Natural Search Blog


Interesting Sights To See In Google Street View

Be sure to check out my collection of cool sights in Street View over at Search Engine Land today.

While the piece is strictly fluffy, it does cover a wide range of pictures that illustrate why people are concerned about privacy with the utility along with why it’s cool and fun to have.

Here’s my favorite pic from the set – a photo that captured a bit of skywriting:

Love Is In The Air

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Lawmakers Ask Charter Communications Not To Share Consumer Data With NebuAd

NebuAdTwo lawmakers have asked Charter Communications not to share data with NebuAd, a company that collects users’ web surfing information in order to enable advertisers to behaviorally target ad campaigns to them.

I previously wrote about NebuAd, and I highlighted that one major hiccup I saw with their business model was consumer sensitivity associated with private data.

It appears that NebuAd is facing the consumer resistance I earlier predicted.

Can NearbyNow Escape The Fate of Local Shopping Search Engines?

NearbyNowGreg Sterling points out that a number of companies are attempting to build out inventories of local brick-and-mortar stores and expose this info via search capabilities. Greg notes that NearbyNow has just raised $11.75 million in additional funding, and that there are compelling reasons to believe that local product shopping search satisfies a lot of user needs and conforms to existing shopping behavior. Greg states:

Every shopping engine that doesn’t have this local store data will suffer at the hands of those that do. The significance of this and its potential impact on online shopping (and by extension mobile) cannot be overstated.

My initial gut reaction to NearbyNow is along the lines of: “I’ve seen this during the era of dot-bombs, and it didn’t work — why should it work now?” (more…)

Google to launch ‘Friend Connect’ tonight

Google’s newest foray into social media will launch tonight in preview release at Campfire One. Google’s announcement about Friend Connect states that webmasters may use the service to easily set up social media sharing services on their sites, encouraging online communities to develop and potentially help to promote the site. Google Friend Connect functionality includes user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, reviews, and third-party applications provided through Google’s OpenSocial developer community. (more…)

Opt Out of Google Street View?

The guys over at Google Sightseeing noticed that the Google Streetview camera in Fairbanks, Alaska apparently got covered over with plastic bags, obscuring some of the images that were shot.

Google Street View Obscured by Plastic Bag

This led to speculation that some enterprising residents had perhaps purposefully obscured the cameras out of privacy concerns – though, that seems moderately unlikely to me since I doubt most people know what the car even is when it’s tooling around, shooting photos of places. (more…)

Yahoo Collaborates With McAfee To Secure Search Results

It was announced this week that Yahoo! and McAfee are teaming up to help fight malware. Yahoo’s Search team will take McAfee information on malicious sites and use that to filter those sites out of their search results. In addition, McAfee can take some data from Yahoo’s search results to help them identify more malicious domains. (more…)

Will Geolocation Become Ubiquitous?

Chris Messina at Citizen Agency has just blogged about how he believes that geolocation data will become ubiquitous for websites to use, and this sort of contextual information about users will form a new layer of information that will available to all internet applications.

I find myself a bit skeptical, just because geolocation data has been around for so long now, and I’ve heard people saying that it will revolutionize how information is presented to us for quite some time. This concept is nothing new, though if you look at it from the perspective that Messina has provided, it’s a fairly compelling-feeling twist as a sort of infrastructure given that could and should be incorporated in the planning and development of any given internet site — particularly social ones — at their very inception.

What isn’t plain is just how integral all the locative information could be, considering the issues of unknowable error rates involved in geolocation data (see the section on “The issue of error rates” in “Geolocation: Core To The Local Space And Key To Click-Fraud Detection“) and consumer interest group resistance to pinpointing of users’ locations based upon privacy concerns (just today there was an article on how groups are complaining to the FTC about the ease of geo-pinpointing of users of mobile devices). I wish he’d touched on those aspects in some way, although I do like the techno-evangelist spin he’s provided on location as a foundational aspect in site design.

Update: Susan Mernit, formerly of Yahoo!, also points out that security is a major concern for applications like dating sites, and that there’s consumer irritation involved with some contextual advertising.

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