Facebook Timeline and Patent Application

Added – 2-26-2010 – for an updated list of granted and pending Facebook patents, see my post from January 24th, 2010, Facebook Patent Filings, which includes the Facebook News feed patent as a patent application, with some commentary in the comments about the impact (or lack thereof) that it might have upon other social networks.

Mark Zuckerberg started one of the most short-lived and controversial web businesses ever to come out of Harvard.

And then he started Facebook, which rocketed to success, and is continuing to grow at a very fast pace, and has weathered some controversy of its own. Interestingly, the privacy failings of the earlier business seems to have lead to the success of Facebook.

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Next Week: Search Engine Strategies San Jose

The Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose starts next Monday, and I’m looking forward to attending, and to meeting up with old friends, making some new friends, learning what’s new in the industry, and sharing some ideas with others.

I’ll be speaking on Monday morning on the topic of Universal Search, at 11:00am, along side Greg Jarboe and Sherwood Stranieri, with Erik Collier of Ask.com, David Bailey of Google, and Tim Mayer of Yahoo as Q&A speakers in the session. While I have a presentation prepared for the event, if there’s something in particular about Universal Search and blended search results that you want to hear, let me know.

I had the chance last year to join Loren Baker, David Zuls, and Carsten Cumbrowski for a lunch at a San Jose Mexican eatery, The Taqueria, and hopefully will get the chance to meet a few people there for a meal sometime during this conference – if you like Mexican food, it’s definitely a great stopping point.

If you are going to be in San Jose next week, and would like to meet, let me know. I’ll be arriving late this Friday night, and am thinking of running out to BarCampBlock on Saturday morning.

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Yahoo Tactics Associating Geographic Search with Searcher Location

Can a search engine guess where someone is searching from based upon the query being used?

A patent granted to Yahoo today, originally filed in 2003, explores that question.

Many site owners have tied site visitors to locations by looking at those visitors’ IP addresses, and mapping those to a particular place. That could be helpful on a country level, but much less reliable at a city level.

Why be concerned with knowing where someone is connecting from? It could be helpful in providing local services or information, such as news, advertising, weather, and traffic information to a user. For a search engine, that information might be userful in returning relevant results to a searcher.

Understanding a searcher’s location

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When Might Google Show Local Search Information in Web Search Results?

What assumptions might search engineers hold when they consider displaying results to searchers trying to find information? What kinds of things might they try to do to make it easier users of a search engine?

One belief might be that there’s value in presenting contact information for web sites when those pages appear in search results, especially when the site belongs to a business, and the page that shows up in the search result doesn’t contain contact information. Can the search engine make it easier to find that contact information, even make it so that the searcher doesn’t have to actually visit the page?

A new patent application from Google, published this past week at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), discusses providing contact information such as a telephone number, or address, or even a map to searchers, in Google’s Web search results (as opposed to local search results).

Two of the listed inventors are also named inventors on Google’s patent application for Site Links, which are the lists of additional pages from the same domain that sometimes show up under the first link in search results, in response to a query. The idea behind the Site Links patent filing is to make it easier for a searcher to go directly to a final destination page on a domain, without having to search around for that page.

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On Supplemental Results, Partitioned Indexing, and Extended Indexes

In The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page officially presented Google, and its use of hypertext to index documents on the Web and produce better search results.

If you’re interested in discovering how search engines work, there aren’t too many other starting points that might be better than that document.

A new patent granted to Google this week, System and method for selectively searching partitions of a database, gives us a deeper glimpse into the inner workings of a search engine and its index.

It describes how partitions can be used to make it faster and easier to search through the index of a search engine, and how rarer and less common results for queries might be kept in an extended index, which is also the topic of another patent granted to Google earlier this year that shares the same list of inventors and was filed on the same day, which I wrote about in Google Patent on Extended Search Indexes.

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Search, Buy, Receive Valuable Points, Provide Feedback to Rank Advertisements

Could consumer feedback from people clicking through search engine advertisements be used to help rank the ads, and the services and goods offered by advertisers?

Such a system might provide rebate points to advertisers, to supply to purchasers, who could turn in those points in exchange for goods and services after exchanging feedback on the transactions. The feedback could then be used in rankings of future advertisements.

A series of patent applications from Microsoft explore this approach. It’s an interesting system, and even Bill Gates is listed as an inventor on one of the documents. The descriptions in the documents are all substantially similar, and it’s worth trying to work through one of them to get out the ideas behind this system

Allocating Rebate points
Invented by Uriel Feige and Kamal Jain
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20070179853
Published August 2, 2007
Filed: January 19, 2007

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