Tag Archives: Google

Real-time systems hurting long-term knowledge?

Whew, OK, now that I’m off of FriendFeed and Twitter I can start talking about what I learned while I was addicted to those systems.

One thing is that knowledge is suffering over there. See, here, it is easy to find old blogs. Just go to Google and search. What would you like me to find? Chinese Earthquake? Google has it.

Now, quick, find the first 20 tweets or FriendFeed items about the Chinese Earthquake. It’s impossible. I’m an advanced searcher and I can’t find them, even using the cool Twitter Search engine.

On April 19th, 2009 I asked about Mountain Bikes once on Twitter. Hundreds of people answered on both Twitter and FriendFeed. On Twitter? Try to bundle up all the answers and post them here in my comments. You can’t. They are effectively gone forever. All that knowledge is inaccessible. Yes, the FriendFeed thread remains, but it only contains answers that were done on FriendFeed and in that thread. There were others, but those other answers are now gone and can’t be found.

The other night Jeremiah Owyang told me that thought leaders should avoid spending a lot of time in Twitter or FriendFeed because that time will be mostly wasted. If you want to reach normal people, he argued, they know how to use Google.

And if you want to get into Google the best device — by far — is a blog. Yes, FriendFeed is pretty darn good too (it better be, it was started by a handful of superstars who left Google to start that company) but it isn’t as good as a blog and, Jeremiah argues, my thoughts were lost in the crowd most of the time anyway.

And that’s on FriendFeed which has a decent search engine (although it remains pretty darn incomplete. Here, try to find all items with the word Obama written in Washington DC on November 4th 2008. Oh, you can’t do that on FriendFeed and on Twitter search you can’t pull out the important ones and the location information is horribly inaccurate because it isn’t based on where a Tweet was done from, but from the tweeter’s home location).

Here’s an easy search: find the original Tweet of the guy who took the picture of the plane that fell into the Hudson. I can do it on FriendFeed after a few tries, but on Twitter Search? Give me a break. Over on Google? One click, but you gotta click through a blog or a journalistic report to get there. Real time search is horrid at saving our knowledge and making it accessible.

This is a HUGE opportunity for Facebook, which has more than 10x more users than Twitter and 100x more than FriendFeed.

Or, it’s how Google will get back into the social networking business and lock everyone out.

What do you say Larry Page?

Why Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg are wrong about naming Web 3.0 "Web 3.0"

Can we just head this trend off at the pass? It seems that Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, at their “All Things D” conference announced the beginning of the Web 3.0 era.

That’s ridiculous.

And I’m not the only one to think so.

Short aside: It’s interesting that neither Kara nor Walt show up very often on friendfeed, which is the best example of the 2010 Web right now. Kara Swisher has made a total of five comments there. Walt is even worse, doesn’t bring any items in there, and only has six comments. How can you know what the 2010 Web is, if you don’t use it and don’t participate in it?

The Web does NOT have version numbers. Naming what was going on in the last eight years “Web 2.0″ did us all a large disservice (Tim O’Reilly did that, mostly to get people to see that there was something different about the Web that was being built in 2000-2003 than what had come before).

But by naming it a number, I believe it caused a lot of people and businesses to avoid what was going on and “poo poo” it as the rantings of the new MySpace generation (which was just getting hot back then).

See, the Web changes EVERY DAY and a version number just doesn’t do it justice. Think about today, we saw Microsoft announce a major new update to its search engine, named “Bing,” that turns on next week and is already getting TONS of kudos. Seriously, in the rental car shuttle today a guy I met said the demo he saw at Kara and Walt’s conference was “awesome.”

Also today was Google’s Wave, which caught everyone by surprise and which sucked the oxygen out of Microsoft’s search announcements. Check out all the reports that I liked from around the world this morning.

But, back to the theme of this post. There IS something going on here. I covered it a few weeks ago.

The things that are happening are NOT just Twitter and search. Here, let me recount again what is making up the 2010 Web:

1. Real Time. Google caught the Wave of that trend today BIG TIME.
2. Mobile. Google, again, caught that wave big time Wednesday when it handed Android phones to everyone at its IO conference.
3. Decentralized. Does Microsoft or Twitter demonstrate that trend? Not really well.
4. Pre-made blocks. I call this “copy-and-paste” programming. Google nailed it with its Web Elements (I’ll add a few of those next week).
5. Social. Oh, have you noticed how much more social the web is? The next two days I’m hanging out on an aircraft carrier with a few people who do social media for the Navy.
6. Smart. Wolfram Alpha opened a lot of people’s eyes to what is possible in new smart displays of information.
7. Hybrid infrastructure. At the Twitter Conference this week lots of people were talking about how they were using both traditional servers along with cloud-based approaches from Amazon and Rackspace to store, study, and process the sizeable datasets that are coming through Twitter, Facebook, and friendfeed.

