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Saturday, April 16, 2005

UnPortal No More

Logging into GMail today, I see it says "log into GMail with your Google Account." Guess it's official, then. Google is trying to be the New Yahoo. Who knew?

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Tagging: It's Not Just for Your Dog Photos Anymore

Yesterday I was on Google Video looking for some Simpsons quotes and found something new: a feature whereby Google encourages any producers of video content to upload their material! Apparently, they actually "announced" this development. I thought they were just going to wait and see if anyone discovered it. :)

Interesting tidbits: similar to photo sharing services like Flickr, the plan is to have publishers include metadata with their images so searchers can better find what they're looking for. Also, Google will let you charge for your video. It takes a revenue share for providing the service and connecting you with buyers.

Some believe that this means Google now "competes with TV." Does it?

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

On Yahoo's New Small Business Websites

One thing about Yahoo's new template website offering (free and connected to a listing in Yahoo Local) is that, from the standpoint of basic utility, these "simple" sites will often outdo the overly elaborate but stupid sites small businesses sometimes invest in.

Generally speaking, I think a template site is not good enough. But it's better than the site I tried to use yesterday, for example. A chain of four animal hospitals in Toronto has a pretty-looking website. That's nice. But it doesn't have phone numbers anywhere. When you click "contact us," you get a form. So it takes a couple more searches and clicks to find a listing (on some other site) that actually has the phone number, and a little while longer confirming that the place you really want is the place that's listed. It makes my head hurt sometimes.

Anyway, go Yahoo. Who said the era of "the Internet with training wheels" was over?

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Shouldn't Metadata Be Everywhere?

Today, debates about metadata protocols seem to move glacially. But the need for much more labeling of business objects (like products) is getting more pressing as the search metaphor leaks into everyday life, and as we get more used to finding what we need, assessing suitability of products, etc., on demand.

There has been a little debate at Search Engine Watch Forums ("Can Tagging Help Search?") about participant-driven tagging, such as the tags users of Flickr, the photo-sharing service, arbitrarily put on their photos to help like-minded people who might be searching for certain images.

Online, we have these opportunities some of the time. Offline, not so much. That will change.

When I buy a bottle of wine at WineryToHome.ca, I'm a relative genius. Product descriptions and reviews by well-known experts are available. It's a superior shopping experience. I nearly never wind up "stuck" with some random bottle I didn't really want.

Not so when I walk into my local LCBO bricks-and-mortar store. Half the time, I get sucked into something just because it's on the shelf and the description on the bottle looks interesting. But there might have been something else even more interesting nearby. Because I can't perform a search, I'm wasting money on second-rate products without the benefit of a review or rich descriptions of the product. Let's say I was Niles Crane and I knew exactly what kind of red wine would go well with that garlic-infused lamb shank Daphne had in the oven. I knew that I wanted a bottle between $20 and $30, from California, with certain other characteristics, one of them being "syrupy" and the other being something like "cloves" thrown in just for the heck of it. If every bottle came loaded up with a rich set of metadata put together by the vendor in concert with an approved scheme of "telling the truth in winemaking" standards (rogue vendors who didn't accurately describe accurately would not be 'certified' for that particular search), I could run down a list of ten options and be reasonably certain I'd made the right decision.

Wouldn't that be empowering? Would the average consumer spend more, or less, if armed with such knowledge? It would be interesting to find out.

In our next instalment, Andrew tries to find a certain type of rake in a large home improvement store without asking anyone for help. :)

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Remembering Mitch Hedberg

A bit off topic, I know.

For a good collection of Mitchisms, see Mitch Hedberg - American comedian.

Probably my favorite line is:

"My friend says 'You know what I like?Potato salad.' I say 'dude, you didn't give me time to guess. If you're going to quiz me, you've got to insert a pause.'"

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Speaking Engagement

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