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GoogleFox or FireBot?
Cross Breeding a browser and Spider?

 3:51 pm on Jan 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

The question of Google hiring programmers that worked on the FireFox browser, has generated many stories around the web. Ideas ranging from the thought of Google building a browser, to working on a full blown operating system have been suggested.

While only Google can tell us if that is true, I think we can explore one other alternative that fits better into Googles long term search goals.


(video files often hide where spiders can't find them, such as behind Flash animations, in frames, or behind JavaScript)

q: So how can Google and others find quality "non standard" content?
a: By using browser code itself to bust that stuff hiding behind frames and javascript.

A spider today can't execute Javascript, but there is no telling what it will do in a few months. If Google can mind meld GoogleBot to FireFox (GoogleFox, or FireBot?)1 they might be able to increase the relevance of searches and find new content to mine.

Right now, Google is data rich but still data hungry. They have mountains of data to sift through from:

Toolbar Data: We all know just how much data is shuffled back to google.

  • Referral data.
  • Search Data (keywords...phrases, bookmarks).
  • Time on site (between clicks).
  • Surfing Path. Where to click, what to click, when to click, and even how to click.

Search Data: Not only simple search engine usage data, but referral data, keyword data, search path data, gfx data, browser data, usage data...etc.

  • Usenet Data. What people talk about in public.
  • Gmail - email data. What people talk about in private.
  • Orkut - social network data. How people act in personal web environments.
  • Directory Data. Who thinks who is hot.
  • News Data. What the talking heads think.
  • Graphics data, shopping data, consultant data...whew - there is no end.
  • A dozen other data sets I've not even thought of yet - they have on hand.

What this all points too, is that Google is amassing information on the overall search experience of web users. Only the major ISP's (such as AOL or MSN), or those involved in the the big Router and Proxy operations (MCI/ATT/Cisco) can even begin to compare the depth of data sets that Google has available. They also have the huge computer farms to crunch that data in spectacularly speedy fashion. What sets Google apart from those sites such as AOL, is that Google knows about the web as a whole. The crawling and indexing of the web presents a composite picture of the web those big ISP's can't see.

We can only try to imagine the decisions and analysis that could come out of that data. This fact, is the single most under rated and under appreciated aspect of Google biz operations today. This fact along, justifies the $200+ valuations we are seeing.

What we also know about Google, is that they have a ravenous appetite for data. Most of that data from the User experience side of the equation, comes via the venerable browser.

Ultimately, what Google is building is a leading edge insight into the human experience of Cyberspace. No one else can compare to the mass of data Google has available for synthesis. Thus, by combing their current indexer/bot with a Browser html rendering engine, they can get at some of that content they are currently barred from getting.

Q: 1 share of google stock?
A: $204 today.

Q: Knowing how, when, where, and why people surf?
A: Priceless.

1 you heard it here first folks ;)



 1:51 pm on Feb 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Brett said,
Ideas ranging from the thought of Google building a browser, to working on a full blown operating system have been suggested.

Developing a new OS from scratch would be foolish, however, I see no reason why Google could not release their own version of Linux. With the Google name attached, if it were user-friendly, easy to install, etc, it might hurt Microsoft.

If I was in charge at Google, I would seriously consider trying to muscle in on Microsoft's business since they are trying to do the same to Google.



 3:27 pm on Feb 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

While we have a name for the search database (STHK: Sum Total of Human Knowledge) we need a name for the data set as a whole.

I believe that answer would be 42? ;)
Or is the Google computer the one that will build the computer that answers 42?


 3:38 pm on Feb 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't go ga ga over user data, even google knows that small samplings can be accurate, just because they have more data doesn't mean they have any significant edge.

Any webmaster with some traffic can pull significant user search data; browsers, time on site, kws, etc.and draw accurate conclusions.

From a google lecture:

>They have found in user testing, that a small number of people are very typical of the larger user base. They run labs continually and always monitoring how people use a page of results.


 1:41 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Internet of Things" []

Knowledge is power. MS knows this, but they are playing catch up just to get to the point where Google is now. Google has the ability to jump even further ahead.

Whilst I agree with that - insofar as measuring it by what we can visibly witness today - I'm not so confident that it's the case over in R&D and (possibly) Longhorn. Search is a huge, huge arena encompassing many social needs, much of which - and this is the important bit - is also external to a computer. Unlike Google at least, M$ does have knowledge of, and alliances with, hardware and hardware-makers respectively... And unless sommat changes in the ad-break, you need an OS to interface with this stuff.

