Archive for February, 2011

Techcrunch is, together with Mashable (social media), Kotaku (games) and Gamasutra (games again!), my main source of information for  the Web 2.0 world. I decided not to abandon it after AOL bought it, because I believe it’s still on the cutting edge on its sector. But, I don’t like people who judge others from a superior point of view. And that’s why I think that, what happened yesterday to Robin Wauters and his harsh criticism over bad PR, was really intuitive for Techcrunch (short TC). (more…)


Data Source Handbook

Posted: February 19, 2011 in Book reviews
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data source handbook by o'reilly mediaThere’s a simple word describing this book: toolbox. The Data Source Handbook is a great source of free APIs for a great number of different applications – with only one drawback: size.

The book starts by offering a simple categorization, that helps the reader find his way through the 57 different sources. Some of these can prove extremely useful (such as Flickr and Delicious), while the author is honest in mentioning specific drawbacks that some of the sources have. The links in the book are also a welcome addition (although I don’t really know if it could work well in any other way).

However, this book is definitely not for people with no programming skills. In my case (I have limited programming skills) it was a bit hard to get used to the book. Adding to this, the main drawback of this book is that it’s short, but this is normal, as it is not meant to include full descriptions.

Overall, this is a great toolbox for developers wishing to enhance their services. I enjoyed experimenting while reading the book (and learning as well, in order to improve my programming skills) and I’ll definitely keep on searching for related titles.

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook for review purposes.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

My 2 cents on Quora

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Marketing
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quora logoI’m proud for a single fact: I started using Quora before the last days’ buzz about it. I even had a related post about Fluther and Twitter some time ago, and I still believe that social Q&A websites are one of the most sophisticated applications in the Web 2.0 universe. But I haven’t shared my experience with Quora so far, and that’s what I’ll do today. (more…)

That’s something that went below many people’s radars: Google had suspicions about Bing stealing its search results from early on (around early May 2010). But these suspicions are now probably confirmed. Or maybe not?

Bing vs GoogleI was first introduced to the battle while reading a post by Search Engine Land, which described Google’s suspicions over Bing using its results as a way to improve its own. Google decided to run an experiment about that, a “sting operation”. Google engineers assigned a specific page to a search term that noone would ever try to search for (i.e.juegosdeben1ogrande). Now, there you have the first controversial point: Google did not mention the ratio suspicious occations/number of experiments. Its blog’s post left this rather unclear. However, Search Engine Land and Microsoft provided us with a ratio of 7-9/100. Is this number representative? Well, it’s hard to tell, but still, having even a 7% similarity led Google to accuse Microsoft openly.

The fight between the two giants started. Microsoft issued a brief statement on February 1:

We do not copy Google’s results.

However, a small hint was obvious from Microsoft’s original response to the issue: Microsoft makes use of “multiple signals and approaches” in its quest of “doing a better job determining the intent of the search”. This points out directly to Microsoft’s MSN Toolbar and Windows Live Toolbar: one of this tool’s main quests is to identify the way users search for information and the time they spent on each result. And of course, what was the main search tool available back in 2007 (as suggested by Businessinsider’s article on the incident)? Google. And yes, this piece of info was available from June 2009.

Google’s main reaction was that competition through innovation is good, since it helps improving search results. However, the last words from its statement, about the copied results, are clear:

We’d like for this practice to stop” (does this mean that they’ll take drastic measures to make it stop? Noone can still tell).

As is Microsoft’s answer, which accused Google of “click fraud” through its senior VP of Online Services Division, Yusuf Mehdi. And continued by stating that people have started wondering if Bing’s quality is the same, or, sometimes, better than Google’s, something that led Bing’s prime competitor to make accusations over something widely known.

The battle will probably continue, either with statements or in courts. It also generates new questions: Why didn’t Yahoo reacted as well (it is known that Bing monitors Yahoo as well)? Does Bing monitor users’ clickstream or their use of Google? The second question has generated long articles, which try to determine if data from users’ search queries on Google belong solely to Google or not.

However, one thing is clear: Microsoft entered the search engine territory, a place which belonged unquestionably to Google – which of course reacted. For the time being, Google is the undeniable king. But things change really fast in the online world, and the future of this rivalry is still unclear.

P.S.: That’s one of the examples that Google used in its “sting operation”.

Time for my second review! This week’s book is The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun. To be honest, I haven’t read any other book from Berkun so far (though many people suggest Confessions of a Public Speaker), but it’s more than likely I’ll start from now on. And the reason is simple: after finishing the book I felt like the guy was in my head!

If you’re looking for a book to tell you how to innovate, then you have missed half of this book’s essence. Because there’s not a single path to innovation (although you’ll get your tips, I promise!) – that’s something you learn from the first chapters. What this book is about is the life of an innovator, the challenges he has to face, the rejection of ideas, and the lonely path to making something new and ground – breaking. Making a trip through history and great inventors, Berkun defines innovation as a long way and not as a single moment. While innovating you’ll fight, get rejected or even reach the bottom – and this book describes what to do in these cases. And even when you succeed, you have the innovator’s dilemma – are you truly open – minded to accept a new thing that may turn your innovation useless?

I enjoyed reading this book, I really did. If you ask me, it’s not going to help you innovate more – of course not. But, all in all, it helps you in creating an attitude towards innovation. I guess that, from now on, I’ll treat innovation in a different way.

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook for review purposes.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

by Dan Zarella and Alison Zarrella