The Circle’s a must for Google, Facebook users

Anyone who uses Google, Twitter or Facebook – and that’s practically everybody – needs to read The Circle by Dave Eggers. Fiction, but a chilling possible look into our future. Good book.

Actually, I am quoting somebody else to give my own views on The Circle, Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel. It is 1984 updated, with a Google-like company playing Big Brother’s role.

I thought it would be apt to use social media to review a book about social media. So here you see what others have been saying about the book on Twitter, Google Plus and in newspaper reviews.

Eggers was asked in a brief interview with McSweeney’s, a magazine he cofounded: “Is this book about Google or Facebook or any particular company?” [Read more...]

Happy birthday, Google, and thank you

The Menlo Park house and garage where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin used to work

The Menlo Park house and garage where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin used to work

Google is celebrating its 15th birthday today. It was begun as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were research students at Stanford University in January 1996. The domain name was registered on September 15, 1997, and the company incorporated on September 4, 1998, says Wikipedia.

When did I first see Google? In 1999? Not later than that. My first impression? The page looked so bare. Just a search box on a white page and nothing else. It was too minimalistic for me.

I was sold on Yahoo at that time. I loved My Yahoo, the personal home page with magically updated feeds from my favourite news sources — Yahoo News, The New York Times, BBC — all for free. Those were the days. Everything was free.

And what did Google have to offer? Just a search engine. I couldn’t get into my head what the fuss was about, why some people just adored the bare white web page which had nothing on it except a search box.

Sure, I needed to search for information. But that’s not what I did most of the time online. I spent more time reading stories from my favourite websites. And I could read all their latest stories by clicking on the links on My Yahoo. It was not just any other page but could be a personal home page where one could check the news, the weather, the email and even dictionaries. My Yahoo offered more content to spend time on than a nothing-but search site.

And then I discovered I could not do without Google, but My Yahoo? Well, there were alternatives. New news readers came out, new personalized home pages, while Google pulled ahead not only as the indispensable search engine but more. Until recently one could do almost everything on Google, including reading the news on the late, lamented Google Reader.

Now Google has a new search algorithm, codenamed Hummingbird, to better cope with the longer, more complex queries it is getting from web users.

Reuters says:

Google is trying to keep pace with the evolution of Internet usage. As search queries get more complicated, traditional “Boolean” or keyword-based systems begin deteriorating because of the need to match concepts and meanings in addition to words.

“Remember what it was like to search in 1998? You’d sit down and boot up your bulky computer, dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words,” senior vice-president of research Amit Singhal wrote in a blog post.

“The world has changed so much since then: billions of people have come online, the web has grown exponentially, and now you can ask any question on the powerful little device in your pocket.”

Thank you, Google.

Google, “ungoogleable”: From trademarks to words

Google doesn’t like the word, “ungoogleable”. Naturally. You can’t google the world’s total nuclear arsenal, the precise age of the universe, the bottom line of unlisted companies, the actual – not estimated – wealth of billionaires, what the Queen of England had for breakfast yesterday, or locate heaven on Google Map. Even the world’s greatest search engine has its limitations which, of course, Google doesn’t want to be bandied about through expressions like “ungoogleable”.

“Google”, as another word for “search”, entered the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, in 2006. But I am not surprised that Google set its foot down on “ogooglebar”, the Swedish word for “ungoogleable”, and prevented it from being officially accepted by the Swedish Language Academy.

English, thank goodness, has no official watchdog minding the language, deciding what is acceptable and what isn’t. Google’s crackdown on “ungoogleable” has given the word new momentum, I think. It is being bandied about freely, far and wide, by every media outlet with newspapers, websites or air time to fill.

[Read more...]

Google+, minus Google Reader

Google Reader is being shut down because people are not sharing enough content on Google+, says a former Google Reader product manager. The Reader was being kept alive to drive content to Google+, but it did not do so, says Brian Shih, speaking from his own experience.

Google’s big hit in social media has been YouTube rather than Google+. In a blog post last week, YouTube announced: “YouTube now has more than a billion unique users every single month.”

Powering this growth, it said, is Gen C (C stands for content) – youngsters born between 1988 and 1993 — who, according to the Google Agency Blog, watch YouTube “on all screens, all the time”.

That brings YouTube neck and neck with Facebook which reports “more than a billion active users as of December 2012.” [Read more...]

Google censoring blogs just as India wanted

Google has started censoring blogs just as India wanted The news comes just a week after Twitter announced a similar move.

Just as Tweeter can block tweets from being seen in countries where they fall foul of local laws, so can Google block access to Blogger blogs in specific countries which want them removed.

Google is introducing a country-specific URL scheme for Blogger blogs. An internet user in India, for example, trying to access a blog with the URL mjakbar.blogspot.com may be redirected to mjakbar.blogspot.in

Google has already made the change in India, Australia and New Zealand. [Read more...]