Archive for ‘Social’

March 21, 2014

Google Research fan behavior

Friendly!

I found a broken link. It was important, being the contact URL on Google Research’s official Twitter account! I told them about it. Google Research wasn’t aloof! I was thrilled.

An invitation to join Google+

Google Research finally joined Google+ in August 2012.

Google Buzz chat

Inviting Google Research to Google+

I tried to coax an earlier arrival in July 2011. Click on the image if you would like to read our conversation. I remember feeling bold, and daring!

Odds and Ends

Indirect Content Privacy Surveys: Measuring Privacy Without Asking About It, Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS), 2011.
Abstract (an excerpt that I extracted from the abstract, that is):

The emotional aspect of privacy makes it difficult to evaluate privacy concern. This effect may be partly responsible for the dramatic privacy concern ratings coming from recent surveys, ratings that often seem to be at odds with user behavior…

This is SO true! Dramatically vocalized privacy concerns are highly inconsistent with actual user behavior! The gist of the article was to figure out a way to get at people’s privacy concerns without asking about privacy directly. Merely broaching the subject tends to cause survey respondents to get skittish, thus impacting their answers.

The article DOI, full text, is in this Google Research post.  If that doesn’t work, try the corresponding entry via Google Research’s profile on Google Buzz.

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February 24, 2012

Orkut is the ORIGINAL Google social network

TechCrunch seems perturbed by Google’s decision to maintain Orkut as a distinct entity from Google Plus. I think that Google is correct to do so.

Orkut is Google’s most successful social network. It would be fair to say that Orkut is the most successful global online community, EVER. It has been in existence for nearly a decade. That is no minor achievement, in a web time frame of reference! Orkut actually grew its user base in Brazil during 2011.

Google Orkut users in 2011 by country chart - Brazil 50%

Orkut users by country 2011

Orkut remains the second most popular social network in India. I recall reading an official Google blog post last year, tallying over 65 million ACTIVE Orkut users, primarily in Brazil, India, Pakistan and Portugal. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to merge Orkut into Google Plus.

Orkut status April 2014

The future of Orkut appears less certain now, nearly two years later. The Orkut developer page,

https://code.google.com/intl/en-US/apis/orkut 

returns a generic Google HTTP error 404 page not found.

Equally ominous: The Orkut advertising inquiries page also returns an error. Advertising is the number one priority!

Orkut 404 not available

Orkut advertising 404

The Orkut Terms of Service URL is

http://g0.gstatic.com/orkut/html/en-US/additionalterms.orkut.html

Other Orkut pages use the same path,

g0.gstatitc.com/orkut/*

This is peculiar, considering that Orkut is at http://www.orkut.com. In contrast, most other Google digital properties have Google sub-domain addresses.

I am uncertain whether Orkut is accessed over SSL, which is standard for most Google services as of October 2013. Orkut content guidelines are maintained in the Google help/support area, which does support SSL.

The extremely friendly official Orkut blog has not been updated since September 2012; not a good sign.

It isn’t over yet! @OrkutIndia posted an update on 13 March 2014. More importantly, the primary Orkut account is still active, with approximately 55,000 followers.

Update August 2014

Sad news: It finally happened. Google announced that Orkut will be shut down on 4 September 2014. Users may download their content using Google Takeout or migrate to Google+.

Farewell Orkut. I will miss you.

TechCrunch

Just spotted in Orkut, Google’s also-ran social networking site: a new Google+ badge, one of the first integrations between the two services. Orkut members who also have a Google+ account are now being rewarded in the form of a badge reading “Google+ user,” which they can choose to make visible on their Orkut profile. No, it’s not a big deal in terms of the feature itself (oooh, a badge), but it’s an indication of Orkut’s current status in Google’s eyes. Orkut and Google+ are different products, and both sites will continue to exist, the company tells us today by way of explanation.

“Orkut has a large user base, especially in Brazil and India, and we will continue to invest in the product,” notes a Google spokesperson. Wait really? How on earth does that fit in with your current social strategy? Sorry, Google, continuing Orkut support just…

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September 17, 2011

Google Plus impact on page rank

Controversy over the impact of Google Plus buttons on search engine page rank is the latest news story associated with Google’s recently introduced social network. Will it benefit large websites to the detriment of small or specialty sites, particularly blogs? Since Google page rank is part of the mysterious world of search engine optimization, speculation is plentiful.

I found this attractive rendering of a Google Plus button on the Flickr page of a Second Life resident.

Circle Me! on G+

The image was used as the illustration for a mysteriously de-listed Forbes article* about the effect of Google+ buttons on website page rank. The article URL was supposedly removed from Google search results. Based on the error returned when I checked just now, I think it is more likely that it was deleted by Forbes. Whether accidental or by intent wasn’t obvious to me.

Yet it is not easy for anyone, not even Google, to erase digital footprints. Alternative search engine Blekko has the article in cache. Publication date was 18 August 2011 (Forbes Online). I will amend this post with a cleaner URL for the web cached result from Blekko. The article didn’t seem objectionable to me, upon first glance. But I am not an SEO expert.

