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From the Wall Street Journal
By AMIR EFRATI
Google Inc., long considered the gold standard of Internet search, is changing the secret formula it uses to rank Web pages as it struggles to combat websites that have been able to game its system.
The Internet giant, which handles nearly two-thirds of the world's Web searches, has been under fire recently over the quality of its results. Google said it changed its mathematical formula late Thursday in order to better weed out "low-quality" sites that offer users little value. Some such sites offer just enough content to appear in search results and lure users to pages loaded with advertisements.
The defunct satirical publication that launched a thousand magazine careers and dodged a thousand lawsuits is now available digitally — thanks to Google.
I have a picture around here somewhere of several circles contained within each other of decreasing order, but I can't find it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
But the point I tried to make with that picture is that the largest circle represents the whole of human knowledge.
And within that circle is one for Google and all search engines and their ability to find and index the available digital subset of all human knowledge.
And a smaller circle still, represents the first 10 or 20 search results for any given search that most people accept from search engines as being the best answers to their query.
And an even smaller circle stands for the persons who click on the first search result they see.
And what this is supposed to mean is that we, the collective we, have become satisfied with the right answer. Because for the most part, search engines give back pretty good results for any given search. I type in "potato" and I get some information about growing them or eating them or buying them. And that makes me feel smart.
But how smart am I if I only know what every one else knows ... about potatoes? If we all become satisfied with what search engines say are the right and best answers, then from where will the new discoveries come? Potatoes may have other powers than just to become mashes or chips or skins. But how will we ever know if we don't look past what Google tells us it can find on the Internet?
One day we may all have the exact same answer for each of our questions ... because we learned to stop looking.
Article in current Online by Jill O'Neill that looks at Google Wave and Google Buzz and their impact on communication and information dissemination.
Google has done search, email, documents, video, and now...
From the Alte Nationalgalerie of Berlin to the Metropolitan in New York to the National Gallery of London, Google has taken extremely high resolution images of some of the most famous artwork and put it online. View the artwork online and create your own gallery of favourites.
Learn more at the Google Art Project.
Google: Bing Is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results
Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google’s results, then uses that information to improve Bing’s own search listings. Bing doesn’t deny this.
As a result of the apparent monitoring, Bing’s relevancy is potentially improving (or getting worse) on the back of Google’s own work. Google likens it to the digital equivalent of Bing leaning over during an exam and copying off of Google’s test.
NPR's OnPoint Radio program today looks at Google and the way of words. They look at what 500 years of word usage tells us about our culture with the Google NGram Viewer. It airs live today, Wednesday December 22nd at 11:00 AM EST with an online stream and will be available later in the day as a podcast.
A searchable database of more than 500 billion words from millions of books published over the past four centuries is now online. Researchers say the tool, which is a collection of words and phases stripped of all context except the date in which they appeared, is a powerful way to study cultural change.
New York Times reports: BRUSSELS — Europe opened a formal antitrust investigation on Tuesday into accusations that Google had abused its dominance in online search, exposing the company’s zealously guarded technology to unwelcome scrutiny.
The investigation by the European Commission follows complaints from smaller Web businesses, which claim that Google downgraded their sites in its search results to weaken potential competitors for advertising. The commission said it would also look into whether Google might have given its Web services “preferential placement” in search results.
Google’s dominance on the Internet has been a sore point in Europe, where it controls more than 80 percent of the online search market, compared with about 66 percent in the United States, according to comScore, a research firm.
Google already faces antitrust inquiries, as well as investigations of its privacy and copyright protection policies, in several European countries. In addition, other American companies have fought lengthy legal battles with European regulators in the past.
In a statement, Google said it had strived to “do the right thing by our users and our industry.”
“But there’s always going to be room for improvement,” the company said, “and so we’ll be working with the commission to address any concerns.”
In a guest post on James Fallows blog at The Atlantic, David Rothman makes the case for a national digital library,
"Might the time have finally come for a well-stocked national digital library system (NDLS) for the United States--a cause I've publicly advocated since 1992 in Computerworld, a 1996 MIT Press information science collection, the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere, including my national information stimulus plan here in the Fallows blog? That's the topic of this essay, and many of the same concepts could apply to other countries, including Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan, China, India, Brazil, and various other nations. Perhaps national digital library systems could interconnect, forming a global one. But for simplicity's sake and reasons of self interest, I'll focus here on a digital system for the United States, which, in national digital library planning and execution, lags far behind the diligent Chinese, among others."