Posts tagged ‘Duck Duck Go’


The big difference with the internet of the ’90s: it served the many, not the few

11.09.2016


Above: Facebook kept deleting Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph each time it was posted, even when Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten did so, preventing its editor-in-chief from responding.

There’s a significant difference between the internet of the 1990s and that of today. As Facebook comes under fire for deleting the “napalm girl” photograph from the Vietnam War shared by Norwegian writer Tom Egeland, then by prime minister Erna Solberg and Aftenposten newspaper, it has highlighted to me how the big Silicon Valley players have become exclusionary. In this latest case, it is about how one firm determines what is acceptable and unacceptable without regard to cultural significance or free speech; it even punished people who dared criticize it, and has failed to apologize. Earlier this year, in one of my numerous battles with Facebook, I noted how a major German company falsely claimed videos that did not belong to them, yet there was no penalty. An individual or a small firm would not have been so lucky: when we file copyright claims, we do so ‘under penalty of perjury’ on the form.
   Google, never far from my critical eye, is the same. I’ve watched Google News, for instance, become exclusionary, too, or, rather, a service that prefers big players rather than the independents. When deciding to send traffic for a particular news item, Google News now ranks big media outlets more highly, and to heck with journalistic quality or any regard on who broke the story first. It’s damaging to the independent voice, as Google concentrates power in favour of larger firms today, and it’s rather disturbing when you consider the implications.
   Mainstream media can be homogeneous, and, in some cases, damaging, when bias and prejudice get in to the system. When it comes to politics, this can be detrimental to democracy itself. And why should a search engine prefer a larger name anyway? Many newsrooms have been stripped of resources, ever more reliant on press releases. Many now engage in click-bait. Some have agenda driven by big business and their technocratic view of the world, especially those that have their corporate headquarters outside the country in which they operate. Those who desire to wake people up from their slumber get short shrift. Google is aiding this world, because since it became publicly listed, it has had to adopt its trappings, and one might argue that it is in direct conflict with its ‘Don’t be evil’ mantra (one which never held much sway with me).
   This is the world which Google and Facebook, and no doubt others, wish to serve up to users. They may well argue that they’re only delivering what people want: if a lot of people get their news from the Daily Mail or The Huffington Post, then that’s what they’ll show in their results. There’s little freshness online as a result, which is why people aren’t as inclined to share in 2016 as they were in 2010.
   Yet it was not always this way. The hope in the late 1990s and early 2000s was that Google et al would be tools in distributing power equally among all netizens. Started an independent online publication? If the quality is there, if you’re the first to break a story, then Google News will lavish attention upon you. If you have specialized news outside what mainstream media deliver, then you’ll pop up regularly in the search results’ pages. The blogosphere rose because of this, with people seeking opinions and research outside of what the mainstream could deliver. The reason people blog less isn’t just because of social networks making one-sentence opinions de rigueur; it is because people have found it harder to reach new audience members, and their own tribe is the next best thing.
   It makes the ’net a far less interesting place to be. Without fresh, new views, we run the risk of groupthink, or we become particularly influenced by the biases of certain media outlets. We don’t really want to surf casually as we once did because we don’t learn anything new: it’s harder to find novel things that pique our interests.
   There are potential solutions, of course. I tend not to Google, but use Duck Duck Go, so at least I don’t get a filter bubble when I search for particular subjects. However, Duck Duck Go does not have a comprehensive news search, and Google’s index size remains unbeatable.
   What we really need next is something that brings back that sense of equality online. I believe that if you put in the hours into good content and design, you should excel and get your site ranked above the same old sources. Google claims that it does that when it tweaks its algorithms but I’m not seeing this. Facebook merely builds on what people have found—so if you can’t find it, it won’t wind up being shared. Twitter, at least, still has some interesting items, but if you don’t catch it in your feed at a given time, then too bad. It’s not geared to search.
   Duck Duck Go is a start, at least when it comes to general searches. It becomes easier to find views that you might not agree with—and that’s a good thing when it comes to understanding others. Google’s approach lulls you into a sense of security, that your views are sacrosanct—and all that does is give you the notion that the other half is wrong.
   So what of news? Duck Duck Go could well be a starting-point for that, too, ranking news based on who breaks an item first and the quality of the site, rather than how much money is behind it. Or perhaps this is the space for another entrepreneur. Ironically, it might even come out of China; though right now it’s equally likely to emerge from India. What it then needs is a bit of virality for it to be adopted, spread by the very people it is designed to aid.
   We need something that rewards the independent entrepreneur again, the people who drove so many innovations in the 1990s and 2000s. This isn’t nostalgia kicking in, seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses while happily ignoring all those businesses that failed. I completely acknowledge there were sites that vanished at the time of the dot-com bust, triggered in no small part by 9-11, the anniversary of which we celebrate today.
   Society needs those distinctive voices, those independent entrepreneurs, those people who are willing to put themselves forward and be judged fairly. What they don’t need are reactionary media who want to silence them out of fear that the world will change too much for them to bear; and big Silicon Valley firms all too happy to join in these days.
   It’s high time the most influential websites served the many rather than the few again.

