The Google Story

I read two books up at the lake. David Vises "The Google Story" was an entertaining and informative history of Google from humble beginnings as Larry Page and Sergey Brin's Stanford PhD project to the earth shaking internet giant I didn't feel I was getting any really "deep" information however. I kept feeling as I often do when talking to people at Google that they are simply too loyal and too enamored with Google to share insights that might reflect poorly on the company. I'm actually in the picture of Matt Cutts taken at SES San Jose last year. The very favorable tone seemed odd because Vise is a distinguished reporter. I'm wildly guessing that he (perhaps even subconsciously) sacrificed some critical observations in exchange for better access and candor about the basic story.

This "guarded" nature of comments about Google dovetails with points made in Scoble and Israel's "Naked Conversations", the second book I read up at Odell Lake which I'll review next.

Overall though I remain convinced that Google is

1) Special, especially with regard to the incredible intelligence, innovation, and involvement of the founders. The rapid ascent of Google may allow more of this "founders energy" to have a positive impact than where a company grew more slowly.

2) Sincere. This is a slippery slope but I think they remain fairly steady and non-compromising about doing great stuff for the right reasons.

3) Overpriced. I simply don't understand the stock price, which seems to assume Yahoo and MSN have no interests or abilities relating to grabbing a bigger share of the online advertising pie.

3 days in the wilderness…

Well, not exactly wilderness.   Lake Odell Resort in Oregon is one of my very favorite places.   We rented a nice cabin and hung out for 3 days in the snowy forest land near Crater Lake National Park.  The kids (and parents a few times)  could sled right out the door of our cabin down a small hill, down the path between the cabins, past the lodge, and down to the lake's edge.    The dog had a ball except for his plunge into the icy lake, which freaked me out as much as Chico.  

No internet, phone, or TV for 72 hours.    I guess I could live without them for longer, but glad to be back in the zone. 

Yahoo! It’s .community!

Jeremy is always asking the right questions.  He notes in his blog today:

Yahoo Groups can serve as the collaborative (not just communications) platform for bringing people together in interesting ways…

Yes it can, though it needs to take some lessons from Myspace, which I'd argue is by far the world's BEST crappy-looking website and BEST example of a site that understands the simple and often unexpected needs and desires of a .com community.   The remarkable rise of Myspace should demonstrate that people are FAR more important than the application.  Also that MOST people will express themselves in what most savvy web folks would consider to be very unprofessional, sloppy, offensive, obnoxious, rule breaking and bandwidth breaking ways.  

Yahoo wouldn't have to have such a messy environment to succeed, I'd think all they'd need is better integration with the inspired but largely unused Yahoo 360, easier signups, and perhaps most importantly ways for people to import data into their profiles at other services to avoid the tedious chores of uploading pix and rewriting bios.

Yahoo – "If you build it, they will come … if they can get in very easily" experiment continues…

Interestingly, Google stopped the rapid re-indexing of even though they have recently downloaded the sitemap. What's odd is that the immediate effect of breaking off this domain and setting it up separately with non duplicate (but similar) information was that the NEW pages were indexed with NEW cache dates. No effect on traffic.

NOW the pages at show OLD cache dates (often Feb 5, 2005) and have been relegated to supplemental index except for Home page. The key event in this experiment will be the reindexing of the "new" pages which look very much like they did years ago before Google started hating these pages.

Were the problems getting properly indexed and ranked from GOOGLE changing it's opinion about our site or from SITE errors WE made as we improved things?

Even after a year of conferences, emails from Google and others, hundreds of questions, site reviews (even one by Google at Las Vegas PubCon!), and many changes made we don't know the answer to this simple question, though I think duplicate content filtering is be the most likely category for our problem.

Taking Stock of Yahoo

What do you get when you mashup Yahoo’s uber blogmeister with EX uber stockmeister Henry Blodget? A very interesting dialog about what’s up — or what’s NOT up — at Yahoo. The only thing for sure is that in stock terms YHOO is no GOOG, and this is THE key issue for many.

