Google Blogoscoped

Monday, July 28, 2003

Ageshare and Countryshare

I created a new “online survey” tool called Ageshare (which works similar to Centuryshare). You can enter any term you want and it will try to guess the age-group most interested in this term. It will go through all queries from “I am 6 years” up to 46 years and add your keyword, count the result, and calculate the percentage of this result compared to the average result of the query without your keyword.

Here are some samples. Let’s start with “Dragonball" for the younger ones:


The peak’s at 14, but 9 years is also relatively high.

Next, “Punk”, which has most of the 17-year old online people on its side:


And finally, “Jazz”. Here the peak is at 25 years:


More Googleshare

I’m continuing to explore how far the Googleshare idea can be taken. At the moment I can use Centuryshare to determine an idea’s time-line. Categorizer works less well, but has potential. It compares the webshare of different concept-groups and categorizes any given term under the most likely one. And Moviebot very often fails to separate good from bad movie reviews, in a way that it becomes completely unreliable.

I’m thinking of doing a Countryshare calculator which would determine a country for any given term, but considering the amount of countries on the world, processing this might take quite a while. If this could work, however, you could enter any term and see the countries most likely associated with it — imagine this in different shades and colors, and you get an impressive map of the global range of influence of a person/ idea/ party. (This might best be implemented in SVG, like my previous SVG-search; which wasn’t really adding usefulness to basic search, but helped me explore the combination of the two tools.)

Theoretically, the Countryshare could be animated over time using the Centuryshare... imagine the movement of a famous person around the globe during the last century. Some of these applications taken together, and speeded up by the factor of 1,000, would be the beginning of a visual, GQL-based webgeist encyclopaedia.

Nielsen Says No to PDF

If you’re a regular Google-searcher, you know the problem. The document in the result page looks like what you might need, it contains a fitting title, even comes from a respectable domain... but... it’s PDF.
Go through with the hassle of opening it, or skip the result? Even the Google auto-conversion slows down the browser, often to the point of a crash. PDF in spite of web pages is one of Top 10 Errors in Web Design these days.

Jakob Nielsen is reflecting on this original sin of choosing the wrong file format for a given purpose:

“Users get lost inside PDF files, which are typically big, linear text blobs that are optimized for print and unpleasant to read and navigate online. PDF is good for printing, but that’s it. Don’t use it for online presentation.”
– Jakob Nielsen, PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption (Alertbox), July 14, 2003

A possible solution, next to doing the right thing (that is, converting Adobe made-for-print documents into web pages, before expecting people to read them on-screen):

“Spare your users the misery of being dumped into PDF files without warning. Create special gateway pages that summarize the contents of big documents and guide users gently into the PDF morass. “
– Jakob Nielsen, Gateway Pages Prevent PDF Shock (Alertbox), July 28, 2003

On Being Awarded, Global Time, and HTML Purists

I suppose Google Blogoscoped sold out, being Pie Princess’ Weblog of the Week. What’s next? Google Blogoscoped the movie? We’ll start with a making of. For several month I’ve been cracking my head on Google. I’ve discovered things I didn’t know and learned quite a bit.
Jukka “Yucca” Korpela from the HTML-camp* has a nice latin motto:

“Docendo disco, scribendo cogito.”

Which means: I learn by teaching, think by writing.

I started the blog in Malaysia and continued it in Germany, without missing a day. But then there’s the time difference. Blogger Pro’s archiving and permalinks are broken (having to hand-write my calendar archive made me wonder why I’m paying Blogger — by the way, if you need the script, just drop me a note). After a while, I completely got rid of the time-stamp. What’s the use of posting a local time anyway, with the global audience of the blogosphere? (Do you still remember watch-maker Swatch introducing a new global time? I don’t think it ever took off.)

One thing holds true when you optimize for Google:
If you want to get some attention, create an award. Humans are easily flattered and you’ll get lots of backlinks! (Or at least, one backlink per award. I suggest a Site-of-the-Minute Award approach.)

*Jukka is what they call a purist over in CIWAH (the much-flamed comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html). Which means he’s saying rebellious, outlandish stuff like; include alt-texts, use structural mark-up, give meaningful titles, validate HTML, and so on (I’m paraphrasing). The more you listen to SEO mantras, the more you’ll realize those are often based on good old HTML purism (which itself is based on even older common sense).

Eco on Google

It’s not hard to draw connections between hypertext and semiotics. I asked bestselling author and semiologist Umberto Eco how the characters in his novel Foucault’s Pendulum — Casaubon, Belbo, and Diotavelli — would have used search engine technology and knowledge contained in the World Wide Web of today to construct their conspiracy theories. Here’s what he replied:

“Dear Mr. Lenssen,
if in 1984 there was Google I would have written a different novel.
Yours, Umberto Eco”


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