Cuil: Why I'm trying to get off of the PR bandwagon…

Sarah Lacy, tech journalist for Business Week, has a post that demonstrates well why I am really trying to get off of the PR bandwagon.

See, on Sunday night a ton of blog posts all went up. Most of which were pretty congratulatory and hopeful that there was a “Google competitor.” Tech journalists desperately want there to be a competitor to Google. Why? Monopolies are boring to cover. The best tool a story teller has is when there’s conflict. I like to tell people this world is just like high school. Think back to high school.

In your high school, did anyone talk about the geeky kid who stayed after school to build a science fair project? In my school, which had lots of geeky kids, no, not usually. But if there was a fight in the quad would everyone talk about the fight for days afterward? Yes.

Journalists thrive off of conflict. That’s why we want a competitor to Google so badly and why we play up every startup that comes along that even attempts to compete with Google.

The problem is that competiting head on with Google is not something that a startup can do.

Let’s say someone really comes out with a breakthrough idea in search (which would be a feat all on its own, since Microsoft and Yahoo are spending tons of engineering time trying to find something breakthrough too). If they got all the hype that Cuil did (NPR and CNN played it up, not just tech bloggers) and people really liked it, they would spread it around like wild fire.

Do you have any clue about the infrastructure that Google has in place to handle the kind of scale that it sees? Try half a million servers. Half a million!!!

Think about that. How much money does that take to build out? Hint: a lot more than $30 million that was invested in Cuil.

So, Cuil set itself up for a bad PR result in the end. Either it wouldn’t meet the expections (which is what happened after people started testing it) or it would fall over and fail whale like Twitter has been for the past few months (because it wasn’t built to handle the scale).

Notice that other search companies don’t build up their PR like that. Mahalo never says it’s going to be a Google Killer, just that it’s going to do some number of searches better. In fact, Mahalo uses Google on its own pages.

Why PR works and why I want off

Note that Lacy said she wasn’t pre-briefed on Cuil (Techcrunch says that the company briefed every tech blogger and kept them from trying the service before release). That’s not true: I wasn’t briefed, either. But now, go back and look at the TechMeme rankings. Were either my post (which was harsh, but fair, but published several hours after the original wave of PR-briefed bloggers and journalists) or Lacy’s on there? No.

See, if you want to earn links and attention in this world you’ve got to be first, or at least among the first articles to go out. I’ve seen this time and time again. I call it the Techmeme game.

But it affects Digg and Reddit and FriendFeed, too. The stories that got discussed the most on those were usually among the first crowd.

I guess what I’m really saying is that I’m going back to what makes me passionate. I don’t get passionate when reading a press release, or listening ot some executive on a conference call (I was dragged onto one of those the other day and I stopped it mid-stream, saying, “can I come and see you face-to-face?”)

I also find that I’m getting back to reading my Google Reader feeds, looking for other people who are truly passionate about technology or business and who are looking for innovative approaches to either.

There’s a TON of interesting blogs there that never will get to Digg or Techmeme. Same thing over on FriendFeed. Lots of interesting stuff being discussed on the Internet that never will get the “Cuil” treatment, but is worth your checking out.

For instance, I’m just over the top about Evernote. How did I miss that for so long? Funny that a PR team brought me that, too. So, sometimes this game DOES work out, but note that I didn’t try to be first to get Evernote, I just kept seeing it getting praise from the bloggers I read.

Anyway, help us all get off the PR bandwagon. What are you passionate about? If you could go anywhere in the world and meet with any geek, executive, or company, who would it be?

What are you finding is bringing real value to your life? Hey, even go outside the tech industry. Is there something we should all be checking out and giving as much attention to as we’re giving to Cuil?

Comments

  1. Man, another cracking post. I would honestly say tech PR is probably the most volatle of any kind – so difficult to get right, but when you do often you don’t know how it happened.

    Oh and about Evernote, yeah Robert…how *did* you miss that one for so long…? :)

  2. Man, another cracking post. I would honestly say tech PR is probably the most volatle of any kind – so difficult to get right, but when you do often you don’t know how it happened.

    Oh and about Evernote, yeah Robert…how *did* you miss that one for so long…? :)

  3. Oh and about bringing real value to my life…without a shadow of a doubt, the iphone although the ability to use many applications at once would be very useful Mr Jobs.
    And 2, firefox – as a productivity tool – it blows any app I have every used out of the water (thanks to the extensions out there though – so thank you addon developers).

  4. Oh and about bringing real value to my life…without a shadow of a doubt, the iphone although the ability to use many applications at once would be very useful Mr Jobs.
    And 2, firefox – as a productivity tool – it blows any app I have every used out of the water (thanks to the extensions out there though – so thank you addon developers).

  5. Hey, you are on a roll here ;-) Good job, keep those passionate posts coming, that’s what I like best about your blog. One thought that comes to mind after reading it is whether you should be looking for new tech companies or technologies. I have found that engaging with a passionate entrepreneur or geek or whatever always leads to great insights. You might try (although you do that often already ) to put focus on the person in the story you tell, instead of the technological capabilities that are being developed. Why is he building it, what makes him tick, where did the idea come from etc. ;-)

  6. Hey, you are on a roll here ;-) Good job, keep those passionate posts coming, that’s what I like best about your blog. One thought that comes to mind after reading it is whether you should be looking for new tech companies or technologies. I have found that engaging with a passionate entrepreneur or geek or whatever always leads to great insights. You might try (although you do that often already ) to put focus on the person in the story you tell, instead of the technological capabilities that are being developed. Why is he building it, what makes him tick, where did the idea come from etc. ;-)

  7. Moksh: only if the alternative actually does something better. I’m not convinced that Cuil does anything better other than to change the layout of the page. Mahalo? Wikipedia? FriendFeed’s search? Twitter’s search? Yes, those I can see using because they do something that Google is incapable of. But Cuil? Not yet.

