Posts Tagged: search


23
Sep 10

Show & Tell #3: With a Vengeance

Show & Tell yesterday covered everything from blancmange to viruses so let’s get stuck in and re-cap some of what you missed…

Are you human? Have you been paying attention to our ad?

First off was a novel solution to “banner blindness” from the clever folks at Solve Media, called TYPE-IN. Skyscrapers, MPUs, leaderboards – standard banner formats are all so played out at this stage that we don’t even see them when browsing the web. TYPE-IN forces the user to actually process the ad before they continue.

They’ve put together a lovely animation that explains the concept nicely, check it out.

Sure, it’s much more aggressive than a standard banner and places a barrier between the user and the content but we’ve seen time and time again that users are willing to tolerate interruptions as long as they’re getting something in return. Solutions like this could be a step towards solving that pesky paywall problem.

Following on from that we had a brief discussion about the “Captcha” technology that TYPE-IN is based on. ReCAPTCHA is an initiative from Google in their quest to digitise (and index!) the world’s books – one poorly scanned word at a time.

Oh, the irony

What’s cool about it is that of the two words shown to you, one is giving their character recognition software problems and by typing them in you’re helping preserve knowledge. I guess humans still have a purpose after all.

Google Instant

Speaking of Google, the search giant has been making waves again this week with the introduction of their latest feature – Google Instant.

Not content with suggesting what you’re trying to type, Google has taken it a step further and is now performing searches for you as you type. The technology behind indexing all that information and serving it up faster than you can type is impressive, to say the least.

The experience, however, I’ve found to be at best distracting, at worst damn irritating. Charlie Brooker put it better than I ever could:

“It’s the internet on fast-forward, and it’s aggressive – like trying to order from a waiter who keeps finishing your sentences while ramming spoonfuls of what he thinks you want directly into your mouth, so you can’t even enjoy your blancmange without chewing a gobful of black pudding first.”

Whether you find it a time-saver (really? that busy?) or irritating, there are bigger considerations here too. Google’s drive to predict what we’re looking for can have only one outcome. The most popular search results appear more frequently and higher up meaning search results will get ever more homogeneous and dominated by the larger players (read: payers). Even “God” comes second to “Godaddy” now in Google Instant search results.

Praise be to GoDaddy

In other search news – Yahoo! search is now powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine – putting Bing up to 28% of US market share. Not too shabby.

Once a giant among search engines, Yahoo! have said this move will allow them to focus their efforts more on the direction they want be developing the company in a last-ditch struggle for relevance. If only they could get a bit more crap on their homepage, it might all turn round for them.

Another one that slipped quietly into the ether this week is Cuil. Once heralded as the “Google-killer”, Cuil’s search results were so bizarrely unrelated that the Cuil has now become the Internet’s unit for measuring abstraction from reality. Do yourself a favour and read what I’m talking about here. Hilarious.

Greplin: The missing element in search

So as one star fades, another is rising. As more and more of our information is stored in the cloud, there’s no central point for us to find what we’re looking for. How often have you thought to yourself: “Now, where did I see that? In my email? Or was it on Facebook? Twitter?”

Enter Greplin. Greplin fills a gap in the search space that amazingly no-one has previously addressed: personal search. Create an account on Greplin and you can add all your favourite services for it to index. Gmail, Google Docs and Calendar, Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, EverNote, BaseCamp and more are supported already and I’m sure more services will be added.

One handy search bar will let you find what you’re looking for, quickly and easily.

Your passwords stay secure, as the site uses OAuth, the open authentication protocol, to allow access to your data but not your log-in details. OAuth is going from strength to strength (all Twitter applications, for example, now have to use OAuth and Google are looking at adopting the protocol across their services) but to index your data, Greplin still has access to your data. Not sure how the security and privacy issues here will pan out yet but they seem to be approaching it the right way.

Developed by an 18 year-old, Greplin is already looking good to make a huge impact on the web – having already secured $700,000 in venture capital. It’s in private beta at the moment but create an account and they’ll notify you when they let you in.

Twitter virus

Other big news this week was the world’s shortest ever virus, spreading itself like wildfire across Twitter. On twitter.com a vulnerability was reintroduced that allowed users to post Javascript to their Twitter feed which would activate when one of their followers rolled over the malicious tweet.

Thankfully, Twitter’s tech team closed the hole within a few hours but even the White House’s Twitter feed fell prey to it. Most abuses of the vulnerability were pretty harmless but it was an embarrassing lesson for Twitter to learn.

Adobe built apps on iPhone

And finally, Apple announced a dramatic relaxation of their app approval terms, allowing apps developed on non-Apple software to be approved.

“We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.” (Full statement here)

Apple famously pulled the rug out from under Adobe, 3 days before their launch of CS5, including the Packager for iPhone feature of Flash CS5. We wrote about it here back in April and I’m glad to see this unexpected reversal from Apple. It’s still not Flash on the iPhone but giving developers the freedom to use their tools of choice and utilise their existing expertise can only be a good thing.

Russell and I are off to Flash on the Beach next week and I’m sure we’ll see lots of happy faces there after this announcement! We’ll definitely have lots of cool stuff to report from there too, so watch this space.

See you at the next Show & Tell!

Follow Shane on Twitter:
@shane_casey


26
Jul 10

Emergence & The Semantic Web

Following on from the presentation I gave a while back, we’ve recorded the audio and posted it online on Vimeo. This should make a bit more sense than the presentation on its own.

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