Category Archives: google

Why I Love Open Source (Google Android Uses Jive Code)

OK, there are lots of things to love about Open Source Software. Here’s one reason: because if the code is good, companies like Google will pick it up and incorporate it in cool projects like Android 🙂

We recently learned that Google’s Android code uses our XMPP Smack library, and I think this really cool. We are honored to part of this – even if it is in an indirect way.

Google, Facebook and Plaxo Join the DataPortability.org Party

The DataPortability Workgroup dropped a bombshell this morning by announcing:

the inclusion of Joseph Smarr (Plaxo), Brad Fitzpatrick (Google) and Benjamin Ling (Facebook) to the DataPortability Workgroup.

Quoted from: Chris Saad (one of the drivers behind dataportability.org) on the Particls.Blog

Marshall Kirkpatrick added some additional insight into this announcement on ReadWriteWeb:

The non-participation of Google and Facebook, two companies that hold more user data and do more with it than almost any other consumer service on the market, was the biggest stumbling block to the viability of the project. These are two of the most important companies in recent history – what’s being decided now is whether they will be walled-garden, data-horders or truly open platforms tied into a larger ecosystem of innovation with respect for user rights and sensible policies about data.

If these industry titans can put aside their rivalry and work together – magic could happen. Hopefully they can work appropriately with the other members of the working group, bleeding edge consultants and representatives of smaller and in many cases more user-centric companies. If so, perhaps we can move appropriately into a future of powerful personalization and logically augmented activity online – while avoiding Minority Report-style dystopian scenarios.

Innovation on the internet is in its early, early days. The participation of representatives from Google and Facebook in this initiative could prove key in the continued development of what’s possible, instead of the early suffocation of what could have been.

Quoted from ReadWriteWeb

I have blogged here many times about the idea of online identity, but the potential for data portability that has been more of hope than a reality until now. I already use ClaimID as my primary OpenID provider. Ideally, I would love to manage my identity through an OpenID provider of my choice, but with more options to carry some of my data around the internet along with this identity. I hope to eventually be able to have a centrally managed picture, bio, profile information, and more that I can choose to share with online social networking sites (like Facebook) allowing me to maintain better control over my information and manage changes. Changing basic information (job change, phone number, etc.) can be a really labor intensive task for me. I remember going through this recently when I joined Jive in May. I would be willing to bet that you can still find old profiles on web 2.0 sites that still have me listed as working at Compiere or even Intel!

Data portability is one of the biggest problems that web 2.0 companies and users face, and I have been following dataportability.org with interest, but a healthy amount of skepticism. With the addition of Google and Facebook, I have much more confidence that we will start to see this hope move closer to the reality of data portability over time.

Jive has been focused for years on building our products using existing standards, and we are excited about what this might mean for Clearspace and other products. You can read Sam Lawrence’s perspective on this discussion and what it might mean to Jive over on the Jive Talks blog.

Related Fast Wonder Posts:

Google’s Algorithmic Hiring Process

Only at Google. The company known for hiring the best and the brightest and only accepting those candidates with the highest grade point averages and SAT scores has now found an algorithm to help predict which candidates will make the best Google employees. Job applicants will now complete a detailed online survey including questions like: “Have you ever made a profit from a catering business or dog walking? Do you prefer to work alone or in groups? Have you ever set a world record in anything?” (The New York Times).

I am a bit skeptical. I do not think that an algorithm is an ideal way to select the right person for the right job. I like to think that we are much too complex as human beings to be reduced to a single number determining whether or not we would be a outstanding employee.

On the other hand, Google search algorithms are the best, so who knows, maybe Google is on the right track. Next in the Google product family: “Algorithmic Dating”, the online survey guaranteed to find your ideal mate brought to you by Google Algorithms.

Political Google Bombing

As we approach election season here in the United States, political groups go to great lengths to make their favorite candidates look good while making the competition look bad. The latest tactic used is Google bombing, the practice of manipulating Google’s search results to inflate certain results. One of the best known Google bombs resulted in George Bush’s biography page being displayed when someone searched for the term “miserable failure”.

According to the New York Times:

If things go as planned for liberal bloggers in the next few weeks, searching Google for “Jon Kyl,” the Republican senator from Arizona now running for re-election, will produce high among the returns a link to an April 13 article from The Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly.

Mr. Kyl “has spent his time in Washington kowtowing to the Bush administration and the radical right,” the article suggests, “very often to the detriment of Arizonans.”

Searching Google for “Peter King,” the Republican congressman from Long Island, would bring up a link to a Newsday article headlined “King Endorses Ethnic Profiling.”

Fifty or so other Republican candidates have also been made targets in a sophisticated “Google bombing” campaign intended to game the search engine’s ranking algorithms. By flooding the Web with references to the candidates and repeatedly cross-linking to specific articles and sites on the Web, it is possible to take advantage of Google’s formula and force those articles to the top of the list of search results.

