Google Phone, Android, and the Google Mobile OS

More details about the Google Phone are shaking out, with a press conference expected Monday to announce the big plans.   NYT has a great profile of Andy Rubin, Google’s gPhone Meister who started Android to develop a better mobile device and was then aquired by Google.

It now appears that the mobile Operating system will be available on some phones in development by Google partners shortly, but it’ll be the middle of next year before we see an actual Google phone.    Andy Rubin’s role does appear to indicate that Google will put out it’s own hardware device though, which will be something of a full circle for the company.    Few may remember that Google’s initial business model called for major deployments of a rack mounted search server called a “Google Appliance” that would search internal enterprise networks for documents.   I’m guessing, but I think Eric Schmidt would initially have scoffed at the idea that Google would rapidly become an advertising empire more than a technology and hardware empire, and that revenues would come 99% from advertising with almost nothing from the search appliance business.

Now, with the Google Phone, they may just do it all.

Why Blogs are better than Google.

Today, as I searched for some breaking news and technology insights, I was struck by how much better informed you tend to be after reading a few blogs targeted to a topic (and following related links and sites and ask questions) than when you simply search Google (or Yahoo or MSN or, if you enjoyed the silly and short lived TV campaign, ASK).    

Don’t get me wrong – I like the search engines and I love the way you can quickly winnow through billions of pages down to the handful that are relevant and good for your topic.     But I’m noticing how increasingly I wind up turning to blogs *first* for the best news, links, and insight.    I’m beginning to understand why I’m doing that, and why it’s a big deal.

There are the obvious advantages to blogs over websites.   They are fresher (ie recent and new content) – especially compared to Google searches that often yield so much old content.   They usually offer some community components so you feel like you are “where the action is” on topics.   This is usually true for major blogs.  TechCrunch is a key watering hole for startups, for liberal political folks, etc.

However these advantages are secondary to the fact that as blogs mature they offer an excellent “human powered search engine” for your niche of interest, and as we all know humans still beat out computers in terms of understanding what information is most relevant to our inquiry when it is a broad field of interest.

Again, the TechCrunch Technology blog is a great example of this.  A search in Google for “startups” or “technology news” or “venture capital” will give some good results, but even a careful study of those results won’t give you nearly the insight you’ll get from a one hour session at TechCrunch.     Even a Silicon Valley startup new arrival – or distant silicon startup wannabe, could sound like a veteran if they simply kept up with the parade of posts from Mike Arrington and his clever crowd at TechCrunch.

I think this blog advantage breaks down as you move into very specific topics, but it’s going way up as an advantage in the study of general topics as blogs explode and gather traction and community.     Of course there are caveats to this.   Learning in any form takes time, and you would never simply stuble into a blog about a topic without checking other blogs and sites related to that.   But my point is that once you find “the key blogs” about a topic, even if it is a contentious one, you’ll find through those blogs links, references, breaking news, and a community of other interested parties.   This complex, interactive, cross referenced community experience is how humans learn best, and the internet is making that type of learning exponentially easier to obtain.     

Driving under the influence of computers

 The DARPA autonomous vehicle competion is on today in California.   It’s sponsored by the US military’s advanced technology division and seeks to create vehicles that can navigate without human intervention.  

The stakes are high in this competition where the top vehicles will take home millions in prize money – presumably for their university research.

These vehicles would be remarkable enough if they simply roamed through the desert as in past competitions, but this year the DARPA challenge is taking place in an urban environment, where fifty regular cars with human drivers will be zigging and zagging and presenting the autonomous vehicles with the advanced challenges of driving in a city.

Ashlee at The Register is liveblogging the event, though she seems pretty grumpy from the lack of coffee.   C’mon Ashlee, the military only has a $500,000,000,000 budget – and you want free coffee?

An autonomous ground vehicle is a vehicle that navigates and drives entirely on its own with no human driver and no remote control. Through the use of various sensors and positioning systems, the vehicle determines all the characteristics of its environment required to enable it to carry out the task it has been assigned