* Thanks and attribution given to a Google+ user discussion of 31 August 2011.

UPDATE

Here is the Blekko web cached URL: http://blekko-webcache.com/cache/http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fkashmirhill%2F2011%2F08%2F18%2Fstick-google-plus-buttons-on-your-pages-or-your-search-traffic-dies%2F

The author is Forbes staff writer Ms. Kashmir Hill. The article is time stamped 11:21 AM on August 18, 2011, Technology section. The title is Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Dies. The content of the article is not as dire as the title. These are the salient points, and possibly cause for concern by any website involved in e-commerce, publisher or otherwise:

Though recommendations from contacts in your Google circles will be weighted more heavily, the number of “+1″s overall will now be a factor in search whether you’re part of Plus or not…. The Google guys explained how the new recommendation system will be a factor in search. “Universally, or just among Google Plus friends?” I asked. ‘Universal’ was the answer.

This was not surprising, but still unsavory:

Some traffic scammers are already onto this. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic reports that SEO shops are already offering bushels of +1 votes for $9.99 a pop.

Ms. Hill then suggested that the Google+ buttons will benefit users of online services and those active in social media:

There are going to be lots of benefits to this… I just gave a hotel I liked in TownN a +1. Should I miss a Facebook status update from a friend going to TownN in the future asking for recommendations, this is a built-in back-up, so that this hotel will rise up in the search results should they Google “TownN hotels.” That’s pretty cool… And I can do that even though TownN doesn’t have a +1 on its page, since these buttons are also available from the main Google search page.

Additional web analytics information will be available to sites that include the Google+ button. But similarly, sites that choose not to place the +1 button on their pages will likely fare worse in search results than competitors who have included the button.

Is this a problem?

Facebook “Like” buttons have a similar impact, though not through Google search engine results directly.

What is the downside?

The Google Plus button is free to use, just like other social media services. There will be some work for the web maintenance staff, decisions about optimal placement. Page load speed? Uncertain. Yet it would be very unwise for Google to penalize sites in search results due to incremental delay from using one its own products! Overall, Google+ does not seem to be a cause for concern– merely the addition of another social media button to the already ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter icons.

March 21, 2011

Viral Search and Analysis on the Social Web

Twitter follower badge

Twitter badge

Google is making inroads into the field of social search. However, there are alternative providers that specialize in that field that are already well-established. One such search engine is PeopleBrowsr.

Similar to how Google has indexed the web, PeopleBrowsr has indexed Twitter:

With Twitter’s Firehose and our proprietary server technology, we have reliable access to over 3 years of data.

PeopleBrowsr recently introduced a social search engine that has the potential to carve its own niche in the space where Google’s search algorithms and simple Twitter activity trackers intersect.

ReSearch.ly

The new search engine is brand named ReSearch.ly*. PeopleBrowsr has designed Research.ly for “online discovery analysis and interaction”.

Research.ly is for consumers, brand marketers and researchers. Its goal is to

build advanced conversation technologies to assemble the collective intelligence through storing, retrieving and indexing every public human conversation. Now at this pivotal era of digital preservation in social media, we’re releasing 1,000 days of Twitter data – free of charge – for deep historical reporting and social search.

ReSearch.ly differentiates itself by offering these four tracking and analysis functions:

  1. The Interest Graph– Access by topic and keyword
  2. Degrees of Separation– A relationship mapping tool to discover the relationship between any two Twitter users
  3. Community Search– drill down searching for user subsets with one or more common attributes
  4. Location-based Search– drill down search within a geographically targeted user group.

The new service’s corporate motto is “Instant Communities In Real-Time with Viral Analytics and Viral Search”.  As of now, it seems to focus exclusively on Twitter stream content.

*Yes, that is correct. Research.ly operates under the auspices of the Libyan Government, as .ly is Libya’s ICANN-assigned top-level domain.

January 17, 2011

Google Buzz for users, web sites and developers

Logo by Google

Google Buzz Logo and Button

Help people share stuff from your website using Google Buzz! Google Buzz buttons are the easiest way to allow people to share content from your site using Google Buzz.

Post to Google Buzz

Configure the Buzz widget for your website or blog. Choose one of three different Google Buzz button styles. Select your preferred language.

The Google Buzz widget is only offered in a JavaScript version.  Google does not offer an HTML-only Buzz button. This is both inconvenient and puzzling. Why?

Many web sites and digital publishing platforms do not allow JavaScript due to security concerns. In fact, WordPress does not allow JavaScript on WordPress.com hosted blogs. The Google-owned Blogger blog product does allow limited use of JavaScript.

Yet Google Sites, the replacement for Google Groups, does not allow JavaScript. As a result, Google Sites users cannot include the Google Buzz widget on a Google Site!

Follow on Google Buzz

Allow users to follow you on Google Buzz without needing to leave your website. Promote your own Google Buzz account with the follow on Google Buzz widget and button for your website.

