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Marissa Mayer: An omnivorous Google is coming
Robert Charlton




msg:4043136
 11:32 pm on Dec 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

A far ranging interview with Google's Marissa Mayer was publish in Telegraph.co.uk today. It touches on language and translation, personalization, media search, social search, "intuitive search," etc.

Excerpts from the article what she says about translation [webmasterworld.com] and personalized search [webmasterworld.com] are already referenced in this forum's current discussions on those topics.

Here's a link to the article, and also an excerpt of what she says about "intuitive search"....

Marissa Mayer: An omnivorous Google is coming [telegraph.co.uk]
Telegraph.co.uk
14 Dec 2009

...The ultimate prize for Mayer is intuitive search. She wants Google to be capable of presenting information to users before they even know what they're looking for. Amazingly she doesn’t think her team are that far away from achieving what she calls the 'omnivorous' search engine –i.e. one which is able to take a user’s total context – where they are, what they were just reading, which direction their mobile phone is pointed and so on.

 

caribguy




msg:4043874
 2:40 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google plans on making omelets so expect them to continue to break eggs.

Yes, breaking of eggs is expected to some degree. I don't think the posters who expressed a negative sentiment with respect to the privacy eggs G has been breaking, or commented on its duplicitous communication toward webmasters (suppliers) and searchers (consumers) would generally expect otherwise.

But it's quite disheartening to be on the receiving end of an unexpected pelting with those same eggs. That's not how omelettes are made.

buckworks




msg:4043881
 3:12 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Leosghost, you were asked to make some practical suggestions about how people could deal with these concerns.

I challenge you to do that.

zett




msg:4043942
 7:12 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Leosghost,

thank you for that long post outlining your position which seems to be in line with a growing number of webmasters, here and elsewhere. Webmasters are increasingly concerned about the Gorg.

you were asked to make some practical suggestions about how people could deal with these concerns

buckworks, I think it is a valid question, but with all due respect, I think the tone-of-voice could be a bit more friendly around here. After all, we do not have access to the vast resources that Google has, and to de-compile or re-engineer the process will take considerable time. Even if I had the skills and time to do that (I don't) I would probably not release my findings here. Why should I? This reminds me of the "tell me which keywords make the most money so I can get rich too, and quick" type of postings that show up in the Adsense forum from time to time. The only difference is that it's a different type of knowledge that you want to know, for the "better of all".

Having said that, what probably every webmaster can do is to make the general public aware of the situation. Tell colleagues, friends and family, and the media what you are thinking about Google and why this is dangerous for ALL. Then educate them -if they show interest- on how to get rid of the Gorg. Usually this makes at least for a good discussion.

There needs to be an open discussion about the data gathering behemoth that Google has become. It's as simple as that. Only this discussion will lead to an avalanche that will tear down the walls of MV. Whether you promote (search) products from California or Washington or another place, that barely matters now. But people (real people, not Google shills, of course) need to avoid Google products FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. A monoculture is not useful, never has been, never will be.

We as webmasters can start the discussion, and many of us also have the skills to convince people to re-think their behaviour on the Internet. Unleash that power!

Whatever Google's PR shills will tell you, we as webmasters will NOT be in a better position if Google is gaining more market share and earning more money. Anyone who believes this is a fool. More competition on Internet search is not only good for us, it's essential.

Have you ever thought of what will happen if the Google vision (which I'd rather call a nightmare) actually becomes true? Take Chrome OS. If it just connects to the web, and mainly to Google services, and when everybody uses these products, where will all the software developers go? Who will then develop email clients, FTP clients, photo applications, and so on and so on? In a world where Google absorbs the majority of Internet content and activity, we will see less choices and less variety.

