Sunday, May 31, 2009

Will Google Wave kill Google Groups?

dodoImage by kevinzim via Flickr

I still use Google Groups. I’m not sure I’ll still use Google Groups when Wave comes out.

There seem to be so many ways in which Google could make Google Groups so much better right now - why don't they?

Why can’t we have wiki functionality within Google Groups? Surely that’s easy enough for Google to do now that JotSpot is fully integrated into their architecture. Why on Earth isn’t it there yet?

Right now we’ve got Discussion and Pages within Google Groups and there’s not much difference between the two. I can’t imagine it’ll be all that challenging to change Google Group Pages to something more like Google Docs – something that allowed the Group to edit the page (rather than have a discussion about the page which is what happens now).

What about integrating Google Talk into Google Groups too? That means rather than swapping email addresses or IMs with other people in the Group you could simply visit the Group and talk, in real time, to anyone else who also happened to be there.

Finally, what about giving us embeds of Google Groups so we can make all this content portable and integrate the community effort into our own blogs?

I think all these requests are safely within touching distance for Google’s Engineers. There may be a question of whether Google Groups is sufficiently popular for there to be enough demand to justify any engineering time but I think the single biggest reason we’re not saying any of this sort of development on Google Groups is the pending release of Google Wave.

Simply put; Google Wave will offer all this functionality (and more). People may debate whether (or when) Google Wave will usurp email but surely the service Wave will edge out first is Groups? Certainly Google Groups seems redundant compared to Google Wave but it’s worth noting services like Yahoo Groups may also be badly hit by the new technology.

Or will Google Groups live on as a UseNet viewer of choice by those of us old enough to remember?

What do you think?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Katamari Philosophy

At WordCamp 2009 Matt Cutts gave a 50 page presentation. In it he discussed PageRank, the concept behind it and the importance of avoiding BO (backlink obsession).

As might be expected of a WordCamp presentation he was full of praise for WordPress and suggested the platform takes care of about 80% to 90% of the technical aspect of SEO.

His presentation also contains a slide which recommends the audience "Apply Katamari Philosophy" to their blogging.

But what did he mean by this?

The concept is simply; start with a small niche topic for your blog and then "roll up". Grow that niche once you gain authority in it. It is easier to be relevant and reputable in a niche than in a whole vertical or subject.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Microsoft accepts Stanley Bing's offer; to merge identities

Who said Microsoft doesn't have a sense of humour? This is a joke.

Stanley Bing is a columnist at Fortune. When he discovered Microsoft's search engine was to be called Bing he issued a tongue-in-cheek press release. Here's the intro to it;



NEW YORK, MAY 28, 2009 – Stanley Bing, FORTUNE Magazine columnist and best-selling author, today expressed “moderate outrage” at the branding of the new search engine to be offered by Microsoft, also to be called Bing. At the same time, Bing the Author took the unusual step of offering an initial olive branch to Bing the Search Engine, proposing that the two powerful brands merge into one for which Mr. Bing could be the logo, corporate symbol and spokesman, to the extent that it fits in with his other duties.

.. and guess what? Over at the Live Search blog there's been a response!

A Letter to Bing

We couldn’t help sit up and take notice of your offer of services from one Bing to another. We were moderately surprised and mildly excited. As you might have guessed, today is quite a big day for us. Even so, we dropped everything when we saw your press release this morning. After an emergency meeting (three people were invited, all declined), we’ve decided to take you up on your offer. We’re not certain what exactly this would involve. We’re not certain it would pay much (nothing, actually) but we look forward to starting a dialogue and hope we can work together soon. Let’s do lunch. In the meantime we are sending you a case of moderately priced cigars.

Your pals,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Google Wave and Bing go head to head in Trends

Curious to know which of the big two search announcements are causing the biggest search stir? Both [Google Wave] and [bing] are trending at Google Hot Trends - but which keyword has the strongest 'hotness'?

Google Wave has it. There are a number of reasons for this - so let's be fair to Microsoft; it isn't just because the public isn't interested in Bing.

