There has been some pretty impressive tech on display during the 2012 election, but one of my favorites has been Google’s Election results:
Their live, interactive display that allows the same sort of smooth and intuitive navigation as Google Maps is truly stunning.
In addition to mapping county by county data, they’ve also tied in a variety of analytics and news sources from their various other platforms from Youtube to Insights to Trends.
Not only are they doing real-time mapping of the reported results, but they’re tracking where the AP has called the race for one candidate or another (I’d love to see them wrap in more news outlets and who they’re calling the races for – unfortunately they have an exclusive arrangement with the Associated Press).
More of this, please.
I don’t know – I’m just asking.
For clarification, the “Filter Bubble” is a term coined by Eli Pariser referring to the practice of search engines (most notably Google which enjoys the largest market share) tailoring search results to each individual user using an algorithm that takes into account that user’s online behavior (Pariser’s TED Talk on the subject is available here – recommended watch). So depending on what sites I regularly view, what terms I search for, how long I spend on pages, whether or not I hit the “back” button immediately after viewing a page – the results I will see are different from the results you will see. The concern expressed by Pariser is that it’s further helping us insulate ourselves away from people and ideas that are different from our own, allowing us to live in a self-reinforcing “bubble.” Beyond cramping our ability to broaden our outlook, there are also nefarious possibilities – that, for example, those in charge of the algorithms that power search results could quietly weed out unflattering content or the content of competitors.
“Social Bookmarking” is a practice facilitated by a variety of platforms and tools in which individual users curate the limitless content of the web by adding their own categories, terms, tags, keywords, and even annotations based on how they perceive that content. So, for example, if I go to Slashdot – I know that I will see “news for nerds” whereas if I use Digg – I will see more entertainment-themed content with a specific philosophical/political bent applied to it. (The brilliant satirical site Uncyclopedia has particularly hilarious send-ups of both Slashdot and Digg that illustrate their nuances.)
The Future of Social Bookmarking
Here’s how my train of logic goes: Read more…
Right now former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is being grilled on Capitol Hill in the Anti-Trust hearings that the United States Legislature is holding about the search engine (and cloud services) provider. Essentially Google is under fire for promoting its own content ahead of that of competitors. So, for example, it would prioritize Google Local listings/reviews above those of Yelp.
If Google gives their own products preference in their searches – that’s their business and they have every right to do so. Were some sort of law to come out of this in the form of a suit against Google or a statute passed by congress, it would attack the common practices of virtually every organization running a search engine on their site.
Here are some examples to illustrate how problematic that precedent would be: Read more…
It was big news this week that in a scant three weeks, Google+ has attracted over 20 million users. This is an impressive by any standard; it likely sets the record for adoption of a new social networking/mass media platform. That stat becomes more remarkable when you realize that it’s still in Beta and isn’t available to the general public (it requires an invite).
It’s important, however, to frame the achievement in the proper context because it has far-reaching implications for social media as a whole.
The reality is that the speed with which Google+ was able to attract members is almost entirely due to the social networks that came before it – chief among them Twitter and Facebook. In turn, Twitter and Facebook can credit platforms like MySpace and Friendster, which can credit CollegeClub and SixDegrees. Read more…
Related to my previous post, one of the other fascinating things to observe about the Wikileaks release of cables from the US to other foreign governments is how the event seems to serve as a blank canvas upon which people can paint their own perspective.
I don’t watch much of the traditional newsmedia, but it seems as though the US public isn’t really of a single, cohesive mind on the case. This would make sense given that audiences continue to fragment, and the news sources selected by most in the US cater to their particular flavor of opinion.
Check out what Google’s analytical tools show people searching for when referencing Wikileaks:
It would be interesting to see what context/terms the people of OTHER nations are using to search for Wikileaks information – I’d enjoy seeing screen caps or other analytics data if anyone has it.
I’m an avid reader of the web comic XKCD by Randall Munroe, which offers a daily dose of hilarity in the form of snarky, science/geek-laden humor depicted by stick figures and often charts and graphs. One recent strip (below) featured a Venn diagram illustrating the problem with most college/university websites:
The instant I saw it I forwarded it to the web team at Grand Rapids Community College, which is gearing up for a redesign of the site.
The comic is a superb example of how comics/cartoons and a bit of humor can parsimoniously strike at the heart of an issue in a way no lengthy academic treatise can.
The comic has been passed around many higher ed circles, and was recently featured in an article by Inside Higher Ed (“No Laughing Matter”) about all of the other web development staff who did exactly what I did the minute they saw the cartoon. In the comments section, a discussion was sparked and unfortunately much of it focused on “clicks” and navigation – which I don’t feel are the heart of the problem with too many college/university websites.
For what it’s worth, here’s what I had to say:
Navigability is important, but thinking about websites in terms of navigating by clicks ignores how the web has evolved, which has resulted in the dominance of search engines. It’s far liklier that a prospective student is going to run across the information they need on a college/university website by searching Google than by typing in the domain of the school and picking their way through menus.
Search is doubly-important when it comes to mobile web use (which a growing majority of our students are relying upon as their main connection to the Internet).
Any college/university website that can get students to the information they need in a couple of clicks likely doesn’t have enough information on it to be truly valuable to students; higher education is very information-dense and even portals are strained to provide enough real estate for links to all the content students need.
This is why navigation schemes are inherently problematic, and why they’re de-emphasized as we move toward the Semantic Web where search (and recommendation) are king.
I would rather see an emphasis put on freeing the data locked away in our vast enterprise systems than paring down content to streamline the front page of a website in order to meet an impossible standard.
Rather than trying to please everyone by imposing click limits on navigation – it’s more important to be developing a big footprint online and tagging content so that it’s easily indexed by search tools (and social media platforms).
A caution to professionals; in the era of Google, asking a question that is easily-answerable with a quick search engine query is increasingly going to reflect poorly on the inquirer.
It means you’re either not tech-savvy enough to instinctively reach for the power of the world’s most powerful information storage-and-retrieval tools, or you’re lazy. Neither looks good to colleagues, clients, or potential employers.
I’ve been unfairly/condescendingly thinking this since the late 1990s because I’ve long been a geek, but now I feel comfortable saying my opinion is the dominant paradigm. Sorry.
(PS – All of this goes double for Twitter, where your request for information is even more public and archived).
"...and you shall have no pie."As my parents tell it, when I was an infant my first word wasn't a word - it was an entire sentence. Very little has changed.
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