Also, a lot of business today is being driven by market friction. Different people know different markets and how to efficiently get access to those markets. Buyers who are not as smart pay a premium to such experts to make use of their knowledge. A lot of people live off this. In a world where Google has the ultimate answer, i.e. offers a (preceived) total market transparency, forget about earning money from market friction. How will people earn money then? Through Adsense? Forget it!

sem4u




msg:4043946
 7:14 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

and that statement is ridiculous..the supermarket doesnt track the other shops you go into for the next 180 days

A bit O.T. here but...if you pay by credit or debit card, your card provider will know which stores you shop in and how much you spend in each one. The same must be true for any Paypal or Google checkout online transactions.

zett




msg:4043949
 7:25 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

A bit O.T. here but...if you pay by credit or debit card, your card provider will know which stores you shop in and how much you spend in each one. The same must be true for any Paypal or Google checkout online transactions.

Yet, when was the last time they tried to shove advertising into your face? They can send me advertising by postal mail until the cows come home. Most of this goes unread into the bin. They know that, and they figured that such advertising is way too expensive. That's why the amount of real-world-spam is so tiny.

Also, they can not connect the dots as perfectly as Google can. If only they wanted, Google could have figured out a lot about me and my interests. But did I get ads for (certain types of interests)? Not in the past. Now that they rolled out "personalized search" I opted out of their services completely. No more Urchin/Analytics tracking for me. No more Doubleclick spam ads. No more omnipresent "flat belly" ads from Adsense. No more Google search. No more Google maps. Only a Youtube video now and then. I try to avoid Blogger sites, even if the content sometimes is good. A site uses reCaptcha? Thanks, but I'm outta here. Feedburner RSS icon? Not for me.

Guess what? My life on the net has not changed that much, and I am not missing anything from MV. I use other services and still find what I am looking for. Often, this happens even faster.

zett




msg:4043952
 7:37 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm still scratching my head about it all ...

Really? It's not that difficult if you permit a certain type of thinking.

(1) how to defend our own privacy

You can easily defend your privacy by deleting Cookies right after you close Firefox. Use a default search that you are comfortable with, and remove hidden references to certain unwanted companies in the about:config panel in Firefox. In general, block companies that offer a multitude of services that can be used easily to track your moves on the web. If a company offers too many services (e.g. offering analytics and ads and maps and feeds to webmasters) re-think your consumption of such services from them, and block out that company's properties. Always use web services from various providers, not from a single source, because that single source is a real threat to your privacy.

how to do business online with appropriate respect for other people's privacy

On your site: do not use online webtrackers or ads or feeds or maps or other 3rd party products where the data of your visitors is fed directly into a central data repository (that you are not comfortable with).

Tell your users exactly what you are collecting, what you are keeping, and how you are going to use that data. Also tell your users that you are NOT using certain products that allows others to track them. This could add trust and brand value to your sites. (See, it's not always a BAD THING to talk about this.)

Badcol




msg:4043954
 7:41 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

The amount of information needed to accurately determine a persons next need would be immense, and any company holding that kind of information would probably contravene all kinds of privacy laws. Therefore, in order for Google to be able to offer this service they would have to ask the user to provide the information required and sign off for the usage rights. First hurdle: Do people really care that much about their search results (outside of the industry that is) and second hurdle: given that my speech recognition software still can't distinguish between "King" and "Cane", even after me spending 60 minutes plus plugging verbal gibberish into its databanks, can Google really expect their algorhythm to be as accurate as they are proclaiming?

I think this is just the age old problem that Google has faced, namely how to make money from its users. Shareholders demand dividends higher than other markets can offer and Google have to show them that, over time, they can out-perform the competition. I think, if anything has changed with Google, it's that they have grown up from the idealists of the last decade into the money machine of the next. As the saying goes "A young man who isn't a socialist hasn't got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn't got a head."

GoingLoco




msg:4043967
 8:19 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well said, Zett. I delete cookies automatically on closing FF. SearchEngineLand also recommends using the Groowe toolbar, which I think I'll try out.

I like simple fixes. still, on restarting Firefox and going to G webhistory says 'Disable customisation', so G's wanting to 'customise' again.