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Posted in business, culture, globalization, interests, internet, media, politics, publishing, technology, USA | 3 Comments »


Google and Facebook should not head “top brands” lists when consumers do not trust them

10.02.2016

I’ve always been surprised when I see Google or Facebook appear on any “top brands” lists. It’s branding 101 that a strong brand must have loyalty, awareness, positive associations, perceived quality, as well as proprietary assets, based on the model from David Aaker, and implicit in this, I always thought, was trust. You can neither be loyal to something you don’t trust, nor can you have positive brand associations toward it, nor perceive an untrustworthy thing to possess quality. According to a survey from a consultancy, Prophet, which looked at over 400 brands across 27 industries, polling nearly 10,000 customers, we don’t trust either Google or Facebook. Neither makes it into the top 50; those that make it into the top 10 are Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Netflix, Nike, Chick-fil-A, Amazon, Spotify, Lego, and Sephora. Google slots in at 55th, and Facebook at 98th.
   To me, the Prophet approach makes far more sense, as for years—long before Edward Snowden revealed the extent of us surveillance under PRISM—I had been blogging about privacy gaffes and other serious issues behind both companies.
   People may find Google and Facebook to have utility and enjoyment, yet we willingly volunteer plenty of private information to these sites. We do not trust what they do with this information. Adweek notes that in a separate survey, Facebook was the least trusted brand when it came to personal information, making it worse than the US federal government. There have been so many occasions where users have found certain privacy settings on Facebook altered without their own intervention; and I’ve constantly maintained that, with the bots and spammers I encounter daily on the social network, its claims of user numbers are difficult to accept. In fact, if you have Facebook’s advertising preferences set to reject tracking, the site will not stop doing so, compiling a massive and sometimes inaccurate picture of who you are. What it does with that, given that you have told the site that it should not use that information, is anyone’s guess. It makes you wonder why that data collection continues. At least Google (now) stops tracking advertising pref­erences when you ask it to.
   These surveys indicate that consumers are wising up, and it opens both Google and Face­book up to challenge.
   Google dethroned the biggest website and search engine in the world when it was released, so no one’s position is guaranteed. Duck Duck Go, a search engine far better at privacy, has chipped away at Google’s share; and I find so much Facebook fatigue out there that it could follow Myspace into irrelevance. When I hear those speak of these two companies’ positions as being unassailable, I take it with a grain of salt.
   We already have seen peak Facebook (and Twitter, for that matter), for when it came to Super Bowl stats this year, there was a massive 25 per cent drop in activity. Interestingly, despite the trending #RIPTwitter hashtag last week, I don’t agree with those who think Twitter is heading into oblivion, for the simple fact that the site is less invasive and seemingly more honest than Google and Facebook. Those same experts, after all, said that Google Plus would be the Facebook-killer, while I consistently disagreed from day one.
   The Medinge Group predicted correctly in the early 2000s when it was stated that consumers would desire greater integrity and transparency from all their brands, something reflected in our book, Beyond Branding. I don’t believe that we are so different when it comes to dealing with online brands.
   This is, then, a welcome challenge for all businesses, to ensure that they demonstrate transparency to their audiences. We have remained very constant in our treatment of private information: for the most part, unless you’ve agreed to it, we don’t store it at our company. There is some information that goes to our advertising networks through cookies. We admit we could have a clearer privacy policy. But for us, we don’t want to lose your trust, because in bad times, it’s the one thing we can hang on to. It’s not something Google or Facebook seem to be aware of as they tend to ignore users’ demands and queries.
   In the last 24 hours, author Holly Jahangiri found an illustration depicting child pornography on Facebook that had been reported by many of her friends—only for Facebook to deem it constantly acceptable, despite what it states in its own terms and conditions. It was only when she Tweeted about it that Facebook finally responded publicly; and only when she involved a US government agency did the page disappear. The pressure of accountability like that against dishonest companies tells me Twitter will be around for a while yet.

