links for 2009-03-31


Does Google return 651,000,000 hits for Microsoft – or just 414?

Do this:

  1. Go to Google (whichever flavour you can access – annoyingly I can only see
  2. Search for microsoft (or just click here)
  3. Take a look at the ‘Results’ figure, towards the top right of the page. It should say something like ‘Results 1 – 10 of about 650,000,000’. That’s quite a few results, right? That’s pretty impressive. And all in a fraction of a second. See below.
  4. Now scroll to the bottom of the page, where you can page to the next set of results. Click ‘2’, to get to page 2.
  5. Take a look at the address generated in the address field. It should say something like ‘‘ (my bold added). Like below.The interesting bit here is ‘start=10’. This means it’s showing you the ten results starting at result number 10. You can edit this manually. Edit ‘start=10’ to say ‘start=30’ and it’ll show you the ten results starting at result number 30. You can jump straight to the 100th result by edit it to say ‘start=100’.
  6. Now, Google will only return 1,000 results. So, let’s take a look at the last ten results, in a sort of ‘End of the universe’ kind of way. So, edit this to say ‘start=990’. As below. Or, again, just click here.

What do you see in the results count? Do you still see 651,000,000?

Or do you, like me, see, um, 414? Like below?In other words, in the previous 90-odd pages of results, which, let’s face it, nobody is likely to look at, Google insists there is an astronomical number of results. But on the very last page, this comes down to something much more mundane. I only chose Microsoft because it gives a lot of results. Try it with any other term that would return many hits and you’ll find the same.

Does anyone have a clue as to what is going on here? I didn’t discover this myself, but when someone showed it me last week, my jaw dropped. I felt like the time someone showed me the flight simulator hidden in the middle of Excel.

Please, someone, tell me what’s happening here. I feel there is something deeply wrong with the universe, even more so than usual. See below.

Yahoo Pipe to filter for British English

Why are there so many Americans online?

It’s probably not that much of a puzzler. There’s a lot of them around anyway, and they’re often several years ahead of Old Europe technologically. And they do like to talk.

But that doesn’t help people like me when I need to monitor UK traffic. Sure, you can use IP addresses to find UK websites, but anyone who blogs on WordPress, Blogger or a number of other platforms is, by definition, American. So distinguishing between UK and US bloggers is very much a case of looking at their bios – or their language.

So, I’ve tried to put together a pipe that filters out the Americanisms in an RSS feed, in the hope that what comes out the other end is mostly British English. For example, if there’s mention of ‘ize’ in a post – very American, British English would use ‘ise’ – it’s filtered out, unless it contains the word ‘size’. Other word roots are filtered out such as ‘gram ‘ (note the space there), ‘anemi’ (British retains the latin ‘a’ for ‘anaemi’, for example ‘anaemia’, as it does for quite a few other word roots), ‘ior’ (‘behavior’ vs ‘behavior’), and there are give-away words such as ‘color’, ‘center’, ‘gray’ and ‘jewelry’.

It’s an unsophisticated approach but then again you could say filtering out keywords is just as sophisticated as keyword matching, which services such as Twendz (probably) do.

I’ve used it in the past and I think it works. So, I’m making it available in case anyone else fancies using it. I would really appreciate it if anyone thinks of a cool way to improve it. And it would be nice if, when you do use it, you cite me.

Should the BBC link more, or think more?

source »

So the BBC has quoted me. If you think I’m blowing my own trumpet here, you’re right.

The BBC is a big target for PR. If you get a client mention on the BBC, it’s a high point. I worked with the people behind The Box, and while I wasn’t present at the sell-in, it must have been an incredibly exciting time. So I’m slightly excited now. Bear with me, please. I’m just a bit excitable generally.

I didn’t realise the BBC had quoted me until a day later, and in fact I only found out when, on looking for the link address to my post about their viral video, I just typed it quickly into Google instead of browsing to my own blog.

Normally if someone mentions me, I know about it, because it appears on the Feedback section to the left of this page, or I’ll get a notification through the WordPress dashboard. Or, if it’s from a big site, I’ll get a spike in my viewings. If I’d been receiving traffic from the BBC I would expect my page views to go through the roof.

But none of this had happened, which is why it almost passed me by. This puzzled me. Until I realised: whereas they’d quoted me, they hadn’t linked to me.

This is notionally bad netiquette. You really should pass traffic on to people you quote. I try to do that whenever I can. It’s just way you do things. I don’t think this is written down anywhere, but it’s just what you… do.