If stringing together the mumblings of Gates etal is anything to go by, then (by imaginative extrapolation) I can genuinely see that the house you buy also includes your own domain as part of the price - Into which, you transfer all your personal settings, documents, movies, music, phone number(s) (prolly VOIP address), heating/alarm times etc... from your previous residence... :p

What's that to do with search? Well, think about it, and then think about a life of no longer needin to organise or even remember where anything (important at least) is located. No more file-naming or saving... the (search) system takes care of that interface. No change-of-address notes to utilities, family and friends... The perfect "plug-in and live" house ;)

If the "Internet of Things" is rolled out globally - and all signs are that it slowly is/will - then it's even plausible that your domain will even know where that left sock is! In fact, "The Internet of Things" concept (which has some well-heeled corporate sponsors behind it), could well spawn the next surprise player to come along and usurp the current search super-powers (Although in practice, they may well need each other to bind the semantic to the meta-data that Internet of Things is being built on - But who knows? It comes down to numbers at the end of the day!).

It's both scary and mind-bogglin but to say that:

Ultimately, what Google is building is a leading edge insight into the human experience of Cyberspace

... could actually be too limiting as the latent potential is there for technology to reach out and sense objects in the physical world... and where there's physical objects, there's search.

M$ is definitely ramping up, no doubt - They have to really 'cos HD storage capacity alone requires it - - What we might actually be seein is Google fervently tryin to avoid being on the back-foot.

At some point... it might even make sense for M$ & Google to merge!

Developing a new OS from scratch would be foolish, however, I see no reason why Google could not release their own version of Linux.

Nah... think Web Services, a'la .ASP, broadband internet, browser, toolbars ;)


 4:40 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

In my site I use CSS to hide my <Hx> tags, getting SEs to index my keywords and the end users see nothing because of the visiblity being none.

I find this very useful, but I think Google's catching up to this trick with all this spec. on a GoogleFox or FireBot etc.

This would be a real pain in the a-- for me, but what the hell, it helps the user in the end, we'll just have to come up with a new trick. Don'tget me wrong - I'm not a SE spammer or anything, I wouldn't know where to start, but I do want to get my content above the assorted garbage that google puts ahead of me.


 5:43 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with reading G's plans more as webservices taking over the importance of an OS rather than building one.


 7:53 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

What is the point of indexing the parts of the web they haven't reached so far when they have failed to order what they can see?

Very true, could not agree more.

People have different opinions on how Google search has changed in the last one to two years. Some say it is worse than it was, some say it is the same as it was, and some will say it is better.

I think there are none that would say it is much, much better than it was a year or two ago. Google was supposed to pick up the search goal posts and run away with them. That has clearly not happened.

I don't know what lurks on the horizon but I think that Google is not making the advancements it needs to in search to stay on top. They better keep their eyes on the ball.


 8:10 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Nice post Whippinpost.
In the internet of things, aren't people [pcworld.com] just things too?
Where are we headed?


 9:30 pm on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

The Software Paradigm Shift

A great IT Conversation with Tim O'Reilly:
"We're at the end of the personal-computing era. We're at the beginning of something profoundly different."

"Ask most people what software they use, and you're not likely to hear Linux. Yet many of the most popular web sites are based on Linux and other open-source tools. Tim says the operating system no longer matters--no more than the browser or the CPU matters. Applications now live above the level of a single device or operating system. The "paradigm failure" is that people don't understand the importance of sites like Amazon.com, eBay, and Google, because they are so locked into the PC application model. "We're commoditizing software in the same way as hardware was commoditized in the '80s," he says, "and value is being driven up the stack to next-generation information services and applications."


See also:
IT Conversations: Tim O'Reilly - O'Reilly Radar 2004

IT Conversations: Tim O'Reilly - Rethinking the Boundaries

IT Conversations: Tim O'Reilly - Watching the Alpha Geeks


 9:44 pm on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sun Microsystems gets the software paradigm shift:
Comparing Sun's Grid to IBM's Grid

Google vs. IBM
"Google will transform itself into a 'big iron' computing company. Desktop first. Enterprise data centers next. They are already thinking past Microsoft."

"With the looming death of the CPC model what's next for Google? Google is developing out the next paradigm in search - distributed computing paradigm. Google core assets is smart people and computing power not some old outdated spider algorithm."

Google's Next Steps or Google in 2010


 1:26 am on Feb 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think if Google built an operating system, it would be a layer on top of the browser. You will be able to access your account containing 100Gig of data located on Googles servers from any machine connected to the internet. No need to have to have your data sitting on a hard drive on your home pc, or to install software, you will be able to use the Google word processor and Google spreadsheet and Google email, again all located on Googles servers. I think this will be supported by a micropayment system, with a small charge each time you use Google software


 4:40 am on Feb 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think this will be supported by a micropayment system, with a small charge each time you use Google software

 4:43 am on Feb 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

In order to protect the adwords system and PPC i would expect that google would have to create thier own browser and add security measures into it. With google making billions off PPC they have a fiduciary duty to shareholders to protect that revenue stream. If google doesn't build a browser then i suspect google yahoo and microsoft will work together to come up with a solution. There is just way to much money at stake here.


 11:22 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

John, I think Google can probably get away with not even charging for a lot of the stuff. Wherever Adwords can foot the bill, it will. Where it can't they use a simple version and a premium paid version.

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