inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #26 of 52: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Wed 8 Feb 12 03:31
    
From John Battelle's Searchblog:
http://battellemedia.com/archives/2012/02/larry-pages-tidal-wave-moment.php?ut
m_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+JohnBattellesSearchb
log+%28John+Battelle%27s+Searchblog%29

"To continue being a great search engine, it needs the identity and
relationship data found, for the most part, behind Facebook’s walls.

I’ve written elsewhere about the breakdown of the open web, the move
toward more “walled gardens of data,” and what that does to Google’s
ability to execute its core business of search. And it’s not just
social – readers have sent me tons of information that predict how
mobile, in particular, will escape the traditional reaches of Google’s
spidering business model. I hope to pore through that information and
post more here, but for now, it’s worth reading a bit of history to put
Google’s moves into broader context."

So Search Plus Your World is driven for a large part because so much
data is now hidden behind walled gardens? Does the move to mobile
really effect how data is found by traditional search engines?

And finally, how will Web 3.0, the semantic web, effect search? Are we
seeing the beginning of a new data set outside the scope of
traditional search engines?
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #27 of 52: Steven Levy (steven) Wed 8 Feb 12 08:54
    
I'll get to Jon's question last.  First to Ari.  In "In the Plex" I
describe Google's attitude towards customer service.  In short, Larry
thought it was a waste of time.  Why not let customers instruct each
other how to navigate Google's quirks?  Believe it or not this worked
pretty well--when Google's products were only free services like search
and Gmail.  When Google began offering services to the enterprise,
they had to change course.  And when Google did its own phone, the lack
of support was a definite disaster.   Still, Google's core belief is
that its services are built to scale, and support is something the
company will never focus on.  It's not Zappos. 
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #28 of 52: Steven Levy (steven) Wed 8 Feb 12 09:00
    
Ted has a range of questions. I totally agree with Battelle (and have
written about this myself) that the idea behind Search Plus Your World
(SPYW) is flawed if Google can't get access to social content other
than G+.  Google's response is that no one complains (any more) about
maps.  (Well, Google just did get a fine from France for offering Maps
for free, but that's another matter.)  But I respond that SPYW without
Facebook, Twitter, etc. is like Maps where cities are only partially
mapped.  It's a map of a city with only a small fraction of its
neighborhood.   This isn't only Google's fault-- we must as users
demand control of our information.   That means being able to let
others (of our choice) seeing it in search engines -- if we choose and
give permission.

Mobile is a different issue, and opens new vistas for everybody. 
Google was both smart and lucky to have Android, and its only beginning
to explore how search and local combine.  

Semantic web is something Google works on, but efforts like Google
Square have not taken off.  More and more, though, Google relies on
semantic stuff to help it deliver instant answer.  The real mover in
this, by the way, is Wolfram -- Wolfram Alpha is on the move, and its a
big reason Siri is so smart. 
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #29 of 52: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 8 Feb 12 12:24
    
My ears stood up at this part of your post: "...we must as users
demand control of our information." You've written one after another
forward-looking and savvy book about the Internet, and we both know
that this issue's been in the air since the Internet was commercialized
in the early 90s. I'd love to hear your thoughts about how this hard
problem can be solved - how do we get control of our data, given that
the prevailing assumption has been that commercial interests can freely
take our data and make it their own?
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #30 of 52: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 9 Feb 12 05:13
    
Steven, what do you know about Google Currents?

http://www.webdistortion.com/2011/12/11/google-currents-content-curation-for-m
obile/
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #31 of 52: Steven Levy (steven) Thu 9 Feb 12 10:26
    
It will be a struggle to get control of our data, but I believe it
will eventually happen.  I see social data like email in the
1980s--systems didn't talk to each other.  (Compuserve users couldn't
send mail to the Prodigy users!)  This can't hold.  Either government
pressure or marketplace pressure will force a change.  The thing about
Facebook is that its very size will put more pressure on it to open up.
 
