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Google Car Doesn’t Need Humans

The biggest problem on the road?  All those pesky people.  It seems that Google has isolated the same problem with their car as they have with their algorithm and are working to deal with it in much the same way … take all those unpredictable humans out of the equation.

To do this Google announced yesterday that they are building their own vehicles (about 100 to be specific) and here’s the kinda-creepy part, the only human-interaction component is a red emergency button to stop it.  No steering wheel, no brake or gas pedal.  Nothing. The argument is that human interaction is more likely to cause an accident than an automated system.  Are they right?  Well, there’s obviously no large-scale evidence to support or refute the claim but with the large number of robotic acquisitions Google has been making of late, they’re certainly well positioned to give the effort a solid run.

One of the interesting features of this technological move is that the car can be requested from any Android phone and with the destination also programed from the phone meaning getting your car with arms full of shopping just got a whole lot easier as it would exit the parkade and meet you in front of the store with the click of a button or (presumably) a voice control.

There isn’t a whole lot of detail out on the car yet but here’s the fuzzy-little video put out to promote it.

I’ve got to say, with the number of less-than-qualified drivers I encounter on the road I hope sincerely that it works and can imagine the mobility it will lend to people who otherwise cannot drive themselves.  While I find it a bit odd, I’m sure there was a time when fire did too.

And Facebook Eavesdropping

And speaking of things you can do fro your phone, Facebook will be adding a function that allows them to listen in while you’re updating your status.  They will be listening to the background noise to enable you to share what you’re watching and/or listening to.    Now you might be thinking, “If I wanted to share what I’m watching I’d simply include that in my status update.”  Interesting thought but apparently Facebook is pretty sure you might not know you want to share this enormously invaluable piece of pop culture with all the folks you know.  I mean, if I can’t know which of my friends is watching Honey Booboo or listening to the latest by Justin Beiber how am I to know who I should unfriend?

Think of it as a culture-based filtering.  Perhaps they could add a feature to automatically unfriend people who have horrible taste, put them all in a driverless car and send them all to a cave so they don’t have cell phone access.

Google & Facebook: Together to make the world a better place.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:49 am on May 28, 2014

Categories:Facebook,Google

 

Google stock soars: Titan Aerospace + Public Glass Explorer

It would take a lot of thunderbolts and lightning to frighten a company as resourceful as Google.

After some of the bad news earlier this month, Google had a very good day on the stock market and is soaring high on several big announcements.
 

Google
NASDAQ: GOOG – Apr 15 6:13 PM ET
536.44 +3.92 (0.74%)

 
As of today, April 15th, starting at 6am, Google started taking public orders for the Google Glass Explorer product.

What’s the catch? You have to be a US citizen because the Glass Explorer program is focused on the US and doesn’t have a lot of support for other countries yet. D’oh!

Also, at $1,500, you probably need to have a solid bankroll or a game plan to make the money back by producing videos and taking images that you can promote as ‘through glass’.

The official post on Google Plus took several minutes to finish loading thanks to the comments from people who range from excited, to angry, depending on their global location and access to the needed funds.

There’s no mention of the public access to the Explorer Glass Edition on the official Google Blog, but last week they had Dr. Jane Goodall discussing the tools she used to document and learn about chimpanzee behavior.

When I consider the additional images/video Dr.Goodall would have been able to collect and share if her studies were done with today’s technology/tools, it really boggles my mind.

Still, I don’t have US citizenship, or $1,500 laying around, so all I can do is write with jealousy. :)

Speaking of funds, Google also just purchased Titan Aerospace, the same company that has successfully built self-powered gliders that can sustain an altitude of 65,000 feet for up to three years.
 
Photo of the Solara 50 self powered glider.
 
The only figure that news sites will quote is the $60 million US that Facebook had previously offered to purchase Titan Aerospace, and the assumption is that Google obviously offered even more.

How much is it worth to Google to be able to update Google Maps image data without sharing the cost of satellite images? Millions.

What’s the value of traffic and exposure if Google’s drones can provide near real-time updates of forest fires and other large disasters? Priceless.