   The trend this year, I believe, is the ongoing rise of challengers to these two brands. When the tipping-point against them occurs, I do not yet know. But now, I sense that it’s closer than ever.

This blog post is an adaptation of the editorial in issue 35 of Lucire.

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Posted in branding, business, internet, marketing, technology, USA | 5 Comments »


Speaking on typography and social media, with Retake the Net in between

29.10.2011

Sometimes, a brand-new speech will give you some jitters, because the material’s unrehearsed. But I have to say I had a lot of fun today at Creative Camp at Natcoll in Wellington, organized by Kai König, Diane Sieger and their team, talking about typography and how we should be aware of it today. It was helped by a few graphics from Font Police, our humour website which netted itself a mention in Mashable earlier this month. I did feel inspired, and this was one of those talks where I was really happy with the content and how it fell into place.
   After a quick bite, it was off to Retake the Net, organized by Brian Calhoun, Sibylle Schwarz and Aimée Whitcroft, discussing internet freedoms.
   I attended two sessions: one on the corporate control of the cloud, and another on intellectual property (in part—I had to leave during it, but not before raising the Bill of Rights Act and its position vis-à-vis the Copyright Act). In the former, I was somewhat buoyed to learn that four of the sixteen participants used Duck Duck Go instead of Google, and the idea of the filter bubble was raised.
   November will see me head to the MTA conference to speak on social media, and participate in a debate over fuel prices.
   My talks will centre around social media. We had nutted out the approach as early as April, before Facebook launched Timeline, and before Google Plus. The landscape has changed, not in principle, but in terms of the tools. Had I prepared screen shots back then, they would have become dated. I plan to finish that talk off, along with its graphics, in the next few days, so what attendees will see will be only a couple of weeks old, at the most.

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Posted in business, design, internet, New Zealand, technology, typography, Wellington | No Comments »


Duck Duck Go voted best search engine of 2011

04.04.2011

Duck Duck Go logo

According to a reader poll, Duck Duck Go beat Google for best search engine of 2011.
   ‘With 48% of the vote, relative search newcomer DuckDuckGo beat out search behemoth Google, who came in with 45% of the total vote,’ said About.com.
   Bing trailled at 3 per cent and Yahoo! at 2.
   There’s always room for improvement, but a search engine that delivers pretty accurate results and has no problems with privacy is streets ahead of Google. Plus, unlike Google, you can still email the guy who made the search engine. Last time I successfully emailed the founder of a popular site was in the mid-1990s when two guys called Jerry and David ran this thing called YAHOO out of their garage.

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Posted in internet, technology | No Comments »


Users upset over YouTube–Google linking, and is Google showing greater bias in results?

12.01.2011

I found out a day after many netizens: Google is now forcing all YouTube account holders to merge their accounts with their Google ones.
   As part of my de-Googling, I won’t be following suit. Instead, I plan to stay logged out of YouTube: it makes very little difference to me.
   So I won’t be able to comment or like a video—not the end of the world. In fact, I imagine I could very easily comment on videos on a blog and get any possible frustration I have out of my system that way. YouTube is still letting non-account holders embed. And I’m not really a YouTube video uploader: I can always go on Vimeo if I were that keen, or use SmugMug, which was in the digital photo-storage game long before Flickr, and which now hosts videos, too.
   I felt very sympathetic when I found that there were people far more pissed off about this development than I am. The only news outlet to have reported on the compulsory linking that I could find, Brandchannel, has scores of unhappy users who are commenting that the move has even locked them out of YouTube. Others are concerned about their privacy, with good reason.
   Looks like Google still hasn’t learned about user choices after the débâcles last year over Buzz and the other services it offers. If anything, it seems to be getting worse.