  8. Moksh: only if the alternative actually does something better. I’m not convinced that Cuil does anything better other than to change the layout of the page. Mahalo? Wikipedia? FriendFeed’s search? Twitter’s search? Yes, those I can see using because they do something that Google is incapable of. But Cuil? Not yet.

  9. Robert, I can identify with this post. In a discussion a couple of weeks ago on FriendFeed about the merits of FriendFeed vs RSS readers, I pointed out that I follow a mere 50 or so feeds on Google Reader. My RSS feed provides me a much more diverse body information, (even though my feeds are very tech and photography centric) than what I am seeing discussed on FriendFeed. I often read things first in my RSS feed and then here about them several times again on FriendFeed. I still find value in using FriendFeed for the discussions about topics of interest after the news breaks elsewhere. I also, as do you, find plenty of interesting articles on obscure blogs that will never make it to Digg, or Tehmeme, etc that I would never hear about if I only followed the ‘mainstream’ news aggregaters.

  10. Robert, I can identify with this post. In a discussion a couple of weeks ago on FriendFeed about the merits of FriendFeed vs RSS readers, I pointed out that I follow a mere 50 or so feeds on Google Reader. My RSS feed provides me a much more diverse body information, (even though my feeds are very tech and photography centric) than what I am seeing discussed on FriendFeed. I often read things first in my RSS feed and then here about them several times again on FriendFeed. I still find value in using FriendFeed for the discussions about topics of interest after the news breaks elsewhere. I also, as do you, find plenty of interesting articles on obscure blogs that will never make it to Digg, or Tehmeme, etc that I would never hear about if I only followed the ‘mainstream’ news aggregaters.

  11. I’m not sure that we crave change solely because conflict makes a better story (though, it does)… some of it has to be because covering the same, single company/product day in and day out gets boring. At least, it does for me. Change is exciting.

    For the record, I wasn’t briefed either. ;)

  12. I’m not sure that we crave change solely because conflict makes a better story (though, it does)… some of it has to be because covering the same, single company/product day in and day out gets boring. At least, it does for me. Change is exciting.

    For the record, I wasn’t briefed either. ;)

  13. Would love to read interviews with the PARENTS of some of the most successful geek entrepreneurs.

    There was once a brief Interview with Sergey Brin’s mother.

    What would be fascinating is reading about the reactions of these parents to their children’s extreme success in life

    Consider the parents of these (if you can get an interview)
    Bill Gates
    Sergey Brin
    Larry Page
    Jerry Yang
    Kevin Rose
    YouTube Co-founders Founders
    Carlos Slim
    Micheal Dell
    Madonna

    It must be an amazing experience watching your kid become so successful beyond your wildest dreams

  14. Would love to read interviews with the PARENTS of some of the most successful geek entrepreneurs.

    There was once a brief Interview with Sergey Brin’s mother.

    What would be fascinating is reading about the reactions of these parents to their children’s extreme success in life

    Consider the parents of these (if you can get an interview)
    Bill Gates
    Sergey Brin
    Larry Page
    Jerry Yang
    Kevin Rose
    YouTube Co-founders Founders
    Carlos Slim
    Micheal Dell
    Madonna

    It must be an amazing experience watching your kid become so successful beyond your wildest dreams

  15. You keep talking about how you want to get off the PR/Techmeme hype wagon or whatnot. How about a post every once in a while that doesn’t mention techmeme.

    Rather than talking about not wanting to be part of the whole game, just move on. The rest of us don’t care.

  16. I absolutely love the fact that this conversation is taking place. It’s not an uncommon occurrence to run into these consolidation/duplication issues as a vertical grows… actually it’s to be expected.

    However, the fact that you Robert and a few others are conscious of it happening and the new obstacles that come with it (e.g. the disproportionate amount of importance place on being first rather than interesting/accurate/original, recycled content, etc.) is very encouraging

  17. You keep talking about how you want to get off the PR/Techmeme hype wagon or whatnot. How about a post every once in a while that doesn’t mention techmeme.

    Rather than talking about not wanting to be part of the whole game, just move on. The rest of us don’t care.

  18. I absolutely love the fact that this conversation is taking place. It’s not an uncommon occurrence to run into these consolidation/duplication issues as a vertical grows… actually it’s to be expected.

    However, the fact that you Robert and a few others are conscious of it happening and the new obstacles that come with it (e.g. the disproportionate amount of importance place on being first rather than interesting/accurate/original, recycled content, etc.) is very encouraging

  19. Man, keep it steady! I am loving your blog lately. Love it.

    “I also find that I’m getting back to reading my Google Reader feeds”.

    Robert, there seems to be place for all this hype to fuel competition and new ideas- but we don’t have to pay attention to it!

    I would rather ready about your coverage of technology ebbs and flows rather than a search engine who directs you to porn at work on the front page. (Cuil)

  20. Man, keep it steady! I am loving your blog lately. Love it.

    “I also find that I’m getting back to reading my Google Reader feeds”.

    Robert, there seems to be place for all this hype to fuel competition and new ideas- but we don’t have to pay attention to it!

    I would rather ready about your coverage of technology ebbs and flows rather than a search engine who directs you to porn at work on the front page. (Cuil)

  21. I think where Cuil has failed is that they are going for looks over content. Sure, their search results look great. I love the format that they use. It seems easy and intuitive.

    However, when I perform identical searches in Google and Cuil, Google returns results that really matter to me. Unless Cuil gets a much better algorithm, I will be sticking to Google. I was hoping for a good competitor though… As you say, competition adds excitement!

  22. I think where Cuil has failed is that they are going for looks over content. Sure, their search results look great. I love the format that they use. It seems easy and intuitive.

    However, when I perform identical searches in Google and Cuil, Google returns results that really matter to me. Unless Cuil gets a much better algorithm, I will be sticking to Google. I was hoping for a good competitor though… As you say, competition adds excitement!