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #32 of 52: Steven Levy (steven) Thu 9 Feb 12 10:29
    
As for Currents, I have played with it a bit and it looks nice.  Very
much in the Flipboard vein.  Google has ventured in this area a number
of times (like Google News "Spotlight" and in almost every case it
throws the product into deep water and see if it won't drown. 
Flipboard has a CEO and a passionate group of staffers who live and die
by promoting and improving their product.  Google's philosophy is to
let product succeed on their own.  Which product do you see winning?
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #33 of 52: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 11 Feb 12 05:47
    
The hottest online product du jour is Pinterest, which isn't something
I would've predicted - if you told me an app for pinning photos with
comments would catch fire, I might've said "people can add photos to
Google+ and Facebook, why would they go there." It's hard to predict
what applications will be big successes. Even its founders didn't
suspect Twitter would be the phenomenon it's become.

I just had an interview with Amber Case, the cyborg anthropologist.
She's been studying human/machine integration and interaction. As our
technology evolves, we're evolving with it - it can have an impact on
our thinking, though what's fundamentally human doesn't necessarily
change.

I didn't ask her this question, but I've been thinking about it since
that discussion. We're becoming hyperfocused on screens and media - as
we move through the world we see so many people who are staring into
their increasingly smaller devices, interacting with applications and
data - texting, reading email, posting to Twitter and Facebook, tossing
virtual birds at precarious stacks of lumber, etc. Are we going to
keep moving in the "cyborg" direction, increasingly interacting with
our various computing devices and deploying them as human extensions?
Or might there be a backlash, where masses of people decide they're
done with this, I'm closing my Facebook account and taking a walk in
the park?
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #34 of 52: Steven Levy (steven) Sat 11 Feb 12 07:47
    
I think that we are on the cusp of a giant behavior change on what it
means to be a human interacting with other humans.  It is important to
understand that we are not at any sort of finishing point in the quick
rampup of technology.  It's the beginning, as stuff gets more powerful,
more beautiful, more ubiquitous and more connected.    You can go for
a walk and forget about facebook and all that for a few hours, but you
will return, or be left out of the sweep of civilization's future.  It
may be a crummy future (according to the way we see things now) but
short of some sort of apocalypse that turns off our stuff, we face a
different kind of living.  The only thing we really know about it is
that it will be dramatically different. 
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #35 of 52: J. Eric Townsend (jet) Sat 11 Feb 12 08:19
    
> The hottest online product du jour is Pinterest, which isn't something

With what group of people?  I think as many of my friends make fun of
it as use it as The Next Great Solution To World Hunger (or whatever).
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #36 of 52: no disrespect to our friends the chum (wiggly) Sat 11 Feb 12 09:37
    
According to techcrunch, "18-34 year old upper income women from the
American heartland."

http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/07/pinterest-monthly-uniques/

Dismissal of twitter was common among a lot of people who probably see
themselves as net-savvy, too.
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #37 of 52: J. Eric Townsend (jet) Sat 11 Feb 12 09:47
    
Unfair comparison.  What about all the other things that received
negative feedback and disappeared?  I think Google has a nice, long
list of those.
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #38 of 52: Steven Levy (steven) Sun 12 Feb 12 08:19
    
I have to admit that I have not been swept up in Pinterest frenzy, but
I haven't devoted attention to it.  In cases like this -- Groupon
comes to mind--I really try to give it a shot, which I will do at some
point.  When I did this for Groupon, I was not excited about that
company as a significant force in the Internet, a la Amazon, Google,
Facebook, Twitter, etc.   
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #39 of 52: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 12 Feb 12 11:56
    
I suspect Pinterest is growing so fast because it's easy to use and
focused on image-sharing. Note that the smartphone app Instagram is
also very popular, and has similar characteristics (but a different
culture of adopters, I'd say).

I'd like to hear more about people who make fun of Pintereset. Sounds
like a bit if cultural disdain - make geeks looking crosseyed at a site
that appeals to women from "the heartland." When I say it's a hot app,
I mean in terms of growth, not geek appeal.