These self-powered gliders can apparently supplement Google’s Loon Project which provides internet access to low density population areas using ‘smart’ balloons that use the various wind layers to control their location.

If a balloon is going the wrong direction it can raise or lower to get into a different layer of wind for some limited control of it’s travel. When a balloon needs maintenance it can be deflated slowly to bring it back to ground safely, and in the event of a malfunction there’s a parachute in each balloon.

Currently the Loon project is focused in New Zealand with a future goal of establishing a contiguous ring of balloons around the 40th southern parallel that will provide uninterrupted internet access for anyone living in the 40km range of the ring.

With the purchase of Titan Aerospace and it’s gliders, Google has even more options and folks are already starting to wonder about a hybrid balloon using some of the glider technology that Titan Aerospace is bringing to the table.

Honestly, between selling connectivity and providing discounted image data for Google Earth, this purchase unlocks a ton of potential and could easily pay itself off in short order because Google’s in a great position to actually use the technology.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:00 pm on April 15, 2014


 

Oculus VR SOLD to Facebook

About an hour ago (it will be by the time I post this) it was announced that Facebook has acquired Oculus VR, makers of the Oculus Rift virtual headset for roughly 2 billion in cash and stocks.

oculusvr soldout

Targeted marketing: Now in 3D!!

If you review the products that Facebook has purchased/acquired recently you’ll see a very consistent logic in going after products that they can control and lock down to their own services. The goal is very simple, get a technology off the public market so you can control it, brand it, and eventually monetize it with user tracking and advertising. All of which are bad for the Oculus VR’s development.

So what was an exciting new product is instantly becoming a pile of speculation and distrust, not even 7 days after the DK2 kit became available for purchase, and exactly 1 week from April Fools?

Talk about ‘deeply’ suspicious folks! In the first half-hour of the news break on Reddit the /r/oculus threads are full of people overusing ‘sell out’ and just pummeling Palmer Lucky, the man who used to call the shots over at Oculus VR, with insults and insinuations.

Just 1 hour ago Minecraft’s Markus Persson (AKA: Notch) has already publicly hit the NOPE button:

While this means that Minecraft won’t officially support the Oculus Rift, it really boils down to needing user-based modifications to support the Oculus hardware as Mojang won’t be wasting time on a Facebook property.

This is just hours after the announcement so I would expect Minecraft to be tip of the iceberg when you really sit down and think about who’s in business with Facebook:

- Microsoft
- Oracle
- Nokia
- Zynga
- etc..

Things over at Facebook are a bit of an axis of evil in terms of IT culture, soliciting a slew of ‘dark side’ remarks from upset users replying to Palmer Lucky’s sale post. It’s my opinion that as many people who would complain about losing access to such a device, there’s many more that would understand that this could be the end of a great thing today.

It reminds me a bit of a movie I watched where there’s a jolly fat kid carrying around his bag of candy pieces only to have a bully come along, steal a candy, stick it in his nose, and then drop it back into the bag with a shake to make sure it’s well sorted.

At this point the entire first page of the Oculus VR subreddit is entirely devoted to negative responses to this news, including this juicy revelation:



People are now shifting interest and focus to other projects and /r/virtualreality just got subbed in for a ton of ex-oculus fans.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:58 pm on March 25, 2014


 

Blogcology Dec 19, 2013

Davecology

Dave Davies’ recent Search Engine Watch article takes us back in time by reviewing Google’s methods of madness from 2013. What was great about this article is that it makes sense of Google’s events and algorithms as far back as 2012 and how it all came together for the present day. He discusses on the show that 2012 was a case of tearing off the band aid where 2013 was more about learning to adapt to the changes.

His 2014 forecast was intriguing as he sees Google continuing pursuit of a mobile search environment. Since they own a majority of the OS market this makes sense that their direction increases their focus on communications between desktop and mobile.

Dave’s projection for Google technology acquisitions in the New Year will be primarily on advertising. With a rumor of a gaming console he seems to think could deliver convenience through offering live time shopping from the television or console. Like ordering a pizza while playing a game or watching TV without shutting the entertainment down to do so.

Definitely an entertaining read that places the pieces to the puzzle in subsequent order and paints the perfect possible future for Google.