So, why doesn’t a version number work for these changes? Because they don’t come at us all at once. A lot of these things have been cooking for years. The Internet makes iteration possible. Tomorrow will be better on the Internet than today. In the old world of software you’d have to wait for the compilers, then you’d need to distribute tons of CDs or disks. That no longer needs to be done.

The idea that we have a version for the Web is just plain ridiculous. It makes the innovations we’re implementing too easily dismissed. How many times have you heard that “Twitter is lame?” I lost count 897 days ago.

Now, is using a year number, like what I’m doing, better? Yes. It gets us out of the version lock. And it makes it clear to businesses that if you are still driving around a 1994 Web site that it’s starting to look as old and crusty as a 1994 car is about now. Executives understand this. It’s a rare executive who drives an old car around. Most like to have the latest expensive car to get to work in.

Same with the Web. Calling it the “2010 Web” puts an urgency into what’s happening. If your business isn’t considering the latest stuff it risks looking lame or, worse, leaving money on the table. Just like driving a 1994 car risks looking lame or, worse, breaking down a lot more often than a newer car.

Is the year metaphor perfect? No, I’m sure there are a few things wrong with it. For one, if you want to host a conference based on the “trend” you’ll have to change your conference name every year. That costs money, which is why conference companies like to have more stable trends that they can exploit for a few years, at least.

Also, there are some clear “eras” in the Web, so I could see wanting to suggest that we’re in the third era of the Web, but I’ve been studying this for the past eight years and calling the second era “Web 2″ actually held us back because mainstream users didn’t think anything was happening in the past few years and Web 2.0 became a useless phrase anyway.

Anyway, can we use year numbers to describe the Web now? It’ll make it easier to evangelize the modern world to businesses. We’re entering the 2010 Web, that’s what I’m exploring. Calling the Web a version number is for people who don’t really understand, or participate in, what’s going on here. Kara and Walt, you gotta do better here.

Watch the Google anthill move toward social and real time

This week is a key moment in Google’s life. It is being challenged by a change in the ecosystem. We’ve seen this happen with other companies before. Remember Microsoft in 1994-1996? It responded to the changes in how we exchange information by turning the company hard toward the Internet. Too hard, actually. Bill Gates steered his battleship right into the DOJ’s iceberg. The water it took on from the gash in its side slowed it down for eight years already.

This week Google is having its I/O conference. Executives there told me to be there to witness the shift. They’ve also given me a small look at some of what’s coming. One even told me that it’ll be like the first Microsoft NT developer’s conference in its importance of what gets shown.

I remember that conference, back in 1994. Jim Fawcette and I were sitting there in one of the first rows and he elbowed me and said “Gates just announced Chicago and Cairo.” That was Windows 95 and what was supposed to be the next version of NT, which never really shipped, although what was important about that was Microsoft was about to see the most significant switch in Operating System usage the world has seen up to that point, or since. We were moving from command lines to GUIs. It’s one of those times when you can see tech industry history shifting all around you. In the back rooms at that conference, though, the real shifts were happening. The geeks were restless about this thing called the Internet. Within a year of that conference Gates had to admit that something was happening and told the geeks to shift direction and focus more energy on the Internet. When Windows 95 shipped in late 1995 it had an Internet stack and a Web browser.

But now back to Google. I thought about using a metaphor of a battle ship, like what worked with Gates, but, see, Google is more like an ant farm. Which is why I put this video (hosted on Google’s YouTube, of course) up front and center.

Google is much more decentralized than Microsoft was, and is (and Microsoft was much more decentralized than IBM or other companies that came before it, which is what made it so dangerous when Gates said “turn, turn, turn toward the Internet” to his troops).

Google is more like an ant hill. One powered by 20% time which is how the ants find out where the food is. Heck, enough of Google’s ants have left to join Facebook, Twitter, and friendfeed, that it should be clear by now there’s some new tasty food bits that they aren’t yet munching on. Heck, friendfeed should be a major embarrassment to Google since that 14-person team has at least five Google superstars on it (the guy who came up with the idea for Google not to be evil started the company. That’s Paul Buchheit and he also ran the Gmail team. Also on the friendfeed team is the guy who ran the Google Talk team, the guy who ran Google Maps team, the designer for a whole bunch of Googley products, and the guy who ran the backend team on Gmail). Over at Facebook and Twitter I keep running into people who used to work at Google too.

And now Google’s own founders are admitting that they need to get into real time.

The ants are moving!

They have already made some significant moves recently you might have missed. First, they are now putting profiles onto the search pages. Here, search Google for “Robert Scoble” and look at the bottom of the page. See my picture and my profile? That’s Google making moves toward the real time and social webs. Big time moves.