  23. if you want people to stop using google try inventing some technology that will brainwash them, then come up with a breakthrough idea and have some money to build the infrastructure to scale it. then you can start thinking about beating google at search…

    It would be nicer if all these blogs talked more about the technology behind Cuil and not just how it is going to beat Google or not beat Google. For me that doesn’t matter.

    I love how you always end your posts with a good question.

  24. if you want people to stop using google try inventing some technology that will brainwash them, then come up with a breakthrough idea and have some money to build the infrastructure to scale it. then you can start thinking about beating google at search…

    It would be nicer if all these blogs talked more about the technology behind Cuil and not just how it is going to beat Google or not beat Google. For me that doesn’t matter.

    I love how you always end your posts with a good question.

  25. “Most of which were pretty congratulatory….”

    Actually, I was surprised that most of the initial posts I read were fairly muted and critical of the claims. Even before we could actually try Cuil, most of what I read were people saying “looks interesting but we’ll see….”

  26. It sounds like you don’t believe in Techmeme yet, FastCompany.TV still sponsors them via sponsor posts. Interesting.

  27. “Most of which were pretty congratulatory….”

    Actually, I was surprised that most of the initial posts I read were fairly muted and critical of the claims. Even before we could actually try Cuil, most of what I read were people saying “looks interesting but we’ll see….”

  28. It sounds like you don’t believe in Techmeme yet, FastCompany.TV still sponsors them via sponsor posts. Interesting.

  29. My passion for sure is my work, working with mentally ill, substance affected young people and thier families. My fanatic side, loves to take pictures and for sure play with all kinds of Nokia devices, that is what I write about on my blog. It’s a way, if you will to keeping my sanity in my line of work. I have no idea what Cuil is, don’t really care, suspect I read somewhere that maybe a new serach engine? but not sure. I come frequently to your blog and enjoy reading your observations. I also noticed that you do like to be in the spot light, I am just making an observation not a jugdment so let’s be clear here and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Keep on doing what you doing and we will all be fine, and hopefully flourish to new heights in the blog world of all kinds of passions, news, tech worlds. best to you radical

  30. My passion for sure is my work, working with mentally ill, substance affected young people and thier families. My fanatic side, loves to take pictures and for sure play with all kinds of Nokia devices, that is what I write about on my blog. It’s a way, if you will to keeping my sanity in my line of work. I have no idea what Cuil is, don’t really care, suspect I read somewhere that maybe a new serach engine? but not sure. I come frequently to your blog and enjoy reading your observations. I also noticed that you do like to be in the spot light, I am just making an observation not a jugdment so let’s be clear here and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Keep on doing what you doing and we will all be fine, and hopefully flourish to new heights in the blog world of all kinds of passions, news, tech worlds. best to you radical

  31. The media look for the first opportunity for Google to be the new bad guy. They want to make them out to be the new MS. All it takes is a few bad press stories such as the whole Youtube lawsuit scandal and the media will jump on it like flies to sh1t.

    At least the blogosphere is so fragmented that it offers the opportunity for a whole multitude of opinions, and that’s before you even get the to comments :)

    Chris Bailey
    http://www.EjaculationSupremacy.com

  32. The media look for the first opportunity for Google to be the new bad guy. They want to make them out to be the new MS. All it takes is a few bad press stories such as the whole Youtube lawsuit scandal and the media will jump on it like flies to sh1t.

    At least the blogosphere is so fragmented that it offers the opportunity for a whole multitude of opinions, and that’s before you even get the to comments :)

    Chris Bailey
    http://www.EjaculationSupremacy.com

  33. You know what I miss sitting on top of the newswave? Comments! Netvibes, FriendFeed etc keep my posted all day long and I see lots of blogarticles minutes after they’ve been published but most of them lack comments at this point. Laggers or the late majority have one big advantage in every technology they try, it’s been tested a lot whereas we, the early adopters, have to make do with lots of bugs (and no reviewed blogposts).

    Come to think of it, does anyone know a Firefox plugin that marks a page and reminds me to re-check it the next day?

  34. You know what I miss sitting on top of the newswave? Comments! Netvibes, FriendFeed etc keep my posted all day long and I see lots of blogarticles minutes after they’ve been published but most of them lack comments at this point. Laggers or the late majority have one big advantage in every technology they try, it’s been tested a lot whereas we, the early adopters, have to make do with lots of bugs (and no reviewed blogposts).

    Come to think of it, does anyone know a Firefox plugin that marks a page and reminds me to re-check it the next day?

  35. Finally going down the Long Tail. Great! I like that. I had a little “old school” e-mail conversation with a search-engine “start-up”. This small company is working for nine years now on a search engine which brings relevance, not only results. This man doesn’t want to talk to the PR people instead he wants to focus on what he wants to deliver to us. He doesn’t want to be hyped. He’s taking the grassroots approach when things are ready. When people like it they wil talk about it. He’s expecting somewhere at the end of the summer to go in private beta and he really appreciate it when people get him personal feedback. And be honest, what kind of innovations have we seen the last couple of years with search engines? Pages full of not relevant results. Do we really care about companies who claim to be more scalable, to have a bigger index? I don’t because I want relevant results.
    I stick to the people who are really passionate about something they are working on.
    Remains me one question. how do you go the Long Tail? How do you find the interesting stuff which gets never to Digg or Techmeme? There’s a lot of interesting information on the internet, but how are you (we) able to notice this?

  36. Finally going down the Long Tail. Great! I like that. I had a little “old school” e-mail conversation with a search-engine “start-up”. This small company is working for nine years now on a search engine which brings relevance, not only results. This man doesn’t want to talk to the PR people instead he wants to focus on what he wants to deliver to us. He doesn’t want to be hyped. He’s taking the grassroots approach when things are ready. When people like it they wil talk about it. He’s expecting somewhere at the end of the summer to go in private beta and he really appreciate it when people get him personal feedback. And be honest, what kind of innovations have we seen the last couple of years with search engines? Pages full of not relevant results. Do we really care about companies who claim to be more scalable, to have a bigger index? I don’t because I want relevant results.
    I stick to the people who are really passionate about something they are working on.
    Remains me one question. how do you go the Long Tail? How do you find the interesting stuff which gets never to Digg or Techmeme? There’s a lot of interesting information on the internet, but how are you (we) able to notice this?

