Think you’re immune to Google Search? A new effort by the company promises to unearth your embarrassing Elementary School photos, achievements and other data, then incorporate those into the Google brain.
The Retro-Active Quantification Industry, which I believe will grow to a multi-billion $ valuation by 2015, made a big leap forward this week with the release of Google’s News Archive Search.
Many years in the works, the new service/feature allows users to do exactly what it says – search a huge body of archived small-town newspapers that have been scanned into Google’s system, converted from visual to text data using the company’s perfected system (note: they’re also working on a similar but more robust system that will mine text data – t-shirts, street signs, house #s, etc. – from photographs), and then indexed using Google’s world-famous search.
Best of all, Google allows you to view the original scanned images and “browse through them exactly as they were printed—photographs, headlines, articles, advertisements and all”, much like a microfiche in a library basement (remember those?).
Pairing with Google for its online mapping technology, New York City has (at last!) launched a state-of-the-art information center and comprehensive website to help visitors and others obtain the data they need about the city. The new platform serves up important information by category (i.e. hotels, dining, shopping, nightlife, arts, entertainment) and through Google maps seamlessly embedded into the site. (Here's NYC Mayor Bloomberg's version of the announcement)
Really a Mirror World: The result is a not only a successful city navigation platform, but also a big first step toward an official municipal mirror world through which people can interact online.
Predictions: Though it presently offers up only select slices of the NYC mirror world that exists as google maps, I expect that to change over the next few years as 1) the site integrates Google Earth, Street View and other apps, 2) the sites adopts community-related technologies and becomes an essential hub for advertising products, services, events, 3) the resolution of Google's NYC geo and info graphs increases, and 4) NYC and its citizens realize the power of a centralized, publicly owned mirror portal and demand its rapid development.
It simply makes sense that municipalities themselves should seize control of their own increasingly rich geo-info-social hubs and use them to drive value creation across a variety of domains.
The Race to Quantify Cities and Be the Prime Directory: Accordingly, I find it very likely that upon the successful Googlization of NYC many other cities will increasingly demand similar Google Worlds to boost their own commerce, public services and brand. And it's possible that Google could derive a significant amount of revenue by helping to deply these services, though they may also be glad to suffer the cost in exchange for the deluge of 1) geo-related information that would subsequently pour in as cities convert to Google as their official Directory, and 2) the additional advertising that would pour through such an official platform. -- Realizing this, my bet is that Google is gearing up to conquer the world city-by-city.
The Google Blog: Until today, Google Earth displayed only one image of a given place at a given time. With this new feature, you can now move back and forth in time to reveal imagery from years and even decades past, revealing changes over time. Try flying south of San Francisco in Google Earth and turning on the new time slider (click the "clock" icon in the toolbar) to witness the transformation of Silicon Valley from a farming community to the tech capital of the world over the past 50 years or so.
Along with a new 3d Mars feature, the additions have increased the scope and resolution of the largest publicly accessible simulation of our physical system, thus expanding the Google's information scaffolding and future monetization opportunities through an increasingly valuable Mirror World.
The new features also reinforce the notion of a rapidly growing retro-quantification industry rooted in our social desire to achieve topsight over space and time. A resource that quickly allows people to surf physical history is obviously critical to bettering our view of reality and thus improving the efficiency of our economic behavior.
nearly 5% of its market value yesterday when Microsoft
announced that it will begin offering rebates to consumers who use
its Live Search
to discover and purchase products. The action marks the beginning
of a new phase in the online battle for our attention which will
gradually return more and more value to the user.
It is significant and a bit surprising that Microsoft, a company
known for squeezing every last bit of value out of its dominant
position in operating systems, and not Google (which is using a
very similar tactic vs. Wikipedia by creating a competitor,
Knol, that returns ad
revenue to contributors)is leading the charge to return capital to
its users. Though I’m sure Google has similar options readily
available (having so much familiarity with revenue splitting via
its AdSense program and development
of Knol) this goes to show the company is confident in its ongoing
development of search and content to react to Microsoft’s moves and
let the market do the talking.
The Main Takeaway: As the value of human attention
allocation continues to rise and more competition essentially
commoditizes current web applications, we can expect that companies
will be forced to either 1) return value directly through revenue
share, 2) return value through a superior product and/or network,or
3) a combination of 1 and 2. We should expect these trends to
transform our web experience over the coming years as search
companies (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Fledglings), Semantic Web
Companies (Twine, Adaptive Blue), social media
(Digg, Reddit, Stumble Upon),
social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn), prediction markets
social web browsers (Medium, Flock), etc. all try to garner human
Microsoft being forced into the value-added game is a strong
indication that the rise in value of attention allocation is quite
Update: Some thorough and spot-on analysis of the
situation by Michael Arrington