I saw Chris Riley speak yesterday. He's former head of Apple's Graphic
Design Group, now spending some time traveling and collecting
photographs. He showed photos by various global photographers and noted
that so many depicted a real sense of joy and wonder that he suggested
is pervasive in the world, despite the U.S. propensity to focus on bad
news and anxious thinking. He was thinking global sharing of real
stories unfiltered by media thinking would have a huge impact as more
global citizens find access to each other through the Internet. It was
an inspiring talk (at TedX Austin).
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #40 of 52: suzanne stefanac (zorca) Sun 12 Feb 12 17:40
    
hi steven! i post to both facebook and google+ fairly regularly. using
google+, i like the ease with which i can form and update circles. i've
found hangouts useful. the sparks feature surfaces topics and links i'd
never have found otherwise. i recognize that not everyone likes the idea
that there's one sign-in for all of google, but i'm grateful that i can set
my privacy and other settings and know that they will follow me across
search, maps, calendar, docs, etc.

my question is, given the tremendous lead facebook enjoys, do you think
google+ will withstand the test of time and give facebook a run for its
money? it seems some competition in the arena would be good for all of us.
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #41 of 52: Steven Levy (steven) Mon 13 Feb 12 17:31
    
Hi, Suzanne, great to hear from you. 

You like Sparks?  Wow, first time I've heard that!  But I do really
like Google+.   I find it's a much better place for comments to draw
good comments and a fairly constructive conversation.  (Of course,
there's the WELL, but this is my first time back in... let's say a long
time.)  

I think the key to a thriving Google+ is something that all of us
should want--portability of social data.  If Google was able to get
access to FB data (with our permission!) in a way that preserved the
same privacy settings we had on FB (and vice versa) that would be a
boon.  What's more, I think that this must happen.  The bigger FB gets,
the more the government will want to regulate it.  And this is the
biggest issue of its power.  

Facebook has the talent and drive to thrive in those conditions, and
it will be good for Facebook to have a spirited competitor.  All I ask
those giants is not to douse us in their pissing contest.
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #42 of 52: suzanne stefanac (zorca) Mon 13 Feb 12 20:58
    
do you think it could end up being a third-party that arbitrates guidelines
and holds the keys?
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #43 of 52: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 14 Feb 12 05:42
    
Or conversely, as some are predicting, will Facebook ultimately
collapse under the weight of its ambitions, a la AOL?
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #44 of 52: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 14 Feb 12 15:38
    
Mashable has an infographic about Pinterest's success:
http://mashable.com/2012/02/14/pinterest-daily-users-are-up-125-percent/
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #45 of 52: Steven Levy (steven) Wed 15 Feb 12 09:56
    
Facebook's ambitions would definitely put it into a space where it
begs regulation.  Unlike Google, which became a search utility without
a lock-in, Facebook would be a social utility WITH a lock-in, due to a
self-sustaining critical mass.  Does that sound desirable? Maybe one
remedy (if you think one is called for) would be a third party identity
entity, or just a mandate to share (welcome back Open Social?) 
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #46 of 52: J. Eric Townsend (jet) Wed 15 Feb 12 13:44
    
> Unlike Google, which became a search utility without a lock-in,

But with executives mucking with personal data of Google execs and
troubles with the FTC.   They might not have Facebook's problems, but
they aren't walking on water.
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #47 of 52: Ari Davidow (ari) Wed 15 Feb 12 14:01
    
I just got the book out of the library before heading out for vacation, 
but I have to say that the first third or so (as far as I've read so far) 
is a fascinating story. I especially enjoy the fact that other people were 
coming up with a similar search methodology, but it was Brin and Page who 
created the search engine. In a different vein, the story of how Google 
invented (re-invented?) their auctions is marvellous.
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #48 of 52: suzanne stefanac (zorca) Wed 15 Feb 12 14:21
    
i was once in the google offices visiting a friend who was fairly high up.
she had worked at apple years before and said the biggest difference was
that apple was a severely hierarchical org while google was almost anarchic.
she pointed to the two offices adjacent to hers and said she actually didn't
know what the inhabitants of either did. do you think this was a fair
assessment of the two companies? if true, it's interesting that two such
opposite strategies have paid off so well for their adherents.
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #49 of 52: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 16 Feb 12 12:14
    
We want to thank Steven Levy for taking time away from his very busy
schedule to discuss Google's evolution and implications for the larger,
rapidly evolving Internet ecosystem. Our discussion reaches its formal
end today, though it's fine to continue posting here. Thanks also to
others who participated, and to our readers.
  
inkwell.vue.433 : Steven Levy, In the (Google)Plex
permalink #50 of 52: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 16 Feb 12 13:53
    
Thanks, this has been good reading!
  

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