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Muxtape 2

"When New York Was New York"

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Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives


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    Friday, April 16, 2004

    Google is red, my love. Yahoo is blue

    I unintentionally put a bee in Basil's bonnet with my discussion of search engines and Amazon's new A9 service. Sorry Basil! For what it's worth I agree with you. However John Battelle puts his own spin on A9.

    If you dig a little deeper, however, you find there are some trends that can make the average web surfer feel a little queasy about the emerging features of search engines. For instance, Google's new e-mail service GMail, currently in beta, may encroach on privacy issues. Google is promoting GMail's good side with talk of revolutionary search features, unparalleled free storage, and zero pop-ups.

    I feel there's a darker side, however. NPR wrapped up its week-long report on the search engine wars this morning. The last installment discussed the future of internet search, namely the need to personalize in order to provide more accurate results. NPR used the example of china as a keyword. Today's search engine doesn't know if you're looking for information on the country or the dinnerware. To improve personalization now would require a court order to determine who the user is and what s/he is searching for. GMail is a sly approach to get at this issue. By creating an e-mail account, Google will be able to track your history of searches. Your query results for china will be more on target because your previous search was for silverware, not asia travel.

    What does all this imply? I'm not sure exactly -- it's still early. I do know that it's Bobby Vinton's 69th birthday, though. So when you see Bobby today, wish him well.