A really neat solution for this that might be less effort than other solutions? (not a techie) would be to have G as my homepage and have some simple macro spring into action on opening FF that clicks that 'Disable customisation' for me. I've used IMacros, but don't know if that could do it. Anyone proficient in IMacros?

Robert Charlton




msg:4043989
 9:35 am on Dec 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I delete cookies automatically on closing FF.

I use multiple browsers, and I use FF to delete cookies too. I use IE8 when I want the cookies to hang around for a while... and use Total Commander (a Windows file manager) to track and manage the IE cookies. They are simply txt files.

The main Google cookies are in the form of user@google[n].txt, where "n" is an integer. Right now I'm seeing "n" ranging from 1 to 10. There are also www.google cookies, as well as cookies for various Google services, either via subdomain or in a googleservicename form, and then there are some www variants of these latter.

Doing a site search on WebmasterWorld for [doubleclick cookies] will bring up discussion that some might find helpful.

tedster




msg:4045096
 9:42 pm on Dec 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Also, they [credit card companies] can not connect the dots as perfectly as Google can.

The scary thing about that statement is that it probably needs "so far" added to it. I shudder at a world where the scale of data aggregation is the only real arena for competition.

Something at the 'plex seems to have changed in the past month. Eric Schmidt is publicly talking about more aggressive mergers and acquisitions (I read that as vertical monopolies), Marissa Mayer is talking openly and even proudly about being "omnivorous" and "omniscient", and a tsunami of new products get deployed, including default personalization.

They apparently don't even care about the "image' of it all anymore - they don't even toss us that bone. And the top spokespeople most definitely have media training. They clearly know how they are being received, but still they continue. Have they decided that their juggernaut is now unstoppable?

I noticed that the caption under MM's photo focuses on News:

Marissa Mayer, Google's vice-president of search products and user experience says the future of news lies in a portable "hyper-personalised" news stream.

Is this in part, Google's way of courting Murdoch's news empire? Offer them the granular demographic targeting that only Google can achieve (for now)? Or is it even worse - a smack that says "pull your silly content, we just don't need it"?

zett




msg:4045304
 7:05 am on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Something at the 'plex seems to have changed in the past month. Eric Schmidt is publicly talking about more aggressive mergers and acquisitions (I read that as vertical monopolies), Marissa Mayer is talking openly and even proudly about being "omnivorous" and "omniscient", and a tsunami of new products get deployed, including default personalization.

They apparently don't even care about the "image' of it all anymore - they don't even toss us that bone. And the top spokespeople most definitely have media training. They clearly know how they are being received, but still they continue. Have they decided that their juggernaut is now unstoppable?

Yeah, have been noticing that as well.

Only one word comes to my mind: HUBRIS.

They believe they are unstoppable. But - as I mentioned in other posts - they underestimate the power of the people. They underestimate that things can change quickly, and not to their favor.

Did the former regime of the German Democratic Republic* think they were unstoppable? Sure! They thought they had the country under control. With their hundreds of thousands of spies implanted directly into the people they thought they would know what was coming! They believed the people were under control. But -fortunately- they underestimated the power of the people, and so one night twenty years ago the wall came crashing down. People were flooding the streets, and they were celebrating the victory while dancing on the wall - unthinkable just hours before! (Actually, the similarities between GDR regime and Google are quite interesting, but I leave that for another place to elaborate.)

I am very certain that Google, with their apparent lack for privacy respect, can come crashing down in a similar way. Of course, it won't happen all by itself. Webmasters big and small, media and politicians need to increase their efforts to educate the general public about the tracking mechanisms, about the Skynet Google is trying to build. Believe me - this WILL have an effect.

Of course, if we just mumble to ourselves in this small corner of the web, then nothing will happen. But what might be the combined reach of the critical webmasters just here? Millions? Tens of millions? If this does not have an effect, we may submit to the gorg right here and now. Then we admit that any resistance is futile. (But no, I think it's worth the fight.)

