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How badly is Google Books search broken, and why?

Partly this is the story that we all know: Google Books has failed to live up to its promise as the company has moved away from its original mission of organizing information for people. But the particular ways that it has actually eroded, including this one, are worth documenting, because it's easy to think that search tools that worked perfectly well a few years ago won't have been consciously degraded.
From Sapping Attention: How badly is Google Books search broken, and why?
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The Complexity of Simply Searching For Medical Advice

There’s an asymmetry of passion at work. Which is to say, there’s very little counter-content to surface because it simply doesn’t occur to regular people (or, in this case, actual medical experts) that there’s a need to produce counter-content. Instead, engaging blogs by real moms with adorable children living authentic natural lives rise to the top, stating that doctors are bought by pharma, or simply misinformed, and that the shot is risky and unnecessary. The persuasive writing sounds reasonable, worthy of a second look. And since so much of the information on the first few pages of search results repeats these claims, the message looks like it represents a widely-held point of view. But it doesn’t. It’s wrong, it’s dangerous, and it’s potentially deadly.
From The Complexity of Simply Searching For Medical Advice | WIRED
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Google's “right to be forgotten” Transparency Report

In May 2014, in a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice established the “right to be forgotten,” or more accurately, the “right to delist,” allowing Europeans to ask search engines to delist information about themselves from search results. In deciding what to delist, search engines like Google must consider if the information in question is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive”—and whether there is a public interest in the information remaining available in search results. Understanding how we make these types of decisions—and how people are using new rights like those granted by the European Court—is important. Since 2014, we’ve provided information about “right to be forgotten” delisting requests in our Transparency Report, including the number of URLs submitted to us, the number of URLs delisted and not delisted, and anonymized examples of some of the requests we have received.
From Updating our “right to be forgotten” Transparency Report
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The secret lives of Google raters

Few people realize how much these raters contribute to the smooth functioning act we call “Googling.” Even Google engineers who work with rater data don't know who these people are. But some raters would now like that to change. That's because, earlier this month, thousands of them received an e-mail that said their hours would be cut in half, partly due to changes in Google's staffing policies.
From The secret lives of Google raters | Ars Technica
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Supreme Court rejects challenge to Google book-scanning project

he U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge by a group of authors who contend that Google's massive effort to scan millions of books for an online library violates copyright law. The Authors Guild and several individual writers have argued that the project, known as Google Books, illegally deprives them of revenue. The high court left in place an October 2015 ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in favor of Google. A unanimous three-judge appeals court panel said the case "tests the boundaries of fair use," but found Google's practices were ultimately allowed under the law.
From Supreme Court rejects challenge to Google book-scanning project | Reuters
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Google BigQuery Public Datasets Includes GDELT HathiTrust and Internet Archive Book Data

Google BigQuery Public Datasets A public dataset is any dataset that is stored in BigQuery and made available to the general public. This page lists a special group of public datasets that Google BigQuery hosts for you to access and integrate into your applications. Google pays for the storage of these data sets and provides public access to the data via BigQuery. You pay only for the queries that you perform on the data (the first 1 TB per month is free, subject to query pricing details). It includes the GDELT HathiTrust and Internet Archive Book Data. This dataset contains 3.5 million digitized books stretching back two centuries, encompassing the complete English-language public domain collections of the Internet Archive (1.3M volumes) and HathiTrust (2.2 million volumes).
From Google BigQuery Public Datasets — Google Cloud Platform

What it looks like to process 3.5 million books in Google’s cloud

What did it look like to process 3.5 million books? Data-mining and creating a public archive of 3.5 million books is an example of an application perfectly suited to the cloud, in which a large amount of specialized processing power is needed for only a brief period of time. Here are the five main steps that I took to make the invaluable learnings of millions of books more easily and speedily accessible in the cloud:

From Google Cloud Platform Blog: What it looks like to process 3.5 million books in Google’s cloud

Leading authors press for Supreme Court review of Google's digitised library

The web giant’s digitisation of millions of books – many in copyright – faces a fresh legal challenge, backed by authors including Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey, Ursula Le Guin and Malcolm Gladwell

From Leading authors press for Supreme Court review of Google's digitised library | Books | The Guardian

Authors Guild Petitions Supreme Court to Rule on Google Copying Millions of Books Without Permission

Today, the Authors Guild, the nation’s largest and oldest society of professional writers, filed a petition with the Supreme Court of the United States requesting that it review a lower court ruling that allowed Google, Inc. to copy millions of copyright-protected books without asking for authors’ permission or paying them. At stake, the Guild claims, is the right of authors to determine what becomes of their works in the digital age. Read the full press release here.

From Authors Guild Petitions Supreme Court to Rule on Google Copying Millions of Books Without Permission - The Authors Guild

Google’s New “About Me” Page Lets You Control What Personal Info Others Can See

Worried that Google has too much of your personal data, thanks to the way it has pried into your life over the years as you steadily adopted more of its services, ranging from search to email to productivity apps to YouTube and more? The company is now attempting to address those concerns with the launch of a new online tool called “Google About me” which allows you to change what information other users of Google services (aka “the world”) can see about you, including personal info like your birth date or phone number, for example.

