Google Blogoscoped

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

2 founders, 5 years old, 6 letters in the name, 10 keywords maximum queries, 35 separate languages to find, 88 country-specific Googles, 800 employees with over 60 having a Ph.D., 1,000 requests limit of the Web API, 10,000 connected computers, 35 million non-HTML pages, 200 million daily searches, 700 million newsgroup postings from 20 years, 750 million US-Dollar approximated sales, 3 billion web pages indexed, 6503300100 being the telephone number, and a 1 with 100 zeros a Gogol: that’s Google in numbers.

Blogs are Staying, and Other Recent Google News

In recent Google news:

David Drummond, general counsel and vice president for corporate development at Google Inc., struggling with censorship and filtering in “Google growth” (The National Law Journal, Monday, June 2, 2003).

And writer Danny Sullivan comments on the blog issue:

“By the way, one thing not in the cards for future index changes are any plans to pull blog content out of Google’s regular search results. Google made a special point of stressing that blogs are staying, during my interview with them last week. (...)

And will a blog tab really be coming? Eventually, sure. But it’s not something in any immediate plans, Google says.”
– Danny Sullivan, Coping With GDS, The Google Dance Syndrome (SearchEngineWatch, June 3, 2003)

Jack Schofield discusses the programmable web, web services and the Google Web API in “The third era starts here” (The Guardian, May 29, 2003)

Also, Bambi Francisco comments on how a Google IPO could be a new era’s role model in “Growing up in the post-bubble era“ (CBS MarketWatch, June 3, 2003).

In the meantime, in the news 3 years ago:

“AltaVista is preparing to launch a new ’high-end’ search engine amid its push to become a leading portal destination, according to people familiar with the plans. (...)
With the increasing popularity of search engine technologies such as Google, the move reflects AltaVista’s attempt to regain its appeal among so-called early adopter Web users.”
– Jim Hu, AltaVista primes new search engine (CNET, May 2, 2000

No comment.

Google Answers Researcher Interview: Pafalafa-ga

Welcome Google Answers Researcher Pafalafa to the interview — 167 questions, practically a 5 star average, happy customers... what else is there to say? Well, read on.


What’s your first name?

Where are you from?
These days, Washington DC. Born and raised in New York City though.

What’s your profession?
Itinerant federal environmental bureaucrat, and lapsed biologist.

Any story behind your Research nick?
Maybe, but first I have to figure out what a “Research nick” is.... I’m more of a “Research Dave” myself.

Pafalafa-ga on Google Answers

What was your first answer for Google Answers? What was your most recent answer?
As pafalafa-ga, my first answer was on January 8th, 2003 — “purchasing hyperspectral images for oil exploration”.

It’s not a bad answer, but it’s not a great one either, and I knew it at the time. But I was so eager to get started... and there was nuttin’ out there worth answering... and I just had to answer something... so “hyperspectral” it was.

My real first answer though, was over a year ago, back in April 2002. I was one of the original GAR’s, under another top-secret identity. But from over-cockiness and bad luck, I was bounced from the program, only to re-appear months later, duly chastised, as pafalafa-ga.

Most recently I answered a question (and answered it well, I like to think) about “how to track a lawsuit”. [Still being clarified.]

What kind of questions do you like to answer most?
Two types (a) easy questions worth, say, $10 bucks, that someone, for some reason, saw fit to pay $200 for, and I was lucky enough to grab it (b) any question that really challenges my skills as a finder of things that I know are out there, but it’s a matter of figuring out just where, and bringing it back home.

What were some of the most interesting discoveries you made during your research activity (please include the questions)?
Well, one discovery is sort of global in scope. I’m continually amazed at the number of questions that are utterly unanswerable because they are either incomprehensible, unknowable matters involving the personal tastes of the questioner, or so totally, peculiarly obscure as to be beyond the reach of research by mere humans (not just bathtubs, not just claw-foot bathtubs, but acrylic claw-foot bathtubs).

Another broad discovery is how much friggin information is out there, and how much of it is accessible to persistent folks like me (even when it’s not supposed to be, which offers its own Napster-like pleasures even while posing ethical dilemmas that I’ve yet to come fully to terms with).

And thirdly... people are just so great. I can’t count the number of times I’ve called or emailed someone from out of the blue, and they’ve just done yeoman’s (yeowoman’s) work in tracking down an answer for me. Take a look at the Alfred Hitchcock quote question to see what I mean.

Hypothetical Musings by Pafalafa-ga

You have one minute to convince a potential customer who doesn’t know about Google Answers to start using it. What do you say?
Anything you want to know, they’ll find for you. Cheap. If they can’t do it, it doesn’t cost you a penny. Whaddy have to lose. Go for it. (I’ll save explaining the fifty cents fee part until later!).

If an omniscient deity would be a Google Answers Researcher, which question would you ask?
Shoooot.... I’d have to go for next week’s lottery number.... but wait, then it would be publicly posted... can they email me the answer...

Which famous person, dead or alive, would make a great addition to the Researcher team?
Sorry, we’ve got more researchers than we can handle right now anyway. Last thing I want is some genius dead person grabbing all the good questions.

Time magazine features Google Answers; what can be seen on the cover?
Liv Tyler’s secret life as a GAR.

Pafalafa-ga’s Favorites

What are your favorite research tools, on- and offline?
That’s easy. Google. Nothing else really comes close.

What are some remarkable less known websites?
I’m surprised how few people seem to take advantage of Lexis-Nexis, especially since a lot of the preliminary research there can be done at no cost.

PACER is another great site for court cases, and it’s pretty cheap, even though it’s awfully cumbersome.

And is probably the best-organized site for getting at public records.

Offline I’ve got my books by the hundreds, but I can’t really say there’s one particular one I turn to the most.

What are some of your favorite Google Answers by fellow Researchers?
One of my earliest contacts with a fellow GAR was with Ms. Missy, just to tell her how much I admired her answers.

I also like the questions/answers every now and then that have nothing to do with answering them for money, but just to offer some thoughts, or an attempted witticism, or an atta-boy, and that seem to get everyone’s attentions and collect comments by the dozens. Only problem with them is that, if I comment myself, when I then search for all my “pafalafa-ga” questions, those are the ones that always pop to the top of the list... I get tired of seeing them after a while.

Pafalafa-ga’s Spare-time

Got any weird hobbies?
I used to, I think, before Google Answers came along. I can’t remember.

What are some of your favorite books, movies, and music albums?
I’ve got two little kids at home. My entire frame of reference for popular culture revolves around Disney stories, Eddie Murphy movies, anything with swordfights or laser blasters, Saturday morning cartoons, and N’Sync. I know I’ve read/seen/heard other things but again...I really don’t remember any more. (I’m fond of Noam Chomsky though).

Final words by Pafalafa-ga

What would be the title of your autobiography?
Don’t know.

(and, No, that’s not the title).

Anything else you might want to say?
How come you’re not asking the GAR’s about their names. Now pafalafa-ga (and the *ga* is essential folks... too many people calling me pafalafa these days... it just doesn’t have the right ring)... there’s a tale waiting to be told.... Maybe next time.

P.S. Wait a minute...researcher that what you meant by a “research nick...?"


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