April 25th & 26th
287 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Abstract Submission Deadline: January 19th
What does it mean that digital technologies are increasingly a part of...
Danny Sullivan gets to the heart of Facebook’s Graph Search: it depends on how connected you are, and who you are connected to.
When I’ve watched Facebook show me demos of Facebook Graph Search, and do some of the example searches I’ve itemized above, it’s impressive. But it’s also impressive because it’s a person from Facebook who makes heavy use on Facebook to connect to things and who is in turn tapping into the knowledge of many other Facebookers who are similarly hyper-connected. They are not, in a word, normal.
Consider me. Not only have I not liked my electrician, my plumber, my dentist, my doctor or my tax person on Facebook but I don’t even know if they have Facebook pages. I have nothing to offer to my Facebook friends in this regard.
Similarly, despite the huge number of books I read through my Kindle, I never go to like those books on Facebook, so books I love are more or less invisible on Facebook.
Facebook itself understands this challenge, but it’s hoping the promise of what search can provide will help encourage people to build the connections they may lack now.
“There are now new reasons to make these connections. We’re hoping the existence of that will encourage it,” said Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook, who has worked closely on the Facebook search product. “But absolutely, early on, that [your degree of connectedness] will make the experience you have with this vary.”
There is a problem here. People are generally *not* motivated to do things now that could prove useful in the future only if everyone else does it too. Generally, people are motivated by immediate needs, like figuring out where to have lunch, today.
I like the weaker argument, that Facebook’s new search will make the Facebook experience slightly better — like allowing you to find all the pictures you’ve liked — instead of it becoming the social era replacement for Google search.
Danny Hillis, The Opinions Of Search Engines (via Edge.org)
Hillis makes the case that adding by semantic knowledge into search Google and others are inherently and inescapably advancing a worldview, like the editor of a magazine.
Google teams up with New York City to offer free Wi-Fi in Chelsea neighborhood - Ben Popper via Verge
Google has teamed up with city government and the Chelsea Improvement Project, a local New York City non-profit, to provide free Wi-Fi to the hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists who travel through this lower Manhattan neighborhood each year. Chelsea is best known as a chic district, home to Google’s major NYC offices, the Apple store, and numerous high-end shops, but also contains a large number of low-income housing projects and public schools.
I want to start a non-profit in Beacon just so Google will provide us with free wifi.
I was looking at a Google search result and I saw this alert pop up, regarding a flight:
I clicked on it and saw a second search page, where the search query was ‘My Flights’, and this popped to the top:
And the link to the confirmation email — from which the information had been pulled — was offered up.
So, I can see that Google could build a search-based competitor to TripIt relatively easy. Instead of having to forward travel confirmations from airlines, hotels, etc. to TripIt, Google could simply index them in a smart way. And Google could correlate trips with travel dates on my Google calendar. So imagine if I had a trip to Southern California on calendar as a multiday event, Google could have pulled hotel and other information together with the two flights there and back, and used the name of the event as a tag, or folder, and the calendar event could have collated all the travel information together automatically.
Look out, TripIt!
I saw a new option pop up in Gmail today, and I have opted into a field trial of a new Gmail search. Now Google will show relavant files in Google Drive and Google Calendar along with emails when searching in Gmail. Also, emails and Google Drive files will show up in Google Searches.
Jennings pulls together many rumors pointing toward a touchscreen Chrome OS hybrid tablet/laptop designed and developed by Google.
If the Android/iOS one-two punch is a precedent, the emergence of a Chrome OS laptop/tablet is more of a threat to Microsoft’s push on Surface than Apple. And the Surface looks like it’s heading nowhere, according to Piper Jaffray’s Black Friday stats.
Microsoft’s share of the OS market is about to do the dead cat bounce.
An interesting rumor making the rounds, that Google is discussing building out a wireless netwrok in partnership with Dish:
According to “people familiar with the discussions,” Google has talked with Dish Network about the possibility of creating a new wireless service. Although Dish is known mainly for its satellite TV offerings, the company is sitting on some unused wireless spectrum and has openly talked about building a new network with a partner. Google is one of the companies who has showed interest.
