Recently there’s been much controversy over Google’s apparent hard-coding of Google+ profiles into Google search results. In response developers from Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace have produced Focus On The User, exposing the negative impact on more relevant search results. John Battelle, co-founder of Wired and author of the Google book The Search, explains how this happened and what it means for search:
Last week I spent an afternoon down at Facebook, as I mentioned here. While at Facebook I met with Blake Ross, Direct of Product (and well known in web circles as one of the creators of Firefox). Talk naturally turned to the implications of Google’s controversial integration of Google+ into its search results – a move that must both terrify (OMG, Google is gunning for us!) as well as delight (Holy cow, Google is breaking its core promise to its users!).
The music and movie business has been consistently wrong in its claims that new platforms and channels would be the end of its businesses. In each case, the new technology produced a new market far larger than the impact it had on the existing market.
1920’s – the record business complained about radio. The argument was because radio is free, you can’t compete with free. No one was ever going to buy music again.
1940’s – movie studios had to divest their distribution channel – they owned over 50% of the movie theaters in the U.S. “It’s all over,” complained the studios. In fact, the number of screens went from 17,000 in 1948 to 38,000 today.
1950’s – broadcast television was free; the threat was cable television. Studios argued that their free TV content couldn’t compete with paid.
1970’s – Video Cassette Recorders (VCR’s) were going to be the end of the movie business. The movie businesses and its lobbying arm MPAA fought it with “end of the world” hyperbole. The reality? After the VCR was introduced, studio revenues took off like a rocket. With a new channel of distribution, home movie rentals surpassed movie theater tickets.
1998 – the MPAA got congress to pass the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), making it illegal for you to make a digital copy of a DVD that you actually purchased.
2000 – Digital Video Recorders (DVR) like TiVo allowing consumer to skip commercials was going to be the end of the TV business. DVR’s reignite interest in TV.
2006 - broadcasters sued Cablevision (and lost) to prevent the launch of a cloud-based DVR to its customers.
Today it’s the Internet that’s going to put the studios out of business. Sound familiar?
Surprisingly good reporting on the Anonymous’ response to the FBI’s take-down of the site MegaUpload following public backlash against the SOPA legislation from Mother Jones:
Within minutes of the announcement, Twitter accounts associated with Anonymous, the shadowy hacker collective, announced #OpMegaUpload, a massive retaliation against government and entertainment industry websites. Just a few hours later, swarms of computers had brought down the homepages of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, Universal Music, the US Copyright Service, the US Department of Justice, and last, but not least, the FBI.
Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, describes Second Crack:
So why did you make this?
Because I’m a programmer, and this is what I do.
Some people jog away from their house every day, only to jog back. Others walk on a treadmill, expending energy to get nowhere. In both cases, it may appear to others that they’ve accomplished nothing, but they’ve chosen to do these seemingly redundant activities on a regular basis to incrementally improve themselves. And it works.
Pirates would wear eyepatches not because they have horrible empty eye holes, it was so that they would have one eye already adjusted to darkness when they go under deck. They went underdeck quite often so it was handy to be able to see better straight away rather than wait for the eyes to adjust.