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  If A.A. Milne were alive...

A.A. Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh books and poems. If you feel nostalgic for those great works, and you want to learn Ruby, you should look at this:

It's basically a Winnie the Pooh approach to learning Ruby. This book has comic strips to help you learn. It's more fun than say K&R.

  Ask your Mom about the Internet

Greg Linden points to this entertaining post wherein a blogger's Mom is asked: "What's RSS?"

Here is the Mom's answer:

Well, my first response is that I just don’t have a clue. In today’s world it could be a disease…as in “I have RSS and nobody believes that it’s a real illness; but I just don’t have any energy”. It could be someone’s initials. I don’t know!!

So I googled it and I still just don’t have a clue. I didn’t understand the first paragraph, got totally bored because there are words in there that mean nothing to anyone who hasn’t heard of RSS.

The answer to your question: I just don’t have a clue!

It's funny because it's true! And it's a bit of a wake-up call for the Web2.0 type internet - most people can't use the basic stuff yet.

  Google: A BIG one-trick pony
Paul Kedrosky throws some snark at Google - recycling Charlene Li's now tired "one-trick pony" line. He's interpreting Hitwise data to claim that all the other products Google released don't add up to a hill of beans compared to Google's search traffic.

Well, he's right - but only in comparison - simply because Google has HUGE page views in search. comScore and Nielsen estimate about 5B / month US searches, but I think it's more like 10-12B / month. So let's look at the chart another way.

Here are the top 10 Google domains, and from Hitwise data, the share of traffic (page views) each sub-site gets (for the week ending July 15, 2006). I've added a column to show what the page views would be if we assume that search gets 3B views per week in the US.

Site % of all Google views Est. Page Views per WeekAvg. Views / second
Google 79.6% 3,000,000,0004960
Google Image Search 8.6% 322,491,523533
Google Mail 6.0% 224,915,233373
Google News 1.4% 51,990,45686
Google Maps 0.9% 35,413,78959
Blogger 0.6% 22,227,80437
Google Video Search 0.5% 17,706,89429
Google Groups 0.5% 17,706,89429
Froogle 0.5% 16,953,41028
Orkut 0.3% 12,055,75820

So those are some pretty healthy sized websites. Just for fun, I added the fourth column of average views per second...

My comment on Paul's post is that Google's next big thing (if it ever comes) won't grow incrementally, but will have usage growth like YouTube or MySpace. In other words, to be anything like the scale of Google search, it'll have to be revolutionary.

Not many companies create two revolutionary products, but I think Google could be an exception.

BTW, I originally created that table in Google Spreadsheets, but there's no easy way to embed a spreadsheet in a page, like there is with Google Maps.

  MSN Web Search SDK
I just started toying with the MSN Web Search SDK (beta .60). It's basically the same idea as the Google Search API or the Yahoo Search Web Services. So it's rather boring at this point.

The first thing you notice about it is how all Microsoft stuff feels like it's living in the early 90's. To me, this is just more evidence that MSFT just doesn't get it - the modern internet, that is:

I could go on, however the point that if MSN is ever gonna compete, they need to slip the surly bonds of the legacy IT development world that shackles even the simplest of their tools.

  Google Q2 Results
Another big win for Google in Q2. GOOG was down today, but will rise after this.

For all the complaining and whining in the blogs and forums about Google's arrogance, they go out and JUST WIN BABY.


Kinda sucks to be Yahoo or eBay right about now..

The scary part of this announcement may be that Google is getting its International dominance to pay off.

I'll update after I listen to the call.

  What hath PageRank wrought?

PageRank™ - Google's original secret sauce has truly shaped the way the web looks. Now, people build whole domains to acquire PageRank - because it's very valuable stuff.

Take a look at this cool page: It's a domain dedicated to a single page that explains a common set of JavaScript functions.

The author of the page is probably just a hacker who thought it was a cool idea to create a whole domain as a mini-reference.

