Editor’s Note: Part 12 in an irregular series of stories from my many years in Silicon Valley. Part 11 talked about the time I got called into HR's office to meet with lawyers over industrial espionage. This time, a story involving gray hat search engine marketing in the early days of the Web.
|DMOZ is now closed. |
Believe it or not, before the world of automated spiders that crawled the entire Web and ranked the results for your searches, much of the way we found content on the Internet was thanks to manual updates from an invisible army of directory editors. Yahoo!
defined the initial dot-com era, with its hierarchical oracle making or breaking traffic downstream, as sites were organized and shuffled into categories by unseen text tweakers, much like the editors of Wikipedia
try and keep its tens of millions of article pages up to date, with a
Continue reading "Real Valley Stories: Search Marketing With the Open Directory Project"
|People are constantly on their phones. All day.|
There's a flurry of debate
over whether smartphones and their apps have become too addicting
. While there is no complete agreement over how often smartphone users access their phones each day, estimates put the number at anywhere from 80
to 150 times
. If you're a typical human who is awake about 16 hours a day, that's five to ten accesses per hour. Every hour. You might even put your own estimate much higher, or, instead, see it as one long continuous touch that consumes the entire day.
Independent of the discussion of whether this is a "good thing" or not, the ability to constantly engage with one's phone, checking messages from different apps, getting the latest news instantly, window shopping or achieving a new high score, the device has virtually eliminated the opportunity to be bored - acting as the glue that
Continue reading "Smartphones Have Virtually Eliminated Boredom from the Modern Life"
The World Wide Web was designed to primarily do three things - inform, discover and connect. A globally connected series of documents could instantly bring you to the thoughts and experiences of someone across the world. In the earliest designs of the Web, it was through hyperlinks that you would find those new voices. Links brought you new sources of data, and those downstream documents led you even further to new people and ideas.
As the Web evolved, and incorporated photos, videos, streaming, and all manner of media, discovery expanded to include search. Without an explicit link, you could still find pointers to new content in the results of your query. Destination sites, acting as content hubs, would surface new content, usually within their network, of recommendations you might like. Ads, essentially links with pretty pictures, would offer another exit.
Continue reading "Linking Less and Talking More: Disappearing Web Mentions"
Career Paths Are Often Circuitous Routes
My career in Silicon Valley
started before I'd even graduated from college. Rather than plug away at Berkeley
and try to get top grades, I split my time my senior year between going to classes and commuting across the Bay Bridge to Burlingame, working for a revenue light startup
during the initial dot com boom. By the end of 2018, I will have completed twenty full years in the Valley.
In these twenty years, I've been laid off. I've been promoted. I've fought for raises and rejected stock offers
. I've co-founded my own consulting business
. I've worked at startups with three people, ten people and two hundred. And for the last six plus years
, I've been at Google
, which can hardly be called a startup.
In these two decades, I've seen companies lay everyone off firsthand, and had another acquired
. I've pitched
Continue reading "Space Fillers and Superstars: Silicon Valley’s Divergent Career Arcs"
The 2018 Social Media Flow is Driven by Content Silos
In the ten-plus years since I started this blog, one of the clearest trends on the Web has been for destination sites to want to control the user session and experience. In parallel, sites focused on aggregating content from external sites or highlighting the best of the web - serving as a filtered pass through, have struggled. Many are gone.
While significant efforts were made during the forging of Web 2.0 to drive open standards and allow for data to flow from one site to another, through RSS, Pubsubhubbub, Atom, XMPP, or whatever your preference, 2018 on the social web is a much more challenging place to write once and publish everywhere.
Some time last year, we installed five Google Home
units in our house. One was placed in the master bedroom. One each went in both our kids' rooms, as well as one in the office, and one downstairs in the kitchen. Knowing that asking Google any question was just a simple request away, I was eager to see how the family would adjust to having a friendly assistant ready at any time to go fetch answers. What I've seen is that the devices are used throughout the day, and, often, the kids talk to Google before they talk to me.
OK Google, tell me a joke.
The morning starts with Google Homes sounding the alarm to wake up.