Google Watch: Time to DuckDuckGo

You can't spell
You can’t spell “Don’t be evil” without “evil”! Coincidence?

Google do a lot of good things. They host free webfonts to make the web a nicer place to be. Their cloudy PaaS service, Engine Yard, gets rave reviews. Their maps are better than anyone’s, their mobile OS is the most popular in the world, and their photo hosting offer is second to none. But they can be very evil sometimes too.

Remember when Google forced you to sign up to Google+ to comment on Youtube videos, or stole your email passwords while they took pictures of your house and then “forgot” to delete it after they got found out and all the Governments told them to, or made you type extra characters to include all your words in their search, or when their CEO said there was no place for privacy and anonymity on the Internet?

* big breath*

Well they are at it again.

And I’ve had enough.

The Devil’s In The Detail

For the last few days I’ve been seeing this ‘privacy reminder’ popup whenever I go to Google (including by searching in Chrome’s address bar). And it stops you dead in your tracks. You have to read through all the legalese before it lets you search for pictures of cats. Well I just don’t have time for that, I need instant cat gratification now!.

That sounds so wrong.

Anyway, I had a quick scan through the privacy reminder and immediately smelled a rat… It all seems really un-evil at first, you can choose to switch off some of Google’s invasive behaviour by following the handy-dandy links in the privacy reminder itself. Wowzers! What a nice thing to do. I opted to switch off all the weird adverts-following-you-around settings. They’re here, in case you’re wondering.

But then I noticed it says these settings are just for this browser. Your other devices and PCs will still track the living crap out of you. Continue Reading “Google Watch: Time to DuckDuckGo”

Facebook Graph Search – Something Big’s Missing…

“… and we believe this will make Google collapse under the weight of its own mediocrity.”

So yesterday, Mark “FinkD” Zuckerberg’s little Californian social network called “Facebook” (you might have heard of it) announced a new feature called “Graph Search”. Graph Search lets you not only search for People and Pages, like the site currently allows, but also lets you throw much more complex queries at the Facebook database, such as “show me dentists in London recommended by my friends who live in Stockholm”. Or something less insane. But something is missing. Something absolutely HUGE: The Open Graph.

 

Open Graph

I’ve covered the Open Graph in a few posts recently, it basically lets you integrate the things you specialise in with Facebook’s own specialisms (posts, relationship statuses, photos, events, etc.). Let’s say you’re a travel agent. You could create a “Holiday” object, which has information on it such as the departure and return dates, the destination (always useful to know), and maybe even the price. And then you “publish” this holiday into the Facebook graph by posting a link to a page on your local website which has the correct OpenGraph information in its header (the code behind that you don’t see, but your browser, and services like Facebook use to find out what your page is all about).

“Bob’s Holidays now offering a 2 week stay in Orlando, Florida for £300.”

Let’s say somebody likes this offer. And then somebody else comments on it. This object is now part of the social graph. People have become “connected” to this “holiday” object and through meaningful connections. To “like” something is very deliberate (and that is very valuable information to advertisers, which is why Facebook is such a potential gold mine for advertisers) and associates a user with an object.

But apparently this Open Graph is a 2nd class citizen in Facebook’s all-encompassing Social Graph…  Continue Reading “Facebook Graph Search – Something Big’s Missing…”

“Don’t Be Evil” – Do You Trust Google?

Do you trust Google? Should you trust Google? Can you trust Google?

Google is on the fast train to becoming an international scandal. In May 2010 it emerged that when the company sent out its roving camera cars to take all those “Street View” photos, it also slurped up any and all WiFi data it could find floating through the streets. Including yours!  And not just in the UK but everywhere across the world that Google’s camera cars went. Spain’s not happy. And neither is Germany. France found email passwords when they ordered Google to hand over the collectioned data. Even the laid-back Aussies were pissedContinue Reading ““Don’t Be Evil” – Do You Trust Google?”

Twitter v2.0

There is a lot of talk around at the moment about Twitter’s new stance on 3rd party applications integrating with the service. Twitter has pretty much banned clone applications like Tweetbot, and went as far as buying Tweetdeck for $40 million.

Twitter says it doesn’t want third party developers to “build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.” But is that really all? That’s the short-term, but what’s the long game here? Where is Twitter heading?

 

Making Headlines

Facebook is a place of sharing; videos, links, pictures, etc. Pinterest is a place of sharing pictures, in particular. Twitter is a place of sharing words: you have 140 characters to change the world.

This limit is both the most-complained-about feature and its biggest asset; and once you start combining sharing with 140 characters you start to see something emerge: Headlines.

Twitter is becoming the de facto home of soundbites and straight-to-the-point sentiment. Twitter’s users are bringing content to the service and having their say about that content in a raw, unadulterated manner. Unlike Pinterest, Twitter doesn’t require users to contextualise the shared content (or use massive amounts of processing power to analyse pictures for their content). Twitter’s content + opinion is instantly indexable, interpretable and searchable.

Twitter doesn’t require web crawlers to have a database chocked full of important-right-now information. Twitter doesn’t need to index every word on every page in the universe to understand what people think about some content – it is right there in 140 beautifully simple characters.

 

So you’re saying Twitter just made Google Defunct?

I’m saying that Twitter is in a ridiculously strong position to take Google on at its own Search game. Google have dropped the ball by focusing so hard on their social network – Google+ – and have become complacent about the two things that keep them in business: Search (which Twitter can steal the show with) and Ads (which, as I’ve discussed before, Facebook is in an enviable position to clean up with).

So what do Google have left in the innovation stakes? Well, there’s Google Glass, of course. But even I thought that up before they launched it. They have self-driving cars too, but the Volvo SARTRE project looks more fun, and more advanced.

Mind you, Google owns Android, the most prolific smartphone operating system in the world and I am a massive fanboi. It’s just a pity it doesn’t earn Google any money – in fact it costs them millions each year.

And the Chrome browser is the best (and most popular) around. But again: it’s free. There’s little in the way of a business model.

I wouldn’t say they are defunct, no.

But I won’t be investing in GOOG any time soon.