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yahoo just announced yahoo mindset, giving searchers the possibility to separate commercial from informational queries, just as i have suggested last year. wow, i like it. i also like the slider that is used in the interface. related: sliders are the new drop-downs


mark fletcher, founder of bloglines, explains how google and yahoo (with google’s personalised-homepage and yahoo’s “my yahoo”) misunderstand RSS and fail to create appropriate interfaces to it:

As many people have found out, the My Yahoo metaphor of a customizable page displaying static information doesn’t scale. It may have worked in the mid-1990s. But in this particular century, with millions of blogs and other sites of interest, you need a different interface paradigm to deal with all that information.

My Yahoogle doesn’t track what information you’ve already read, and what bits are new. So, each time you visit your My Yahoogle page, it takes time to scan the page to see if there’s new information. This is a complete waste. If you only show new things, the amount of information that needs to be displayed decreases greatly. There’s less information, and it’s all new. It’s a much more efficient way of dealing with many information sources.

Another flaw in the My Yahoogle model is the idea of placing everything on one page. Besides forcing the user to become a web page designer (should I place this information source in the right corner, or left?), this again reduces the number of information sources that can be followed, to a number that can be reasonably placed on a single web page.

while i think bloglines’ interface needs to be improved in various ways (their clip, blog and search features work poorly) bloglines understands what makes RSS-feed-interfaces useful and google/yahoo simply don’t.

bloglines is to google in RSS what google was to altavista in search, seven years ago. does anybody remember altavista?

happy google-guessing

May 18, 2005  

it’s always en vogue to predict what google does next. recently i’ve spotted these predictions:

my own guess? google will build a strong RSS search engine and a web-based feed-reader. at least that’s what i would do if i was google.

update may 20th: seems like the portal-prediction comes closest for now, as marissa mayer just declared fusion as google’s main strategy: “We’re incorporating feeds from just a few other sites today, but we envision being able to accept any standardized feed very soon.”

mail from helge.at?

May 17, 2005  

[deutsch] sollten Sie in den letzten tagen ein mail mit rechtsradikalem inhalt und meiner adresse als absender bekommen haben: ich bin weder der absender noch ist mein PC virenverseucht. das mail stammt von einem mit dem trojaner trojan.ascetic.c verseuchten rechner, auf dem Ihre und meine email-adresse gespeichert waren.

[english] in case you have recently received an email with extremistic contents (in german) with my address set as sender: i’m neither the sender nor is my PC infected with a virus. the mail came from a PC infected with trojan.ascetic.c on which your and my email address were stored.

(i’m quite pissed off, those lousy sonofabitches..)


während ich mich in der letzten zeit mit der zukunft von tageszeitungen beschäftigt habe, denkt mario sixtus über die zukunft des fernsehens nach. interessant.


für einen freund habe ich eben einen ganz groben business case für gratis wireless lan in einem restaurant gerechnet, im vergleich zu kostenplichtigem wlan. hier das excel-sheet, falls jemand in einer ähnlichen situation ist:

BC_wlan_free_vs_paid.xls

die enthaltenen daten (zb. investitionskosten) sind nur grob geschätzt und zum selber ausfüllen. klar wird jedoch, dass der break even bei der kommerziellen variante erst bei (höherer) zweistelliger nutzungszahl pro monat erreicht werden wird, weil kostenloses wlan erfahrungsgemäß merkbar zusätzliche gäste anzieht.

ich denke sowieso, dass sich kostenpflichtige hotspots nur in sonderfällen rechnen (flughäfen, lokale mit sehr starker frequenz an geschäftsreisenden, etc.). fĂĽr “normale” gastronomen ist kostenloses internet das bessere geschäft, da es frequenz bringt. wiener lokale wie das hightea oder das ronahi können das sicher bestätigen, die haben ihren umsatz alleine mit mir verdoppelt ;-)
(more…)