Remember, too, how Google has stated on numerous occasions that it would not bias search results? Consider this: I wanted to search for an old post of mine so I could link it from the above text. The term: Google Buzz “de-Googling”.
   On Duck Duck Go, I found the post immediately:

Duck Duck Go search

   Out of interest, on Google, it cannot be seen: only positive things are mentioned and Google Buzz itself is the first result.

Google search

   I know I have done more obscure tests to show that Google’s results are getting less precise. But the above is interesting.
   It backs up an earlier article I read online about how Google treats search results, and that there is actually some bias in the system now.
   I don’t begrudge Google for doing this, but it needs to stop saying that it doesn’t. We all know that it was quite happy to engage in censorship when it had Google China, already making its brand less idealistic than it once was.
   Having set this precedent and created this brand association, it’s easy to believe that it now does this quite selectively for a lot more countries.
   You might say that my one search is not a sign of bias, merely one where Google has a less than comprehensive search index and it could not find three old blog entries that have been around for a while. And which it used to be able to find.
   It’s quite a coincidence that three negative posts about Google are no longer easily found with the relevant search terms.
   That’s not great news for Google, either.
   Duck Duck Go is looking better by the day as the Google search engine, the one service to which its brand is tied, gets less precise.

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Posted in branding, business, China, internet, media, technology, USA | 1 Comment »


Duck Duck Go adds a Lucire bang

03.12.2010

Aside from writing a branding report today (which I will share with you once all contributors have OKed it), I received some wonderful news from Gabriel Weinberg of Duck Duck Go.
   Those who are used to the Duck will know that you can search using what he calls bangs—the exclamation mark. On Chrome, which has a minimalist design, I have set my default search engine to Duck Duck Go. But what if I wanted to search on Google?
   I can either do what is built in, and what Google suggests, by beginning my typing in the search box with the word Google. Or, I can simply add !g to the end of the query, which, I might add, is something you can do from Duck Duck Go itself, too.
   Of course, Google would prefer that I put all searches through them, but having Duck Duck Go as a default isn’t a bad idea.
   There’s a huge list of bangs that you can use at the Duck Duck Go website, which include !amazon (which will take you directly to an Amazon.com search), !gn (for Google News—this one is a godsend, especially for Chrome, which has made it much harder to search the news section, even if programmed into the search settings), !video (for YouTube), and !eb or !ebay (for Ebay).
   I’m glad to announce that Gabriel has taken on board a few of my suggestions for motoring and fashion publications, such as !autocar, !vogueuk, !jalopnik, !randt (Road and Track) and !lucire (had to get that one in).
   We’ll announce this on Lucire shortly, but readers already saw me announce, on Thursday, a nip–tuck of our Newsstand pages. That’s not really news, so I chose to complement it with a few other announcements.
   Since we were already fidgeting with that part of the site, Gabriel’s announcement prompted me to do some changes to the search pages, which were woefully out of date.
   The community home page was last designed four years ago, and that time, we just shifted the content over. Never mind that that content was also out of date, and included some letters to the editor that are no longer relevant. It had a link to the old forum, which only results in a PHP error. So today, I had all the old stuff stripped out, leaving us with a fairly minimalistic page.
   I didn’t plan on making a blog post out of it, so I never took screen shots of the process. But at left is one of the old page from Snap Shots, and long-time readers will recognize this as the website design we had many years ago. When we facelifted other parts of the site, this was left as is: it’s old-fashioned dynamic HTML and hasn’t been moved over to a content-management system.
   The new one may be a bit sterile (below), but it takes out all the extra bits that very few used: the Swicki, the Flickr gadget (we haven’t added anything to it since 2008), and a complex sign-up form for the Lucire Updates’ service. It’s been stripped to basics, but it now includes the obligatory links to Twitter, Facebook, Vkontakte and the RSS feed.