On the other hand, he includes a bunch of "digg this" type links at the bottom - great for acquiring PageRank. His domain currently has a PageRank of 5.

Eventually, this page could be useful for other SEO purposes. I wonder if that's partly why he built it.

As another example, look at Aaron Wall's SEO for Firefox extension. Aaron is doing a good thing for all the SEO's out there providing this free tool. And in return, he could increase his PageRank - or at least have better organic search rankings and acquire more traffic.

Since PageRank (or more accurately, Google's overall trust assigned to a page or domain) is easily monetized by SEO's, it creates an economy that shapes the web.

  Why it's a Personal blog
Andrew Goodman is a net star and he has a great blog called: Traffick. He also has a tendency to interleave into his writing some out-of-the-ordinary stuff.

For example, long sections in his book on AdWords detail his family history and his prognostications about the future of peanut butter.

His "work" blog and PageZero Advisor newsletters regularly contain philosophical digressions on philosophy, throwing around names like Kant, Freud and Rawls, as if we'd really have any idea what he was talking about...

Now he has a personal blog, so he can go full-scale unplugged. Here's a paragraph from a recent post that stands alone as a breathtaking work of staggering genius.

Note to Steve: this is why you must vote Liberal. If you vote in Harper's crew, THESE SOCCER PEOPLE WOULD BE IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME. I'd have to pay a yuppie tax just for walking in the front door of the Holiday Inn without the requisite mullet.

You can't get that kinda stuff just anywhere, that's why it's good that Andrew now has a personal blog. Keep it up AG.

  What is Click Arbitrage?
After Google's announcement that they'd be looking at landing pages to ostensibly cut down on click arbitrage, lots of people are talking about click arbitrage.

Click arbitrage is buying traffic on Google AdWords and redirecting it to websites loaded with contextual ads. Believe it or not, you can make tons of money doing this, since you buy traffic at a low CPC and sell it at higher CPCs one or more times.

Dave Naylor and Jen Slegg talked about it on Jen's radio show. Andrew Goodman is posting on it. All of a sudden, click arbitrageurs are the hedge fund managers of the search economy.

I think it's always fascinating when something goes mainstream and everyone notices. Click arbitrage is driving HUGE dollar volume for Google. A single arbitrageur really isn't a big player in this game unless they are spending at least $1M / month on AdWords. And there are many arbitrageurs spending at that level. Just look at Google search results and click on some ads.

So why does Google care about this? What's the problem? For the search cognesceti, the problem is that the search results and the AdWords ads are now littered with middlemen. You click an ad, and you go to another page of ads. For the user, this may be annoying, or it may be helpful. Certainly some people find it annoying.

An interesting way of looking at it is that the contextual ad systems like AdSense allow anyone to be You outsource the ad results to AdSense or some equivalent and you buy traffic from Google... Everything is bought and paid for.

So now Google is going to crack down by checking that the landing page for an AdWords ad is not just full of AdSense type ads. Of course, Dave Naylor and others think that the sophisticated arbs will find a way around this.

If they really wanted to kill click arbitrage, Google would simply ask their customer service people to report it in all of their big accounts. Google could tell who was doing it by looking at the spend momentum - i.e. growth in spending. Another way to catch it quickly would be to reward feedback - get people to report it.

But I don't think Google can really afford to stop it completely. It's too much money.

  Worried about Paul K.

Not since last year when Kedrosky forgot to renew his domain name have I been so worried about the man. Sure he posted that he's going on travel - but that's usually a contrary indicator for the uber-prolific San Canadian. I mean, He hasn't put up a new post in AT LEAST 32 HOURS!

Somebody call the coast guard.

  The Baseline for Understanding Google
Greg Linden points to Baseline Magazine's extensive survey of Google technology. It's worth reading all the way through because it really covers the key elements of Google's infrastructure philosophy.