The Google Buzz API lets you syndicate Google Buzz posts, connect sites to Buzz, and more.  You do not need pre-approval to use the Google Buzz API or Google Buzz buttons or to promote the API functionality on your site using the provided buttons.

Google Buzz Branding Guidelines

Google has specific branding requirements that must be observed if developing an application using the Google Buzz API:

  • Give your application or website a unique name with unique branding and logos.
  • Include a disclaimer that your site is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by Google Inc.
  • Do not use the Google Buzz logo or buttons as the most prominent element in the logo or icon for your application, nor as the most prominent element on your web page.
  • Do not include “Google Buzz” in the name of your application, domain name, website title or name.
  • Do not use the Google Buzz logo or buttons in a way that implies sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement by Google.
  • Do not display the Google Buzz logo on any web site that has or displays adult content, promotes gambling, promotes violence, contains hate speech, involves the sale of tobacco or alcohol to persons under twenty-one years of age, violates other applicable laws or regulations or is otherwise objectionable.
January 7, 2011

Contacting Support or Aardvark

These are the options offered by Google for contacting user support:

  • Email
    1. Report a problem:  contact_type = problem
    2. Send feedback:   contact_type = feedback
  • Search the Help Center
  • Ask an expert

Don’t expect a response to your email. Google says that isn’t their policy in most cases.

Next option is The Help Center. The Help Center for most Google products is a distinctly user do-it-yourself arrangement, also known as users helping other users, a.k.a. the blind leading the blind in the worst-case scenario. Google employees do track and respond to issues, but with a varying amount of attentiveness and follow-through.

I really like the sound of the last option…. What’s that about?

vark.com is Aardvark!

Can’t find what you’re looking for in our Help Center? Let Aardvark try to find an expert for you.

Ask an expert at http://vark.com .

Aardvark is alive and well as a Google product. Don’t be misled by the seemingly non-Google domain name.

Aardvark logo from CrunchBase

An Aardvark from TechCrunch

More details should be available from the Google contact page: contact_type = contact_policy .

Not fluent in Python? Me neither. This is the URL syntax for using contact_type :

http://www.google.com/support/toolbar/bin/request.py?contact_type=

Note that everything in this post is specific to Google Toolbar. Contact options differ to varying degrees for each Google product.

November 28, 2010

Going Social with Hotpot

Hotpot is a location-based service (LBS) with a social element. Yes, the rollout is being done with care and deliberation, but it seems that Google is finally going social!

Introducing Hotpot

Hotpot Logo

Google Hotpot is a new location-based service

Hotpot offers Google account holders the opportunity to give 1 – 5 star ratings and prose recommendations to businesses, presumably local, often smaller businesses.

Google can only access data that the user chooses to disclose, usually from other social networking services. The primary emphasis of Hotpot is dining establishments, although other business types seem to be included too. These are linked to the physical location of the business, as denoted on Google Maps.

Sociable

Hotpot is “social” because users are encouraged to invite friends and contacts to take part in Hotpot. Of course, contacts with Gmail accounts can be invited very easily. I’m working on my Gmail friend invitations now. I’m not certain whether it is possible to take part without a Gmail account.

Hotpot users may use Hotpot with Google Maps for Mobile, or directly on the web. I tried Hotpot from the web. It worked very well. I was using Google’s Chrome browser, which probably helped my user experience. I have not tried Hotpot from any other browser.

Google is promoting Place listings for businesses at the same time as Hotpot. I’ve seen more than a few service screens e.g. for Gmail account login, with promotional images for Places and Hotpot. The product introduction page implies that Hotpot is a feature of Places, not Maps, as the heading is Google Places with Hotpot.

Hotpot appears to be a full-fledged Google product, unlike Google Tags. There is already an official Google Hotpot Blog for users to keep up with the latest news. There are similar user support issues, specifically a lack of Google representatives, which is common for many (free) Google products. I observed this in the Google Help Forums the day after Hotpot debuted.

Potential branding confusion?

Hotpot is an extremely cute idea. The giant red Google map marker is very endearing. However, I already foresee branding complications. I did a very casual scan of the Twitter-verse, and noted that at least half of the uniformly enthusiastic tweets were incorrectly referring to the new product as “HotSpot” instead of Hotpot. The Official Google Canada Twitter account was one of them.

Google Hotpot

Google Hotpot Blog

I actually prefer Google’s brand name choice of Hotpot. Yet it would probably be more semantically intuitive to name it “HotSpot” given the linkage with physical location. The food-related tie-in of Hotpot, is logical. Yet “HotSpot” is a stronger complement for Places on Google Maps. Perhaps Google has a compelling promotion which will overcome this issue. At such an early stage of the product’s introduction, it is too soon to decide whether this will be of any importance.

UPDATE

November 29, 2010: TechCrunch just published an article a few minutes ago. According to TechCrunch, this is how Google explains the Hotpot name:

It’s about community!

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