Notice what else you see on that search for me: a Twitter profile is there. A friendfeed profile is there. What isn’t there? My Facebook profile. Even though I made it public, it isn’t there. Why is that? Is that Google heading toward troubles with the DOJ like Microsoft got in trouble when they competed unfairly with Netscape? Be careful there Larry and Sergey!

What other moves have Google been making? Friend Connect. This lets bloggers and businesses add a social network. Look for Google to expand this week on Friend Connect. You’ll see that this is a major source of food for Google’s ants to carry back to the mother ship. I’ve already added it to my blog and in about a week 511 people have added their faces to that component, despite the fact that it really doesn’t do much yet. Wait until there’s some real value there, you’ll see these numbers move up big time.

Other places Google will make big moves? In support of the open web. Open Social for applications. Already used on millions of profiles, Open Social is how Google will ship a new set of applications that are better integrated into mobile platforms (Google is on Apple’s iPhone’s front page, Facebook and Twitter are not and Google controls its own mobile platform in Android, too).

Add all this together, along with other fun demos you’ll see this week, and you’ll see that Google is making some pretty damn impressive moves. Is Google perfect? No. If it were it would have been earlier. It wouldn’t have killed Dodgeball and effectively scorned Jaiku, which enabled Twitter and friendfeed to happen. But now that enough of the ants are seeing that they need to move toward the source of new food, it’s a scary sight and one that will become obvious this week.

Let’s compare notes later in the week and see if I’m right about the Google anthill moves.

Adding Google Friend Connect is an example of how hard it is to join the 2010 web

One of the first things I wanted to do this morning was to add Google’s Friend Connect widget to my blog. You can now see that component on the right side of my blog, right above a widget that adds Facebook Connect capabilities.

Now, I had some advantages. Kevin Marks taught me how to do that and showed me what it can do. He works at Google. It seemed simple enough to try myself, so I went off to the Google Friend Connect page and started filling out the form. It said I had to load two files up to my server. One problem, though, I didn’t know how to do that.

Now I can hear you yelling at the screen “you need to FTP them up to your server.”

One problem: most people today have no idea what you just said. I forgot all about FTP back in 1996 and didn’t think I’d need to know about it again.

WordPress’s dashboard makes it easy to upload files, but it doesn’t let you put those files into a specific directory on your server.

And I didn’t have access to my FTP server anyway. Now I do, thanks to Vid Luther, who is helping me with my site.

What if you didn’t have a “Vid?” You’d just give up.

See, this is how deep the disconnect between the geeks who make this stuff is and the normal people who are plumbers, teachers, bar owners, shop owners, etc.

Until we make it so damn simple to add stuff like this to our web sites and our blogs without needing to know about FTP or file uploads etc we won’t get main street onto the 2010 web. Or, at minimum, our tools need to communicate more about what we need to do to complete a required action. In this case it would have been nice for Google to say “you’ll probably need to get access to your server via FTP, go see your site administrator.”

I did talk with Kevin Marks too, and he had a great solution: to use a plugin. But Google’s page doesn’t offer that as a choice, so how is a normal user supposed to know about it?

Anyway, it’s working now. Please help me test it out by adding yourself to the component. As Google and Facebook add more features those components will be more important to all of us. Here’s a menu of things I’m looking to add now that I have this working.

Think people aren’t struggling with these issues? In just the past few hours I’ve received several questions about how I added the friendfeed component to my blog. See, it’s very easy to do copy and paste programming, but only if you know where to paste! :-)

Anyway, onward. I’d love to see your blog and what widgets you love and how you implemented them. Post them here!

Kara says "no Google deal" for Twitter

It’s funny, last night I had dinner with Matt Cutts, Google’s best known blogger. He said Google wasn’t buying Twitter as far as he knew, but I figured that Matt might not know whether discussions were happening or not so I didn’t report that to see what else fell out on the blogs after Arrington reported a rumor that Twitter was in discussions. After all, if you don’t want the world to know something you shouldn’t tell your #1 blogger. But now Kara Swisher is reporting that there is no Google deal under discussion to buy Twitter. Kara knows Google very well. Her partner is an executive at Google. So, I’ll go with Kara.

So, why would a rumor get started in first place? Well, Twitter might want to shake buyers out of the tree. Or, someone at Google might want to buy Twitter and is trying to get internal support built up for such an idea. Who knows?

For now, I’m going with Kara. I didn’t believe this deal from the beginning and said so over on friendfeed when I first heard about it.

UPDATE: I didn’t mean to imply that Kara got this info from her partner, see her disclosure. I included that info to demonstrate she knows Google very well and has tons of sources.