  37. I couldn’t agree more with you about the press releases and all of that PR stuff getting out of hand these days, especially with what happened with Cuil. I could only imagine how many pitches you get. There is a place for good and reputable PR. If it gets noticed and you don’t have a completely crap product you’re golden. But you have to earn it and not burn the folks who pick you up. It’s hard to get noticed, but we were lucky on our private beta to get picked up by TC, RWW and Mash among others, (but we intentionally chose a slow news day July 3rd – to increase our chances and we lucked out with great coverage).

    To the second part of your post, I completely prefer face-to-face interactions of any kind rather than over phone or webex for meetings and especially introductions. That’s why while I was in San Francisco last week I popped down to your tweetup/dinner and attended the TechCrunch party (met you ever so briefly). Just doing those things allowed me to meet people and have real conversations (even if they were brief) that were far more valuable than any press release or email from me that probably would have been ignored. As I am newcomer on the scene coming from another industry. I am essentially a nobody right now in this industry and I know it. It’s especially hard if you aren’t in the valley (we’re based in Atlanta), but there are things you can do. You’ve got to start somewhere and we are in it for the long haul. :)

  38. I couldn’t agree more with you about the press releases and all of that PR stuff getting out of hand these days, especially with what happened with Cuil. I could only imagine how many pitches you get. There is a place for good and reputable PR. If it gets noticed and you don’t have a completely crap product you’re golden. But you have to earn it and not burn the folks who pick you up. It’s hard to get noticed, but we were lucky on our private beta to get picked up by TC, RWW and Mash among others, (but we intentionally chose a slow news day July 3rd – to increase our chances and we lucked out with great coverage).

    To the second part of your post, I completely prefer face-to-face interactions of any kind rather than over phone or webex for meetings and especially introductions. That’s why while I was in San Francisco last week I popped down to your tweetup/dinner and attended the TechCrunch party (met you ever so briefly). Just doing those things allowed me to meet people and have real conversations (even if they were brief) that were far more valuable than any press release or email from me that probably would have been ignored. As I am newcomer on the scene coming from another industry. I am essentially a nobody right now in this industry and I know it. It’s especially hard if you aren’t in the valley (we’re based in Atlanta), but there are things you can do. You’ve got to start somewhere and we are in it for the long haul. :)

  39. My geek of choice right now is Hugh MacLeod of http://www.gapingvoid.com who makes cartoons an art form while applying it to business concepts. He says what no one else dares to say.

    Otherwise there is not much in technology that gets me excited. Who cares who makes the next gazillion dollars when their company goes public?

    What WOULD get me excited is something (tech or otherwise) that can change some of the major problems that still exist in our world – the poverty gap, environment, etc…

  40. My geek of choice right now is Hugh MacLeod of http://www.gapingvoid.com who makes cartoons an art form while applying it to business concepts. He says what no one else dares to say.

    Otherwise there is not much in technology that gets me excited. Who cares who makes the next gazillion dollars when their company goes public?

    What WOULD get me excited is something (tech or otherwise) that can change some of the major problems that still exist in our world – the poverty gap, environment, etc…

  41. Jaap & JeffH – pardon the plug, but our startup, regator.com, is looking to make all of the quality blog content that right now is hard to find, easy to find for people of all levels of tech savvy. Yeah, yeah, yeah – i can hear you say – isn’t everyone… but we are doing this with a completely different take than say a techmeme, digg or other blog aggregators. We are going into public beta next week but if you want a sneak peek let me know… scott (at) regator.com.
    cheers!

    Robert -sorry about the blatant plug – I generally don’t like doing it, but I think/hope it was relevant to the discussion and your readers

  42. Jaap & JeffH – pardon the plug, but our startup, regator.com, is looking to make all of the quality blog content that right now is hard to find, easy to find for people of all levels of tech savvy. Yeah, yeah, yeah – i can hear you say – isn’t everyone… but we are doing this with a completely different take than say a techmeme, digg or other blog aggregators. We are going into public beta next week but if you want a sneak peek let me know… scott (at) regator.com.
    cheers!

    Robert -sorry about the blatant plug – I generally don’t like doing it, but I think/hope it was relevant to the discussion and your readers

  43. You wrote that journalists thrive “off of” conflict. That sounds like the opposite of what you meant: Journalists thrive in the presence of conflict.

  44. You wrote that journalists thrive “off of” conflict. That sounds like the opposite of what you meant: Journalists thrive in the presence of conflict.

  45. Great post!
    But, I’m wondering if this is not a sign that the web economy is maturing? The power of PR and marketing makes the success of “real economy” products for decades… even bad products: take the Phone as an example. I’m not saying it’s a bad product, I’m just saying that the Apple marketing is amazing to create a huge hype around it.

    I also think that this increased power of marketing on the Web came with Web 2.0 and the User Generated Content: the value of a website is determined by the contribution of the users: it starts with very limited content/value so it needs PR to initiate the UGC pump.

    Thankfully, compared to the “normal” economy, the web is full of very passionate and critical voices that minimize the power of marketing. This post is a prime example. Thanks again!

  46. Great post!
    But, I’m wondering if this is not a sign that the web economy is maturing? The power of PR and marketing makes the success of “real economy” products for decades… even bad products: take the Phone as an example. I’m not saying it’s a bad product, I’m just saying that the Apple marketing is amazing to create a huge hype around it.

    I also think that this increased power of marketing on the Web came with Web 2.0 and the User Generated Content: the value of a website is determined by the contribution of the users: it starts with very limited content/value so it needs PR to initiate the UGC pump.

    Thankfully, compared to the “normal” economy, the web is full of very passionate and critical voices that minimize the power of marketing. This post is a prime example. Thanks again!