Bing's domain name is easy to guess. You don't need to search for it and many browsers will automatically take users to without doing a search. It's also fairly clear what is whereas Google Wave takes some explination. Blogs are competiting with each other to offer the best insight into Google Wave and frankly doing some blog searches on Google Wave today, tomorrow and over the weekend will be a good idea.

Google News introduces Dave Bing on Bing

Rather good timing - Google News is bringing in quotes from Dave Bing in response to [bing] search queries. Wrong Bing, Google. 

Google adds Reader subscription button to Feedburner emails

It's not that widely used (although it should be) but it is possible to use Feedburner to email subscribers (opt-in) with a daily summary of your blog posts. If you want email updates of this blog then subscribe here.

Today (at least for feeds I get by email) Google's ramped up the presence of the RSS subscription option. The top of the daily email now carries a #+Google# RSS subscription badge.

The footer of the email has recieved similar treatment. Among the unsubscribe options (which includes writing a snailmail letter to Google) there's another #+Google# button.

I'm actually quite glad for this. If the reader is considering that their inbox is too full then I'd rather they move to RSS than unsubscribe completely.

Feedburner's Email service remains an odd child in Google's family.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Google attacks Google

At Google’s IO conference today the search engine has unveiled a bunch of gadgets (web elements) that allow bloggers and site owners to include snippets of other Google products in their site.

The Comment Gadget is likely to be popular. Google offers VoteEarth2009 for a demo and you’ll need to find the Your Thoughts section to see it working.

I’ve gone with the Social Bar for across the Andrew Girdwood blog. One of the reasons was that the comment gadget took over a minute to load.

Here’s the thing though – I still use for Whether I like it or not Blogger slaps a bar across the top of the site already. What happens when I add the Google social bar to my site is that it covers up the Blogger bar.

This might be grumbling but it is too much to ask Google that then they release new web toys they make sure they are as compatible as possible with their own web offerings? What’s wrong with an upgrade to Blogger that transforms the standard bar into a Blogger-Social bar hybrid?

Google does the Champions League (mostly)

Tonight Manchester United play Barcelona in the Champions League. Google has noticed. Manchester is Google's second city in the UK.

The following logo appears on (Manchester United), (Barcelona), (the final is being played in Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy),,,,,,,,, etc..

It does not appear in Why Ireland isn't in the spirit of this international European match isn't clear. Google's most significant presence in Europe is in Ireland.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is this the most influential website in the UK?

Is this the most influential website among Twitterati elite in the UK?

This is the website for one Mark Clayson. Mark is big on Twitter.

I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter ranking sites. On the hate site - I absolutely have no care, concern or desire to know what their algorithms think about me. None.

All they seem to do is encourage people to DM me with "You've overtaken me! You bastard!" or "I've overtaken you! You bastard!".

However, I find these sites useful in finding other Twitter users in local geographies or even who the crowd think is worth following (and I'm aware there's something of a contradiction there). In particular I like to look at the rate of follower growth that some charts provide. If someone's had a spike of interest I like to find out what/why/who caused that spike.

So, let's go back to Mr Mark Clayson. The ever popular Twitter Grader ranks Mark Clayson with an impressive 100/100. He's one of only four people in the UK to achieve the feat. He beats the GuardianTech, TweetDeck and Chris Garrett to the first place.

I don't know Mark at all. I'm sure he's a nice man. I'm not following him though and I'm not following him because of that site and after a quick glance at his tweets. Twitter Grader tells me he's doing well despite that website. It doesn't tell me anything else.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Google evolves quickly with Darwinius Masilae

I want to return to Google's coverage of the newly found Darwinius Masilae.

The search results have improved dramatically since my post. I'm glad I took a screen grab. In particular we've all been linking to the news story that topped the Google News cluster and it now tops the web results.

I wanted to show off the bottom of the web results though. Look at how incredibly quickly those related searches have appeared and how accurate they are. This is Google being impressive.

Google promotes their own missing link

The news story of the day must be the discovery Darwinius masillae. Is this the missing link in evolution that we've been looking for?

I think this is the first time it has happened by Google updated their homepage logo to highlight the news.

Clicking on this image from the UK takes you to a web search result for [missing link].

Do you know what? They're not that good.