Faceology

These days’ people aren’t seeing the usual views from friends that they might be used to. According to Jim he sees Facebook as a “liberal echo chamber” because of the limiting results of visual updates. The new algorithms give you what you think you want to see but leaves out what it decides are not of interest of you. Jim made a point that the washed out delivery of content is making this social platform a less interesting environment. Dave referred it to “filtering to placate” a trend that not only Facebook has followed but Google as well. The lack of debatable posts is less engaging but it’s also creating less time on site. A benefit for Facebook users but a considerable loss for the social giant.

Googecology

The boys were discussing the blunt warning from Google to spammers. Pugnacious, was the word Jim used to describe Matt Cutts latest video thwarting off the evil of spammers. This takes place of after a massive spam hunt on link networks such as Anglo Rank. Matt laid down the law and showed muscle behind Google’s intent to end dishonest work on the web. I would have to definitely agree with this bold move from Matt and think that this could end up being the year that spammers lie six feet under.

Sumcology

• You could be ordering pizzas while shooting zombies
• Facebook -  we want the good, bad and ugly
• Filtering to placate can result in boredom
• Pugnacious, is just fun to say

SEO news blog post by @ 1:30 pm on December 20, 2013


 

Why I Can’t “Like” George Takei

Or: Facebook Done Wrong

George Takei

Pretty much every search marketer has taken a lesson from George Takei and his amazing use of social media.  I know that I for one, as a huge Star Trek nerd and Internet Marketer on top of that have “Followed” him since his earlier days on Facebook.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found that I could no longer Comment on his status updates or even Like them.  So why would this be?

Let me begin by noting that at no time in any of my Comments did I make any statement that might be considered offensive.  I don’t object to his orientation, I love Star Trek and I’ve got way too much to do in my day to troll (and if I wanted to there are just so many people I’d rather launch into objections on).  So what happened that resulted in me having my ability to Like or Comment on George Takei’s Facebook page blocked you ask?

It Started With A Comment Being Removed And Then …

It started with a comment getting removed.  I can’t remember the specific product over at Amazon that was being promoted on his Wall that I Commented on but I do recall that when I clicked the link my first though was, “Really?  This is what you’re promoting?”  Rather than insert that comment (which would have matched quite a number of others at the time) I decided to do a little snooping.  It seemed suspicious to me that all the links were through bit.ly (though he now uses different URL shorteners).  I mean, when I just find something I like I don’t usually shorten the URL unless I either need to track it or hide it.  So which was it?

Well here’s where I got myself in trouble with Mr. George Takei (or more likely, the folks managing his social media).  I noticed that the URL shortener lead to an Amazon URL (like … every time) and they all have an affiliate ID (I know as it looks just like the IDs I use).  So we can now eliminate the need for tracking since that’s available through the affiliate program itself.  All that leaves is hiding the URL.

Well, I decided to make mention of it and props to them for responsiveness – within about 30 seconds it was removed.  I should note that at the same time as my one comment noting that the link was an affiliate link and they should be open about it and not promote crap, there were numerous comments on his wall that I’d deem as downright offensive.  Those stayed – mine was removed.

Well – I let it go for a bit but I started seeing more and more affiliate links and to worse and worse products.  I decided to make mention of it again and this time included a note that without disclosing that there was profit behind the link, that they were likely violating the law which requires disclosure of such.  And that was the last time I was able to Comment on George Takei’s wall on Facebook, or even Like a post … I’d been blocked.

And So …

I use this as a horrible example of how to interact on social media and one which could backfire.  If I’ve noticed then certainly others will and if the products marketed on his wall continue to be second-rate there’s sure to be a loss of interest.  People followed George because he was entertaining and honest and if that’s gone – then what’s left?  And do I even need to mention that posts like this one, not particularly positive, are likely to creep up?

Getting back to my Treky roots however I have to hope that things smooth over and that the social media folks stop trying to eke a buck or two at every turn and stick to promoting George himself, being clear when they’re profiting of links they post and hopefully stop being skewed by their Amazon affiliate ID and post links to genuinely interesting things.  And if any of the social media managers of George Takei read this: ThinkGeek has an affiliate program and their products are far more entertaining than what you’ve been posting lately.  Just be sure to note the profit you’ll be making.  People don’t mind if it’s genuinely interesting.

