A new patent filing from Apple may be a sign of changes to the way Apple presents music recommendations at the iTunes store. That change was hinted at last December when Apple acquired the streaming music site, Lala.
The patent application lists Ryan Dixon, Digital Album Content Manager at iTunes, as the inventor, and provides a description of how such a recommendation system might work, along with the possibility of advertising in the streamed content. The patent filing is:
Personalized streaming digital content
Invented by Ryan Graeme Dixon
Assigned to Apple
US Patent Application 20100049862
Published February 25, 2010
Filed August 21, 2008
One of the words that often appears when someone describes how search engines work is relevance. A search engine attempts to show searchers web pages and other results that might be relevant to the words that they used when they perform a search. Yet, there are a number of different ways that you can define relevance.
For instance, Rutger’s professor Tefko Saracevic, who has been studying the concept of relevance for years, explores different thoughts and literature on the topic to describe a number of ways to define relevance in a 2006 paper on Relevance: A Review of the Literature and a Framework for Thinking on the Notion in Information Science. Part II: Nature and Manifestations of Relevance*.
Relevance could be considered a way of finding documents that contain words someone might search for, or documents that are related to concepts involved in those query terms. Relevance could be determined by looking at a relationship between a searcher and the search terms they use, while considering their past browsing and searching history, and possibly the searches of people who might socially related to them, or who share some common interests with them.
Relevance could also be determined by a problem or task that a searcher is faced with when performing a search.
Charles Knight, who is now the Search Editor at Nextweb pointed me to a Bloomberg report at BusinessWeek, Google, Yahoo Sued by Xerox Over Search Query Patents.
The patent infringement complaint (PDF – 308k) contains claims that specifically name the following programs as infringing Xerox’s patented technology: Google’s Adsense and Adwords programs, Google Maps, Google Video, and YouTube, as well as Yahoo’s Search Marketing and Publisher Network, Y!Q Contextual Search, and Yahoo Shopping.
The article provided descriptions of the Xerox patents in question, but didn’t identify the patents themselves. While I was able to find one of the two patents from a search at the patent office, the other patent eluded me. I registered with, and signed on to the Federal Government’s PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system to look at the complaint and find the other patent.
Xerox filed the case in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware on February 19th, and asks the Court for cash damages and an order that would keep Google, Yahoo, and YouTube from continuing to “use” the technology described under the patents in question, without permission.
It may be possible that governmental web sites are at least as important, and in some cases more important that most of the other web sites online. They can provide information on when and where to vote, when and where laws are being made, when and where you can access elected and appointed officials, and information about possibly a large number of services that goverment may provide, from trash pickup and some utility services to police and fire and rescue information.
Sometimes you just really need to know how to get to City Hall, or to the Courthouse steps.
When you perform a search at a search engine, you usually see a list of links to web pages in response to your search.
Over the past few years, search engine have started showing a mix of other types of results, including images, links to related news stories or blog posts, videos, book and music search results, listings of reviews, maps and business location information, related search queries and query suggestions, stock charts, weather forecasts, and other non-web page listings.
This richer mixture of choices presented by search engines in response to searchers’ queries provides an often colorful and often useful set of options to someone searching for information or to fulfill some kind of task.
The query suggestions and refinements that searchers are offered are intended to help searchers with suggestions of other searches that might yield them more information. The mix of non-web page results are often referred to by search engines as blended or universal search results.
Geographic and political boundaries are challenged by the Web, where laws of one state or province or country may differ from another.
Web sites intended for an audience in one country can often be viewed by visitors from most other countries as well. Sites offering services for a global audience may try to find ways to adapt to different laws in different countries. Technology could be used to limit the content that a viewer could see based upon where he or she is located. While such technology could potentially lead to censorship, it may also be used to enforce laws regarding things such as copyright.
An example comes from a patent granted today to Google, which describes how the site might grant different access levels to books and magazines at Google Books, based upon the location of viewers.
One of the areas of law that is of considerable concern when it comes to displaying books and magazines online is copyright, and the rights of the holders of those copyrights. Google’s Book service provides access to a large number of books that are in the public domain, and are free of copyright limitations.
When a search engine indexes an image on the Web, it often has to rely upon the words that it finds associated with that picture. Those words could include the file name, alt text for the image, a caption, as well as other text on the same page.
Those words can be misleading, however, and search engines are trying other approaches to identifying the actual content contained within images. One of the approaches that Google has taken to index images is to have people play each other in a game to label those images. There’s a possibility that Google may add another image game, like the one seen in the screen shot below:
The new game from Google is described in a patent filing published this week, incorporating a way to identify objects within images. The patent application is:
Sometimes when you perform a search at Google, you may notice that search results shown from some forums might include additional information, such as how many posts are in a thread, how many authors participated, and when the last post was made, like in the following search snippet:
If you’ve seen those types of results and wondered why Google might include that kind of information, you’re not alone. I’ve been wondering as well.
A recent Google patent application provides some details on why Google is showing that kind of information, how they identify discussion threads, and the kinds of information they may potentially show in search results.