Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

When someone introduces a useless idea (or one that is narrow in scope) on the Internet, it gets linked, picked, praised, talked about till the transformation from a phenomena to sheer bullshit is complete.

I am taking about Wolfram Alpha. Because among other places, it has been talked about here , here and here.

I have heard enough things about Wolfram already, including the awesomeness of narrow, focused search and a smarter alternative to Google. Isn’t it what is being said about Kosmix and Deep Peep. What, you didn’t know that? Have you been living under a rock? Oh. Sorry.

The first thing you have to understand is, that for the general internet population, Wolfram is fucking useless. When you truly look up something that is going to change your life in this website, drop me a line. And when that counter hits five figures, I will remove this post.

I have a simple test, quite childish but it has an unusually high success rate. I call it the Bird Sex Test. I started it when I was in seventh or eighth grade, when I asked my biology teacher question from the very back of the class – How do birds have sex? Amidst the laughter in class, she was not amused and threatened to take action against me if I didn’t behave. One girl told me birds don’t have sex since they lay eggs. I heard she is now living in a forest with a parakeet as her husband and her small but vibrant community includes Kevin Costner living with a Wolf, Mel Gibson living with a dog, Robert Redford living with a horse and Kanye West living with what is assumed to be a gay fish.

See where I am going with this? No? Sorry. If you suspect someone of being a bore, prude or just getting to know someone, ask the question – How do birds have sex? Usually I find it worth my while to stick with people who either give me a factual scientific answer or the ones who give a crazy funny answer (e.g In the same awkward manner like me, except without the alcohol…oh…that gives an idea I need to go to the pet store tomorrow).

Wolfram Alpha, of course, failed the test.

Wolfram Alpha birds 0

While Google aced it. (That’s 3 76 0000 results for you!)

google-birds-3 76 0000

That’s why nothing can replace Google, somewhere some kid is searching for shit like this and no one can satisfy quite like Google.

The second test I have is the verb test. Xerox has it. Google has it. For instance, no one finds it creepy anymore if you tell them that you Googled them. It’s assumed whatever you put online will be read by people whom you really don’t want to. Tell someone that you Wolfram Alpha’d them – they will run to the nearest cop. Or ask you what kind of sexual position is that and will their vital organs be functional after?

Seriously, Wolfram Alpha is a stupid name for a website claiming to ‘compute the world’s knowledge’. Not to mention the ultimate testament to the fucking ego of the guy who started this. This makes me wonder, how the hell did this useless idea get such free press? Did he hire Jesus as his publicist? No. Oh, it must be Scott Boras then.

Okay I admit, Wolfram Alpha is about numbers. And the saying usually goes that numbers don’t lie. This is the mantra spitted out in all MBA schools. I should know, I took classes in one. The ugly fact is nothing actually lies more persuasively than numbers. The current financial crises should be enough to prove that statement.

Still not convinced? The Goons will convince you what an exercise in futility this Wolfram Alpha thing is.

wolfram01Despite everything, this is still only the second worst thing to come out of Britain this year.

UPDATE: Microsoft has made a huge splash about Bing – their yet to be launched search engine. They are going for the verb thing but are somewhat behind because Urban Dictionary has already defined Bing for them. And the required plug-in, an NYT article ends with this priceless acronym for Bing – But It’s Not Google! Haha!

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In one afternoon, I happen to come across two distinct banner ads which sparked my curiosity. The idea of long copy banner ads. For decades the conventional wisdom has been that long copy is dead. But as the Internet rolls on into a new version every quarter, will it become the default destination for long copy ads? The concept of having a detailed banner ad is definitely worth considering.

Let’s face it, clients from some sectors like finance, automobiles, telecommunication and technology firms to name a few, do indeed have much to sell explain. And the ads can have a few links to even more information for the curious surfer.

The ones I came across aren’t remarkable, but they seem to qualify as a long copy banner ad.

The above ad which is simply the synopsis from the back of a book reminds me of a time I was overwhelmed at the prospect of writing the body copy, when my creative director came over and said, a good example of body copy can be found every time at the back of any book. That usually is the best part of the book or that one paragraph does an amazing job of explaining what’s on those hundreds of pages without giving the plot away.

This banner ad doesn’t make any sense, other than that it’s has a call for action that can be measured.

My crystal ball magic 8 ball also tells me that some banner ads should give consumers the option to email them to friends. Very often banner ads ends up in the wrong page or contextual advertising goes very wrong. So there is more than a good chance that someone beyond your target group might see it, or simply want to share away your ad with a friend.

