July 2010 Archives

Lunch with Alan Greenspan

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Allen Beattie:

Escaping the latest of a string of steaming hot summer days, I duck gratefully into the cool interior of Tosca, an Italian restaurant in the lobbyist quarter of Washington DC. From the pavement it is not prepossessing, curtains entirely screening off the interior and presenting a blank face to the world. But the busy, clubby interior hums with power. Situated conveniently between Capitol Hill and the White House, and in the neighbourhood of some of Washington's most powerful political consultancies, it has a reputation as a location for political deals and power-broking at the highest levels. It was here, legend has it, that Tom Daschle spent a five-hour dinner persuading Barack Obama to run for the US presidency. It is very DC.



Richard Florida:

According to a new Regional Income Earnings Index developed by the Martin Prosperity Institute, Greater Washington, D.C. is the nation's metropolitan region with the highest income. The index measures income trends across all 342 of America's metro regions.

San Jose (in California's Silicon Valley) and Stamford, Connecticut, tie for second place. San Francisco and Boston round out the top five. Surprisingly, Greater New York ranks 16th on the MPI Affluence Index, behind Seattle, Boulder, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Greater Baltimore. Two Alaska regions score in the top 20--Anchorage in seventh place and Fairbanks in 19th. Massachusetts and Minnesota each have two regions in the top 20 as well.

Facebook's mobile strategy laid out

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Jon Swartz:

About the only thing growing faster than Facebook's overall audience -- 500 million users and counting -- is its mobile user crowd.

Since the social-networking giant said it topped 100 million mobile users a few months ago, it has added another 50 million. The whopping figure of 150 million is the population equivalent of Nigeria.

The breakneck growth, combined with the fledgling mobile market, has put Facebook in a highly advantageous position to reap the benefits of a multibillion-dollar market worldwide. "We see mobile as the future," said Erick Tseng, Facebook's new head of mobile products. "Mobile is no different from the desktop Web. All the (Facebook) apps available on the desktop should be available on smartphones.

Goldman Sachs' latest mobile report, via Joseph Cotterill.

It's the End of the Web as We Know It

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Steve Rubel:

Wither the web? It's hard to believe but soon, if not already, the web is going to become a lot less interesting to consumers -- and just as it approaches its 20th birthday.

According to Morgan Stanley, within five years global internet consumption on mobile devices will surpass the same activity on PCs. This sounds like good news. It's natural to think that browsers on the third screen (phones) and the fourth screen (tablets) will simply replace time spent in front of the same on a PC. That's not the case.

Mobile devices, by their nature, force users to become more mission-oriented. As more internet consumption shifts to gadgets, it's increasingly becoming an app world and we just live in it. Innovation, fun, simplicity and single-purpose utility will rule while grandiose design and complexity will fall by the wayside.

It won't be enough just to build branded mobile applications that repurpose content across all of the different platforms. That's like newspapers taking the print experience and replicating it on the web as they tried back in the 1990s. Rather, we will need to rethink, remix and repackage information for an entirely different modality than platforms of yore.

First, let's look at the trends.
Virtual Properties broker iPhone / iPad / iPod app; v2.5 is now available.

The Financial Times posted several articles on "Google's Black Box" this week:

Richard Waters:

In an office in Santa Monica, wedged between downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, the future of the media industry is being drawn up.

Demand Media is a company created specifically for the Google Age. It tracks the queries entered into search engines to find out what users are interested in, then hires freelance writers at rock-bottom rates to rush out articles to meet the need.

To make sure these articles appear high up in the results when similar searches are done in future, it uses the techniques of search engine optimisation - the term given to the art of designing a web page so that it is accorded a higher ranking by Google's algorithm. It also makes money by displaying adverts alongside its articles from Google's advertising system.

The fact that content factories are being created to ride on the back of search engines highlights an uncomfortable paradox.

Google's search engine formula marks an ambitious attempt to model the real world in mathematics, identifying its users' needs and desires and delivering the best information from the web in milliseconds. But as its influence across the web grows, Google's algorithm is starting to shape the world it describes.

Tom Foremski:
Groups magnify chances of Google hits:
Companies with a high page rank are in a strong position to move into new markets. By "pointing" to this new information from their existing sites they can pass on some of their existing search engine aura, guaranteeing them more prominence.

This helps companies such as AOL and Yahoo as they move into the low-cost content business, says Mr Bonnie. "They can use their Google page rank to make sure their content floats to the top," he says.

Google's Mr Singhal calls this the problem of "brand recognition": where companies whose standing is based on their success in one area use this to "venture out into another class of information which they may not be as rich at". Google uses human raters to assess the quality of individual sites in order to counter this effect, he adds.

I've known about this for several years but wasn't able to get anyone from Google on the record. These Google employees have the power to promote or even completely erase a site from the Google index.
Scott Cleland:
Wow. After a decade of passionate public representations that Google's vaunted search algorithm is "neutral' and unbiased, we now learn it has substantial regular human intervention to discriminate what site gets what ranking, who gets found and who does not, and who wins and who loses in the business of online content.
The explosion in mobile apps, including our broker iPhone/iPad/iPod app, is changing everything online.

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