SEO news blog post by @ 8:02 am on December 3, 2013

Categories:Facebook

 

Erasing Your Embarrassments

The online social world has permanently altered the future. Young people are coming of age in an era where they can easily take and post photos online, share them with friends and family, and garner an audience of strangers. Teenagers — notoriously short in foresight, susceptible to “groupthink” and peer pressure, anxious to fit in and define themselves as individuals, exploring new aspects of adulthood — now have access to an infinite audience on the web. The combination often makes for toxic results, and sadly having a sloppy drunken photo on your Facebook page is often the best case scenario. There are already some infamous cases in which teenagers were persuaded or coerced into taking nude photos of themselves, only to find that their audience held them at ransom for years afterward, ruining their lives and threatening their futures. We all know that employers are going to check an interviewee’s social media to see what sort of person they are in their off time; can you imagine trying to apply for a job when you know that your boss could find your most humiliating secret at any time?

From http://www.connectsocialmedia.com.auThe abuse and exploitation of minors in social media circles is an area where the law has yet to catch up to reality. Due to the anonymous nature of the internet, it can be tough to track down a bully — or prove beyond reasonable doubt that the virtual abuse caused real-life harm. But a lot of the time a teen can be his or her own worst enemy. Take a look at any ‘Facebook Fails’ website and you’ll see hundreds of examples of poor judgment — of kids engaged in dumb, illegal, embarrassing, or self-incriminating behavior. They tweet before thinking and comment; all of which will come back to bite them when they find themselves on a major job search.

In this vein, it’s refreshing to read that California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law which requires websites to remove content when requested to do so by a minor. The bill allows minors to essentially push an “erase button” for digital content; while sites may not be required to completely eliminate the requested data, they have to remove it from the view of the public.

It’s important to note that this law doesn’t apply to content posted by a third party; it sadly can’t remove compromising photos posted by friends, enemies, or blackmailers. The bill doesn’t apply to sites which anonymize the content and/or their users, making it difficult to identify the minor individually. However, it does apply to social media sites, and even sites registered outside of California have to comply if a Californian teen requests the removal of content.

It’s tempting to scoff at this measure and chuckle at the hubris of adolescence. Many people argue that these digital records, however embarrassing or incriminating, are nonetheless important — and public — records of major prejudices, risk-taking behaviors, and other indicators of reliability and respect. But today’s teens are guinea pigs in an experiment which has no precedent; there has never been anything like Facebook before. Their mistakes aren’t unique to their generation; they are, however, far more widely recorded for public consumption. I think it’s a great step towards incorporating the social web into our lives and accepting that it is going to be a permanent part of how we interact with one another for the foreseeable future. If the California law gives teens a chance to clean up their act when those frontal lobe brain cells finally sprout, then they should have the same opportunity as their predecessors to put their best foot forward into young adulthood and beyond.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:40 pm on September 24, 2013


 

Facebook’s Contest Rules: NOW They Change Things!

This summer I put together a Facebook contest for a client. Up until last week, the social media’s site rules were explicitly clear: absolutely no promotion-related content could be administered within Facebook itself. If you wanted to make a promotion, you had to build it on a third-party app developer and host it as a tab on your page. Users could not enter by commenting on a post; likes could not count as votes. While my contest was a fantastic learning experience, the actual process—researching what Facebook would and wouldn’t expect, vetting third-party developers, trying to design and program the tab itself—was complicated and sometimes frustrating.

likeFacebook has now revamped its contest guidelines. The biggest change has been the removal of the third-party administration requirement; while it’s one alteration, it has massive ramifications for how businesses conduct themselves and interact with their fans. A comment, post, or like can now function as an entry or a vote; while third-party apps can still be used for larger campaigns, it can make the process of a quick giveaway or draw much simpler—as easy as just posting an update and asking for comments. This is obviously a big plus for page owners; fans are more likely to enter a giveaway where all they have to do is comment or like. It also becomes a great deal cheaper to host a promotion; while contests can be real business-builders, the app developers often charge a subscription fee for use of their service and may only offer a bare-bones free option, if any.

