Scripting News for 4/16/2007

Social networking and search 

When I search on Google for RSS, I’m only interested in knowing about the syndication format. However, if I was from India, it’s possible I’d be more interested in the political party named RSS.

Oddly, at least to me, when RSS was starting up, the first page of hits on Google would be a mix of the syndication format and the political party. Today, the Indians are pushed down to page 2, and at that, it’s only one link.

Another example. In 1999, UserLand released a web content management system called Manila. It was one of the first blogging platforms, and it’s still on the market, but not as famous as it used to be. A few months after Manila shipped it became the first hit on Google, then like RSS it came to dominate the first couple of pages of hits, pushing aside a city of 10 million people, the capital of the Philippines, a soverign nation. What kind of sense does that make? Well it makes a lot of sense if you’re me, or any of the few thousand people who used Manila to do their websites, but there are lots of people around the world to whom this made no sense at all.

Now it may have been cute in 2001 or 2002, but by 2007, with search integrated into society at a very deep level, and only getting deeper — it seems like it’s way past time to fix this. And we know how to do it, and it’s not even very hard.

How? Integrate social networking and search and learn what people who I’m connected with, people like me, choose when they search for RSS and adjust the results accordingly. It’s collaborative filtering applied to search. If Google doesn’t do it, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask or a startup should.

Integrity comes to Silicon Valley 

TechCrunch 20, Sept 17-18, San Francisco.

I am one of the 20 people helping choose the 20 companies to present.

None of the companies pay a dime to participate, and I’m not being paid (and I assume the other experts are contributing their time as well).

What a combination, people and products. It’s about time Silicon Valley got back to its roots, we hope.

Watching more, revealing less? 

Getting a late start today for some reason. Procrastinating about going across the bay to the Web 2.0 Expo. I have a dinner over there tonight, so I have to go at some time. 🙂

This morning I watched Scoble drive to San Francisco and park his car, on his way to Moscone for the Expo. I talk with Scoble fairly often, so I know what it’s like from my perspective, but today I found out what it’s like from his. I didn’t try the obvious thing of calling him while watching on Ustream, but others did.

Last night I did my own Ustream show, called Bad Hair Day. I’ve wanted this for quite some time. I first wrote about it in the beginning of 2006, part of a series of feature requests for Yahoo. I wonder when Ustream came online? I first heard about it over the weekend. Over on Jeff Pulver’s blog I read a comment from one of the founders saying that Twitter was instrumental in spreading the word about his service. Somewhere else I read someone wonder if Digg would respond to Twitter by becoming more real-time.

One thing’s for sure, with Twitter and then and now Ustream, our little corner of the web is becoming a lot faster and more intimate. People used to be shocked at how much I shared here on Scripting, now I look conservative.

It wasn’t very long ago that I thought Mike Arrington was daring for having TechCrunch parties at his house in Atherton. By today’s standards, just a year or so later, it looks tame.

A few weeks ago, when was raging, I said to Scoble that he would have to match him. I knew it wasn’t for me. I like a clear line of delineation between my personal and public life.

Waiting in line for coffee the other day Sylvia challenged me on this, asking if I had ever written about XXX (name X’d out), an old flame. I said nope never did. She asked about another girlfriend. Again, no. She said I write about my parents. True, but that’s relatively new, and only very surface level stuff. I’ve found that if you want to have personal relationships, you have to keep them out of public view and be very careful about that.

But we’re entering a phase of the evolution of web culture where the parts of people’s lives that are private are disappearing. It’ll be interesting to watch.

On the other hand, with everything online, where will the private stuff go, or will it just disappear. Surely Scoble will have to go to the men’s room sometime today? He may not mind having everyone watch him take a leak, but how will the other people feel about that?? Can’t wait to find out. Maybe only homeless, life-less people will be able to be online 24-7.

However, Ustream is certainly the answer to how we’ll webcast my session at Mix 07 on April 30, and all future conferences. Check one off the to-do lis.


Warning — spoilers follow. Don’t read if you haven’t seen last night’s show.

Last night’s Sopranos took us right to the edge of a very tall cliff, let us look over the edge, and then said “Hang here till next week.”

Even so last night’s Sopranos left us with a satisfied yet bitter-sweet feeling. They said to us, we can take it all from you, and just to show you, we’ll let one of your favorite characters speak on your behalf.

“It’s a thankless job,” says Johnny Sack.

Like a rock concert where every member of the band gets to play one solo before walking off-stage, even minor characters remind you of their character.

Oh it’s going to be quite a show. They’ve carved out an ambitious stage, positioning Tony as a latter-day Michael Corleone. Great drama, acting, music, theatrics, chutzpah.

Let’s hope they can live up to the hype!

Today’s links 

Fast Company profile of Berkeley neighbor Sylvia Paull. is a “worldwide army of audio and video stringers who volunteer to record important spoken-word events.”

Watch Scoble drive to San Francisco. He’s listening to the radio, talking on the phone.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Google does, and will. If you turn on serch history they do make answers more releavant to you. Pagerank as an algorithm allow that:

    See this:

    Click to access topic-sensitive-pagerank-tkde.pdf

    Google bought up the company formed by the guy who did this. Their customized search where you choose the ‘basis set’ of sites may be using it too…


  2. Posted by Michael on April 16, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Also, do the search at The results are different.


  3. Even the Philippines version of Google returns the same result for “manila”



  4. Rahul, Michael — those are very crude forms of collaborative filtering.

    For example, there might be some programmers in Bangalore to whom RSS means the syndication format. If it were done collaboratively, the search engine would know that.

    And Rahul, of course you are in your own affinity group. But it can be much better with social networking. That was my point.

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if I’m getting through. 😦


  5. I need to investigate the stuff a bit more. I could give those Nakedjen fans Nakedjen all the time. 😉

    I did find the whole Mexican earthquake via Chris P. broadcast very cool. I loved how it integrated all those free uses of multi-media to give us live news!

    I was considering going to Web 2.0 today. Still not sure. I’m on my way in that direction at this moment. Just can’t decide if I want to keep driving.


  6. Dave, did get through…

    If you see the paper, you will see that the algorithm works with respect to any basis set.

    It does not say how to get the basis set. So far, google’s seeding of the basis set is by search history as a proxy for my interests. If I use the toolbar they presumably know which results I clicked on too.

    There is nothing precluding them using social networking, or forget that, even subscription opml files to seed the basis set. That was my point. They havent done it as yet but I am betting they are doing it internally..or on Orkut, or something similar..


  7. Posted by Jim Posner on April 16, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Here is an interesting story on the NJ crime family that inspired the Soprano’s.
    warning: not for the faint of heart


  8. IDEA 4 TechCrunch2.0 : Hotels have elevators.

    Commandeer one (like kids do)

    Take turns sending an entrepreneur “Up With An Angel”. I bet you get > 20 pitches!! 🙂


  9. How about just collapsing topics? I think that new people-search engine is taking that approach. I mean – take all the Really Simple Syndication results and put into a single top-level link with maybe a few related links and a + (expand) button, and then put RSS the political party below that in the same format. google already does this for maps results. There cant be more than 3-4 meannings for a given query, tops.


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