Paid ads vs organic results

If you think it’s getting harder to distinguish between paid ads in search results and organic results, you’re not alone. Wall Street Journal has said that search engines are ignoring the FTC 2013 directive. I agree. My practice today is to immediately skip over the first 3 to 5 results because they are usually somewhat disguised paid ads.

WSJ: Search Engines Ignoring FTC Rules About Labeling Search Ads, Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land (Oct 13)

Conversational search when travelling

Use Google app on your smart phone or tablet to find restaurants and bars nearby. Great for dinner reservations.  Works in Toronto. Just say – show restaurants near my home – and presto, Google gives map, names, and addresses.

Google Upgrades Conversational Search On Its Mobile Apps, Matt McGee, Search Engine Land (Oct 9)

Basically, the app is smarter about knowing where you are (at a hotel, for example), letting you complete actions by voice (i.e., making reservations via OpenTable), getting directions as part of the ongoing conversation you’re having with the app and getting reminders.

ZEEF for topic curation

People do love to collect. Maybe most of us are  “curators” at heart. ZEEF is a new service, based in Amsterdam, where volunteers set up stake to manage a topic area. This isn’t the first time. We’ve had the Open Directory as the longest lasting; also Mahalo, which became noted for spam; Blekko, human curated search engine; Scoop.It with a blog style approach; and even Pinterest. Now, here’s a new one. Eric Ward interviewed Rick Boerebach of ZEEF.

Yahoo Says Goodbye, ZEEF Says Hello Eric Ward, Search Engine Land (Oct 7)

Boerebach explained: ” “We believe human knowledge is the most effective tool to surface the gems hidden in this massive pile of content and give a feeling of trust. We want to incorporate the social graph into our model to give results of curators closest to you.” In the interview he notes problems other directories and outlined ZEEF’s intention to overcome them all.

We thought it was the perfect time for a real human-curated directory, keeping the flaws of existing directories in mind and adding the social elements of platforms like Pinterest and Twitter. You can position ZEEF in between Twitter and blogging, which both aim at increasing authority and awareness of your knowledge.

ZEEF -  Filtering the World's Information

ZEEF – Filtering the World’s Information

Good luck – but the good directories have a well developed subject tree (or taxonomy). ZEEF doesn’t appear to have this. There should be well defined criteria for selection and assurances of quality, but at ZEEF this depends entirely on the people volunteering and the “voting” users do. This model has been tried before, and, for serious work, has failed.

Identifying entities for your search

Daniel Russell, Google’s search guru, challenged readers of Search Research to find the places mentioned by Mark Twain in “Around the Equator” (Sept 3). It isn’t simple, as we see in Russell’s Answer (Part 1) to: Can you find the places Twain mentions in “Around the Equator”?. His approach is to identify the entities (in this case the place names) in the text. Thus the first step is to find an application that will analyze the text of Twain’s work.

(Note: I couldn’t find a Part 2 to the answer.)

JStor Daily – online magazine

JSTOR, an online for-fee archive of “academic journals, books and primary sources”, has announced the JSTOR Daily  of  featured articles from the collection. This is very eclectic – great way to add interest to the day.

JSTOR, Daily, Inside Higher Ed (Oct 1)

Wanting to make JSTOR’s content a little more digestible and to engage a different kind of audience, the library today is officially launching its new online magazine, JSTOR Daily. The slick-looking home page already features some 100 blog posts and original articles, most of which draw on and link to more expansive content already on JSTOR. Topics vary widely, from a note on the enduring relevance of Herman Melville, for example, to the economic history of tipping. The magazine intends to publish a several blog posts daily, plus at least one longer-form piece each Wednesday.

Online news from Amazon

Jeff Bezos has big plans for delivering curated news on a tablet through his acquisition of the Washington Post.

Jeff Bezos’s New Plan for News: The Washington Post Becomes an Amazon Product, Brad Stone, Bloomberg Busienss Week (Oct 6)

For the past few months, a group inside the Post has been working on a new application that will offer a curated selection of news and photographs from the daily newspaper in a magazine-style, tablet-friendly format. The application will come preinstalled on Amazon’s newly updated Kindle Fire tablet, expected to be launched later this fall with the larger 8.9-inch screen, according to people with knowledge of the Post’s plans.

Google Scholar’s Size

Coming up with an estimate on how many documents are indexed in Google Scholar isn’t easy. One bibliometric team in Spain puts the size at 160 million +/- 10%.

Just how big is Google Scholar? Ummm by Jia You, Science Insider (Sept 30)

… “the researchers report in a study posted to the arXiv preprint server earlier this year and updated this month. The number: 160 million indexed documents (plus or minus 10%), including journal articles, books, case law, and patents.”

Subject Operator in Google Books

Dan Russell describes use of the subject operator in Google Books in his October search challenge (Oct 1). Google Books includes subject headings from Library of Congress or BISAC subject headings from .the Book Industry Studyy Group.  He doesn’t say how or how well items in Google Books are indexed with Library of Congress subject headings or BISAC subject headings. However, the technique does provide context for your query, and will usually yield better results.

He expands on this in the sequel, Answer. You Make Up the Challenge (Oct 3), demonstrating with examples its value in a topical search, and as a browsing tool.