Does Google want to own or organize information?

No doubt that Google decision to acquire Zagat gives its local business strategy a nice boost.

But it's not without some tension. Google, which likes to think of itself as the great organizer of the world's information, is increasingly owning important chunks of it. And that raises questions about whether the company will give the information it owns preferential treatment over information owned by others.
"This is exactly why Google is on the hot seat for antitrust," said Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court, an activist and frequent thorn in Google's side. "This is when the search engine becomes the find engine."

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"...a huge, throbbing passion..."

The indefatigable Cory Doctorow has a piece posted by the Guardian using rather quite colorful language to describe the conundrums posed by positioning Google Plus as an "identity service". Doctorow does note that the real names policy being enforced by Google Plus would create quite a change compared to the traditional notion of people potentially having multiple yet separate identities. Lewis Carroll wrote fiction yet Charles Dodgson wrote mathematics textbooks...even though both happened to be the same physical person.

(h/t Richard M. Stallman & Bradley Kuhn)

A Google A Day

Librarian Bill Drew just reported on receiving an email from Google about a new feature they wanted him to try out called A Google a Day. Here's the gist of it:

What is a Google a Day?
A Google a Day is a daily trivia question where searching isn't just allowed, it's encouraged. Through daily questions on a diverse array of topics, we delight the curious with exciting new facts. Questions are featured daily on and above the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Why is it cool?
A Google a Day is a great new way to discover fascinating information about the world around all while learning how to use the wealth of the web to satisfy one's curiosity. Moreover, it's a great way for students and library patrons to build search skills that allow them to better put the power of Google's search engine to work for them in researching for assignments and discovering untapped avenues for further exploration.

Even more exciting, the Google a Day widget can be embedded right on a library's home page. With minimal effort and no programming experience required, each day the widget will automatically update so users have instant access to exciting and educational content on the landing page.

Why is it useful for libraries?

Rumor About NSA-Google Alliance to Stay Just That

Rumor About NSA-Google Alliance to Stay Just That
The National Security Agency does not have to disclose its relationship with Google amid press reports that the two partnered up after hackers in China launched a cyber attack on the U.S. government, a federal judge in Washington ruled.
In February 2010, the Electronic Privacy Information Center requested a number of communications between the NSA and Google regarding cyber security.


Privacy experts praise Google+ rollout so far

Privacy experts praise Google+ rollout so far
Ultimately, the key issue may not come down so much to pure privacy features but to whether Google+ lets users share online in a more natural, intuitive manner, like they do in real life, than is possible with Facebook today, F-Secure's Sullivan said. Whether it succeeds and beats Facebook in that respect remains to be seen, he said.

Anyone Want to Check Out Google+? Sorry...

...sorry, you'll need an invite.

It's the tech world's version of the velvet rope. Companies such as Google hope that by limiting the number of people who can join their services -- like Google+, which is seen as Google's answer to Facebook -- they will be able drive up the buzz for those new sites.

A theory of human behavior is at work here: People want what they can't have. It's hard not to at least be curious what the new Google social network is like when every tech blogger on the Internet is writing about it.

There's ostensibly a technical component, too. If not everyone can join at once, there's less chance the site will crash.

But there's a quiet backlash brewing against this cool-kids method to website launches. Not only do people feel left out, but this exclusivity-builds-interest model also has a track record that's far from perfect.

More from CNN Tech.

The Google Ending Google PowerMeter And Health

Google News! In the coming months, we’re going to retire two products that didn’t catch on the way we would have hoped, but did serve as influential models: Google Health (retiring January 1, 2012; data available for download through January 1, 2013) and Google PowerMeter (retiring September 16, 2011). Both were based on the idea that with more and better information, people can make smarter choices, whether in regard to managing personal health and wellness, or saving money and conserving energy at home. While they didn't scale as we had hoped, we believe they did highlight the importance of access to information in areas where it’s traditionally been difficult.


How the Modern Web Environment is Reinventing the Theory of Cataloguing

Panizzi, Lubetzky, and Google: How the Modern Web Environment is Reinventing the Theory of Cataloguing: This paper uses cataloguing theory to interpret the partial results of an exploratory study of university students using Web search engines and Web-based OPACs. The participants expressed frustration with the OPAC; while they sensed that it was "organized," they were unable to exploit that organization and attributed their failure to the inadequacy of their own skills. In the Google searches, on the other hand, students were getting the support traditionally advocated in catalogue design. Google gave them starting points: resources that broadly addressed their requirements, enabling them to get a greater sense of the knowledge structure that would help them to increase their precision in subsequent searches. While current OPACs apparently fail to provide these starting points, the effectiveness of Google is consistent with the aims of cataloguing as expressed in the theories of Anthony Panizzi and Seymour Lubetzky

Google stops digitizing old newspapers

Google on Friday had stopped digitizing old newspapers as publishers sought to make money off story archives instead of having them hosted free online.
People will still be able to find newspapers already converted to digital format in the Google News Archives at but the collection won't grow.
"We work closely with newspaper partners on a number of initiatives, and as part of the Google News Archives digitization program we collaborated to make older newspapers accessible and searchable online," the Internet firm said.



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