Friday, December 09, 2005

Google vs Yahoo vs MSN vs AskJeeves

The search landscape sure changes fast.

Yahoo's purchase of is yet another indication that they intend to highly leverage the participation of the web community in the rankings process. Google remains very confident in their algorithmic approach, perhaps because they see any forms of user participation as too spammable. Yet Google appears to be under the greatest attack by spammers due to their high market share for search.

Google's brilliant "pagerank" innovation counted on an indirect form of community "voting" through site links, but is a much more robust voting system, especially when Yahoo redesigns the interface to be less geeky.

The search battles are REALLY getting interesting now - MSN Search pretty much let's the computer decide. They have what is perhaps the largest Neural Network in the world and appear to be moving towards a system where humans only intervene in the program to fix serious problems. Google's approach is also algorithmic but appears to involve more "programmer participation" and site filtering than MSN's.

Yahoo, with a history of being the first major web directory along with extensive editorial oversight, has adopted a hybridized algorithm plus editor model, and with today's aquisition of they'll enlist the community in direct voting for sites.

MSN's recent discussion indicates they may soon be paying people to use their search. They also will soon compete with Google Adsense and Yahoo Publisher network to pay for content based ads.

The search landscape, built almost entirely on advertising revenues, is changing at the speed of cash.

JoeDuck's Blog

Technology and pragmatism

I'm not easily impressed with technology. Most of the time new "inventions" are crap - most are designed to be easily sellable, convince people to invest in them, or satisfy the bizarre or odd whim of the designer.

Today, however, I ran into one and used it - probably for the last time in my life - yet I was really impressed. In fact I liked this invention more than the (justifiably well reviewed) Treo 650 phone I got earlier this year and have yet to figure out enough to make it worth the cost.

Oh yeah - the invention was an "insulation blower", used for cellulose blow in insulation we just blasted into the playroom/office we've been remodelling for the past 300 years or so. The device is sort of a reverse vacuum that blows shredded bits of paper through a 50' hose that you swing around up in your attic. The cleverness is in how robust the blow fan was combined with twirling metal bars that chopped up the tightly packed insulation. I'd throw in chunks, break them up with my hand, and the machine would finish off the process and blow it up the hose.

It only took my wife and me about 3 hours to do over 500' of ceiling, the material cost far less than bat insulation and this was much easier than installing it, and now we've got a cozy playroom.

Kudos to pragmatic, effective technology!

JoeDuck's Blog