(there’s a german version of this post on laafi.at.)

during this year’s project journey with laafi in burkina faso a project idea was proposed to us that contradicts quite some of our usual project criteria: the project is not located in rural areas, isn’t sustainable (at least not in the direct sense of the word), though dealing with “health” has nothing to do with “cure” and almost entirely consists of ongoing expenses, rather than being a one-time investment: an emergency accomodation for AIDS-sufferers in ougadougou, the capital of burkina faso in west africa.

the project proposal came from an association of AIDS-victims, founded exclusively by sick persons who got to know each other in the issuing office of anti-retrovir-drugs that medecins sans frontieres (MSF) operate in ouaga. with the help of these drugs they live a mostly normal live, partly years after the decease’s breakout. in burkinian society they constitue a rare exception as they publicly avow their disease, and their private and professional environment is fully informed. AIDS-cases in burkina faso often are being outcast by their families and employers and thus become home- and jobless. in front of the MSF issuing office many such homeless camp out. due to insufficient nutrition and the hygienic circumstances of homelessness they have little chance to survive the physical stress a anti-retrovir-therapy constitutes until the body tunes in. MSF itself can’t take care of them as their statute only permits ambulatory treatment.

the project idea this association approached us with is simple: a house that accomodates 30 people located near the MSF office, with one meal a day and a room for get-togethers and awareness-building measures. MSF would be responsible for selection and medical care of the patients who’s stay would end when regaining a certain state of health, in any case at the maximum length of 2 months as many more applicants will be wainting, so criteria must be hard. at the moment we negotiate (via email and through our two representatives on location) with MSF and the AIDS-association about conditions and controll mechanisms for a 2-year-test-phase, so it’s not yet decided if the project is indeed going to take place.

our role would be financing the project. annual costs are quite high for laafi-measures:
– € 8300 for food,
– € 2100 rent and
– € 1000 for three salaries (cook, custodian, guard).
– furthermore € 1600 for initial investments.
(but just imagine what 11,000 meals, 3 employees and a house for 30 persons would cost in europe.)

even if “just” the lives of cureless ill would be extended the impact is substantial: hundrets get the opportunity to lead a normal live for years, return to their jobs, and most of all change african society from inside: they openly admit their sickness and thus contribute to public conscience – and the readiness to use condoms. as long as AIDS-sufferers die seemingly of something like pneumonia shortly after breakout of the disease, an infection with HIV stays a theoretical threat that one only knows from educational broadcasts on state radio. and as long as AIDS-cases end up on the street MSF’s therapies can’t help. the building serving as room for educational meetings that the association organizes independently – currently in open air – would be a positive side-effect.

if you like the idea and want to contribute to it financially you can find bank details on laafi.at contact page. in case the project doesn’t materialise (which might well be, as our standards are quite demanding for our project partners) and you don’t want your donation to be used in other laafi projects, your money will be transfered back (please note this requirement in the transfer detail fields).


gene smith proposes in his post “search tagging” the seemingly logical extension (or anticipation) of the recent folksonomy-hype caused by flickr.com and del.icio.us into the area of search. while social search might indeed be the next big thing in search i think – contrary to IA-guru louis rosenfeld, whom i admire – there are some fundamental flaws in gene’s concept:

Search terms are tags on an URL, based on clickthroughs.

seems to be obvious at first glance but give it a closer look: tags would thus be applied to URLs by search engine algorithms, with the user only playing a minor role in judging the relevancy of the snippet on SERPs. machines applying tags is not really the classic definition of a folksonomy.. so at least a feedback-cycle would have to be closed to reflect the relevance of the query to the URL, for example with the help of the google toolbar – and i’m not sure if that would be sufficient to create a really useful taxonomy. besides that clickthroughs can easily be manipulated by search engine spammers.