Each name is associated with one article. Those articles are embedded in hyperlinks that are now being distributed widely among the left-leaning blogosphere. In an entry at MyDD.com this week, Mr. Bowers said: “When you discuss any of these races in the future, please, use the same embedded hyperlink when reprinting the Republican’s name. Then, I suppose, we will see what happens.” (Quote from Tom Zeller, New York Times)

While not illegal, the ethics behind manipulating search results seems a bit questionable to say the least.

Digg Acquisition Rumors

Who will acquire Digg? Michael Arrington from TechCrunch claims that Digg has been in acquisition talks with News Corp. and other companies: “However, the company was unable to land an offer in the price range they’re looking for – at least $150 million – and will likely close a Series B round of financing instead.” (TechCrunch Quote)

I am curious who those “other companies” might be. Here are a few random guesses (pure speculation):

  • AOL / Time-Warner: Calacanis might be interested in an attempt to merge Netscape with Digg (bad idea in my opinion).

  • Yahoo: The rumor is that they were in discussions for YouTube and FaceBook, and they have already acquired a number of web 2.0 companies. Digg might be an interesting fit for Yahoo.

Who should acquire Digg? Maybe Google. Due to the recent, and large, YouTube acquisition, I doubt that Google is currently in discussions to acquire Digg. Digg would be a great way for Google to get more involved in the collaborative, user generated content space to expand their web 2.0 offerings, and Google could probably add quite a bit of value in helping to optimize Digg’s promotion algorithms. Digg has sometimes struggled with attempts by users to game the system to promote their own stories using all types of devious mechanisms. Designing creative algorithms to prevent people from artificially inflating search results has been one of Google’s strengths.

Personally, I think that Digg will stay independent for now, but then again, I am frequently wrong about acquisition predictions. (I’m still waiting for Borland to be acquired – I predicted an imminent acquisition back in 2002 / 2003).

SpaceShipOne Google Rumors

Rumors were flying this weekend, courtesy of TechCrunch, about Google’s purchase of SpaceShipOne. The recent YouTube acquisition rumor in the billion dollar range also seemed far fetched, and it turned out to be true, so you just never know with Google. Lending additional credibility is the fact that Larry Page is on the board of trustees at the X Prize foundation; however, this rumor turned out to be only partially true.

Google seems to have acquired a very realistic looking mock-up of SpaceShipOne. Still pretty cool.

Google Takes Over the World?

The New York Times had an interesting article, titled Planet Google Wants You, today about how Google is taking over more parts of our lives every day:

Marketing experts consider a Web site an experience — different from using a product like a soft drink — because it’s someplace you go, an arena in which you live out your life. And in this way many people develop a sense of intimacy within it, even trust.

Donna L. Hoffman, a founder of eLab 2.0, a research center at the University of California, Riverside, that studies online consumer behavior, said that Google has in the minds of many users “become one with the Internet,” achieving a meta-status because as the most-used search engine, “it literally augments your brain. I don’t have to remember quite a few things now because Google can remember them for me. Google is an additional memory chip.”

Like Apple, Google has lured the young and the early adopters by making the utilitarian — say, Gmail — seem hip. Part of the allure stems from the clean Euro-minimalist design of its applications. Part of it stems from the company’s reputation for innovation. (Quote from New York Times)

I’ll admit it Google has taken over my life, not out of any need to be hip and trendy, but because I simply like Google’s products better than the alternatives. I like Google search because it seems to find what I am really looking for more quickly than the other search engines. I am addicted to Gmail, and I use it not because it is free, but because I like it better than Outlook. Despite owning a copy of Outlook, I have stopped using it for personal mail (I still have to use it for work) because it is consumes too many system resources, and everything about it is just slow. An Outlook search for an email can take minutes instead of seconds in Gmail, and I love using tags in Gmail for those complex topics where filing them in a single folder makes no sense. Google Calendar helps my family find me when I travel. Google Analytics keeps track of my blog traffic. Google Docs provides a place to collaborate with my boyfriend to track household expenses. Google Groups gives my Portland BarCamp Meetup participants a way to keep up with the latest news about our events. I could go on, but you get the point.

Security does concern me in this environment, since Google knows more about me than my family, but it is a risk I am willing to take for the added convenience.

Google Just Acquired YouTube for $1.65 Billion

Like everyone else, I heard the rumors, and I was skeptical. Acquisition rumors usually turn out to be exactly that … just rumors with talks falling through at the last minute or casual talks between companies spawning rumors of impending acquisitions; however, in this case, the rumors were accurate.


From the Google Press Release:

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced today that it has agreed to acquire YouTube, the consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience, for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction. Following the acquisition, YouTube will operate independently to preserve its successful brand and passionate community.

On the one hand, this is a risky move for Google. The copyright issues within YouTube content could escalate now that companies could sue with the hope of making money by tapping into the deeper pockets of Google. On the other hand, Google has never been afraid of a few copyright skirmishes (the book searches and Google news come to mind as a couple of examples), and Google can usually find a creative way to make even very difficult situations work for everyone involved. I will be curious to see what happens.