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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Network Solutions: The Last Bastion of Consumer Privacy

The former monopolist domain registrar has blocked Google's new "whois" search feature where users could type in a shortcut in Google's search bar and find domain owner information.

Why? Because they want to protect us domain name owners from spammers, see?

"According to NSI's Mitchell, Whois look-ups pose a substantial threat to customers, whose e-mail addresses and phone numbers can easily fall into the wrong hands. In order to thwart abuse, the company has long set a daily cap on the number of times any third-party Web site can query its database. NSI will not specify that number, but Mitchell said that the company places the cap to deter spammers. "

So, it only took them seven years to realize their open database was a personal privacy debacle that needed to be fixed! Anyone who ever bought a domain name from Network Solutions sooner or later became painfully aware that any spammer could download essentially all phone numbers, addresses and other contact info.

So remember folks, buy your domain names at Dotster, GoDaddy or directNIC. But never, ever buy domain names from Network Solutions or Register.com. They still charge $35 for domain names, the same domain names that sell for as little as $7.95 from the little guys.

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

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Isn't it Ironic, Don't You Think?

MSN became the last portal to unveil its own search toolbar. And sure enough, like Google and Yahoo's updated toolbars, the MSN Toolbar features a "Pop-up Guard." (That's a proprietary word to describe a feature that suppresses pop-up ads, in case you were wondering). You can bet there's a trademark coming.

And isn't that feature just rich with irony (yes, I think irony is the right word here, Alanis)? A company that accepts pop-up ads touting software that blocks its own advertisers' pop-up ads. Wow, that's pretty crappy not only to the users who have endured pop-up ads, but also to the advertisers paying Microsoft and its content partners who pay for them. Something's gotta give!

I suppose it's not as crappy as AOL's past shenanigans, an arrogant company that pioneered the pop-up ad by barraging its users with unsolicited ads, whose pitches you had to manually decline just to use the AOL service. Boy, you really have to want it to put up with that transgression. Or, as AOL probably assumed, their novice web surfers didn't know there was A Better Way. AOL finally caved to subscriber protests a few years ago and said they would stop making you jump through such hoops -- and then proceeded to boast about their pop-up ad killer feature in AOL version 8.0.

So that makes it pretty darn clear why just about everyone loves pay-per-click search engine text ads, and why Google is poised to become worth more than AOL ever dreamed after its upcoming IPO.

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

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Monday, January 26, 2004

You Go, Beeb!

It seems the BBC has decided to run a little experiment: buying keywords on Google AdWords about interesting news topics in hopes of generating interest in its news offerings.

We love experiments like this. The keyword inventory is out there. Why not use it?

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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The Rapid Ryze of Business Networking

Further to the Orkut item: the following data surely must be indicative of something.

I had been a quiet, from-afar admirer of the online business networking concept, but hadn't done much about it after joining Ryze at the bronze level. Over a period of about six months, in the context of a pretty-much dormant account, I received three or so invites to join people's "friend list" on Ryze, and had sent out a couple myself. The profiles I browsed were of some pretty accomplished people, connected with other accomplished people. Most of them were younger than me and had seen more of the world and worked in more cool jobs by age 27 than most people will in a lifetime. Maybe it's all that networking that does it. Anyway, "neat," I thought, and then thought little more of it.

A few days ago, Google came out with -- or allowed itself to be affiliated with, I should say -- Orkut. In keeping with the coy dating-as-business or business-as-dating metaphors evoked by the likes of Friendster, Orkut claims to be an online community that can "expand the circumference" of your "social circle." Now there's a bit of mathematical double-entendre worthy of a would-be Trump intern...

Anyway, the important math is that within 24 hours after Orkut was opened to the public, I received three friendship invites by people who had already taken the trouble to fill in detailed profiles, add pictures, etc. Some already had a dozen friends on their list when I popped in... all with photos... looking at one another like some sort of geeky hypertext Brady Bunch.

The same number of friend-vites in 24 hrs. as I'd received on a competing service in 6 months. Uh, oh! You're going to need more server capacity, Google!

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Sunday, January 25, 2004

A Brief History of Social-Networking Sites

First, there was Friendster, the social-networking tool where people who want to meet people can meet people by invitation only (chicken or egg, anyone?). But it wasn't really the first social-networking site. It was really just a copy of some defunct site known as Six Degrees, or whatever it was called. Friendster then begot a bunch of other social-networking sites, which began to beget other types of social sites, such as job-networking sites, where you could turn to find a job from someone you've never met -- only if you got an invitation first (despite the "democratic" pretense, it's still who you know that counts, I guess).

Fast forward to last week. The first social-searching site, dubbed Eurekster (you know, Eureka + Friendster?) jumped into the mosh pit of "socialist" sites. I'm not quite sure what it's good for other than to spy on what your friends are searching for. At least, that's my understanding of it. I could be wrong.

Then, Google, the most original search engine of all time that supposedly tried to buy out Friendster for $30 million but was rebuffed, decided to create its own social-networking site called Orkut (It's named after the brilliant guy at Google who came up with the idea to copy the social-network site copycats). But, it's "beta," which means Google can always say it was an experiment if it goes down in flames.

So there you have it. Social-networking sites are spreading like wildfire. Surely there are millions of people chatting it up, meeting friends of friends and improving their lives and employment situations, but I have yet to meet one of them. In any case, venture capital is flowing to this latest flavor of the month. Will it ever pay off? Who cares, man! Let's party like it's 1999!

But why stop with completely socializing the Web? Maybe this socially themed fad will spread into the real world, a la Agent Smith in the Matrix Reloaded? Gasp! What if healthcare becomes socialized in the United States, the last industrialized country to have universal healthcare for all citizens? Perish the thought...

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

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