20 Years of Web Search

If you’ve been using the Internet for the past 20 years, what big changes in search would you mention? Danny Sullivan has been in the thick of it for at least that long. Read his list of 10 big changes with search engines over my 20 years of covering them (Search Engine Land April 17) Not surprisingly Google dominates. I think that the  machine learning component to search today – Sullivan’s # 7 – is the most stunning. Privacy issues are much bigger today – our searches are recorded – an aspect that Sullivan didn’t pick as a big change.

Dark side of social media

If you have read comments at newspaper sites, you have already been shocked by bad manners and vitriolic speech. But it is even worse – much worse. Behind the scenes at Google, Amazon, Facebook etc there is a very large army of people reading everything and deleting the really vile comments. They do the same with images and videos. The people are all on confidentiality agreements, are poorly paid, suffer from overload and stress, and must process each item in seconds – not minutes – seconds. TVO’s Steve Paiken interviewed Sarah Roberts of Western University (Ontario) about her research into this very dark side of the Internet.

Moderating Social Media: The dark side of the web, The Agenda, TVO March 23 [Video]

Raymond Tomlinson and @

We will remember Raymond Tomlinson as the inventor of the e-mail on networks – especially the Internet. This obituary by William Grimes – Raymond Tomlinson: Computer programmer invented network e-mail (New York Times via Globe and Mail (March 11)

It was he who came up with the @ to separte user from the network while working on projects for ARPANET in 1971.

Mr. Tomlinson went on to play an important role in developing the first e-mail standards, including the now-familiar name, date and subject headers atop every e-mail message.

English speaking people know @ as  the at sign. But others call it something else – “In France and Italy, it is called a snail. Israelis know it as a strudel, and Finns, having decided that it resembles a curled-up cat, call it miukumauku, or “the meow sign.””

Of interest – in case you thought email was declining in importance – “According to a report by the Radicati Group on global e-mail use, last year more than two billion e-mails were sent every day from 4.35 billion registered e-mail accounts.”.

Google in a bind

The data authority in France, CNIL, insists that Google apply the “right to be forgotten” for removal of search results across all country versions of its search engine or face heavy fines.

France confirms that Google must remove search results globally, or face big fines, Ars Technica UK (Sep 21)

“If Google is fined by CNIL in this way, it can then make a formal appeal to the French supreme court for administrative justice and argue its case in detail. Since important issues are at stake for both the company and the Internet itself, and the French government is unlikely to back down in its threat to impose fines, it seems likely that Google will end up taking this route.”

Emoticons for punctuation

Emoticons – and now emojis – have a long history, as Reid Goldsborough explains in this LinkUp article — The How’s and Why’s of Emoticons (Sept).

The Emojipedia tells us that “Emoji originated in Japan. The word emoji means “picture letter” in Japanese. Each character has an official name, defined as part of the unicode standard.” We are most familiar with the round, yellow people faces with various expressions.

All these and the emoticons of early Internet days are used still in email, text chat, texting – anything text.

Of interest is that they predate the Internet — “Telegraph operators in the mid-19th century used acronyms such as IMHO (in my humble opinion) and FWIW (for what it’s worth) when communicating among themselves, according to the book The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage. Later, teletype operators used emoticons when chatting. In both cases it was to save time.”

“Outsourcing your memory”

Interesting findings about our perceptions of what we really know when we have access to the Internet for finding out.

Does Google Help Students Learn (or Just Think They Do?) by Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week (May 26)

There’s no question that in the era of the smartphone, the Internet has become a go-to place to find out something in a hurry, but does “outsourcing your memory” actually help students learn new concepts, or does it just make people think they are smarter than they are?

– people are “outsourcing memory” – they remember where they found it rather than the information itself.
– people after researching a topic assess themselves as being more knowledgeable than they actually are. “While people can find very in-depth information quickly on the Internet, Fisher argues that something about the act of searching online boosts students’ confidence in their understanding. ”
– people remember better when they look something up – but these studies found that students did better online than with print.

Meeker on Internet Trends

Mary Meeker’s annual report about Internet trends always has analysts agog. This year’s show is 197 slides long. Better to use a summary – such as Tech Crunch’s posting: The Most Important Insights From Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report  – only 24 slides.

Of interest:

  • Top Internet companies are: Apple, Google, Alibaba, Facebook, and Amazon.
  • Next areas of opportunity for entrepreneurs with new products are education, healthcare, government.
  • Average American adult spends 5.6 hours a day on the Internet – mostly mobile.
  • “Vertical video ads”  is the term for ads shown on mobile devices – turns out people watch them.
  • Six of the top ten apps on mobile devices are for messaging. (oh oh – means companies will tack on ecommerce etc)