   Which brings us on to the search pages. These also have the updated look, but, importantly, I fixed a bug in the Perl script that kept showing the wrong month. Regardless of whether it was March or December, the script would show January:

   This is probably nothing to the actual computer hackers out there, but for a guy who has used an ATM only three times in his entire life (mainly because I lacked the local currency), this is a momentous occasion.
   It was one of those evening-tweaking cases where it was simpler for me to do it myself than to ask one of the programmers, and I managed to remedy something that had plagued our website for 10 years.

   The searches revealed a few strange links from long-expired pages, and here is where we might get in to a bit of discussion about online publishing.
   Once upon a time, it was considered bad form to have dead links, because people might point to them. Even more importantly, because a search engine might, and you could get penalized for having too many.
   This is why we’ve kept some really odd filenames. The reason the Lucire Community page is at lucire.com/email is that the link to a free email service we provided at the turn of the century was linked from there. Similarly, we still kept pages called content.htm, contents.shtml and editorial.shtml, even though these pages had not been updated for half a decade.
   There are now redirects from these pages, which were once also bad form as far as the search engines were concerned.
   But, given that search engines update so much more quickly in 2010, do we still need to bother about these outdated links? Will we still be penalized for having them? Should we not just simply delete them?
   If you look to the right of this blog at the RSS feed links, you’ll see some dead ones—there were more, but I have been doing online weeding here, too. It almost seems to be a given that people can remove things without warning and if you encounter a dead link, well, you know how to use a search engine.
   To me, it still seems a little on the side of bad manners to do that to your readers, but one might theorize that few care about that any more as many sites revamp on to CMSs to make life easier for themselves.

A side note: earlier this week, when weeding through dead links at Lucire, we noticed that many people had moved to CMSs, with the result that their sites began to look the same. Some put in excellent customizations, but many didn’t. And what is it with all the big type on the news sites and blogs these days? Is this due to the higher resolutions of modern monitors, or do they represent a change in reading habits?

PS.: The search script bug was fixed by changing $month[$mon] to simply $mon. Told you it was nothing, though I noticed that the site that we got the script from still has the bug.—JY

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Posted in business, design, internet, media, New Zealand, publishing, technology, USA | No Comments »


Another false accusation from Google

02.12.2010

For around a year, I’ve been at Google for its misbehaviours. And one thing I dislike about these tech companies—whether it’s Facebook or Google or any of their ilk—is how they are slaves to technology, rather than masters of it. Somewhere along the line, they have allowed algorithms to determine guilt, thereby offending that old-fashioned idea of the presumption of innocence. From Blogger blocks to false copyright-infringement accusations to, now, this:

Blocked from searching on Google

   While Duck Duck Go is my default now, occasionally I’ll still put a search through Google. There is no malware on this system, or on this network, and I certainly haven’t put through a single automated request (how could human typing be mistaken for this?!)—reasons Google gives for this message. It’s just another case of guilty till proved innocent that this northern California company, and others, are so good at creating.
   Funny, isn’t it, that it has relied on an automated process to accuse a human process of being automated? It’s the Blogger fight all over again.

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Posted in business, internet, USA | No Comments »


Testing the search engines

30.11.2010

Blekko

I hadn’t heard of Blekko, a search engine, till last week, so armed with a new entrant, I wanted to see how they all compared.
   Blekko’s very pretty, and I’ve told Gabriel Weinberg, the man behind Duck Duck Go, just what it is that makes it attractive. Most of it is the modernist design approach it takes. But is it more functional?
   I have a couple of tests. You may have heard me dis Google’s supplemental index, where pages it deems to be less important wind up. But who makes that determination? And what if there is a page in there that is actually relevant but Google fails to dig it up?
   Google says the supplemental index doesn’t exist any more, but the fact remains that it fails to dig up some pages, especially older ones. So much for its comprehensive index.
   The first test, therefore, is one I have subjected every search engine I encounter to: will it find a 2000 article on Lucire about Elle Macpherson Intimates’ 10th anniversary? It is probably the only article on the subject, and because of this test, I’ve even linked it this year so it can be spidered by the search engines. Last month, Google could not find it, though in 2000–1, it was very easily found.
   If the search engines are as intelligent as their makers claim, it should be able to figure out these concepts and deliver the pages accordingly. The page itself is very basic with no trick HTML—just plain old meta data, as you would imagine for a ten-year-old file.
   Will the search engines find it now, with a few more inward links?