Of course, this would only work if one creates an ad worth reading and sharing. And not something like this.

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The Internet gets interesting. Icann has decided to open by domain names beyond the standard .com and .org to everything.

As NYT reports…’New names could cover locations such as “.nyc” and “.berlin” or industries such as “.bank.”

What does this mean for advertising? BBC narrows it down to a simple point…’The decision means that companies could turn brands into web addresses, while individuals could use their names.’

I have a few thoughts on this issue:

1. Will it make the Internet even more chaotic and lead to confusion?

2. Does it give too much power to Icann and make it play the role of a censor?

3. Invariably someone is going to create a domain that is offensive to someone’s religion/beliefs or whatever..how will this be resolved?

4. Will this be the most exciting thing happening to Internet as non-English speakers can create their own sites?

5. How will brands manage this transition? If one can create a xxx.pepsi – what would that xxx be? Will this lead to creative technologies in brand management? Or will it drive up the cost for the major corporations in the world, as they will have no choice but to embrace it to protect their brand.

So many questions and so few answers…

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Presenting Friend Connect from Google. It’s the latest tool that will turn any website into a social website by enabling interactions amongst the visitors. As the press release explains…

“Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social — and now they can be, easily. With Google Friend Connect (see http://www.google.com/friendconnect following this evening’s Campfire One), any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming — picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.

Visitors to any site using Google Friend Connect will be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends, or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web, including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and more.”

This is the basic idea behind Friend Connect.

And this is what a typical website would look like after Friend Connect is installed.

Personally, I think this is great. The idea is really an extension of the good old chat rooms which are usually sorted out by personal interests but became useless because of too much spam and the inability to network with people who aren’t online. Friend Connect would neatly take care of that. And quite honestly, most social networking sites aren’t that friendly anyway. As this Washington Post article explains…

“While large social networks such as Facebook and MySpace are judged to be worth billions, they have also drawn criticism for being “walled gardens” — places that allow members to connect easily only while at those sites.

The Friend Connect service raises the possibility that the kind of kibitzing now largely contained in a handful of mega-sites could be easily spread anywhere.”


“Friend Connect is aimed at the millions of Web sites that could benefit from having members interact, but are unable to open their Web pages to such connections because of a lack of technical expertise or hardware.”

So how does Google make money out this thing? Funny you should ask…David Glazer, an engineering director working on Google’s social initiative explains…

“Friend Connect is “about helping the ‘long tail’ of sites become more social,” Glazer said. “Many sites aren’t explicitly social and don’t necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other.”

And this gem about Google…

“[Google] benefits when “the Web is healthy.” When more people use the Web, more people see the ads that Google runs on Web sites.”

Now that’s the way to stay ahead of competition. Keep on changing the game.

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Nerd jokes have become the official mainstream humor. Recently, MIT had it’s first ROFLCon where you could find who’s who of the Internet and accidents masters of the viral world.

In a previous post, I sort of lamented about the silliness of Internet memes and was hoping it will evolve beyond the trivial. But it seems unlikely to happen. Or rather, even if we have intelligent virals going around, we will also have tons of fun and silly odd ball stuff dominating the Internet.

Or how else would you explain this list.

This made me think about the origin of LOLanguage. Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be much information regarding that, and even Wikipedia cites a vague source – Usenet.

Abbreviating phrases is an old phenomena and it doesn’t surprise anyone as to how LOL predominantly stands for Laughing Out Loud. But what’s surprising is the tremendous sub culture it has created.

At the ROFLCon, the men behind the I Can Haz Cheezburger had some interesting things to say, some highlights:

Cats attract girls to the internet. lolcode contributors are 80% male. I can has cheezburger submitters are about ~%60 female.

Cheez has a staff of 8 people.

LOLCats doesn’t help you get dates. {Shocker, I know!}.

Lastly, as I always suspected, LOLanguage started with SMS / Text Messaging.

I started thinking about this and had a slightly nagging feeling for a while now…I kinda felt I have somehow read this funny/silly LOLs before, but I just couldn’t put my finger to it…till I went all the way back to Dickens’ world in The Pickwick Papers. Without further ado, here’s Samuel Weller with his colorful metaphor when he finds someone has marked their coach with Pickwick’s name and Moses before it,

“…vich I call addin’ insult to injury, as the parrot said ven they not only took him from his native land, but made him talk the English Language arterwards.”

That, ladies and gentleman is the world’s first LOL*.

*As far as i know, Of course.

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