This follow up summarizes that mini-debate. I’m more interested in whether I should be buying YHOO or buying more puts on Google.

Jeremy’s bold stab was probably taken too far out of the intended context, though I think it will generate a good debate about a broader topic — that Yahoo and Google are similar in many broad respects but not even in the same ballpark in total company valuation. 109 billion vs 45 billion. Why is this?

* Search quality roughly equivalent according to objective measures.

* Traffic similar (though not search traffic in which Y lags significantly). I think search will begin to move vertically soon and people will use a different engine for different tasks. A9 recognizes this already. This could shake out in many destabilizing ways.

* Yahoo considered clear leader in Web 2.0 awareness

* MOST IMPORTANTLY, YPN is still in beta and will likely soon take a chunk of Google’s online publisher revenue stream (about 40% of G total revenues) as will MSN’s new publisher programs.

* I do think corporate leadership is VERY different at Google, and probably helps facilitate and motivate people in ways that are well tuned to the fast and flexible needs of the online biz world. I’ve heard that Googlers will be working in the wee hours on a project only to have Sergey Brin walk up behind them to ask them to explain the code they are working on. This level of interaction has got to be a VERY powerful incentive and motivating force.

At MIX06 I spoked with two ex-Microsoft people who noted slow change there frustrated them and inhibited the flexibility needed to compete in the new web environments.

But Yahoo is no Microsoft, and to my knowledge Yahoo was the company that brought the new informal but intense corporate culture to Silicon Valley in the first place. If this style has caused problems for Yahoo it’ll likely cause similar problems for Google in a few years. If not, then why is Yahoo stock languishing despite good fundamentals and huge revenue potential from online ads?

Wait … No free lunches at Yahoo Cafeteria? THAT must be the problem!

The DeviceOsphere – coming soon to a world near you.

At the MIX06 conference the most provocative and exciting idea I heard was from Tim O’Reilly who also posted about this today on his blog. Tim suggests that we are on the verge of the evolution of a sort of *deviceOsphere* (I think this is my term not Tim’s), where the staggering amount of device data gets collectively shared in new mashup style applications.

Think of a traffic map where thousands of drivers are sharing in real time their personal observations and auto measurements (e.g. ONSTAR and GIS system data) about weather, road conditions, CRIME events, alternate routes, pictures, suggestions for restaurants. A moveable data feast where the conversation never stops and includes thousands of observers/reviewers.
Flickr has shown that people really want to share photos with the world. This notion gets really exciting when you broaden the idea of “content available to mashup” to include ALL the digital content that often simply swirls around in it’s own little world. Transportation road cams, navigation data from individual cars, camcorder and cell phone feeds and crime reports are only a few things that generally just swirl around in a limited space and are discarded or relegated to obscurity.

O’Reilly’s suggesting that this data store, combined with the collective intelligence of the burdgeoning online community, could generate masterpiece applications. And the best thing is that it’s not going to require a Leonardo Da Vinci to do it.

Y2K preparation …. saves Oregon Family!

I live just a town away from the Stivers family who recently spent 17 days in an RV stuck up in the mountains about an hour from here.   This area is easy to traverse in the summer but has often caused people problems this time of year.

The Stivers family survived just fine thanks to … Y2K rations!

Hey, who am I to say all that Y2K hype and prep was a big waste?

Local Story

Pure Water for All

This water purification system sure looks promising and Kudos to Rotary for working to promote it.  Using simple, low cost methods it can purify water using only ceramics and gravity.   A higher tech but also inspiring approach is  this machine promoted and invented by Dean Kamen of Sedgeway  and other invention fame.
Clean water is among earth’s greatest challenges to humanity since disease is often spread via unsafe water supplies in the developing and undeveloped world.
Hey FOX news – some might even want to hear about these innovations in between the latest celebrity gossip or missing upper middle class party people.