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Posts tagged with ‘Paul Kedrosky’

Socialogy: Interview with Brian Solis

Meaning Is The New Search

As it becomes harder and harder for Google to avoid the spam sites, search becomes a less helpful way to find answers. Paul Kedrosky says that curation is the answer, and always has been.

Paul Kedrosky, Curation is the New Search is the New Curation

Any algorithm can be gamed; it’s only a matter of time. The Google algorithm is now well and thoroughly gamed, as I first wrote about late last year, and as now become an entire genre of web writing, and that has grown to include my friend Vivek Wadhwa’s smart piece on TechCrunch not long ago. Google has, they argue, lost its mojo — which is true, but it’s more interesting and complicated than that.

What has happened is that Google’s ranking algorithm, like any trading algorithm, has lost its alpha. It no longer has lists to draw and, on its own, it no longer generates the same outperformance — in part because it is, for practical purposes, reverse-engineered, well-understood and operating in an adaptive content landscape. Search results in many categories are now honey pots embedded in ruined landscapes — traps for the unwary. It has turned search back into something like it was in the dying days of first-generation algorithmic search, like Excite and Altavista: results so polluted by spam that you often started looking at results only on the second or third page — the first page was a smoking hulk of algo-optimized awfulness.

There are two things that can happen now. (Okay, three. We could stop search, which won’t happen.). We could get better algorithms, which is happening to some degree, with search engines like Blekko and others. Or, we could head back to curation, which is what I see happening, and watch new algos emerge on top of that next-gen curation again. Think of Twitter as a new stab at curation, but there are plenty of other examples.

Yes, that sounds mad. If we couldn’t index 100,000 websites in 1996 by hand, how do we propose to do 234-million by hand today?

The answer, of course, is that we won’t — do them all by hand, that is. Instead, the re-rise of curation is partly about crowd curation — not one people, but lots of people, whether consciously (lists, etc.) or unconsciously (tweets, etc) — and partly about hand curation (JetSetter, etc.). We are going to increasingly see nichey services that sell curation as a primary feature, with the primary advantage of being mostly unsullied by content farms, SEO spam, and nonsensical Q&A sites intended to create low-rent versions of Borges’ Library of Babylon. The result will be a subset of curated sites that will re-seed a new generation of algorithmic search sites, and the cycle will continue, over and over.

In short, curation is the new search. It’s also the old search. And it’s happening again, and again.

I take a different view, which is that meaning is the new search:

10 Minute Sprint From 140 Characters Conference: Social Business

Abundance economics means that we won’t rely on search: search is based on scarcity.

Imagine that all critical information is available, publicly, and the most important breaking news is a few seconds (at most) away. In this world the problem won’t be finding what you want, but minimizing the torrent so that you have a small number of things to look at.

This is as true inside of a 1000 person company as in the open web.

Increasingly, we will switch to a social connection mode to filter and find for us. Our networks will become engines of meaning, as Bruce Sterling said.

Everything we want to find has been found, and will find us through our social connections. Like head colds and happiness.

We will find everything through social relationships: what washing machine to buy, or the best Thai restaurant in Beacon NY, or the company that makes the horizontal corduroys. people that care about these issues, and to who we matter, will share meaning with us: they have beliefs that they can justify, also called knowledge.

Google is only the echo of our linking behavior, a second-order derivative of our combined gestures. But generally, we would be happier with fewer results from trusted sources, and the rise of social tools makes that almost as fast as Google search.

Google must plan to adapt to the social revolution or fall into the spam darkness.


