Will Google Make Browsing A Web Page a Social Activity Too?

Google is starting to show how social it might become with the introduction of Google + this week. I’ve signed up for an invite, and watched the demos, but I’m not going to weigh in on it until I have the chance to try it out (2011-6-30 – added: I missed my invite inadvertantly. Testing Google + now.)

Instead, let’s take a quick look at a Google Patent application that came out this week that shows another possible social tool from Google. This one allows you to start conversations with people who visit a web page, or have bookmarked the page, or contact people you already know while you’re on the page so that you can discuss it together. See a news story on a news paper site that you want to discuss with a friend, or even someone else who might be visiting that page. The process behind this patent filing enables you to do that.

Within your toolbar browser would be an instant messenging client attached to a “discuss this page” button, like in the screenshot from the patent filing below:

A screenshot from the patent of a web page, with a discuss this page button on the toolbar.

Continue reading

Google to Broker Know-How with Virtual Money and Anonymous Users?

Need advice from an attorney on patents? Have a question about cooking Indian food? Want a document translated, or help building a widget or debugging a program?

Google tells us on one of their corporate information pages that: “Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful. ” But some information isn’t written down on paper, and some skills can only be taught from one person to another.

Imagine if Google set up a site that allows people to search for others with expertise and know-how in certain areas of interest, send requests for help, pay by credit points (virtual money allowing for countertrades or bartering) or actual money, and rate the providers skills or know-how in those specific interest areas? This site might enable people involved in the transactions to remain anonymous unless they want to disclose their actual identities.

A patent application published this week at the USTPO from Google describes how the search engine might set a system like that to “broker” know-how. One of the inventors listed on the patent is Cyrill Osterwalder, who appears from his LinkedIn profile and a January, 2011, presentation on Google and Privacy (pdf) to be Google’s Privacy Engineering Lead.

Continue reading

Google Acquires Girafa.com’s Image Preview Patents

On December 12, 2007, Girafa.com Inc. filed a lawsuit agains Amazon Web Services and a number of other parties for patent infringement over a patent titled Framework for providing visual context to www hyperlinks (6,864,904).

The case claimed that defendants Amazon Web Services LLC, Amazon.com, Inc., Alexa Internet, Inc., IAC Search & Media, Inc., Snap Technologies, Inc., Yahoo! Inc., Smartdevil Inc., Exalead, Inc. and Exalead S.A. were infringing upon Girafa.com’s patent by displaying thumbnail images of websites as described in Girafa.com’s patent. The case was closed in The Delaware District Court for the District of Delaware in September of 2009 after claims against the parties involved were either dismissed or settled or both.

Google wasn’t a named party in the suit, but has been displaying Instant Previews of websites on desktop search results since last November, and on search results on mobile devices since March 8, 2011. Earlier this month, Google was assigned the Girafa.com patent at the heart of the earlier law suit, along with an updated continuation patent.

Continue reading

How Google Might Classify Queries Differently at Different Data Centers

There’s some evidence that the Panda updates to Google’s ranking algorithm may be based upon a decision tree approach to classifying and creating quality scores for web pages and sites. Curious as to whether Google might be using a decision tree approach to classify other information, I went digging through some of Google’s other patent filings that I might not covered here in the past.

I found one that may have interesting implications regarding how queries are classified and different data that may be stored and emphasized at different Google data centers or data partitions.

An overview from the patent filing of how queries may be classified so that one or more data sources might be selected to return search results from.

Continue reading

Will Google Start Showing Ads and Other Content in Unused Whitespace in Your Browser Window?

When you design a web page with fixed dimensions, set for a specific display resolution, sometimes visitors will arrive at your page with a higher web page resolution level. What this means is that there can be empty space showing in their browser window when viewing your page. There are other times when someone visits your page, and their browser window isn’t using their whole monitor display, and they might resize their browser to include a higher resolution level, which can then cause unused browser space to appear.

An image from the patent showing two different displays; one with a limited amount of unused browser space, and one with a large amount of unused browser space and additional content items.

A Google patent application published this morning describes how Google might identify when such unused space exists, and include content within that space. The patent filing tells us that this content can include text, images, videos, animations, and other types of content that can be displayed in a browser.

Continue reading

Apple Files Patent on Buddy Finder App for Location Based Social Networking

A patent application was published at the USPTO this morning that describes an interesting new application from Apple, enabling people to find others with common interests or common experiences or both, based upon location. The patent is fairly detailed, and I’ve somewhat brushed the surface with my description below. If you’re interested in location based services and social networking, it’s definitely worth a read.

It also has some of the more interesting images that I’ve seen so far in a patent filing this year (The person shown in them looks a little like a comic book villian), and they do a very good job of displaying an example of how this system could be used.

An interface from the apple patent showing how to make the Buddy Finder active and turn on the Find Friend Now feature.

Continue reading

Google’s Quality Score Patent: The Birth of Panda?

In 2005, Google’s John Lamping gave a presentation to a class at Berkeley on the Quality of Information, titled On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog (pdf). In his talk he raised questions such as:

  • Why is the Daily Californian advertising German pages?
  • How much can the spam industry make by spamming search engines?

One of John Lamping's slides from his Quality of Information presentation showing two different paragraphs where madlib style keyword insertion has been performed on the content.

During his speech, he pointed out ways that people have attempted to manipulate search results, such as mad libs-like insertions of keywords into templates for pages like in his slide above, cloaking and other spam approaches to optimizing pages, and paid links and comment spamming. In addition to talking to academic audiences about search quality, he has been working on doing something to increase the quality of search results.

Continue reading

Blog Lessons from Dead Tree Authors and Cereal Boxes

I don’t know who said that novelists read the novels of others only to figure out how they are written. I believe it’s true. We aren’t satisfied with the secrets exposed on the surface of the page: we turn the book around to find the seams.

In a way that’s impossible to explain, we break the book down to its essential parts and then put it back together after we understand the mysteries of its personal clockwork.

- Gabriel Garcia Marquez Meets Ernest Hemingway

I’m told that if you want to be a good photographer, you should look at a lot of photos. If you want to be a good painter, you should look at a lot of paintings. I believe that the same holds true with being a blogger, and seeing how other bloggers present their messages, tell their tales, and report their news.

Continue reading