Webometric Thoughts

September 28, 2007

Christmas search term analysis

Filed under: Google Trends,Hitwise,N95,iphone,webometrics — admin @ 9:36 am

Hitwise have just published a list of the top hot christmas gadgets based on search term analysis, which provides “great insight into people’s habits and desires”. However when the iPhone fails to make the top 10 mobile phones you have to question the methodology.

Hitwise analysed:

the top 2,000 search terms that sent traffic to a Hitwise Custom Category consisting of the top 100 online retail websites in the UK during the four weeks ending 22nd September 2007.

Rather than listing the gadgets that people are after, it may be that the list shows those gadgets that: people are after AND online retail websites dominate the search results.

Hitwise’s excuse that: “The new iPod Touch and the UK release of the iPhone were announced too late to have a significant impact on the retail search data”, doesn’t seem to hold much water, as we can see from Google Trends that searches for the iPhone in the UK are up with the N95, whilst the Nokia 5300 doesn’t even register.

There is a lot of interesting data held in the logs of web servers, but it is important that we don’t get carried away with how much we read into them.

September 27, 2007

LinkedIn: Yes to a profile photo, no to a superpoke

Filed under: LinkedIn,facebook — admin @ 9:47 am

According to Mashable, from tomorrow you will be able to add a photo to your profile page on LinkedIn. Whilst I agree that it is a good idea, as it helps with the identification of people, I don’t agree with Mashable’s conclusion that:

It’s clearly a move that aims to keep up with Facebook, which increasingly looks set to steal LinkedIn’s audience.

Facebook and LinkedIn are extremely different animals, appealing to very different markets. Whilst there is a big overlap between the two social networks in the types of users, their purposes are very different, and the same user on the different networks will use them in very different ways and for different purposes.

Whilst Facebook has shown some innovative ideas that other social networks want to incorporate, such as the developer platform, this is not necessarily the same as the other social networks wanting to be Facebook. After all, it would be a very odd ‘potential Facebook user’ who decided to stay with LinkedIn purely due to the addition of a profile picture.

It would be nice if sometimes the web could talk about social networks without discussing Facebook, and mobile phones without discussing iPhones.

Major Live Search updates

Filed under: Microsoft,live search,search engine — admin @ 9:07 am

Microsoft have announced their biggest update to Live Search since its debut. Unfortunately whilst everyone seems to be talking about it, noone is raving about it; whilst it is accepted as an important piece of news, noone seems to think it is a particularly exciting bit of news. The general belief seems to be that the search wars are over (at least in the U.S. and the U.K) and that Google has won. Personally I live in the hope that the existing players manage to take back some of Google’s excessive portion of the search market, and that there will be serious new entrants in the market.

I hate the fact that Google currently deals with over 60% of all searches, and feel ashamed every time I find myself typing in ‘www.google.com’ in a zombie-like trance; no single organisation should have such powerful influence over access to information on the web. When Google entered the search market they raised the bar of expections for search engines, and as yet (many year later) the other search engines have failed to succesfully reply. That is not to say they won’t, but rather that it is going to take something truely new and innovative. The new search engines at the moment seem to just be rehashing old ideas, with some being a repackaging of a directory and others going for the conversational English that failed in the original Ask Jeeves.

As more users start creating on the web, rather than just consuming, there are many new sources of information for a search engine to tap into; rich, formated information. The successful search engines are likely to be those that find the best ways of making use of this new information.

September 25, 2007

Facebook and Microsoft…again

Filed under: facebook — admin @ 4:01 pm

I don’t know how many times I have read rumours about Microsoft buying Facebook, or bits of Facebook, or how much Facebook are looking for in another round of financing. Every time these stories raise their head I think, surely this is the opportunity for Facebook to really be innovative on a big scale and utilise that social graph they are always banging on about.

Why doesn’t Facebook sell a portion of the company to the users. Their enthusiasm would push the prices higher than they would get from Microsoft, and create a network of Facebook evangelists who would get everyone they knew on board, however young or old, tech-savvy or tech-incompetent.

Whilst I am sure it would be a logistical nightmare, and that Microsoft brings more to the table than a rather large chequebook, it would be nice to give the investment opportunity to those that have built the value of Facebook rather than the corporate suits who already have plenty of money.

Friends Reunited: Some old dogs just won’t die

Filed under: facebook,friends reunited,nielsen — admin @ 3:36 pm

Nielsen/Netratings have just released figures showing the most popular social networks in the UK by unique audience. The inevitable has happened and Facebook has finally overtaken MySpace, with Bebo continuing to grow faster than MySpace. As Facebook has been the topic of (what seems like) millions of articles in the mainstream press it is unsurprising to find it the most popular social networking site, although it seems likely that many of the users will be relatively short lived…a factor that will go unnoticed in the short term.

