Observer:
    Thousands of schoolchildren have made it their mission to break through internet filters in schools meant to stop them surfing 'social network' websites such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook.

    More power to them.
  • Privacy International says that Google has the worst privacy policies of any Web company. They have a "comprehensive consumer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy," it's claimed.

    The problem I have with this is that privacy campaigners don't seem to ever realise that the foundations of all Web businesses is consumer trust. This is why banks make special efforts. If Google is ever caught out seriously it will pay in lost business.
  • Media types are apparently on the hunt for an anonymous blogger making life hell for BBC3's young Controller, Danny Cohen. Thetvcontroller is great satire.
  • ZDNet interviews Sir Tim Berner-Lee [VIDEO], the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium at the MITX (Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange) Technology Awards. He sounds terribly mid-Atlantic and talks about the (drumroll) 'semantic web'. He doesn't like APIs, he wants you to think SPARQL.
  • The LibDems put down a motion in the Commons on Friday on the 53rd Anniversary of the death of Alan Turing.

    Every programmer or web person should know Turing's name.

    I was shamefully corrected (thanks Seb) and, as I've a mo, here's Alan's lifestory from Andrew Hodges tribute website (my emphases):

    Who was Alan Turing?
    Founder of computer science, mathematician, philosopher,
    codebreaker, strange visionary and a gay man before his time:

    1912 (23 June): Birth, Paddington, London
    1926-31: Sherborne School
    1930: Death of friend Christopher Morcom
    1931-34: Undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge University
    1932-35: Quantum mechanics, probability, logic
    1935: Elected fellow of King's College, Cambridge
    1936: The Turing machine, computability, universal machine
    1936-38: Princeton University. Ph.D. Logic, algebra, number theory
    1938-39: Return to Cambridge. Introduced to German Enigma cipher machine
    1939-40: The Bombe, machine for Enigma decryption
    1939-42: Breaking of U-boat Enigma, saving battle of the Atlantic
    1943-45: Chief Anglo-American crypto consultant. Electronic work.
    1945: National Physical Laboratory, London
    1946: Computer and software design leading the world.
    1947-48: Programming, neural nets, and artificial intelligence
    1948: Manchester University
    1949: First serious mathematical use of a computer
    1950: The Turing Test for machine intelligence
    1951: Elected FRS. Non-linear theory of biological growth
    1952: Arrested as a homosexual, loss of security clearance
    1953-54: Unfinished work in biology and physics
    1954 (7 June): Death (suicide) by cyanide poisoning, Wilmslow, Cheshire.

  • Worrying statement in a report about a survey on what people want from DirectGov:
    "With 60% of respondents saying they want more government services in one place online, all of the insights we gained will be taken into consideration as we plan the future of Directgov."

    Sounds like a leading question to me. I hadn't noticed the public clamouring to have their services all just through DirectGov.
  • Customer satisfaction is now the most important issue for websites, according to new research by ForeSee Results.
    Consumers look at more factors than price, according to the study. Offering the lowest price isn't always the best strategy; it increased overall satisfaction for only 5 percent of the top 100 online retail sites. "Site experience and brand, if improved, will have the biggest payback to retailers," said [Larry] Freed, ForeSee CEO. "On the opposite side we have price, generally the lowest of any other elements."

    Retailers that don't allow consumer ratings and reviews, or editorial reviews, on their sites risk letting consumers go elsewhere for the information and transacting with another commerce site, according to Freed. "Those that get reviews are generally more satisfied and apt to purchase than those who did not," he said.

  • SpyBlog seems to be moving around the web (ahem). But it is one of only a few places watching the Government's "vague plans to try to censor the internet".
  • New York Times covers Doll Web Sites Drive Girls to Stay Home and Play

  • Newsnight ran another MSM hit-job on the Web's trustfulness [VIDEO] as a source this week.

    First up in their 'argument', Wikipedia. Listen, Newsnight, not only does the MSM NEVER admit it's mistakes but scientific study has demolished many of your arguments. Just look at this Nature story from 2005 comparing Wikipedia with Brittanica (the BBC covered it). Guess who's winning? It's not the MSM.

    BBC News job cuts
    are obviously already affecting Gavin Esler's research assistance.

  • UofC psychology researchers have found another use for Second Life: improving understanding of Schizophrenia. According to The Big Issue, they've set up a Virtual Hallucinations building which will simulate the world as a schizophrenic experiences it. Examples include: voices, changing reflections in a mirror and a bookshop which appears to have fascist literature.

  • For one week only. First (yawnsome) full-length film available on youTube.