The negotiations weren’t in advanced stages, the Journal reports, so this could turn out to be nothing. Still, the idea of a wireless service from Google is interesting to think about, and it would make sense both to the company and to users.
Wireless carriers need disruption. They slather their phones–particularly Android devices–in bloatware that you can’t remove. They invent new fees without good reason. They find ways to charge you extra to use the data you already pay for. They stick their logos in unsightly places presumably just to remind you who’s boss.
There’s no guarantee a Google wireless service would provide the opposite experience, but at least Google has different motivations. Instead of simply trying to juice average revenue per user, Google’s priority is to get people hooked on Android so that they’re always buying apps and media and relying heavily on Google search.
A more general and more persuasive argument could be the benefits of better user experience in integrated solutions. For example, Amazon’s provisioning of WhisperNet for its Kindle devices — provided free, by the way — is a great example. A user simply buys a device and a minute later is downloading their first book, and reading it a minute after that.
Leaving aside the basic argument of Whispernet immediacy, consider other capabilities. Imagine if Apple was running the network I am using at this moment, tethered through my iPhone (on a train headed to NYC) instead of AT&T. I bet Apple, Amazon, or Google could figure out how to give me more bandwidth, so that I could really watch streaming video, wherever I go.
If the mobile device becomes as fast as it needs to to support full video, why would we need cable in our homes and offices? We wouldn’t. Everyone would have their internet access with them everywhere, all the time.
And if the mobile device becomes the primary connect to the internet, then Apple, Google, and Amazon could pull a complete end run on the wireless companies and the cable companies. They could go directly to the TV networks and the sports cartels (NBA, NFL, Premier League), and pipe them through this new distribution system.
Get ready for a huge shift.
Microsoft is gambling a lot for a chance to fight with Apple, Amazon, and Google for the proximal (‘mobile’) device market. They are pissing off their historic partners, like Dell and HP, by making their first computers ever. The alternative might be to simply become an enterprise software company, milking Office, Sharepoint, and Yammer for the next decade.
I admit I like the keyboard cover idea, but I expect Apple will respond to that quickly.
But it may be too late, since the clients they want to attract with Surface and later products have already moved ahead with deployments of Apple and Android tablets:
With New Tablet, Microsoft Faces a Balancing Act - Nick Wingfield via NYTimes.com
Rich Adduci, chief information officer of Boston Scientific, a medical device company, has more than 20,000 PCs at his company using older Windows. But he has also deployed more than 5,500 iPads to sales representatives and other employees.
A day late and a dollar short?
I am constantly baffled by the microeconomic, inward-focused analysis of what should be viewed as large-scale technoeconomic trends. It’s so off that — from my view point — these authors completely miss what’s going on. The narrative can be so far from touching the causative that a reader of my blog might wonder if we are looking at the same world.
Here’s a fisked example:
In Mobile World, Tech Giants Scramble to Get Up to Speed - Claire Cain Miller and Somini Sengupta via NYTimes.com
The industry giants remain highly profitable drivers of the economy. Yet the world’s shift to computing on mobile devices is taking a toll, including disappointing earnings reports last week from Google, Microsoft and Intel, in large measure related to revenue from mobile devices.
[It was recently shown that as much as 70% of the use of ‘mobiles’ is in the home. So they aren’t ‘mobiles’, per se: they are proximal devices: the com(munication)/com(puting) device always with us. Therefore, much of the narrative about mobile comcom is wrong.]
Investors are in suspense over Facebook’s earnings to be disclosed Tuesday, for much the same reason. Yahoo’s new chief, Marissa Mayer, said on Monday that Yahoo had failed to capitalize on mobile and must become a predominantly mobile company.