Search history is shared. Search terms and selected results are shared in the same way del.icio.us shares tags and URLs.

that’s where the problem lies. while it would be incredibly useful to access other people’s searches this usefulness will cause the multi-million-dollar SEO-industry to quickly find ways to fake truckloads of users that would sneak their carefully designed doorway- and affiliate-pages prominently into your (ex-precious but now useless) tag-pages. by the way: exactly this can and will happen to del.icio.us as soon as it’s commercially interesting enough.

Search terms and results selection help improve search results. (I wonder if anyone’s doing this now?)

google does click tracking on a very small sample of result pages, for quality assurance (can sometimes be seen by the google.com/url?..-redirects they use). they clearly state however that they don’t use the data to give clicked pages a boost (sidenote: wouldn’t be sure if they same was true for data from the google toolbar..), to avoid search engine spammers producing clickthroughs automatically. so good idea theorectially but absolutely not feasable due to spammers, again.

Exploration and recommendations. Users can explore tags, URLs, users and their visited results. For each search they see weighted recommendations (“People who searched for ‘celiac disease’ also searched for…”) and recommended links based on others’ searches.

they only way i can see that happen is within trusted networks. i imagine a closed system of mutual approval of users (including maybe “friends of friends”, to achieve a bigger sample) would work, and keep spammers locked out.

Ad hoc social networks. No adding people as contacts or joining networks.

while i do think that ad hoc social networks work best in most cases they are also most vulnerable to spam. as the search engine industry is – together with email – the most affected victim of spam, i’m quite sure this model wouldn’t work here.

despite everything said i’m quite sure dozens of googlers are thinking hard about cooperative search in this very moment. keyword sharing is just a tiny step away from their existing feature search history, the “only” problem is spam.

any developer out there feeling like developing a prototype using the google API? i would be pleased to contribute concept and specification.. ;-)


wette angenommen. meine prophezeihung: linkedIN wird verschwinden und openBC ebenso – so sie beide ihre funktionsweise nicht grundlegend ändern.

beide haben soziale modelle die fĂĽr kurze zeitspannen (~6-12 monate) gut funktionieren, aber fĂĽr einen längeren user-lifecycle untauglich sind, denn das netzwerk wird immer größer und verwässert zusehends. siehe auch martin rölls artikel “gaming the system: openBC“. in der folge entsteht das problem der toten knoten: abgewanderte user verkĂĽrzen zwar die “shortest paths” zwischen usern, machen sie aber unbrauchbar, denn nichts stört in einem netzwerk mehr als ein inaktiver und damit aussageloser knoten. es wurde auf eine brauchbare mechanik vergessen, tote knoten aus dem system zu entfernen.

jyri engeström kommt in seinem interessanten artikel “why some social network services work and others don’t” zum schluss, dass soziale netzwerke nur funktionieren, wenn sie um objekte wie zum beispiel fotos, events oder bookmarks angeordnet sind.

soweit wĂĽrde ich nicht gehen. ich denke, dass sich das erfolgsmodell von linkedIN und openBC auch nachhaltig etablieren lieĂźe, es mĂĽsste nur ein weg gefunden werden, das netzwerk “frisch” zu halten. ich denke dabei an eine chronologie der kontakte (kontakte faden aus) und an ein (temporäres) entfernen (oder zumindest markieren) inaktiver knoten.


yesterday night i was clever enough to leave the bag with my camera equipment worth about 3,000 euros hanging on a trolley outside heathrow airport. when i noticed half an hour later my first thought was that there’s virtually no chance to get it back, whereas my brother, who lives in london, just ment “hey, this is england. i’d be surprised if it hadn’t been turned in yet.”

another half an hour later, after being put through a couple of times, i knew it for sure: it’s at the lost & found counter, apparently without anything missing. wow, what a country!

update: picked it up meanwhile, not a piece was missing :-)

Common misspellings: Farnberger, Fahrenberger, Farenberger, Fahnberger, Fahrnleitner, Fahrngruber, Fahrnberg.
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