Posts filed under “Web/Tech”
Since today is the 11th anniversary of first-day trading in Google shares after its initial public offering, I wanted to bring to your attention a recent bit of gamesmanship that has been taking place with its search function.
Google rose to its position of authority and influence because it invented a better way to navigate the World Wide Web. Search was more or less OK in the late 1990s, but two Stanford students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, figured out how to use the link structure of the Web to create page rank. They created an algorithm that ranked any site by its authority, which was a function of how many other authoritative sites linked or pointed to it. Sure, it’s a bit circular, but it works extremely well — better than the other search engines of 10 or 15 years ago, most of which have since been forgotten.
That was only the first part of their genius; figuring out how to make money on those searches was what separated Google’s business model from all the rest. The key was AdWords, which displays advertising text based partly on key words — a low-cost, high-margin business driven by Google’s brilliant algorithms.
Therein lays the system’s Achilles heel.
Algorithms follow specific patterns, and it’s only a matter of time before someone figures these out and learns how to game them. With Google, the big offenders have been spammers, who try all sorts of tricks to generate search results. Publishers and other websites often play similar games in an effort to capture higher page rank in the Google machinery. The upside is more traffic, and consequently more money, for those who succeed. The downside is that the sorts of tricks often employed by gamesters may violate Google’s terms of service — provided they get caught.
Continues here: Gaming Google for Profit and Ideology
As Theodore Sturgeon famously observed, 90 percent of science fiction is crap, but then again 90 percent of everything is crap. In the world of online investment opinions, Sturgeon was an optimist. Not all that long ago, the perspectives of individual amateur investors and professional ones, too, were for the most part unknown. Most market…Read More
Bloomberg Briefs: Nowadays, it’s hard to find more exuberant sharing-economy enthusiasts than investors. Uber, the ride-hailing company, is raising $1.5 billion at a valuation of $50 billion — theoretically making the six-year-old business the equal of Target and Kraft Foods. Airbnb, for home sharing, is valued at $20 billion. Uber competitor Lyft is valued Uber…Read More
There has been relentless coverage of the boom in technology startups. Think about the blasé way the word bubble gets tossed about. Big Wall Street banks and Silicon Valley venture capital firms are wooing geek talent, and investors seem willing once again to ignore the widespread use of unconventional financial accountingthat makes a start-up’s finances look much better…Read More
They couldn’t make it on their own. Walt Mossberg, one of America’s two most famous tech columnists, shot himself in the foot. He left the “Wall Street Journal.” They’re finding out in news what we already know in music, you can go it alone, the internet allows you to do this, but in a chaotic…Read More
The past month has seen an outpouring of tributes and praise for the just-retired “Late Show” host David Letterman. I have been linking to some of the more informative (and amusing) discussions in the morning reads (see this and this). None have really captured the context I was looking for: what does this tell us about the future…Read More