You've got to scroll down to the Google News cluster before you get any really user friendly and up to date results.

Whereas this is a great plug for Universal Search - it really shows the power - you have to wonder why Google simply didn't link straight through to Google News (or even Blogsearch. Both Google variants have had a lot of attention lately. Surely this would have been an even better way to showcase how Google News drives traffic to newspapers who produce good web content?

I suspect Google simply didn't think about it. The web search logo only ever links to web search results. Google News is a different team. It was good that Google updated their logo quickly but perhaps a sign of factionalism that they couldn't cross-link between products.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Google predicited Norway would score 388 in #eurovision. They scored 387

A fairly good night for Google's prediction tech.

Google's Eurovision gadget used searches to predicted not only winners but scores. They did very well with the first place - getting it down to just one point. Norway, though, was a run away winner.

Google's results for the top 10 are fairly good but nevertheless this is a strong indication of what the search tech can do. Google's next move? Wall Street traders will wonder but the engine does need a healthy dose of searches in order to make the predictions.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Avoiding Andrew Girdwood. You bastards!

I'm not sure I like this new Related Searches option from Google....

Is there anything you want to tell me? :)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Violet push the Nabaztag in the wake of Ugobe's Pleo

Some years a go I bought a white rabbit. He sat on the self and would read RSS from Matt Cutts' blog to me in a human voice.

However, all was not well with my wireless rabbit and Violet the company who made him. Their servers crashed with all the interest. I couldn't log in to customise the bunny. He was trapped in a cycle of sprouting random RSS comments and wiggling his ears.

Throughout the years I tried to fix the situation. No response from Violet's customer care. Fan sites where no help - their owners closing them down, embarrassed by Violet or assuming the project was dead.

In the end we simply turned the bunny off. Random outbursts of speech was a good way to scare burglars off but wrecked the TV watching experience late at night.

At the start of the year I bought theweirdone a Pleo called Splodge instead. Splodge was a hit. He only made cute sounds (even as a watchdog) and trundled around the room.

Rather sadly, Ugobe the company behind Pleo has gone the way of the dinosaurs. It is no more. Although Splodge is still live and well (although wearing a cute red t-shirt now in order to slow the rate at which paint rubs off his skin) I was wondering what the next robotic pet might be...

I was very surprised to get an email from Violet. Not only are Violet still alive but they had noticed Cirque, my bunny, hadn't been active for ages.

I was also very surprised to discover the password recovery on the site worked and I could log in to the system!

The timing made sense. The market, now without Ugobe, was a little more clear and Violet could use this time to promote the wireless rabbit. The Nabaztag is significantly cheaper than the Pleo.

I suspect Violet may even have had a dose of VC funding too. Today my RSS feeds started to carry feedburner ads for the bunny.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

#crapdatingagencies challenge Twitter

The result above - where #crapdatingagencies is both a trending term and an empty search string - is most likely a technical fubar rather than Twitter censoring the results to protect brands.

However; this result does also illustrate the rising importance and demand on instant search. As Twitter offers us instant market intelligence we also become more needy of it.

What may happen with this trending term is that - all of a sudden - the block will clear and Twitter will start to name and shame a host of online dating sites. This is a competitive area with sensitive brand concerns. When it comes to online dating the "wisdom of crowds" is king.

This is also the second #crap-- trending term of the day. On Twitter we've also been having fun naming #crapnamesforpubs. Only time will tell if #crap-- trends become a stable but if they do then we'll see a rush on account names and even domain names.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha; gaming Google hot trends again

Looks like someone has pulled off another 4chan-esq prank on Google. A trending term is apparently;


We can see this peaked some time ago but did make quite some impact on the trend chart - coming in at "spicy".

Although this is just a prank it is worth being aware that the successful gaming of Google Hot Trends can result in big bucks. One approach is the "pump and dump" of a set of stocks or general interest in a company.

For example, blogs like The Inquistr watch the hot trends closely so they can blog a post to match the popular keyphrase and try and ride as much of the traffic wave as possible. If you're shooting to gain some social media coverage then this automated 'attack' on Google is a possible way to wriggle your story onto the radar of some influential blogs.