The worst thing for Twitter

Yes, Twitter is in talks to be bought by Google, but is that the worst thing that would happen to Twitter?

No, even though it’s funny to note that designer Douglas Bowman just left Google a week ago to go to work for Twitter (and did so with a public “I’m pissed and I’m leaving” letter — I guess he’ll be asked to clean toilets for a few weeks if he gets bought back into Google).

Remember, Google is the company that bought Jaiku and then did nothing with it. It’s the company that bought Dodgeball (a company that had a service very similar to Twitter that was out before Twitter). And did nothing with it (the founders of that company also wrote a “we’re leaving” letter to Google.)

Are you noticing a trend here yet? Google sucks at microblogging/social networking and I don’t believe that Google has actually changed at all. The best predictor of future results is past behavior.

So, if Twitter goes to Google there’s a great chance that it’ll be screwed up.

But, there’s something even worse awaiting it: if Twitter gets purchased by Microsoft. Or worse, Adobe or Oracle or IBM.

Why? These companies understand even less of what’s going on in the social networking space than Google does. At least Google is trying and failing. But Google makes great mobile apps and Google understands how to scale things that need scale. I can also see how Google would integrate Twitter search into its search pages.

Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn’t deserve to get Twitter. Microsoft has totally screwed up its online branding and search. It’s pretty incompetent in those areas and has been for years. Yeah, I know that Microsoft has thousands of employees who’ll call me names on their blogs and yeah I know that Microsoft has thousands of fans, er, MVPs, who’ll tell you at length why I’m wrong.

But when I go around SXSW or Gnomedex or Northern Voice and ask people what they use from Microsoft I get blank stares. Microsoft has lost the Internet generation because they simply have not done anything interesting. Spending another $100 million on advertising is not going to change that.

Heck, they should stop the advertising, use the $100 million to get Twitter’s attention and buy it. But that’s what Microsoft would do if it had real Internet leadership that understood just how important Twitter’s search feature will be to getting Microsoft noticed in the search game.

Here: what will work better to get more people to feel good about Microsoft? Spending $100 million on TV ads? Or using that money to buy Twitter?

No brainer for me.

But here’s the problem: I don’t believe Microsoft wants to get the Internet. So, if Microsoft DID wake up and buy Twitter it would be a horrid place for Twitter to be. It would stagnate even worse there than it would at Google.

Which is why, even though I don’t like Twitter’s management team that much, I’m hoping that they sell to Google instead of Microsoft. At least then it has a chance of success, Google’s poor track record in this area notwithstanding.

Google Making Powerful Moves

Google has been doing a lot of stuff for us lately. Last week Google shipped “Latitude” which lets you track your friends and lets them track you (at least if you have a phone that works with the service — my Nokia N95 worked, but my iPhone is not yet supported). I used it with Microsoft’s Jeff Sandquist last Thursday as I was meeting him for breakfast and he said he could see my icon moving closer to him and knew exactly when I would walk through the door for breakfast. I find that kind of technology pretty fun and useful. I know lots of other people are thinking “privacy problem” too, but Google lets you decide who gets to stalk you. In fact they designed it so that it would only work with your closest friends. I, of course, opened it up to the world, and quickly added more than 200 people. That promptly caused it to crash on starting up, which made it totally useless for me. The team wrote me and said they’ll fix that bug in next release.

Then, also last week those smart people at Google released eBooks onto iPhone. More than a million public domain books are now readable on your iPhone. That’s pretty cool, although I still can’t see reading long books on my iPhone. That’s why I ordered the Amazon Kindle 2.0. It’ll be interesting to compare the two, that’s for sure.

Yesterday Google announced that it is bringing power to the people and is making a bunch of services to track and manage electricity usage, both in your home and your business. That’s an effort that’s a little further out than the other stuff I’m talking about here, but will probably have a huge impact on our power bills as we get devices (and solar panels) that can use energy at more efficient and cost-effective times.

But the one thing that hasn’t gotten a whole lot of hype yet is already the most useful for me. Google now is syncing my calendar and my contacts onto my iPhone thanks to Google Sync. It would also work with Windows Mobile and a few other phones.

I loaded this up last night and it’s magical. No longer do I have to hook up my iPhone to sync up my calendars. I set it up, which was just a touch geeky, required going into my iPhone’s email settings and following some directions. It’s a bit scary, because they say your contacts will go away. They do, so make sure you have them backed up. But I trusted in the Google and within a few seconds I had all my contacts from Gmail and all my calendars from Google Calendar all synced up. I already had other ways of syncing up my Outlook with Gmail and Google Calendar. So, now my life is all synced up and I’m happy. You can see how it is going for other users over on friendfeed in this discussion about Google’s new sync.

Thank you Google for all the fun stuff. What are you going to release in the next week? :-)