Category: Google & Search Engines

1

Welcome to the Google-Borg

USAToday.com is running a banner headline today for an article: “Google becoming an auxiliary brain.” Here’s the article, and here’s the thesis of the reporter, Elizabeth Weise:

If we are the sum total of our knowledge and experiences, then the Internet is a collection of other people’s knowledge and experiences. And Google — so ubiquitous that it has become its own verb — allows us to tap into that collection.

I generally enjoyed reading this, and it’s way too easy to nitpick USA Today, but here are a few reactions:

1) It’s a pretty clear example of the cyborg trope isn’t it? Google isn’t billed as just a novel information source, like a television, it’s billed as a “brain” — a technological extension of human biology. And like the brain of the Star Trek Borg, it is a collective mind we now share. This collective brain-sharing is billed not as scary, but nifty.

2) Despite the excerpt above, if you read this, Google appears to be getting a great deal of credit for the Web itself. Throughout, Weise’s language makes this an article about Google as information repository, not as search provider. To be clear: Larry, Serge, and company built a great search tool that helps you find information that other people put on the Web (and one that hands you an advertisement along the way).

3) In somewhat of a contradiction, it appears that people who provide information on the Web are not to be trusted. Weise quotes a research librarian from Georgia:

And even when malicious intent isn’t the problem, mastery of a subject can be, says Jacobson. “The opinions that get heard are from people who have a lot of time to create websites, not necessarily the people with the best information.”

Can’t trust those people who have time to create websites, can you? Oh wait — isn’t that the definition of my Googlebrain? What is curious is that the answer seems to be no, because this comment doesn’t follow the discussion of Google, but… Wikipedia. So Wikipedia is less trustworthy than the Web (aka “Google”)? Oh well.

Further reading: Danah Boyd on the Seigenthaler fuss.

6

Should Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Help China Filter Searches?

china1a.bmpAn interesting article from Salon discusses how Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft assist the Chinese government with censorship. The companies filter out search results that the government wants to censor, and they help the government track down individuals engaging in criticism and dissent:

To conduct business in China, popular Internet companies Yahoo, Microsoft and Google have had to accommodate a regime that forbids free speech, bars political parties and jails journalists. This means filtering searches on their sites, censoring news and providing evidence in the trials of political dissidents — or risk having their sites blocked in China. Forced to choose between ignoring the world’s hottest market or implicitly endorsing a system of censorship that a recent Harvard study called “the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world,” the companies have decided to cooperate.

“Business is business,” Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba.com, which controls Yahoo China, told the Financial Times. “It’s not politics.”

How do companies cooperate? The article explains:

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17

Google’s Empire, Privacy, and Government Access to Personal Data

google-priv.jpgA New York Times editorial observes:

At a North Carolina strangulation-murder trial this month, prosecutors announced an unusual piece of evidence: Google searches allegedly done by the defendant that included the words “neck” and “snap.” The data were taken from the defendant’s computer, prosecutors say. But it might have come directly from Google, which – unbeknownst to many users – keeps records of every search on its site, in ways that can be traced back to individuals.

This is an interesting fact — Google keeps records of every search in a way that can be traceable to individuals. The op-ed goes on to say:

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0

Searching the Internet: It’s the Hip Thing to Do

google.jpgIt’s news to make Google even happier as it proceeds in its plans to conquer the world. According to a PEW study, more and more people are searching the Internet with a search engine each day:

The most recent findings from Pew Internet & American Life tracking surveys and consumer behavior trends from the comScore Media Metrix consumer panel show that about 60 million American adults are using search engines on a typical day.

These results from September 2005 represent a sharp increase from mid-2004. Pew Internet Project data from June 2004 show that use of search engines on a typical day has risen from 30% of the internet population to 41%. This means that the number of those using search engines on an average day jumped from roughly 38 million in June 2004 to about 59 million in September 2005 – an increase of about 55%.

comScore data show that from September 2004 to September 2005 the average daily use of search engines jumped from 49.3 million users to 60.7 million users – an increase of 23%.

This means that the use of search engines is edging up on email as a primary internet activity on any given day. The Pew Internet Project data show that on a typical day, email use is still the top internet activity. On any given day, about 52% of American internet users are sending and receiving email.

Related Posts:

1. Solove, When Google Is King

Hat tip: beSpacific

8

Weird Searches for Our Blog

google4b.jpg

I recently blogged about where hits to our blog come from, and one of the major sources of hits to a blog are searches via Google and other search engines. In our site meter stats, you can see what search terms people use to visit our blog. I’ve looked at these on occasion, curious about what brings people to our blog.

Most of the very common search terms are obvious –- “opinions,” “concurring,” “law,” “legislating,” and “paparazzi.” But then there’s also “naked” and “celebrity” –- we have Kaimi to thank for that, as he posted a post entitled “Naked celebrities make the best magazine covers” about a ranking of the best magazine covers of the past 40 years, with the nude John Lennon and nude Demi Moore covers as #1 and #2 respectively.

Here are some of the more interesting searches I discovered:


SEARCH: Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket

I have no idea what this is possibly about or how it led a reader to our blog.


