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May 14, 2008 - Spotting things you'll want to see today.

Google would like to meet your friends, please

The preview release of Friend Connect was announced by Google on Monday. It will strengthen the emerging social programming standards (such as Google's own OpenSocial) via widgets providing easy access to functions such as registration, chat and reviews. It will also allow users to take their social networking profile with them as they surf. The blog Sexy Widget welcomed the new product as an opportunity for web sites to integrate social functions within existing content and Online Media Cultist followed on with a description of how Friend Connect will allow individual sites to retain traffic that currently departs for Facebook or Myspace.
Google described their objective in typically altruistic terms which immediately set off a debate about their real end game. TechCrunch noted that Google was going to keep a tight rein on the user data which would enable them to own the real profits of a huge virtual social network. Searchviews seemed to agree that Google's plan, as usual, was to own the access roads to content rather than the destination itself.
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Data portability grabs Myspace, Facebook and friends

Myspace and Facebook were also quite active suitors of social data this week, and both are willing to share. Myspace is calling its plan Data Availability and is partnering with Yahoo!, eBay, Photobucket and Twitter. Ian Schafer offered an analysis of how the deal would work with each partner. Gigaom's Stacey Higginbotham felt that it was Myspace's attempt to become the 'Intel Inside' for social networks and notes that they will retain tight control as the hub of the sharing network.
On Friday Facebook announced Facebook Connect (Google's Friend Connect wasn't announced until Monday). Caroline McCarthy documented this major step in Facebook's difficult history in managing and using customer data. Groundswell's Charlene Li outlined the Facebook plan along with examples of how it would work.

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  Reading habits worth considering

Jeremy Schoemaker’s pragmatic mantra is “prioritize potentially profitable projects". His internet life began in 1995 when a customer (Schoemaker was selling Sears appliances) offered him a job with his ISP. The customer knew that Schoemaker spent a lot of time on the computer, not knowing that it was mostly spent playing games. But the customer, as always, was right. Schoemaker quickly gained the technical skills and retained the marketing instincts that told him there was money to be made with the vast audience the internet was sure to attract. There was, and he did.

He is guided today by a discipline of spotting new trends and keeping an eye out for small changes that can add big profits. Schoemaker's popular blog is called 'ShoeMoney® - Skills To Pay The Bills' and its posts usually point to revenue opportunities (although he seems to have gotten the Twitter bug that is going around). True to form, he now tweets his old mantra.    His blog

Powerset is a go, but is it a good read?

Described as a search engine that can read sentences and not just keywords, Powerset went live this week, with the lofty expectations of being both a Google killer and a Microsoft takeover prospect. The new engine was given a thorough test drive by David Chartier blogging in Ars Technia. Several bloggers, including Dana Farber uncovered problems with the search results and Center Network's Hank Williams argued that the reading comprehension of semantic competitor Hakia showed far more potential. There might be some merit to that argument -- a list of Powerset's self declared "Factz" on George Washington reveal that he took an oath, used influence, visited North America, avoided temptation and delivered President Woodrow Wilson. While the first four Factz are arguably true, Woodrow Wilson was most likely delivered by a midwife 57 years after Washington died.
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Tools: New and/or improved

  • See a webpage like a SEO
  • 3 Innovative Site Navigation Strategies
  • Quick Keyword Research Tools
  • Five Fast Steps to Improve Website Usability
  • How to find the right keywords for your web presence?
  • SEO: The Market and Competitive Advantage - Know Your Enemy!
  • Keywords: Find Theirs, Protect Yours
  • Design patterns for accessible, crawlable and indexable content
  • How to Dominate the Google Search Results
  • Seven Ways to Make E-Marketing Work in a Tough Economy
  • Five Tools Everyone Working Online Should Have
  • 8 Best Kept Secrets To Fine-Tuning your E-mail Marketing Campaigns
  • Monetising and measuring social media - some basic principles
  • Google's Top 10 Search Engine Optimization Factors
  • The 3 Philosophies of Word of Mouth Marketing

Is SEO o-v-e-r?

Pragmatic, revenue driven blogger Jeremy Schoemaker argued this week that the benefits of typical search engine optimization practices were declining as Google shifted its algorithms towards Google Toolbar results, user histories and improved link spam detection. Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim agreed, claiming improvements in data availability and search techniques would enable search engines to locate the best producing sites, avoiding the ones that had manufactured their profile. Ian Lurie of Conversation Marketing offered the rebuttal that SEO still worked for sites that had true value and wanted to maximize their exposure. The middle ground was held by bloggers like the Gonzo SEO who acknowledged that certain tactics had indeed become obsolete but that there would always be a need to keep web sites respectful of any search algorithm.

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Radar Screen: Google plans to allow image ads on search result pages

  • Google's Mayer Talks Image Ads in Search (Clickz)
  • Will Image Ads Bring Google More Money? (Mashable)
  • Google Confirms Plans To Put Display Ads On (Silicon Alley Insider)
  • Ads On Google Home Page? (Web Guild)


Off Topic: The sound of [robotic] music

The audience at Detroit's Fisher Music Center was prepared to witness an inspiring display of technology from one of the automotive giants on Tuesday. A four foot, three inch tall robot named Asimo was about to conduct the symphony in a rousing rendition of The Impossible Dream. He proudly wore the Honda logo on his waist but welcomed the crowd in simple but clear English and promptly got to work. Some of the musicians felt that they didn't interact with Asimo as well as they do with human directors, a problem that could go away when Toyota finishes work on robots that play violin and trumpet [video]. Dee-Ann Durbin (a human) blogged on the fascinating interaction of science, business and art.


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