For me the most surprising result was Friends Reunited at number 5. Not only holding its own, but continuing to grow! Why on earth are people continuing to use this site? Where you pay on Friends Reunited, its free on Facebook. It may be that Nielsen have combined the ratings with Genes Reunited and Friends Reunited Dating, nonetheless it seems to show that the constant stream of Friends Reunited adverts on the ITV web site is doing them some good.

September 24, 2007

Automatic algorithms risk trouble

Filed under: Google Suggest — admin @ 1:32 pm

Search Engine Roundtable have pointed out that when typing in “Israel is ” into Google Suggest, it suggests that it is a terrorst state. Whilst that isn’t very nice, before we get too carried away lets put it in perspective. It equally suggests that Britian is both shit and finished:

Search engines can only produce results based on the information that they are fed with, either through web pages or through search engine queries, unfortunately most people out there aren’t very nice. We can’t really blame Google for holding a mirror up to society and showing us that people in society are crappy. Although what do I know? According to Google suggest David is stupid.

Has Paddington Bear sold out?

Filed under: advert,marmite — admin @ 9:10 am

It seems that a bit of a controversy was brewing last week, and as with many things in the real world, it just passed me by. Nonetheless, now my attention has been brought to the subject I feel compelled to blog about it. The new advert for Marmite has Paddington Bear (famous for eating marmalade sandwiches) trying it. So, most rational people would be asking, where is the controversy? Well, that is it. Paddington Bear tries Marmite. He doesn’t permanantly ditch marmalade or even fall head over heels in love with Marmite, he merely tries it.

The most outraged are the usual suspects of tabloid journalism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), Quintin Letts in the Daily Mail says it has “pillaged our heritage“, whilst always one to keep things in perspective, The Sun has described the backlash as a war.

Personally, I just thought it was a really nice advert. I can think of a million things to get annoyed about, but this is definately not one of them.

September 21, 2007

Is Facebook fatigue curable?

Filed under: facebook — admin @ 9:08 am

Whilst the popularity and growth of Facebook makes comparisons with search engines inevitable, it is missing one key ingredient: it is not indispensable. My numerous online hours can pass quite happily without feeling the need to look at Facebook, and I have noticed of late that days are passing before I remember to log on. Whereas once I made an effort to keep up with all the latest Facebook applications, news and rumours, now I find I give a little shrug. I find I really couldn’t care less about the latest applications being sold on ebay or the introduction of Facebook’s auto-complete for the sidebar search.

That is not to say that facebook doesn’t have a lot of potential, I just haven’t found that one thing that makes me need to go back again and again. Whilst there are applications that appeal to me, they are often clunkier versions of something that already exists at another URL in a more user friendly format and I prefer to visit those. For example, both chess.com and shelfari.com have applications on Facebook and standalone web sites, but applications aren’t as good as their sites, and whilst I have no need to return to Facebook, I want to return to chess.com to make a move on a game I am playing, and return to shelfari.com to add the latest book I am reading. The purpose of Facebook is just not defined enough for me.

Somebody needs to create a Facebook application that requires an already established user network, and is so innovative that users will have to keep coming back…whoever does that will quickly become very rich.

September 20, 2007

What is in a name…Dave?

Filed under: Dave,Freeview — admin @ 11:19 am

I have never been a big fan of the name ‘Dave’, or indeed the shortening of any name. Whilst a select few have managed to get away with with calling me Dave over the years, the majority of people are soon put in their place. I fear however my dislike of the name Dave is likely to increase ten-fold over the next couple of months with the launch of the G2 channel on Freeview under the new name “Dave“…after all, everyone knows a bloke called Dave.

Whilst I look forward to the replacing of UK Bright Ideas, a channel I never watched, with a new channel aimed at my gender and age group, I fear that the channel’s idea of witty banter, and my idea of witty banter will not be the same.

September 19, 2007

And who should turn up but Stephen Fry…

Filed under: Norwich,Stephen Fry,iphone — admin @ 5:52 pm

One of the many RSS feeds I subscribe to is that of ‘O’Reilly Radar’; the ramblings of Tim O’Reilly and some of his cronies. Whilst the thoughts are often thoughtful and interesting, the last thing you expect to find being blogged about is Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry belongs to the world of Sunday night television and documentaries on the legendary Delia Smith, not appearing in international technological blogs!

It seems, however, that beneath the intellectual exterior, he is fundamentally a geek.

His first blog entry is an EXTREMELY long piece about his personal history with smart phones…which has been going on for many years.

Whilst Fry is known to be a big fan of Norfolk, he could have taken the opportunity to sing the praises of Norwich having free wi-fi in the city centre (is it still going strong??), after all surely that is best place to have the new iPhone with its lack of 3G.

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