Google to Crowdsource Recommendations?

In the past few weeks, Google has introduced a recommendation bar to Google Plus, and Facebook has introduced their own recommendation bar as well. The Facebook recommendation bar appears like it will only show up when you’re on Facebook at this point, but the Google Recommendation Bar will appear when you hover over a “g +1” button on a site that you’re visiting, and will show you recommendations from that site.

A Google patent application that came out last week showed a different variation of a recommendation bar, and a screenshot from the patent filing shows what could have been, or might be sometime in the future. Here’s a glimpse:

A screenshot from the patent showing an interface displaying recommendations that you can vote upon for content on the site you're visiting and for related content on the Web.

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Google Acquires Mangosoft’s Distributed Directory Service Patents for $3.2 Million

mangosoft logo

One of the biggest names in peer to peer technology is Skype. In 2008, Skype settled with Mangosoft Technologies in a patent infringement case over a patent apparently related to “dynamic directory service”. Mangosoft’s victory in the case wasn’t enough to keep the company thriving and in May, Mango Capital announced that their subsidiary, MangoSoft Intellectual Property, Inc., sold all of its patent rights for $3.2 million.

While Google used peer-to-peer technology in GMail video, the company blogged a couple of days ago that that video communication service would be replaced with Google Hangouts and no longer rely upon peer-to-peer technology.

Google was assigned 9 granted patents and 4 pending patents from Mangosoft Intellectual Property Inc., as noted in an assignment executed on May 1, 2012 and recorded on July 31, 2012. Among the patent filings is a granted patent and 2 pending patents titled “Dynamic Directory Service.” This directory service “maintains a directory in which is stored both (1) directory information and (2) the physical layout of the directory itself” over the network itself rather than in a centralized location.

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On Materiality and Search Engines

Search engines look at Relevance and its dynamic nature in ranking web pages. But there’s another element that’s important to consider when looking at how pages are ranked and ordered.

Materiality and Evidence

When evidence is introduced into a civil or criminal case, a judge not only weighs how relevant that evidence might be before it’s turned over to a jury, or before he or she considers it. The judge also decides how material that evidence might be.

For example, a defense attorney might try to introduce good character reference testimony in a case while defending a 30 year-old accused of murder. The testimony is relevant because it’s about the defendent. It goes to show something about him that a finder of facts might find useful. But, what if the person being offered to testify is the defendant’s kindergarden teacher? What if the teachers testimony is about how the defendant would always take his naps on time, played well with the other kids, and never showed signs of anger. While relevant, the testimony just really isn’t material. As testimony about the defendent from around 25 years earlier, it just isn’t that important.

A judge may also look at other factors in deciding whether evidence is material or important enough to enter into a case. One of these is called judicial economy. As an example, let’s say that our accused murderer from the last paragraph committed his crime in the middle of the infield at Yankee stadium in front of a crowd of 50,000 baseball fans. Almost everyone in attendence witnessed the crime. But you won’t see all 50,000 being summons to appear in court to testify. Their testimony is relevant, and material, but it doesn’t serve the best interests of justice to have that many people testifying if they are all going to give substantially the same testimony.

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