Was this down to the BBC’s link policy, I wondered? Well I’ve done some searching and it looks like there is a lot of debate over how the BBC uses external links. I guess this is because a link is an endorsement, and the corporation needs to retain its impartiality. Editorial integrity is paramount at the Beeb, to the extent that it refused to show the  recent Gaza appeal, even before Sky News made the same decision.

So while, on the one hand, netiquette kind of sort of maybe implies they should link, on the other, by protecting its independence, the BBC protects its integrity and therefore, value as a media organisation. So it’s an interesting situation: while I would dearly love them to have linked to me, in so doing they may lessen the value of having quoted me.

There is, however, one aspect of all this that I do believe it has overlooked: consistency. If a link is endorsement, so is a quote, and I’m not sure the BBC has been consistent in this. At the top of the article there is mention of David Naylor of Search Marketing – that is, blogger name and company name. Further down the page it quotes Ciaran Norris, of Altogether Digital and below that, mentions Emily Bell, director of digital content for the Guardian. A fellow blogger, Rob Brown, contributor to PR Media Blog, is not referred to as ‘of Staniforth‘, for example.

Is this fair? Why should some companies benefit from the exposure, if not the links, while others do not? Link policy good, editorial policy, slightly shaky maybe?

Measurement Camp, the BBC, and The Next Big Thing

So last Wednesday I was at Measurement Camp, this time in the swanky offices of Dare Digital.

The format is still evolving under the laid-back yet effective stewardship of Will McInnes (check out his survey, it’s hilarious), so this time we had a couple of presentations from past projects, then some quicker breakouts in which we focussed on individual problems.

Obviously I cannot reveal the details of any of the cases we discussed but here are my overall impressions:

  • QDOS was mentioned as a measurement tool. I had seen it before and thought ‘meh’, but Beth Granter pointed out how it could be used, and backed this up with bullet points explaining exactly what they do measure, and how. I like this creative approach, finding innovative new ways of using existing tools. The same went for Twitter Grader where she made it plain that it could be a very useful metric (and in fact I am already using it).
  • Facebook Ads seemed to loom quite large in several conversations. There was no denying the sharp increase in fanbase as a reaction to ads – I’ve seen it happen myself – but I would like to see how this continues. As with my post on the BBC so-called viral (which has, I just noticed, been quoted on the BBC site but without a link back – nice one, guys) I’d like to see whether ads – and let’s face it, these are adverts, not PR or word-of-mouth – create a long-lasting effect. But then again clients love to see numbers and charts going upward, so where’s the harm? Perhaps you really do need both.
  • While we were being debriefed by Will – a uniquely pleasurable experience – I was standing up (it’s easier that way), and had a quick look around. I noticed that the usual PR demographics were completely reversed, so we had mostly guys, a lot fewer girls. I think this is unfortunate. I’ve said before that, as a slightly geeky guy (I’m not really that geeky, I do have social skills) I wonder whether someone like me is best placed to evangelise about social media. People think that you need to be technical to ‘get it’. You don’t. I mean, what’s technical about typing a web address into a browser and having a quick look at what’s being said? Hopefully this will change, but for now it does seem that social media measurement at least is still quite butch.

Finally, towards the end I had one of those funny little insights that crawl up the inside of my trouser leg and give me a tickle in a private little boy’s place. Someone mentioned Second Life – remember that? – and how, just because it’s dropped off the radar recently, this might not always be the case.

It got me to thinking how brilliant a fully immersive online game could be, with no installs, downloads or upgrades, especially if we could in some way measure activity within it. And that made me wonder whether The Next Big Thing is going to be multimedia apps delivered over the web.

My reasoning? We’re just getting to the stage whereby the web is fast, big and reliable enough to deliver applications as well as data, and this is essentially what cloud computing is about. But the applications themselves are fairly limited. Google Docs does not make anyone’s jaw drop. So, when I cast my mind back to my Salford Uni days, the parallel is that we had computers with word processors, spreadsheets etc crunching the data in a very boring, decidely non-multimedia kind of way. Then multimedia-capable machines came along, and everything changed.

So, it seems reasonable to suggest that, now we have applications running online, the next logical step will be multimedia applications running online. We’re talking graphics, video and audio here. Someone, somewhere, build me a thin-end Cubase client that I can run in the cloud, and I’ll buy that for a dollar.

links for 2009-03-26

links for 2009-03-25

links for 2009-03-24