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July 25 2011


Pandora's box - Google's strategic moves and why they are so scary

NextLevelOfNews :: [First draft of a strategy analysis] - Google's latest moves, the introduction of Google+ and the design changes of Google News reveal some exciting details of how Google will position itself in the advertising arena in the near future. In fact Google clearly heads to control the advertising space with products addressing demand-driven searches, social interest graph and interest graph, concepts, which have been introduced by Twitter and Facebook in the last years.

We all got to know Google as a go-to source to search for something of interest. And yes, algorithm-based search, instead of Yahoo! directories, was quite a successfull idea. Google spent years to finetune and optimize relevancy in search results, which made it the dominant player in the search market. The keywords, people like me entered, expressed market demand. Perfect for advertisers. A keyword expresses what you need to find. In business terms: demand. It was revolutionary to build the advertising around the demand of the people. That was the reason why Google invented Adwords and Adsense. A perfect match for advertisers and users alike. That was sufficient for some years and Google controlled and still controls the market for demand-driven search.

Twitter entered the game with a new concept. Tweets created a constant flow of information (sometimes Spam but easy to filter out). When I started to mindcast I wanted that people follow me because of interest in a specific topic. When I look back it helped tremendously to find interesting concepts, exciting minds and to stay on track. People started to follow because they were interested in the "future of journalism". In contrast to Google, Twitter offers a completely different approach to advertising. Instead of expressed demand people showed interest and Twitter invented the social interest graph. The social interest graph is much more powerful as the demand-driven search as it delivers context before people can even recognize their (so far hidden) demand. People usually follow you on Twitter not because they relate to you, but because of interest.

Facebook introduced the third concept: the social graph. The basic idea (from an advertising perspective) is to get in touch with the people behind you and to visualize opinion, attitude and relationships - in other words to understand your world entirely. In combination with socio demographic information, which Facebook collects as well, it is a paradise for advertisers, offering new opportunities to show ads based on "likes", "recommendations", "share", "comments" and your personal settings.

A severe threat for Google and its advertising business ... unless it Google+ was born. Now Google+ combines the strength of Facebook (social graph) with that of the demand-driven search (Google.com) it already "owns". And with Google News and its "section" feature, Google also started to roll out the interest graph model of Twitter: people now personalize the information of interest. What's left?

That's impressing power. 

- Steffen Konrath

July 03 2011


The idea behind - where did Google+ (Plus) Circles come from?

Asia Digital Map :: One of the coolest features on Google+ is their flagship feature “Circles”. One might argue, this is the same feature as “friends lists” on Facebook, but Google+ Circles keep you in better control in managing different social circles you are a part of. Where did Google+ Circles come from? - The whole idea behind Google+ Circles, links back to the ideas of ‘social graph’ and ‘social clusters’. The social graph of a person, describe how he/she is related to the other human beings on earth, and how they acquired those relationships.

Idea behind of Google+ - continue to read Amitha Amarasinghe, www.asiadigitalmap.com

December 16 2009


KNC 2010: NewsGraf wants to slap a search box on journalists’ brains

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The Knight News Challenge closed submissions for the 2010 awards last night at midnight, which means that another batch of great ideas, interesting concepts, and harebrained schemes gave their chance to convince the Knight Foundation they deserve funding. (Trust us — great, interesting, and harebrained are all well represented at this stage each year.) We've been picking through the applications available for public inspection the past few weeks, and over the next few days Mac is going to highlight some of the ideas that struck us as worthy of a closer look — starting today with NewsGraf, below.

But we also want your help. Do you know of a really interesting News Challenge application? Did you submit one yourself? Let us know about it. Either leave a comment on this post or email Mac Slocum. In either case, keep your remarks brief — 200 words or less. We'll run some of the ones you think are noteworthy in a post later this week. —Josh]

The most eye-catching thing about the NewsGraf’s proposal is its price tag; $950,000 over two years. That stands out in a sea of $50,000 and $100,000 requests.

But if you spend a little time digging into the intricacies of NewsGraf, that big price becomes downright reasonable. Cheap even. That’s because with NewsGraf, Mike Aldax and John Marshall want to digitally duplicate the knowledge, connections and synapses of a veteran journalist. That kind of audacity doesn’t come cheap.

Technologically speaking, NewsGraf ventures into the murky world of semantic tagging and social graphs. Unless you’ve got a computer science degree, it’s hard to get a handle on exactly what NewsGraf is. It’s a database, it’s a search engine, but it’s also a connectivity machine.

It’s easier to compare NewsGraf to a person — think of it as a veteran reporter. Someone who carries around a vast collection of interviews, research, and general knowledge gleaned from years working a beat. All this info is tucked neatly into her memory, and she taps this personal database whenever she’s assembling a story. It searches for red flags, patterns, and relationships. It’s an editorial sixth sense.

But there’s a big problem with this brain-based model: It disappears when the brain — and its associated owner — get laid off. With news organizations already running smaller and faster, how can they possibly overcome this growing knowledge gap?

Enter NewsGraf. The project is still on the drawing board, but the idea is to capture all that connective information in a format that’s accessible to anyone with a web browser. A visitor can enter the name of a local newsmaker and see the threads that bind that person to others in the community. It’s like Facebook, as designed by a beat reporter.

Data will come from government databases, local newspapers, blogs, and other sources. After running a query, a user can click through to the originating stories for deeper information. NewsGraf is merely the conduit here; Marshall said they want to send users to the information, not keep them locked within NewsGraf’s walls. As the application puts it:

As newspapers find it increasingly difficult to send reporters to monitor local politics and public discourse, communities will need alternative mechanisms to ensure transparency and good government. Local journalists and citizens will be able to draw upon NewsGraf’s data as a starting point for further investigation, uncovering important relationships that may be influencing decisions being made in their community.

The team behind the idea combines journalism (Aldax covers city hall for The San Francisco Examiner) and tech (Marshall is a software developer and a former VP at AOL). NewsGraf will focus on San Francisco and the Bay Area if it wins a News Challenge grant. But if funding doesn’t come through, Aldax hopes someone else runs with the idea. “We just want to see this happen,” he said.

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