Egypt in late January, 2011, was a place of protests where people wanted and needed to be able to communicate as effectively as possible, and the use of social networks like Twitter had been filling that role. But what if there was no access to the Web to do so? Or internet access into or out of the country?
A blog post on the Official Google blog told us of Some weekend work that will (hopefully) enable more Egyptians to be heard. In the press on February 1st, 2011, we learned that Google and Twitter launch service enabling Egyptians to tweet by phone.
One of the co-authors of that Google blog post was Ujjwal Singh. He was the founder of Saynow, a company we learned a week or so before had been acquired by Google. He’s listed as the co-author of a patent application published this week that describes a way to post to social networks by voice. The patent filing is:
Posting to Social Networks by Voice
Invented by Steve Crossan, and Ujjwal Singh
Assigned to Google
US Patent Application 20120201362
Published August 9, 2012
Filed: February 3, 2012
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:
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.
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.
Relevance matters to each of us on a daily basis. It enables us to focus upon the things that are important in our lives. It’s something that each of us learns about everyday, and have been since around the time that we first learned to crawl, but not necessarily consciously.
Relevance and Evidence
I first began purposefully studying relevance a number of years ago, but not to help websites show up in search engines. My introduction to relevance as something I needed to learn, and needed to learn well, came in law school, in classes like Evidence and Criminal and Civil Procedure. In Evidence, we spend the class learning about the rules of evidence. The test for relevance under the Federal Rules of Evidence is:
(a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and
(b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.
Six years ago, Google started showing sitelinks for the top results for many queries. In a recent Google live experiment, Google started showing expanded sitelinks in search results with tabs above those sitelinks showing categories. These experimental results were written about last week by the team at SEO Consult, in the post Google’s New SERP Test: Tabular Mega Sitelinks.
In my last post, I asked the question Will Google Add Categories to Search Results, and Let You Edit Them? I didn’t anticipate Google testing categories within their presentation of sitelinks though. I did notice an interesting new version of an older Google patent published as a pending patent application on categories for AdSense-type advertisements.
The continuation patent filing had a fresh new claims section that detailed how Google might interpret the categories of pages for purposes of showing AdSense advertisements. That process might not be the exact method that Google might classify pages into categories for purposes of sitelinks, or even for the explicit categories that Google could potentially show in search results to enable searchers to limit the results of their queries based upon clicking on those categories. But it does show some possibilities of how Google might classify pages.
Last week, I wrote a post on the Webimax blog about an approach that Google might take in response to the fact that there are often so many results in response to a particular query. The post, How Google May Re-Rank Search Results Based the Context of What You Click, described how Google might re-rank your search results for related followup queries within the same search session. Search for [jaguar] and choose a result related to the Jacksonville football team, and Google might boost results related to the football team or sports in general in your search results within the same search session.
Google might try to use a “Contextual Click Model” like I described in that post, to try to identify related sites within sets of search results. They would do that by looking at its search query log files for search sessions from multiple searchers to cluster those clicks into related categories.
There are other ways that Google might potentially categorize documents that show up in search results. One place that they might look at is knowledge base information tied to search query log information, to create some categories. For example a search for [jaguar] on Wikipedia shows a number of possible topics, including the car, the cat, a band from Iceland, the Jacksonville football team, a Formula One racing team, an Atari game console, a type of Fender guitar, and many others.
When I write about patent filings, they are usually from search engines or social networking sites, or have been acquired by someone like Google or Facebook. I ran across one patent application published this week that instead comes a person offering search engine optimization services. I don’t think it’s possible to do SEO with just automated tools, because there are so many issues on a site that need to be considered and reviewed and often adjusted for a site to be competitive in search results.
Some of those are technical, like handling canonical issues so that you ideally only have one URL per page. Some of those issues involve making marketing decisions, like understanding the audience of a site and the language that they might expect to see on a page about a particular topic. Some may involve things like deciding how the information architecture of a site might be set up, so that it’s easy for visitors to understand where they are on a site, where they can go, and how their situational and informational needs might be addressed on the pages of that site.