It's great stuff - but one thing bugs me: the continued citation of comScore numbers. I've posted 3 or 4 times about how comScore is off by a lot when it comes to estimating Google search traffic.

  Saving the Internet

Bob Frankston, the inventor of VisiCalc, has a series of essays that attempt to shift the way people think about the internet. He's worried about a lot more than net neutrality. He wants us to realize that:

I.e. instead of paying for the internet through tolls which the corrupt and opaque telcos collect, Bob wants us to free the internet. If we don't, he believes that everyone will suffer the regulatory and bureaucratic control in ways that limit our communication, education, commerce and freedom.

Wow. Big thoughts. And it all makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, Bob Frankston is not very good at encapsulating his ideas into talking points. Steve Jobs, he is not. In fact, his arguments are littered with difficult and incomplete analogies. He desperately needs an editor, a copywriter and a PR advisor. Bob Cringely tries to summarize the Frankson point of view, but he still doesn't clarify it that well.

Here's a good starting point for Bob Frankston's essays on how the telecoms are corrupting people's view of the internet. There are several important points, but they lack a coherent story that would motivate people into action. I'll highlight a fundamental thing that Frankston believes people are forgetting - and the telecoms are basically deceptive about:

The basic principle of the Internet is that we use any available transport and define meaning and services ourselves. The transport is infrastructure and any individual or enterprise can use the transport to create value and provide solutions.
The important thing is that more people realize what is happening and create a movement that keeps hope alive for the internet as a public good. Someone like John Doerr needs to find a way to appeal to the public and the government before it's too late.
  The G in BillG doesn't stand for grammatical

Bill Gates needs to put some of that foundation charitable spending into remedial Grammar schools. From an NYT article on Google's infrastructure:

"Google doesn't have anything magic here," Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman, said in an interview. "We spend a little bit more per machine. But to do the same tasks, we have less machines."

It's "fewer" for cardinality baby! Maybe he could go finish that Harvard degree after he retires from Microsoft.

The poor grammar might distract people from noticing that on the technological / business levels, that comment is a reality-avoiding rationalization. You wonder how isolated someone needs to be to let something like that come out of their mouth?

  Why Microsoft can't buy PPC market share

Aaron Wall has a throw-away line in a post on Google Checkout that shows he understands the PPC market nature very well - he's listing the hypothetical threats to Google's dominance in PPC ads:

Microsoft decides to spend billions of dollars operating a distributed ad network at a loss to steal market share (although this is not too likely because this would create an arbitrage opportunity which would be heavily abused by people like me)

Some commentators have said they think that Microsoft should give 100% rev share on their version of AdSense - though that wouldn't hurt Google's profits much, since they don't make much profit from AdSense.

Continuing along that line, some people think that Microsoft should subsidize their ad network just to cause pain to Google and to gain market share.

Aaron points out something subtle but obvious - the benificiaries would be the ad arbitrageurs. It would be a huge gift from Microsoft.

Aaron understands better than most the market-nature of the PPC ad world.

BTW, I disagree with Aaron about the main point of his Google Checkout post. I think Checkout is a very serious threat to eBay.


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Recent Posts

If A.A. Milne were alive...
Ask your Mom about the Internet
Google: A BIG one-trick pony
MSN Web Search SDK
Google Q2 Results
What hath PageRank wrought?
Why it's a Personal blog
What is Click Arbitrage?
Worried about Paul K.
The Baseline for Understanding Google
Saving the Internet
The G in BillG doesn't stand for grammatical
Why Microsoft can't buy PPC market share


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If A.A. Milne were alive...
Ask your Mom about the Internet
Google: A BIG one-trick pony
MSN Web Search SDK
Google Q2 Results
What hath PageRank wrought?
Why it's a Personal blog
What is Click Arbitrage?
Worried about Paul K.
The Baseline for Understanding Google
Saving the Internet
The G in BillG doesn't stand for grammatical
Why Microsoft can't buy PPC market share