  47. I love teaching the little guys how to use social media and prosumer technology to take on the mainstream media. I love seeing the faces of senior execs at big corporations when they start to understand the idea of conversing and collaborating with your consumers instead of shouting at them.

    I would love to meet with all the people in the world who have stories to tell in the face of supreme opposition and teach them how to get the word out, like http://www.aliveinbaghdad.org/ or a blogger in China or Africa….

  48. I love teaching the little guys how to use social media and prosumer technology to take on the mainstream media. I love seeing the faces of senior execs at big corporations when they start to understand the idea of conversing and collaborating with your consumers instead of shouting at them.

    I would love to meet with all the people in the world who have stories to tell in the face of supreme opposition and teach them how to get the word out, like http://www.aliveinbaghdad.org/ or a blogger in China or Africa….

  49. Under your guidance Francine? Please….

    What have you funded that has succeeded in Arizona in the social media space??

  50. Under your guidance Francine? Please….

    What have you funded that has succeeded in Arizona in the social media space??

  51. Robert,

    This PR guy keeps trying to get you to notice that, yes, there are interesting tech companies NOT in Silicon Valley. Come East my friend, come East!

    How come you never write ;-) Keep the passionate posts coming, don’t follow the crowd, don’t follow ANYONE.

    Mike Lizun
    http://www.gregoryfca.com

  52. Robert,

    This PR guy keeps trying to get you to notice that, yes, there are interesting tech companies NOT in Silicon Valley. Come East my friend, come East!

    How come you never write ;-) Keep the passionate posts coming, don’t follow the crowd, don’t follow ANYONE.

    Mike Lizun
    http://www.gregoryfca.com

  53. About your last request: “What are you finding is bringing real value to your life? Hey, even go outside the tech industry.”

    I’ve really liked your videos with people outside the industry. With congressmen, FCC, etc. I’d love to see you do more about education and science too. I know it’s something you are passionate about (you’d mentioned it in Almaden a few times). It would be really interesting to see what some of the visionaries are thinking about education, technology and science. What are the smartest people in the world (in education, gov’t, private industry, etc.) saying about education, science and related issues.

    It seems like a natural extensions of where you are taking your blog.

    There are a lot of folks that will cover the latest, most sexy new thing. Not many are trying to think more deeply about the surrounding issues that are affecting lives, business, society, etc.

    THAT’S interesting. To me at least.

  54. About your last request: “What are you finding is bringing real value to your life? Hey, even go outside the tech industry.”

    I’ve really liked your videos with people outside the industry. With congressmen, FCC, etc. I’d love to see you do more about education and science too. I know it’s something you are passionate about (you’d mentioned it in Almaden a few times). It would be really interesting to see what some of the visionaries are thinking about education, technology and science. What are the smartest people in the world (in education, gov’t, private industry, etc.) saying about education, science and related issues.

    It seems like a natural extensions of where you are taking your blog.

    There are a lot of folks that will cover the latest, most sexy new thing. Not many are trying to think more deeply about the surrounding issues that are affecting lives, business, society, etc.

    THAT’S interesting. To me at least.

  55. When it comes to geeks, I think one population that’s been sorely neglected are those in the university research labs. Often when I talk with them at a conference, or happen to see one of their research pages, I am struck by how interesting their research is — and how little of their work is ever highlighted by the MSM, blogs, or Friendfeed and Techmeme discussions. One of the main reasons for this: They don’t have good PR, and no one — with the exception of a few journals like Tech Review or academic blogs like Terra Nova — is really tracking and discussing what they are doing.

    Ian Lamont
    Managing Editor
    The Industry Standard

  56. When it comes to geeks, I think one population that’s been sorely neglected are those in the university research labs. Often when I talk with them at a conference, or happen to see one of their research pages, I am struck by how interesting their research is — and how little of their work is ever highlighted by the MSM, blogs, or Friendfeed and Techmeme discussions. One of the main reasons for this: They don’t have good PR, and no one — with the exception of a few journals like Tech Review or academic blogs like Terra Nova — is really tracking and discussing what they are doing.

    Ian Lamont
    Managing Editor
    The Industry Standard

  57. I am totally agree with you on the fact that newspaper are always getting excited by potential Google competitors, and most of the time they are far from being an underdog.

    I am also agree with you, cuil might be the Google killer, it just needs time. You can’t get right on the market and propose a solution that could compete with such a powerful algorythm.

    About the size of the company, you say that a company with a capital of 30 million has no chances to compete with Google, I understand, but do you think that means that the next competitor of Google will be wether produce by a large company or supported by one (like Warner, Newscorp, or Microsoft)? Do you think we can expect a big company to propose a new search engine service able to compete with Google? That would be interesting.

  58. I am totally agree with you on the fact that newspaper are always getting excited by potential Google competitors, and most of the time they are far from being an underdog.

    I am also agree with you, cuil might be the Google killer, it just needs time. You can’t get right on the market and propose a solution that could compete with such a powerful algorythm.

    About the size of the company, you say that a company with a capital of 30 million has no chances to compete with Google, I understand, but do you think that means that the next competitor of Google will be wether produce by a large company or supported by one (like Warner, Newscorp, or Microsoft)? Do you think we can expect a big company to propose a new search engine service able to compete with Google? That would be interesting.

  59. Your post reminds me of Obama’s speeches. Nice to listen to, but lacking beef. You write lenghty paragraphs with little content. If a freshman would write something like that about the “PR bandwagon”, he or she would probably fail. Was there any new insight? Any thought provoking thesis? In the end it seems to be all about your ranking on Techmeme. Or the number of “friends” or “followers”. You Sillicon Valley Bloggers are just too vain, which is why you end up only preaching to the already converted on FriendFeed and Twitter, getting more and more micro, conversing just with your like…. Pretty sad how your blog developed over the last months….

    I like Obama by the way and just want to give constructive criticism.