Steven Johnson, What A Hundred Million Calls To 311 Reveal About New York
New Yorkers are accustomed to strong odors, but several years ago a new aroma  began wafting through the city’s streets, a smell that was more  unnerving than the usual offenders (trash, sweat, urine) precisely  because it was so delightful: the sweet, unmistakable scent of maple  syrup. It was a fickle miasma, though, draping itself over Morningside  Heights one afternoon, disappearing for weeks, reemerging in Chelsea for  a few passing hours before vanishing again. Fearing a chemical warfare  attack, perhaps from the Aunt Jemima wing of al Qaeda, hundreds of New  Yorkers reported the smell to authorities. The New York Times first wrote about it in October 2005; local blogs covered each outbreak,  augmented by firsthand reports in their comment threads.
The city quickly determined that the odor was harmless, but the mystery of its origin persisted for four years. During maple syrup events, as  they came to be called, operators at the city’s popular NYC311 call  center—set up to field complaints and provide information on school  closings and the like—were instructed to reassure callers that they  could go about their business as usual.
But then city officials had an idea. Those calls into the 311 line,  they realized, weren’t simply queries from an edgy populace. They were  clues.
On January 29, 2009, another maple syrup event commenced in northern  Manhattan. The first reports triggered a new protocol that routed all  complaints to the Office of Emergency Management and Department of  Environmental Protection, which took precise location data from each  syrup smeller. Within hours, inspectors were taking air quality samples  in the affected regions. The reports were tagged by location and mapped  against previous complaints. A working group gathered atmospheric data  from past syrup events: temperature, humidity, wind direction, velocity.
Seen all together, the data formed a giant arrow aiming at a group of  industrial plants in northeastern New Jersey. A quick bit of  shoe-leather detective work led the authorities to a flavor compound  manufacturer named Frutarom, which had been processing fenugreek seeds  on January 29. Fenugreek is a versatile spice used in many cuisines  around the world, but in American supermarkets, it’s most commonly found  in the products on one shelf—the one where they sell cheap maple-syrup  substitutes.

This piece reminds me of the fantastic presentation Paul Kedrosky gave at Defrag a few weeks back on his ‘Ladder Index’ — the frequency of ladders found on southern California’s highways — as a leading indicator of the housing market.
Big data is everywhere, and can be tapped in mysterious — and smelly — ways.

Steven Johnson, What A Hundred Million Calls To 311 Reveal About New York

New Yorkers are accustomed to strong odors, but several years ago a new aroma began wafting through the city’s streets, a smell that was more unnerving than the usual offenders (trash, sweat, urine) precisely because it was so delightful: the sweet, unmistakable scent of maple syrup. It was a fickle miasma, though, draping itself over Morningside Heights one afternoon, disappearing for weeks, reemerging in Chelsea for a few passing hours before vanishing again. Fearing a chemical warfare attack, perhaps from the Aunt Jemima wing of al Qaeda, hundreds of New Yorkers reported the smell to authorities. The New York Times first wrote about it in October 2005; local blogs covered each outbreak, augmented by firsthand reports in their comment threads.

The city quickly determined that the odor was harmless, but the mystery of its origin persisted for four years. During maple syrup events, as they came to be called, operators at the city’s popular NYC311 call center—set up to field complaints and provide information on school closings and the like—were instructed to reassure callers that they could go about their business as usual.

But then city officials had an idea. Those calls into the 311 line, they realized, weren’t simply queries from an edgy populace. They were clues.

On January 29, 2009, another maple syrup event commenced in northern Manhattan. The first reports triggered a new protocol that routed all complaints to the Office of Emergency Management and Department of Environmental Protection, which took precise location data from each syrup smeller. Within hours, inspectors were taking air quality samples in the affected regions. The reports were tagged by location and mapped against previous complaints. A working group gathered atmospheric data from past syrup events: temperature, humidity, wind direction, velocity.

Seen all together, the data formed a giant arrow aiming at a group of industrial plants in northeastern New Jersey. A quick bit of shoe-leather detective work led the authorities to a flavor compound manufacturer named Frutarom, which had been processing fenugreek seeds on January 29. Fenugreek is a versatile spice used in many cuisines around the world, but in American supermarkets, it’s most commonly found in the products on one shelf—the one where they sell cheap maple-syrup substitutes.