[It may seem natural to watch the so-called giants struggle with proximal, but much more of our attention should be directed to what people are actually doing with proximal devices. For example, checking prices online while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores — ‘showrooming’ — is now commonplace. A recent survey showed that 97% of showroomers bought the product searched for online later for less. This is forcing brick-and-mortar to match Internet prices, or die. But by matching low-overhead outfits like Amazon, they will go out of business, just a little bit slower. Google could optimize for that experience, but people are more likely to jump to Amazon. Facebook may be the scene where people chat about products while in the store, but they jump to Amazon to price check.]
Demand for Intel chips inside computers — which are much more profitable than those inside smartphones — is plummeting. At Microsoft, sales of software for PCs are sharply declining. At Google, the price that advertisers pay when people click on ads has fallen for a year. This is partly because, while mobile ads are exploding, they cost less than Internet ads; advertisers are still figuring out how to make them most effective.
[I don’t think this a paragraph: the first half is about declining chip sales because of the rapid shift into a new era of computing, the post desktop era. Interesting, but not as compelling as the economic transition into the postnormal, which is what we are seeing in the drop in advertising revenue on increasingly social proximal devices. I think this is a permanent decrease in value, not a temporary one, not ‘just until things work themselves out’. Where people have better access to more information to inform judgments literally in their hands, the propaganda machinery will simply work less well. Despite the socialwashing going on in business, ads just will never work as well as they once did. Welcome to the postnormal.]
Since its initial public offering, Facebook has lost half its value on Wall Street under pressure to make more money from mobile devices, now that six of 10 Facebook users log in on their phones.
[Betting on a postmodern concept of social networking after we have skittered into the postnormal is not a good bet. Which some of us predicted.]
Making money will now depend on how deftly tech companies can track their users from their desktop computers to the phones in their palms and ultimately to the stores, cinemas and pizzerias where they spend their money. It will also depend on how consumers — and government regulators — will react to having every move monitored.
In addition, Nielsen found that only one in five smartphone users described ads on phones as “acceptable.”
Today almost half of Americans own a smartphone, according to comScore — an astoundingly fast adoption since Apple introduced the iPhone just five years ago. The amount of time people spend on their phones surfing the Web, using apps, playing games and listening to music has more than doubled in the last two years, to 82 minutes a day, according to eMarketer; the time spent online on computers will grow just 3.6 percent this year.
[The shifting grounds of privacy and publicy are still largely not well-understood. At the bottom is a change in identity, which technojournalists don’t want to dig into, except in Sunday supplement pieces advocating spending more time offline and the dangers of ersatz online relationships. However, at core, people’s perceptions of how and to what they are connected are primarily coloring our sense of self and well being: in general, we don’t view it as a privacy/publicy battleground. Facebook and other bad actors think of our interactions and movements as a resource to be stripmined for monetary gain, but the postnormal generation of social startups will more likely find a way to support us in our search for meaning and fulfillment, even if those companies make less money than Facebook would like to. And that search is more likely to play out for most on a proximal device, not the company’s 7lb laptop.]
“What has caught people off guard has been acceleration of the multitude of things that you can do with a smartphone,” said David B. Yoffie, a Harvard Business School professor who studies the technology sector.
“The Web started in 1993, ’94,” he added. “It didn’t disrupt everything for a decade and a half. The smartphone revolution started a half decade ago. Because of the existence of the Web, it allowed the phone to have a disruptive impact in a shorter time frame.”
[Yoffie suffers from thinking about time as a steady state phenomenon. But this is the postmodern, and time is going much faster than it was in the ’90s. The rate of change and innovation (and, negatively, destruction of the old Earth) is happening at a much faster rate. I think this is related to the urban density coefficient that West and Bettencourt discovered: where cities’ productivity is superlinear, growing faster than the doubling rate of population. I think our perception of the passage of time is increasing superlinearly, as a function of the combined social density online and IRL.]
Just another piece about the disruptive impact of mobile devices, and unless you untie the narrative and recast using postnormal eyes, you might think we were still living in 2004, waiting for the social web to happen.
Marshal McLuhan wrote in 1969:
Because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world.
The present is always invisible because it’s environmental and saturates the whole field of attention so overwhelmingly; thus everyone is alive in an earlier day.