It's at https://aboutme.google.com/

From Google’s New “About Me” Page Lets You Control What Personal Info Others Can See | TechCrunch

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How Google’s AMP project speeds up the Web

For AMP, two things in particular stand in the way of a lean, mean browsing experience: JavaScript... and advertisements that use JavaScript. The AMP story is compelling. It has good guys (Google) and bad guys (everyone not using Google Ads), and it's true to most of our experiences. But this narrative has some fundamental problems. For example, Google owns the largest ad server network on the Web. If ads are such a problem, why doesn't Google get to work speeding up the ads?

From How Google’s AMP project speeds up the Web—by sandblasting HTML | Ars Technica

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One Users Google Search History - visualized

Every one of these Google queries tells a little story about me: A search for advice, a quest for more knowledge, a hope for inspiration or reminder. On the 1st of March 2012 at 2.35pm, I typed in "Bloomberg" for the first time in my life – something that would result in an internship almost exactly one year later. And, apparently very desperate, I searched for the error "cannot read property of 0 undefined" on the 1st of October 2011 at 5.02pm; trying to understand Javascript for the first time of my life.

But when we climb up and look at all these Google search queries from further apart, we can see other narratives about a person's life. We can see the bigger picture. A picture that is built out of these queries, but explains them at the same time. This blog post is about the insights out of my over 40,000 Google search queries between the 10th of June 2010 and the 19th of April 2015.

From My Google Search History – visualized · Lisa Charlotte Rost

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What Ever Happened to Google Books?

Today, the project sits in a kind of limbo. On one hand, Google has scanned an impressive thirty million volumes, putting it in a league with the world’s larger libraries (the library of Congress has around thirty-seven million books). That is a serious accomplishment. But while the corpus is impressive, most of it remains inaccessible. Searches of out-of-print books often yield mere snippets of the text—there is no way to gain access to the whole book. The thrilling thing about Google Books, it seemed to me, was not just the opportunity to read a line here or there; it was the possibility of exploring the full text of millions of out-of-print books and periodicals that had no real commercial value but nonetheless represented a treasure trove for the public. In other words, it would be the world’s first online library worthy of that name.

From What Ever Happened to Google Books? - The New Yorker

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Why Google is better than Bing and it’s likely to continue that way

Building a Google-quality search engine is an extremely challenging task and requires years of investment in people and resources. Bing, as a project, has been a huge undertaking for Microsoft, but it still lags Google in terms of quality and market share.

From Why Google is better than Bing and it’s likely to continue that way — Medium

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Jimmy Wales Says Wikipedia Is Losing Traffic From Google

There have been a lot of rumors about the decline in traffic Google is sending Wikipedia’s way. There have been reports from SimilarWeb that Wikipedia has shown a “sudden” and “massive” decline in traffic from Google’s organic search results.

But Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, said this week that this is not a sudden or drastic drop in traffic from Google, but rather a “long-term issue with decreasing traffic from Google.”

From Jimmy Wales Says Wikipedia Is Losing Traffic From Google

more Google searches now take place on mobile devices than on computers

Billions of times per day, consumers turn to Google for I want-to-know, I want-to-go, I want-to-do, and I want-to-buy moments. And at these times, consumers are increasingly picking up their smartphones for answers. In fact, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.1 This presents a tremendous opportunity for marketers to reach people throughout all the new touchpoints of a consumer’s path to purchase.

From Inside AdWords: Building for the next moment

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Google wants to rank websites based on facts not links

A Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting incoming links, the system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. "A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy," says the team (arxiv.org/abs/1502.03519v1). The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score.

From Google wants to rank websites based on facts not links - 28 February 2015 - New Scientist

Is Google's algorithm making the web stupid?

In Is Google making the web stupid?, Seth Godin suggests that the declining prominence of organic results in Google searches is significantly to blame:

If you want traffic, Google’s arc makes clear to publishers, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Which is their right, of course, but that means that the ad tactics on every other site have to get ever more aggressive, because search traffic is harder to earn with good content. And even more germane to my headline, it means that content publishers are moving toward social and viral traffic, because they can no longer count on search to work for them. It’s this addiction to social that makes the web dumber. If you want tonnage, lower your standards.

(Don’t miss the cited Aaron Wall article as well.)

From Google and blogs: “Shit.” – Marco.org

Google’s slow fade with librarians

https://medium.com/message/googles-slow-fade-with-librarians-fddda838a0b7

Don’t get me wrong, we’re doing pretty great on our own, better than ever really. We’ve gotten a bit more independent, not putting all of our eggs into any one basket, gotten better at establishing boundaries. Still not sure, after all that, how we got this all so wrong. Didn’t we both want the same thing? Maybe it really wasn’t us, it was them. Most days it’s hard to remember what we saw in Google. Why did we think we’d make good partners?

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Never trust a corporation to do a library%u2019s job %u2014 The Message %u2014 Medium

In the last five years, starting around 2010, the shifting priorities of Google%u2019s management left these archival projects in limbo, or abandoned entirely.

After a series of redesigns, Google Groups is effectively dead for research purposes. The archives, while still online, have no means of searching by date.

https://medium.com/message/never-trust-a-corporation-to-do-a-librarys-job-f58db4673351?repos...

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