Quartz: Google’s true origin partly lies in CIA and NSA research grants for mass surveillance. “Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.” I realize that headline is a bit bonkers, but the article is written by someone who identifies himself as a former employee of the National Science Foundation.
Restobiz: Sirved launches world’s first menu-based search engine (PRESS RELEASE). “Sirved, the world’s first menu-based search engine, has launched its app that lets you search every menu from every restaurant — filtered by craving, dish, or dietary restrictions like gluten-free or vegetarian. The app rolled out on Dec. 5 across Canada, with some US markets already online and more coming soon. The app’s proprietary menu-search technology already indexes a database of more than 100,000 menus, from cool local spots to well-known names.”
Anil Dash on Medium: Underscores, Optimization & Arms Races. “A dozen years ago, the web started to reshape itself around major companies like Google. We can understand the genesis of today’s algorithmic arms race against the tech titans just by looking at a single character.” This is an important read. Depressing, but important.
Happy 14th Anniversary to Search Engine Roundtable! “This site, started as a way to keep my notes on the changes happening in the SEO/SEM space, has been consistently around and documenting those changes for 14 years straight. And I am proud to say, like I do every year, the core missions of this site has not changed – in those 14 years. We still cover what the industry is talking about from within the industry chatter. From Google algorithmic updates and chatter all the way to breaking news. We simply cover what you, the industry, is talking about it and care about.”
Wall Street Journal: Google, Shmoogle. Reference Librarians Are Busier Than Ever. This might be paywalled. “Even in the internet age, reference librarians still dig up answers that require extra effort, searching old books, microfilm and paper files, looking for everything from owners of long-defunct firms to 19th-century weather reports. Though online searches are now at the fingertips of most people, many still prefer to call or visit a library. Some can’t or don’t use computers; others recognize librarians have search skills and access to databases that search engines can’t match.” And still others want to ensure credibility. Eighteen years ago I was quoted in the New York Times as saying “If you wanted to publish a book that says 2 plus 2 equals 5, you had to go through a lot of effort and spend a great deal of money. But the cost of putting up a Web page saying 2 plus 2 equals 5 is virtually nothing.” Thank your local reference librarian.
Bloomberg Quint: Google Pays to Put Search Back on Firefox Browser in U.S.. “In a blog post, Mozilla said Firefox’s default search engine will be Google in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The agreement recalls a similar, older deal that was scuttled when Firefox and Google’s Chrome web browser became bitter rivals. Three years ago, Mozilla switched from Google to Yahoo! Inc. as the default Firefox search provider in the U.S. after Yahoo agreed to pay more than $300 million a year over five years — more than Google was willing to pay.” This ain’t good for Yahoo.
CBC News: Scientists build better search engine by mimicking fruit fly brain. “Sometimes nature knows best — and that’s particularly true for search engines. Nothing can beat the brain for its search engine, not even Google. And scientists are now designing search engines of the future with the brain in mind — the fly brain in fact.”