*They were not democratically elected - they were a cruel regime. Now Google says "Don't be evil", but...!

tedster




msg:4045310
 7:51 am on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

From the article:

Mayer grows defensive when the privacy issue is raised. “Because personalised search is cookie based, there is no personally identifiable information. All we know is that a search came from a certain computer – but nothing about the users' identity. We always follow a code on privacy – transparency, choice and control. People can easily opt out,” she says resolutely.

First, she's being a bit fuzzy - it is the browser (a user profile, to be precise) and not a computer that is being cookie tracked. But the "people can easily opt-out" bit is quite disingenuous. It's far from a simplicity to opt-out of personalized search results right now. It's even more complex to stop cookie-tracking altogether, whether that cookie history is currently used or not.

And then there's the statement about "no personally identifiable information". Remember how easy it was for the NY Times to identify a specific individual from the AOL data leak? With the volume of data that Google has, I'd bet that even 1% of it could identify a precise person - maybe 2% or 3% for a multi-user situation.

The other 98% of the aggregated data could then fill out a personal profile that no one would like to see laid out in front of their eyes. Overlay just a little bit more purchased data from some willing seller (there are many) and you've really got a cause for concern.

I gave up being outraged about this topic before the web was created. The inevitability seemed obvious, only which direction it would come from was up for debate. But I never gave up being attentive -- and truly concerned about how humankind can deal with the fact that the data genie is permanently out of the bottle. And deal with it without much government oversight, which would most likely make things even worse.

Google has at least resisted the overly-vague fishing expedition indictments that have been served - for now. But that's just not enough for me to rest easy. They need to be pushed beyond that rudimentary gesture into becoming true champions of privacy, for real.

We need some of the sharpest minds we can find on this job, or else a long term trade off of privacy for ease-and-comfort will be with us. A fix is far from easy - as I said, the data genie has been out of the bottle for a long time.

randle




msg:4045613
 5:15 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's far from a simplicity to opt-out of personalized search results right now.

I’m not a privacy freak by any stretch, but the whole thing goes way beyond degree of difficulty in opting out IMHO. Unless they employ a pop up box when a new user comes to their search engine that says;

“Thank you for visiting Google! We want you to know that we track and store data regarding your usage of our site, including the sites you ultimately click onto. We use this data to improve your user experience in the future by returning results that better match your interests. If you DO NOT want us to track this information please click HERE”

What they are doing is unethical. You can’t opt out of something if you don’t know it exists, and my guess is at least 95% of their users think a cookie is something you eat. It doesn’t matter how benign the data they are collecting may be, they have a responsibility to inform people they are doing it.

kidder




msg:4046770
 5:18 am on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Those scary books and movies about the big greedy corporation that becomes so large it takes over governments and ends up running the world... Something about science fiction becoming scince fact.. It's past time to wake up the people.

Badcol




msg:4047718
 5:42 pm on Dec 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

What ever happened to Microsoft putting a PC in to my fridge ? Everything seems to have changed from long term life improvements into short term buck making.

That's it ! I'm gonna put my own PC into my fridge ... I can't sit around waiting any more ;-)))

claus




msg:4066057
 12:38 am on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

The past few years I've increasingly found myself "surfing" without Java, without javascript, and with non-session- and third-party cookies turned off (as well as with some ad-blocking and web filtering software activated)

However, Google still seems to be integrated into the browser itself (Firefox), so even after turning off phishing filters and selecting other default search engines I find that there is not really any way to know for certain what data is or is not passed on to Google by my browser.

For that reason (and a few others) I'm now increasingly using Opera in stead of Firefox.

But then, Google creeps in everywhere. I've got a netbook, and I tried having the Mandriva Linux operating system on it. Guess what I discovered: Google Gadgets seems to be a default part of the Mandriva user interface!

It's not that easy to "opt out" ...

Swanny007




msg:4066064
 12:58 am on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

So that brings to mind, what is the browser that isn't married to Google in some way, shape, or form? Sounds like Opera is a contender... I'm going to download it and try it out. Chrome obviously isn't installed on my Mac ;-)

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