So the changes are a good thing for small businesses and pages looking to increase their traffic by doing giveaways and contests. Facebook still encourages the use of apps for larger and more personalized experiences; they also forbid pages from asking users to take part in promotions by liking or posting something to their own personal Timeline. And if I’d only done this client contest a few months later, I would have very possibly been able to pull it off quicker than I did (though I would have missed the opportunity to become truly acquainted with Photoshop).

That said, there are some legal ramifications for this change that will be interesting to follow as the new rules go into practice. For one, entry management may become a great deal more difficult; while the apps are very good at keeping track of exactly who enters the contest and what they must do, it could easily become a hassle to ensure each entry was legitimate when you’re just asking people to like a post. Furthermore, it can run up against official location rules; if the giveaway is tailored to the sweepstakes rules for The United States and the winner is in Britain, their legal claim to the prize—and the legality of their participation in the first place—may not be simple.

With apps, page owners must make clear exactly what counts as an entry and how the winners will be chosen. The US has very strict rules which dictate that all entries into a sweepstakes or draw must have an equal chance of winning. But if users can enter through a variety of actions, it can be difficult to track them; it also removes Facebook’s careful denial of liability, which had been so prominent in the earlier rules.

I’m interested to see how these rule changes will work out in the long run. While it’ll make things much easier for a lot of businesses, I can see many ways where things can go wrong, and the results remain to be seen. Until then, you can enter that draw for free wings without worry. Go forth and like to your heart’s content

SEO news blog post by @ 11:58 am on September 4, 2013


 

FaceBook Social Graph Search

It has been over ten years since people began making the choice to share their lives online, and users buying into social search will be the next step according to Facebook. Facebook has announced the release of their new search tool, called Graph Search; a reference to the network of friends its users have created.

This new search function encourages users to divulge more personal information in order to provide better advertising results.
Google began introducing semantic over the last few years, and there have been numerous attempts from other (Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Hunch) to utilize social search; but nothing at the order of magnitude at which Facebook operates.

Graph-Search-Zuckerberg

This new search function is being regarded by many as a test for the users of the social networking site which could have repercussions for the Internet at large due to the scale at which Facebook operates. The test will show whether users are willing to allow and contribute to more sharing of their personal lives and whether or not social search is the future of online interaction.

If successful, Facebook is confident that it’s over one billion users (1.01 billion as of September 2012) will be willing to share more information from the movies they watch, the places they visit or the food they eat.

Facebook’s algorithms will filter search results for each individual and ranking the friends and brands that it thinks a user would trust the most. Initially, the new tool will mine users photos, check-ins and likes, but will later search through a users complete profile, status updates, and posts.

Tom Stocky, one of the creators of Facebook search, said in an interview this week "People have shared all this great stuff on Facebook," Mr. Stocky said. "It’s latent value. We wanted a way to unlock that."

As anticipated Facebook users have mixed feelings regarding the new search tool. Independent studies suggest that social media users are actually becoming more resistant about revealing more about themselves online. This reluctance may stem from increased media attention given to online privacy and protection, and scattered reports of employers and educators using the medium to investigate Facebook profiles.

In a survey of 500 students aged 21 and 22, Eszter Hargittai, an associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University stated: "These behavioral patterns seem to suggest that many young adults are less keen on sharing at least certain details about their lives rather than more."

Another study from the Pew Internet Center indicated that social users (especially those on Facebook) were aggressively pruning their profiles by removing friends, comments and tagged photos.

It may be that Facebook is taking a huge gamble with their launch into social search. With many users (including myself) trying to close down the doors of Facebook instead of opening them up, Facebook may not be paying enough attention to the fact that many users are facing a social-saturation-tipping point, or "social media burnout" en masse and may they have missed the mark on this latest endeavor.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:53 pm on January 21, 2013

Categories:Facebook

 

Facebook Social Search: Grasping for that Third Pillar?

On January 15th 2013, Facebook planted it’s so called “third pillar” of it’s social network empire, “social search”.