  60. Your post reminds me of Obama’s speeches. Nice to listen to, but lacking beef. You write lenghty paragraphs with little content. If a freshman would write something like that about the “PR bandwagon”, he or she would probably fail. Was there any new insight? Any thought provoking thesis? In the end it seems to be all about your ranking on Techmeme. Or the number of “friends” or “followers”. You Sillicon Valley Bloggers are just too vain, which is why you end up only preaching to the already converted on FriendFeed and Twitter, getting more and more micro, conversing just with your like…. Pretty sad how your blog developed over the last months….

    I like Obama by the way and just want to give constructive criticism.

  61. Just checked out your Google Reader feed and must give you credit on that one! Much more substance if you ask me. Why dont you make your blog resemble your Google Reader more?

  62. Just checked out your Google Reader feed and must give you credit on that one! Much more substance if you ask me. Why dont you make your blog resemble your Google Reader more?

  63. The problem is Robert, that hype has become a veritable media language that anyone connected to the Internet or mainstream TV has become well versed in.

    You’ve probably already noticed that the content of popular stories tends to be less important than the idea of the story’s popularity itself.

    Hype is a type of system, it has a structure, patterns and obeys laws like other systems. Few people except the people at the center of hype benefit from the phenomenon and it is too short lived to devote any serious part of your life to.

    The better plan is to focus on doing solid work. Hype will always take care of itself.

  64. The problem is Robert, that hype has become a veritable media language that anyone connected to the Internet or mainstream TV has become well versed in.

    You’ve probably already noticed that the content of popular stories tends to be less important than the idea of the story’s popularity itself.

    Hype is a type of system, it has a structure, patterns and obeys laws like other systems. Few people except the people at the center of hype benefit from the phenomenon and it is too short lived to devote any serious part of your life to.

    The better plan is to focus on doing solid work. Hype will always take care of itself.

  65. All the PR and hype we, as technologist, receive is part of the social game. Honestly, even if we all move to SocialMedian to take control and pull our own topics of discussion; inherently as a techie we will stiff be miffed when someone else is talking about something we’ve never heard of (Cuil).

    We’re being pushed news because we’re early adopters and because we buy stuff. $299.00 stuff. The rest of the world does not care what we’re doing.

    In the least, this hype is bearable. I see the sports fellows in the office talking about Fantasy Football. Now there’s some passion! I just smile while I walk away.

  66. All the PR and hype we, as technologist, receive is part of the social game. Honestly, even if we all move to SocialMedian to take control and pull our own topics of discussion; inherently as a techie we will stiff be miffed when someone else is talking about something we’ve never heard of (Cuil).

    We’re being pushed news because we’re early adopters and because we buy stuff. $299.00 stuff. The rest of the world does not care what we’re doing.

    In the least, this hype is bearable. I see the sports fellows in the office talking about Fantasy Football. Now there’s some passion! I just smile while I walk away.

  67. At first I thought this is about PageRank lol

    No matter what every body says I think any competition is a good thing. You see Cuil search results may be bad but it will take time to improve. Any body remember Google in its early days?

    Google has become a monopoly and it’s time they face the music like Microsoft.

    And regarding size of the company, well no company starts with $10 billion investment. It’s not possible. They key is to increase investment gradually which Google did and which Cuil and every other competitor will do. It’s simply not possible to match the size of Google from start.

    Give Cuil some time, if it still fails then move on and wait for someone else.

  68. At first I thought this is about PageRank lol

    No matter what every body says I think any competition is a good thing. You see Cuil search results may be bad but it will take time to improve. Any body remember Google in its early days?

    Google has become a monopoly and it’s time they face the music like Microsoft.

    And regarding size of the company, well no company starts with $10 billion investment. It’s not possible. They key is to increase investment gradually which Google did and which Cuil and every other competitor will do. It’s simply not possible to match the size of Google from start.

    Give Cuil some time, if it still fails then move on and wait for someone else.

  69. Why the tech bloggers hyped Cuil without trying it is beyond me.

    What excites me is the prospect of competing with search engines without launching a search engine.

    A user is essentially trying to gain access to relevant information / resources. Submitting search strings and manually inspecting returned results is one way but surely there must be other ways.

    The group that figures this out may be able to topple the big guys without the need for half a million servers.

  70. Why the tech bloggers hyped Cuil without trying it is beyond me.

    What excites me is the prospect of competing with search engines without launching a search engine.

    A user is essentially trying to gain access to relevant information / resources. Submitting search strings and manually inspecting returned results is one way but surely there must be other ways.

    The group that figures this out may be able to topple the big guys without the need for half a million servers.

  71. Regarding Cuil, an interesting communications / PR challenge for the team is to convince users in France it doesn’t sound like ‘couille’ which is, er, shall we say not polite language in French for the male genitalia, and in certain contexts can mean a screw-up or cock-up…ah the beauty of global branding!
    :)

  72. Regarding Cuil, an interesting communications / PR challenge for the team is to convince users in France it doesn’t sound like ‘couille’ which is, er, shall we say not polite language in French for the male genitalia, and in certain contexts can mean a screw-up or cock-up…ah the beauty of global branding!
    :)

  73. well, the feel of the author is right. I have been trying to work on my sisters website to bring it up in PR, but google plays strange games. Everything that it wants is been done, yet it drops of the PR in no time.

    No doubt if huge companies can get effected, like what u said , then we are nothing!

  74. well, the feel of the author is right. I have been trying to work on my sisters website to bring it up in PR, but google plays strange games. Everything that it wants is been done, yet it drops of the PR in no time.

    No doubt if huge companies can get effected, like what u said , then we are nothing!

  75. I hate how people seem to just blog something and praise it, just because its new and they got an inside scoop. So many wannabes are so desperate for traffic, that they’ll shill for anyone who gives them an early line on a story.