This piece reminds me of the fantastic presentation Paul Kedrosky gave at Defrag a few weeks back on his ‘Ladder Index’ — the frequency of ladders found on southern California’s highways — as a leading indicator of the housing market.

Big data is everywhere, and can be tapped in mysterious — and smelly — ways.

(Source: underpaidgenius)

Join us at mesh

Mark your calendars for the upcoming (and rescheduled) mesh — Canada’s web 2.0 conference - Toronto May 15 & 16. mesh will bring together great keynotes and speakers, including Om Malik, Paul Kedrosky, Andrew Coyne, Michael Geist, Tara Hunt, Paul Wells, Steve Rubel, Jason Fried, Stowe Boyd (yes, me), Amber McArthur, Ren Bucholz, Andrew Baron, Chris Messina, David Crow (whew!) and many others. Organizers include Rob Hyndman, Matthew Ingram, Mike McDerment, Stuart MacDonald, and Mark Evans.

Looks like a great conference, and a great venue. Toronto is a fabulous city.

[Long aside: I truly love Canada: even before my sister moved there and became a ‘landed’ immigrant after living in Toronto 20-odd years, I had traveled much of the country. In the past few decades, I have been to the country literally a hundred times or so, and I am increasingly enamored of this very foreign country so close by. I also hope that if I continue to say nice things, I will be allowed to emigrate, which looks like a better and better idea considering America’s political situation and progressive global warming. Although Toronto may be one day be under water as the Great Lakes slowly turn into a giant inland ocean.

RSS Readering, Redux

Paul Kedrosky (RSS Sucks) and Scott Karp (How to Fix RSS) are tapping into the inadequacies of RSS, but they are off target.

Karp carps about the terminology, as if using ‘subscribing’ instead of ‘syndicating’ would solve the real broken parts of the whole RSS mess. Paul does a better job enumerating real problems, which can be summarized as feed overload.

But the real problem is that the entire user experience offered up by RSS newsreaders is wrong. I wrote about this at some length last year in a post called RSS Readering: Why RSS Readers Are No Good For Me (And You Too, I Bet). In particular, I made the core point:

I tried them for a time, and then dropped out. These annoy me for similar reasons: I don’t like the Pez dispenser feel, where all posts are like another, and you assume the role of a pigeon in a Skinner box, hitting the button to make the pellets roll out.

I have been lusting for something, a new solution, that actually parallels my most rewarding reading experiences. The way this generally works is like so:

I stumble across some link, or reference — perhaps in an email, or in the midst of reading a post in a browser — and I decide that I would like to invest some attention to this concept, or meme. Note: I am not just deciding to click a link and go to a specific page — which is all typical browsers do. I am deciding to investigate the theme, thread, meme, or whatever, and assimilate and collate information about it.

I then use a variety of techniques to uncover what I am interested in:

  • I might click on tags embedded in the post, that take me to Technorati, or I might simply decide to search at Technorati or Del.icio.us for references to the piece or for tags to the topic or the names of individuals writing about it.
  • I might follow backlinks, from the post back to earlier sources: other posts, or articles.
  • I might ask specific contacts of mine what they know about the object of my interest.
  • I might write a post, summarizing what I have uncovered, and offering some thoughts on the subject

But what I seldom do is just sit there reading a stream of posts, based on their chronology, or other intrinsic factors. No, I am on a hunt, skipping from place to place, and these tools constrain me more than they free me.

So the problem is not RSS, which should be just a low-level protocol that tools rely on. The problem is the amazingly static and non-innovative way we are using RSS.

The basic metaphor of having all RSS streams converge into an app like NewsGator or Bloglines is too limiting.

I want RSS threaded into other social aspects of the web, like the Nerdvana concept I have been hawking for a long time: an integration of RSS feeds into the instant message buddylist, so that I can be notified when someone I am interested in has posted something recently, just like I can about their online presence, except in this case it is their onblog presence.

At any rate, Scott and Paul are attracting attention to a real problem, although the problem is the RSS reader model we have adopted.


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