If Facebook *is* all about social media, and they already had a search function, how is this a big change?

Stack of coins with a magnifying glass on the pennies.
Okay, well that *is* some small change..

 
From what I can tell of the new search feature, it’s an exclusive index of Facebook, powered by Bing. So you get better/different results from the previous search options because it’s been handled by Microsoft’s search methodology.
 
So, you may be wondering, “Why isn’t Bing offering an improved ‘Social Search’ now that they have access to all this Facebook data?”, and you will be amused to note that today Bing indeed announced an improved ‘Social Search’ to users of their services.

In fact, Bing’s social search results are appended to the Facebook search results, and all clicks stay inside Facebook.

Still, what’s really ‘new’ about this search behavior?

Allegedly if I tack on action words to a search like, “visited by friends” or “popular with friends”, it’s supposed to marry the search results with social data from my friends list.

I gave that a whirl, trying to find various searches that would result in ‘approvals’ or ‘likes’ from my friends and I got very poor results.

Could it be that my tech savvy friends have dialed in their Facebook privacy settings to the point where Bing’s assistance is negligible? Possibly. And I wouldn’t blame them for it.

Then I tried some of the same searches in Google, without engaging any ‘social’ tags or features, and viola, I can see restaurants, pubs, and even retail stores that people in my circles have rated. I also know now to never have lunch with Dave, since he loves all the types of restaurants I try to avoid. :)

Plus, thanks to Google’s purchase of Zagat, I have a fallback option for accurate/honest feedback if my friends aren’t reviewing restaurants or pubs that I want to try out or are simply closer to my location.

While I’m not seeing a real improvement, FB is seeing a nice reversal of their stock prices, which were on a steady downfall last year, as we mentioned in our May 22nd, 2012, blog post: FB stock drops as SpaceX soars to success!

How long this will bolster their faltering stock value?

Will ‘Social Search’ mature into a feature that entices disinterested users to revisit Facebook?

Clearly that’s anyone’s guess, but at least they are trying to keep the ship afloat, and search traffic could help bolster ad revenue, as it did for Google.

Time will tell. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 11:56 am on January 17, 2013


 

Video Ads Planned for FB Timelines

Co-Workers and clients ask me why I stopped using MSN Messenger, like it’s a surprise to them that I don’t willingly sign into an application that spends most of it’s time trying to download videos/advertisements to distract me?

To me the more advertisements I see on a service the more I see that service as coming to an end, with one final attempt to monetize the fleeting popularity of the service at it’s peak of it’s traffic volume.

So clearly then Facebook is signalling that now is the time to monetize and cash out, with executives promising video advertisement opportunities in 2013.

TV Staticfacebook video

To quote the original article on AdAge:

“By April at the latest, it(FB) will offer video advertisers the chance to target video ads to large numbers of Facebook users in their news feeds on both the desktop version of Facebook as well as on Facebook apps on mobile phones and tablets.”

There’s also some advanced speculation that the goal will be to keep the video adverts capped at 15 seconds, which would help minimize the amount of data transfer that is wasted on content you never wanted to see in the first place.

Additionally, if advertisers have to compete in 15 seconds or less, this could produce ‘light’ video spots that are then re-used on other sites around the web, hopefully just replacing existing clips that are 30 seconds.

To the advertisers out there (some of which are our clients) this means that if you were in the planning/edit stages of a video promotion for your site, and social media was one of your target audiences, then you would do well to plan on a 15 second version of your clip in advance.

Speaking of Video Advertising

What would happen if YouTube paid a handful of the most popular YouTube video creators together to make a ‘popular mashup’?

I think this is what would happen (this is NOT the cheap re-mix you may be expecting):

[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/iCkYw3cRwLo?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

Felicia Day and Minecraft? It’s almost like I helped make this.

 
Nice work YouTube! Clearly, at 28million (and counting) hits since it was released on Monday, people can’t get too much of a good thing, which is shocking considering how overplayed some of those videos are, especially the Gangnam Style remixes.

The end of the clip has some references to the video sources, some of which were fresh links for this old dog. ;)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:28 pm on December 20, 2012


 

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