    Cuil is awful, I’ve tried it, the results it returns are pretty damn useless, I find it so hard to process the results because it generates massive previews, rather than simply the name of the result, and the whole thing just smacks of “our-designer-learnt-javascript-last-night-so-now-everything-moves-if-you-mouse-over-it”

  76. I hate how people seem to just blog something and praise it, just because its new and they got an inside scoop. So many wannabes are so desperate for traffic, that they’ll shill for anyone who gives them an early line on a story.

    Cuil is awful, I’ve tried it, the results it returns are pretty damn useless, I find it so hard to process the results because it generates massive previews, rather than simply the name of the result, and the whole thing just smacks of “our-designer-learnt-javascript-last-night-so-now-everything-moves-if-you-mouse-over-it”

  77. One of the areas that I think gets only a small amount of play from the tech sector is using the developments that are happening online to HELP journalism and newspapers instead of HURTING them.

    It seems like everyone just takes it for granted that all new online technology is bad for newspapers. That’s hardly the case.

    I’d love to talk to almost anyone at the New York Times about how they are expanding and experimenting with technology. I’m sure there are tons of tech startups who are working on projects that will also help newspapers, and I’d like to see which companies those are and what they’re working on.

    I feel like it’s time to move past the “OMG newspapers are screwed!” stage and move on to the “look at these challenges and how can we solve them?” stage…

  78. One of the areas that I think gets only a small amount of play from the tech sector is using the developments that are happening online to HELP journalism and newspapers instead of HURTING them.

    It seems like everyone just takes it for granted that all new online technology is bad for newspapers. That’s hardly the case.

    I’d love to talk to almost anyone at the New York Times about how they are expanding and experimenting with technology. I’m sure there are tons of tech startups who are working on projects that will also help newspapers, and I’d like to see which companies those are and what they’re working on.

    I feel like it’s time to move past the “OMG newspapers are screwed!” stage and move on to the “look at these challenges and how can we solve them?” stage…

  79. I love Evernote! I downloaded it from the App store thinking it would be a good tool for my 12-year-old son to use for writing down homework assignments (and for me to keep tabs on them with the automatic syncing). Instead it’s my new best friend! (At least until I find I have a gig’s worth of old meeting notes on my phone . . .)

    BTW — want to get a blank stare fast? Use the word ‘cloud’ in a conversation with normal people.

    Here’s someone I think you’d love interviewing: Harry Webber. (Disclosure: I’m working with him on something called the Institute for the Advanced Practice of Advertising, a nonprofit think tank we’re recruiting ad people for.)

    Harry is a traditional ad guy — he’s in the Clio Awards Hall of Fame for lines like “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” But he’s also a very solid web 2.0 guy, so he sits exactly at the crossroads of old and new communications. Here’s a post from his weekly column that shows the contrast between old and new: http://www.madisonavenew.com/mad187.html

  80. I love Evernote! I downloaded it from the App store thinking it would be a good tool for my 12-year-old son to use for writing down homework assignments (and for me to keep tabs on them with the automatic syncing). Instead it’s my new best friend! (At least until I find I have a gig’s worth of old meeting notes on my phone . . .)

    BTW — want to get a blank stare fast? Use the word ‘cloud’ in a conversation with normal people.

    Here’s someone I think you’d love interviewing: Harry Webber. (Disclosure: I’m working with him on something called the Institute for the Advanced Practice of Advertising, a nonprofit think tank we’re recruiting ad people for.)

    Harry is a traditional ad guy — he’s in the Clio Awards Hall of Fame for lines like “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” But he’s also a very solid web 2.0 guy, so he sits exactly at the crossroads of old and new communications. Here’s a post from his weekly column that shows the contrast between old and new: http://www.madisonavenew.com/mad187.html

  81. “Think about that. How much money does that take to build out? Hint: a lot more than $30 million that was invested in Cuil.”

    Heck yeah you could. These people are lazy and stupid. They happen to be rich too.

  82. “Think about that. How much money does that take to build out? Hint: a lot more than $30 million that was invested in Cuil.”

    Heck yeah you could. These people are lazy and stupid. They happen to be rich too.

  83. http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2006/10/71888

    “When Page and Brin first moved into the garage, Google had just been incorporated with a bankroll of $1 million raised from a handful of investors.”

    Smart people post y2000 want security, that’s the problem. Cuil isn’t going to bankroll your 401k, and that’s why you don’t see Googles any longer. Period.

    Blaine Cooke took the solid paycheck at Yahoo, and I can’t blame him.

  84. http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2006/10/71888

    “When Page and Brin first moved into the garage, Google had just been incorporated with a bankroll of $1 million raised from a handful of investors.”

    Smart people post y2000 want security, that’s the problem. Cuil isn’t going to bankroll your 401k, and that’s why you don’t see Googles any longer. Period.

    Blaine Cooke took the solid paycheck at Yahoo, and I can’t blame him.

  85. kudos to you for telling it like it is. i’m glad to hear you doing the straight talk :) btw, thanks for bringing Evernote to my attention. i’ve been trying it out for a couple of days now. as to your question:

    “Anyway, help us all get off the PR bandwagon. What are you passionate about? If you could go anywhere in the world and meet with any geek, executive, or company, who would it be?”

    i’d like to hear more about the tech-wizards and geeks who are addressing our ailing broadband infrastructure — http://www.techcrunchit.com/2008/07/31/the-consequences-of-an-ailing-broadband-infastructure-begin-to-surface/

    kick ass and be still.

    ~C

  86. kudos to you for telling it like it is. i’m glad to hear you doing the straight talk :) btw, thanks for bringing Evernote to my attention. i’ve been trying it out for a couple of days now. as to your question:

    “Anyway, help us all get off the PR bandwagon. What are you passionate about? If you could go anywhere in the world and meet with any geek, executive, or company, who would it be?”

    i’d like to hear more about the tech-wizards and geeks who are addressing our ailing broadband infrastructure — http://www.techcrunchit.com/2008/07/31/the-consequences-of-an-ailing-broadband-infastructure-begin-to-surface/

    kick ass and be still.

