Google Acquires Jotspot, Inc. & Wiki Patent Application

The news this morning, posted at the Google Blog is that Google has acquired Jotspot.

I’ve been working with Jotspot wikis for a couple of internal business uses, and really enjoy it. This was an excellent choice for Google, and the program provides a nice additional tool to go along with Google’s Docs and spreadsheets. There is some overlap between what it offers, and what those programs provide, but the addition of the team behind JotSpot should work to make the programs even better.

Registration for the site is presently closed while it is moved over to Google’s achitecture, but it appears that once it is back running, Google will not charge people to use it.

There was a “Frequently Asked Questions” section on the web site which is not available anymore, involving the acquistion on the Jotspot pages, and I found a patent application that was filed by Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer of Jotspot, Inc.

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Microsoft Virtual Earth and Local Search Patent Applications

Microsoft’s Live Local (now Bing Maps) is powered by the Microsoft Virtual Earth platform (now Bing Maps for Enterprise). Five patent applications were published at the US Patent and Trademark Office this past week which detail aspects of how Microsoft’s Virtual Earth works, including roof-top overlays, virtual Earth images, real time driving information, user privacy, and community based recommendations.

I would have liked to have delved deeply into the intricate details of the patent applications, but used up most of my budgeted blogging time exploring the Via Virtual Earth community site I found which has some great articles on it about how to work with the Virtual Earth platform. I also spent too much time driving a sports car around the streets of San Francisco in a Virtual Earth Technology Preview. Unfortunately, the front and side level views didn’t work in some of the parts of the City that I wanted to explore. But, it was still a lot of fun.

There are some minor differences in the following patent applications, but also a considerable amount of overlap. If you would like to get a good insight into the mechanics of how this system works, and what features it may offer, you may want to skim through these.

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Building Links with Creative Commons

One of the members of Cre8asite Forums has a couple of sites that he’s filled with images of the locations of his sites. He’s a talented photographer, in addition to a skilled web master, and the pictures he has on his site are terrific. He has also placed those images under licenses from Creative Commons.

Because of the licenses, he’s had people use images from his site on their own noncommercial web sites, with links pointing back to his sites. He’s also had inquiries from people wanting to use his images in commercial works. Since the images are likely to be of interest to people who may want to find out more about what he has to offer, having links back to his site brings traffic to his pages from people who could possibly become customers of his.

The beauty of Creative Commons licenses are that they inform people that they could possibly use material created by other people under conditions expressed in the licenses. They don’t harm people’s rights under copyright law, but rather make communication about possible uses of those materials easier. The Creative Commons pages show how to use a license, and provide many examples.

Google and Creative Commons

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Flickr Interestingness Rankings Patents Released

I’ve posted some pictures to Flickr, but I’ve never really paid much attention to the “interestingness” rankings the site uses.

Interestingness and clustering were first used in August of last year, as announced by Stewart Butterfield on the Yahoo Search Blog and the Flickr blog.

Blog posts about Flickr’s interestingness, and a February Flickr forum post on changes to the interestingness rankings, show a lot of interest in the “secret sauce” on how photos are determined to be interesting. A couple of patent applications were published by Yahoo this week that delve into interestingness rankings, clustering of pictures, and metadata associated with Flickr images.

Before jumping into those, I found some other blog posts that shared some thoughts about interestingness:

  • Anil Dash on the economics of interestingness (October 25, 2005)

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Amazon Acquisitions and Investments

Amazon Acquisitiions

I tried to find a list of companies that had acquired or had invested in, and couldn’t find any lists that looked close to complete. So I decided to create my own. I hunted down a number of their investments and acquisitions, which I’ve included below. Chances are that I’ve missed some, and if you have knowledge of any that you would like to share, please let me know.

Amazon has made some large purchases over the years, but they seem to favor making investments in companies, and marketing agreements with the companies they invest in. While some of their transactions were fairly public, a few were very private, and there aren’t many details on the web about those – for instance, it’s very difficult to find a date for the transaction involving Leep Technologies, which I’ve listed at the end of the 1999 Amazon acquisitions.

I’ve included links to a number of patents which were, or are held by these companies. Continue reading “Amazon Acquisitions and Investments”