SEARCH: aals meat

This one’s my fault – I posted on the AALS meat market.


SEARCH: chemical changes that of apple without a peep

Huh?


SEARCH: peep shows

My fault – I named a post Airline X-Ray Peep Shows.


SEARCH: FREE NAKED PEEP SHOWS

I’m certain that this person was very disappointed upon learning my post was about airline screening X-rays.


SEARCH: Unbeknown to you the sun has jumped the gun

Totally baffling!


SEARCH: humorous curses

I have no idea what post this linked to, but perhaps I don’t want to know . . .

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10

What Next, Google Filmstrips?

I use audio-visual materials pretty extensively in my intellectual property classes, but I never thought to use them for my first-year property class. That is, until this year.

Google Maps and Google Images have made it possible to illustrate property disputes in a way I never could have before. Take, for example, the classic case, Fontainebleau Hotel Corp. v. Forty-Five Twenty-Five, Inc., involving two hotels on Miami Beach. The Fontainebleau starts building a 14-storey addition which will cast a shadow over the neighboring Eden Roc’s pool and beach area.

Here’s a picture from Google Maps, showing the shadow (imagine the shadow slowly moving clockwise as the sun crosses the sky, eventually covering the Eden Roc’s pool area):

fontaine3.jpg

On the continuation page, you can also see a picture from a different perspective.

Every year, it seems I rely more and more on some kind of tool created by Google (whether Search, GMail, Images, Maps, whatever). Yet another sign that Google is taking over the world.

UPDATE: I should note that credit for finding the above picture goes to the very tech-savvy Michelle Kanter, BCLS class of ’08.

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1

Google & Grokster

googleprint-thumb.jpg

Being new to the blogosphere, I missed out on the initial round of comments on the pending litigation between the Authors Guild and Google over Google Print, Google’s effort to create a searchable database of print books. My sympathies tend to be with Google, as I have yet to see a strong, non-circular argument that authors would be economically harmed by Google Print (at least as I have heard it described).

But even if you believe, as do I, that Google’s activities are or should be fair use, there’s an interesting separate question re: what efforts, if any, Google should be obligated to take to keep the digitized books secure from third parties. For example, what if third parties could use Google Print to easily reconstruct full digital versions of print books (e.g. by sending a series of overlapping queries to Google Print and reassembling the search results)?

Presumably, Google could implement all sorts of technical measures to make this kind of activity more difficult (and indeed, there is some indication that it has implemented them). But what if it didn’t implement any of these measures? Should it be obligated to?

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2

When Google Is King

google3.jpgWe are entering the age of the Google Empire. As Randy Picker at the Chicago Law Faculty Blog notes in a review of John Battelle’s The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture:

Microsoft was the king of the personal computer, and the Windows Desktop represented the most valuable real estate available. The rise of search has changed that. Search is now the front-door to the Internet, and the documents located there are often more important than those that sit on your computer. Google, not Microsoft, is defining the new interface to the Internet.

Babies are now being named after Google.

Google is filing for patents for techniques to target ads based on search results.

Google has recently added features such as Blog Search, Instant Messaging, Email, Video Search, Maps, and more. There’s also the much discussed Google Print in the works.

And Google is now unwittingly entering into international affairs, finding itself in the middle of the squabble between China and Taiwan.

All roads, it seems, are leading to Google.

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0

Google’s New Privacy Policy

google.jpgGoogle recently revised its privacy policy:

Old Policy (July 1, 2004)

New Policy (Oct. 14, 2005)

Philipp Lenssen has a humorous translation of the legalese of Google’s new privacy policy. A brief excerpt:

 

What they say

What they really mean

 

Google collects personal information when you register for a Google service

or otherwise voluntarily provide such information. We may combine personal

information collected from you with information from other Google services

or third parties to provide a better user experience, including customizing

content for you.

When

you want to use one of our sites, I mean really use them, we put up

those little boxes where you type your name and stuff. Whatever you type in

any of those sites goes to our great big machine somewhere in the basement,

and from there, all of our employees can pretty much sniff around in it and

do fun stuff with it, like read it out loud on office parties.

 

For more Google humor, check out Randy Siegel’s joke Google website in the year 2084. (Hat tip: Thinking About Technology)

We here at Concurring Opinions have a privacy policy. Please don’t get alarmed after reading it — it’s a joke, of course. We don’t sell your information to others. Really. Not because we care about your privacy — just because we haven’t found somebody to pay us for it yet. . . .

5

Does Google Image Search Violate Copyright Law?

googleimagesearch.jpgPerfect10, an adult industry website, has sued Google claiming that Google Image Search is violating its copyright. For those who haven’t tried it, Google Image Search is a terrific resource. One can search the web for images, which appear as thumbnails on the search results page. EFF, which has filed an amicus brief in the case, argues on its website:

Thumbnails created by Google Image Search allow users to identify information they are looking for online and then access that information—much like an electronic card catalog. As certain information about images can only be conveyed visually, there is no other feasible way to provide image search on the Internet than capturing images, transforming them into thumbnails, and then displaying them on a search results page for users.