Duck Duck Go: 1st
Blekko: not found, though it locates a reference made on this blog and two others in Lucire, one going back to 2001, at positions 1, 2 and 12
Google: 73rd, with blog entries from here referring to it at 5 and 42, and another link in Lucire at 6
Bing: 1st with old frameset at 2nd
Ask: 7th

   Here’s the second test. In Wired, Google bragged about how its index could find a page about a certain lawyer in Michigan (mike siwek lawyer mi). Unfortunately for Mr Siwek, most of the top entries quickly became those about the Wired article and he was lost again in the index.
   Mr Don Wearing, a friend of mine, is a partner in a shoe retail chain. If I typed “Don Wearing” shoes, which of the search engines will deliver me an entry referring to Don Wearing specifically and not some guy called Don who happens to be wearing shoes? (Not long ago, the best the search engines could do was around 12th.)

Duck Duck Go: 2nd
Blekko: says ‘No results found for: “Don Wearing” shoes’ but actually finds the article at 5th
Google: 3rd
Bing: 2nd
Ask: 5th

Not bad: an improvement all round.
   OK, how about speed of addition? Let’s see if the search engines will find the last entry in this blog, added a few hours ago. I’ll use the search term “Jack Yan” TPPA.

Duck Duck Go: not found
Blekko: not found
Google: found the main blog page
Bing: found a link to it at MyBlogLog
Ask: not found, but came up with seven irrelevant results

   This is just a quick test based on three examples that might not reflect everyday use. However, the first two frustrated me earlier when I went to hunt for them on Google (and before I had heard of Duck Duck Go), which is why I remembered them, so admittedly Google was at a slight disadvantage in this test as a result. I never went to Bing or Ask regularly.
   Therefore, I’m not going to draw any conclusions about who is best, but I will say that Google is quicker at finding new material. I would, however, encourage others to give these other search engines a go and see how effective they are. I’m very happy with Duck Duck Go, especially as it does not second-guess my queries with Google’s annoying ‘Showing results for [what Google thinks I typed]. Search instead for [what I actually typed]’. No, Google, I did not type my query wrong—so give me the results already!
   I prefer Duck Duck Go’s approach, which is to treat the web more as a research medium. There is no hiding pages: it just delivers the most relevant result to what I typed, which is why I originally moved to Google at the end of the 1990s.
   Judging by the above, I’m not convinced Blekko is ready for prime-time (which is why it still has a beta tag).
   Of the five tested, it looks like it’s still the Duck for me, complemented with Google News. I’m way more impressed with Duck Duck Go’s privacy policy: no search leakage, no search history, and no collecting of personal information to hand over to law enforcement or, for that matter, the Chinese Politburo.
   And in a year where people have shown that they care about privacy, Duck Duck Go seems to make more sense.

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Posted in business, design, internet, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


If you are on Chrome, it won’t let you see this

11.10.2010

Ever since I began blogging a bit more regularly here (upping it to my usual frequency?) Twitter friends have been telling me that they cannot read these entries because there is a malware warning.
   What they have in common: they are all using Chrome.
   I wanted to try Chrome out again (I had it installed on my old desktop machine) but I’m turned off again. It’s part of the Google empire, and going on it would mean reversing my reasonably successful de-Googling of my life that I started earlier this year.
   Chrome is accusing me of having malware on this site, which is total cobblers. It is a bit like Google accusing Vincent Wright of having a splog last year—that matter that I had to fight Google on his behalf over for six months.
   I have used Blogrolling to host the blogroll on this site since 2006. It appears, if I read the Chrome complaint properly, that someone else had used Blogrolling (probably one of many millions of users) and put in a couple of malware links. Maybe they had put in legit links that have since become malware sites. Whatever the case, Chrome appears now to accuse anyone who even uses Blogrolling of hosting malware.
   It’s maybe a good thing that Chrome is being vigilant: extra vigilance is better than being lax. But to me, it’s a reminder of how Google has been cavalier with false accusations—Vincent was by no means alone—which tarnishes its brand.