    ~C

  87. Uhhh… I don’t like Cuil (or Ciul, or… whatever!)

    The say that “Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else”… and i din’t see my websites yet!

    So…. i think i’ll return to google world again!

    eheh

  88. Uhhh… I don’t like Cuil (or Ciul, or… whatever!)

    The say that “Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else”… and i din’t see my websites yet!

    So…. i think i’ll return to google world again!

    eheh

  89. I think your move away from the PR bandwagon is a very smart one. When I tried running my own ‘tech blog’ for about eight months last year, one of the reasons I stopped was that feeling of being on the eternal PR treadmill.

    I lost my voice, became like everybody else, and for me, the fun quickly drained out of blogging about tech. When the fun went, the enthusiasm went after it, so I quit the blog, and stopped reading all others in that genre.

    A few weeks ago, I came back to yours out of curiosity, just in time to see you go through your latest crisis, and I sympathised, and started reading again to see how you tackled what I’d already been through.

    I like the new angle – good luck with it!

  90. I think your move away from the PR bandwagon is a very smart one. When I tried running my own ‘tech blog’ for about eight months last year, one of the reasons I stopped was that feeling of being on the eternal PR treadmill.

    I lost my voice, became like everybody else, and for me, the fun quickly drained out of blogging about tech. When the fun went, the enthusiasm went after it, so I quit the blog, and stopped reading all others in that genre.

    A few weeks ago, I came back to yours out of curiosity, just in time to see you go through your latest crisis, and I sympathised, and started reading again to see how you tackled what I’d already been through.

    I like the new angle – good luck with it!

  91. [...] perhaps you should delay the launch a bit. Another is do not over promise and under deliver. In hindsight, it is laughable to believe a startup could go head to head with Google on day one. Google has too [...]

  92. seems to be cuil is correcting their mistake. i felt they launched the website without fulfilling the basic requirements.Couple of days back a serach for “microsoft .net ” returned 0 results as their search engine does not recognize “.”(period) . today i found it resolved.

  93. seems to be cuil is correcting their mistake. i felt they launched the website without fulfilling the basic requirements.Couple of days back a serach for “microsoft .net ” returned 0 results as their search engine does not recognize “.”(period) . today i found it resolved.

  94. Interesting post but I’m not sure how you can break out of the tyranny you describe:

    “See, if you want to earn links and attention in this world you’ve got to be first, or at least among the first articles to go out. I’ve seen this time and time again. I call it the Techmeme game.

    “But it affects Digg and Reddit and FriendFeed, too. The stories that got discussed the most on those were usually among the first crowd.”

    In a world in which news, and particularly tech news, is distributed globally almost instantaneously, there is a high premium on the first dramatic take or analysis. A more considered view might be better and more accurate but, hey, who’s got time for that?

    In the UK, this phenomenon – the overwhelming importance of impact – was nailed by Tony Blair, of all people

    http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2007/06/12/BlairReustersSpeech.pdf

    … and was more recently discussed by his former PR chief Alastair Campbell:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/alastair-campbell-the-cudlipp-lecture-775278.html?r=RSS

  95. Interesting post but I’m not sure how you can break out of the tyranny you describe:

    “See, if you want to earn links and attention in this world you’ve got to be first, or at least among the first articles to go out. I’ve seen this time and time again. I call it the Techmeme game.

    “But it affects Digg and Reddit and FriendFeed, too. The stories that got discussed the most on those were usually among the first crowd.”

    In a world in which news, and particularly tech news, is distributed globally almost instantaneously, there is a high premium on the first dramatic take or analysis. A more considered view might be better and more accurate but, hey, who’s got time for that?

    In the UK, this phenomenon – the overwhelming importance of impact – was nailed by Tony Blair, of all people

    http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2007/06/12/BlairReustersSpeech.pdf

    … and was more recently discussed by his former PR chief Alastair Campbell:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/alastair-campbell-the-cudlipp-lecture-775278.html?r=RSS

  96. I didn’t care for Cuil. I don’t care about the number of results as long as I get what I’m looking for….and that didn’t happen with Cuil.

    altsearchengines.com mentioned a new search engine that is supposed to give you exactly what you’re looking for (thus the name, UbExact).

    Fire Fox web developer tools are pretty cool.

  97. I didn’t care for Cuil. I don’t care about the number of results as long as I get what I’m looking for….and that didn’t happen with Cuil.

    altsearchengines.com mentioned a new search engine that is supposed to give you exactly what you’re looking for (thus the name, UbExact).

    Fire Fox web developer tools are pretty cool.

  98. Fair is fair and Cuil is fairly cool and the media hoopla on the Cuil launch is well deserved and totally understandable (even if a bit harsh). After all, Cuil was built by a team of top-notch ex-Google engineers. But did you know that another new search engine — built by a team of top-notch ex-Google users — has surpassed Cuil in traffic this month? And with nary a lick of media love. Check out NeXplore Search (www.NeXplore.com) vs. Cuil (www.cuil.com) for the month of September using whatever website traffic comparison tool you prefer — Google Trends, Alexa, Compete, etc. Cuil’s focus — more algorithmic complexity. NeXplore’s focus — a more visually engaging and productive search results page. Seems pretty clear which approach real folk prefer…

  99. Fair is fair and Cuil is fairly cool and the media hoopla on the Cuil launch is well deserved and totally understandable (even if a bit harsh). After all, Cuil was built by a team of top-notch ex-Google engineers. But did you know that another new search engine — built by a team of top-notch ex-Google users — has surpassed Cuil in traffic this month? And with nary a lick of media love. Check out NeXplore Search (www.NeXplore.com) vs. Cuil (www.cuil.com) for the month of September using whatever website traffic comparison tool you prefer — Google Trends, Alexa, Compete, etc. Cuil’s focus — more algorithmic complexity. NeXplore’s focus — a more visually engaging and productive search results page. Seems pretty clear which approach real folk prefer…