Category Archives: Google

Do Not Track

Brian Fung of the Washington Post’s Switch blog writes on the state of privacy in web browsing and the policy proposal known as Do Not Track.

So where do the Do Not Track negotiations go from here? In the wake of Wednesday’s poll, the W3C is not expected to terminate the group. Instead, it might settle for establishing a definition for Do Not Track without laying out steps for compliance. Meanwhile, the Digital Advertising Alliance, an industry organization that recently exited the W3C working group, is developing its own draft standards. So while the W3C’s attempt may have stalled, Do Not Track may still have some life left.

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Retailers Fight Exile From Gmail In-Boxes

Reporting for the New York Times Claire Miller and Stephanie Clifford address Gmail’s new inbox interface and its effect on retailers.

For Google, it’s another moneymaking avenue (note the ads that look like e-mails that now appear at the top of the promotions folder). Also, the company says it wants to fix e-mail overload.

Yet any tiny change that the Internet giant makes has cascading effects for businesses across the Web.

“I don’t like it,” said Ada Polla, chief executive of Alchimie Forever, a skin care brand. “My guess would be that you might log on to your Gmail 20 times a day, and look at promotions once a week.”

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Google To Feature Longform Journalism In Search

Google's In-depth News Search

Inside Search

Google will now begin to feature in-depth reporting and longform writing in their search queries.

Where the default Google search on any given topic brings up recently written news, the company will now cater to users who are looking for more thoughtful coverage on a subject. As Hamish McKenzie of PandoDaily explains, Google has enabled a kind of Twitter-style news consumption. This is where the most prominent stories Google offers are always the stories that were written up moments earlier, or stories that were extremely popular within the current news cycle.

The advantage of this style is that it provides readers with the news of the day, the word of the moment without much fuss. The downside, though, is that other kinds of journalism, the kinds that take longer to produce, or that don’t link strongly to the events that are happening THAT DAY are crowded out. This mode favors rapid-fire news over thoughtful essays, press release blog posts over careful criticism.

For example: If you searched “Boston Bomber” Google will give you a bunch of crappy, recently written articles about the Rolling Stones cover or the alleged revelations that he was into right-wing-conspiracy theories. While these links have merit, it would also be extremely useful for Google to give us some definitive accounts of the whole Boston bombing episode–not just the insignificant trickling of brand new news stories.

This novel, in-depth highlight will help readers more fully understand.

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Like HBO, Hulu also ‘actively working’ to support Google Chromecast

More Chromecast news from Chris Welch at The Verge:

The content providers are lining up to support Google’s Chromecast. One day after HBO said it was “actively exploring” the streaming stick, Hulu has gone a step further and confirmed a solution is already in the works. “We are actively working with Google to bring Hulu Plus to the platform,” a company representative told Variety. No specific ETA has been given, but with Hulu Plus and (presumably) HBO Go set to join Netflix, Google has already locked down three services considered essential among many viewers.

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Chromecast: Google’s second attempt to take over your TV

Aaron Souppouris writes at The Verge:

Announced July 24th 2013, the Google Chromecast is a tiny streaming device that lets you push content from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop straight to your TV. After Google TV failed to take off, Chromecast is the company’s second attempt to put a browser on your biggest screen, and represents a major effort to compete with Apple’s AirPlay. At $35, it’s far more of an impulse buy than other offerings, but, in typical Google fashion, there are elements of Chromecast that are very much in beta. Official app support was limited at launch to Netflix and YouTube, with additional services available through a beta feature that lets you mirror a Chrome tab to your TV.

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A Novelist Describes Google Glass

Finally! An artist with a gift of voice offers his vision of Google Glass. Gary Shtyengart, author of “Super Sad True Love Story,” alternates between 3rd person narration and essay to share what it’s like to look through Glass. Refreshingly, his piece in the New Yorker is not a product review. Powerful and imaginative, Shtyengart uses literary tools–instead of tech specs–as a way to introduce us to Glass.

“O.K. Glass. Google translate ‘hamburger’ into Russian.”
“Gamburrrger,” a voice purred, not so gently, like my grandmother at the end of a long hot day.
And, all of a sudden, I felt something for this technology.

Wearing Glass takes its toll. “You look like you have a lazy eye,” I’m told at a barbecue, my right eye instinctively scanning upward for more info. “You look like you have a nervous tic,” when I tap at the touch pad. “You have that faraway look again,” whenever there’s something more interesting happening on my screen. To awaken Glass, one must tap at the touch pad or jerk one’s head; otherwise the device remains inactive, conserving its limited battery supply and allowing the user to remain perfectly human. At breakfast, I jerk my head up theatrically, and then use a new function which allows me to move around Web sites by holding two fingers to the touch pad and moving my head about, in effect turning my skull into a cursor. “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,” my wife says.

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LinkedIn And The Invisible Employment Screen

My new piece at The New Inquiry:

Far from a buggy nuisance, this kind of openness is LinkedIn’s hallmark feature. As BuzzFeed’s listicles overlord Ben Smith chirped, “LinkedIn’s stalker problem is not totally unrelated to how awesome it is as a reporting tool.” Unlike the more social networks whose overriding ethos is YOLO, the employment site only wants to see the front, business-side of your mullet. By showcasing CVs and work affiliations, LinkedIn operates as a professional safe space. Here, you know for sure prospective employers are looking. As a designated network for the interaction between us and our would-be bosses, LinkedIn ostensibly guards against the rampant and potentially illegal practice of the invisible employment screen.

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An Email to Check Your Facebook: Notification Insanity

John Herrman of BuzzFeed breaks down the notification nightmare that clogs our inboxes and reveals the desperate attention seeking by social media companies.

We Are Approaching Peak Notification:

But nagging users to come back to your site is a treatment, not a cure, and eventually it will stop working. This trend ends in two ways: Either every update on your service is sent to your users’ inboxes, at which point it’s hardly a service at all; or the sum of these notifications overwhelms your users’ inboxes, rendering them useless or leaving your messages unread.

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Instant Messaging Rules The Internet

“If you strip away the flashy interfaces, expensive ad campaigns, and layers of hype, you’ll notice that for the past 15 years, the dominant unit of social technology has remained virtually unchanged: Today, as was the case in the ’90s, instant messaging is still king,” writes Charlie Warzel of BuzzFeed.

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Google Search or a Pinterest One?

Ashley McCollum of BuzzFeed makes a clever observation. When a user searches for a word on Google and then types in that same query on Pinterest, the difference in results reveals the limitations of Google’s internal logic.

Searching “stripes” on Pinterest, for example, brings up striped clothing, fabric, and art design:

“Stripes” on Google spits this out:

McCollum goes on to list 9 more comparisons and the contrast is demonstrated in each instance. Where Pinterest recalls fashion, art, and conceptual abstraction, Google retrieves products, names and hyper-literalness. (When she types in “California” we get pins of beaches and forests and skimpy clothes; Google instead delivers maps and pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.)

From Google’s perspective, this is a rather silly and unfair analysis. The search colossus stores and catalogs the entire Internet, whereas Pinterest caters to sartorialists, designers, and artists. That Google’s searches are too obvious or mechanical or archetypal, as compared to Pinterest, is not so much criticism as it is a difference in intended user experience.

Even so, I find McCollum’s argument compelling. She grasps towards the point that certain kinds of computer driven algorithms are severely limited. And that a more curatorial approach to search has obvious advantages.

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