I have to report things Google is doing right, out of fairness. In August I wrote a letter to the company to point out that there were things in my Google account that should not be there. There were services where I no longer agreed with its terms and conditions, and would the chaps kindly take them out of my account?
   They haven’t complied fully, but a few things have been fixed. Adsense now shows ‘0 products’ (it incorrectly showed two at the time of the letter), although ideally I would prefer not to have an Adsense entry at all. The Blogger count of the number of blogs I have was on four for many months when it was, in fact, zero. It now shows ‘1 total’: still wrong, but closer to zero than four was. (Again, I had requested complete removal of my Blogger account.) Last week, Docs showed I had one document, but that has now corrected itself to zero again. (The correct number was, and is, zero.)
   And, the most major of all, I no longer have Social Search: Google had been insisting that I had over 800 connections, which was impossible considering I deleted my profile. (The number of connections grew from the 700s after deletion.) Having connections suggested that Google retained a record of all the links I once had in my Google profile, regardless of the fact that it was using private information that it no longer had permission to use. After all, it got me a Buzz follower despite my unchecking a box that implied that that would not happen—and that wasn’t the only time I got signed up to Buzz without my permission (or a myriad of other Google services, including Google Talk and Google Notebook).
   The lesson seems to be: if you want Google to be more careful with how it uses your private information, write a letter. And I mean the sort that takes ink, paper, stamps, a jet plane and carbon emissions. Things are still not done to my satisfaction, but they are gradually improving.

Elle MacphersonGoogle will find the newer stuff, but not always the most relevant stuff—a search for an old Elle Macpherson story is a case in point.

There is one thing Google does not seem to do very well any more: search.
   That’s an exaggeration, but I have been really surprised at things that it has failed to find of late. For example: stuff on this blog. It is not to do with age: Google finds the older entries from this blog without any problems (despite the Blogrolling issue noted above). Those older entries were compiled using Google-owned Blogger, when it still offered FTP publishing. The entries, like this one, which have been put together with WordPress, cannot be found readily (if at all). Could it be because so many of my WordPress entries here have been anti-Google? Duck Duck Go and Bing do not seem to discriminate between Blogger- and WordPress-compiled content on this site.
   And just plain stuff at Lucire doesn’t get found very easily. A 2000 story we did on the 10th anniversary of Elle Macpherson Intimates is a good example. The other search engines find it: it’s the only online story on the subject. Google does not: it kicks up some really irrelevant links where Elle Macpherson Intimates and 10th anniversary are mentioned, but as unrelated concepts. Duck Duck Go has it as its second entry, as does Bing.
   This is not about how highly Google has placed the story nor is it about where Google has put Lucire. (A Lucire entry is found by Google, on the second page, which has a link to our 2000 article, but the article itself is non-existent on Google, despite inward links.)
   There was another few recently. One was when I tried to locate a Typepad post about Vox locking me out. Granted, my Typepad blog is pretty new (started when Six Apart closed Vox), but Duck Duck Go had no problems locating the entry. I forget the exact queries, otherwise I would link them now for you to check. Whatever the case, Google failed to find the links.
   Even if it were not for my problems with Google, I would have shifted to Duck Duck Go on the frustration that I could not find things on the ’net that I know for sure exist. I still use both—there are still queries which Google handles better than Duck Duck Go—but I can no longer consider Google a complete research tool.

There is some good news out there in Tech-land USA (read the Bay Area). Six Apart seemed to care a lot more about Typepad than Vox. After the first import of my Vox data to Typepad failed, its boffins came in and helped out, and got the site up and running. I am pleasantly surprised that many of these entries still contain the images I uploaded to them. The only loss has been the videos, but they warned us about that and gave us the option to shift them to Flickr. I opted not to, so I can’t blame anyone but myself.

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Posted in branding, business, internet, publishing, technology, USA | 12 Comments »