Bleh. Two nights with five hours of sleep a night are catching up to me. I did a couple sessions today. I was scheduled to talk for Pundits on Search, and then I hopped in on Duplicate Content Issues to tackle Q&A and discuss a few high-order bits. I was added to that session at the last minute, so I didn’t bother to make PowerPointage; I just talked about some suggestions that I’d bear in mind. Chris Boggs did a great job of covering the duplicate content session.
For the “Pundits” panel, the questions were softer than I expected. When you’ve got three poster bloggers from GYM in one place, I expected more “Let’s try to lead the experts into a mine field and then take off the blindfold”-type questions. Barry did a solid job of covering the session, but it was a bit of a “you had to be there” session. I gently teased Scoble because some versions of IE7 didn’t have a Google search option built-in, and the instruction manual showed you how to add (AOL? Ask? Yahoo?) but not Google. On the other hand, Scoble gave props to Google on mobile phones and for several other things, so everybody got along and nobody had hurt feelings.
Other tweaks I’d add to Barry’s write-up:
- Vertical search start-ups. I think it’s great that different folks are tackling vertical search areas. Power to them for exploring these opportunities. I mentioned that it was a plus that it’s easier to start a company these days. On the minus side, existing search engines have a lot of infrastructure, so trying a vertical search experiment is a lot easier for us (we already have a large chunk of the web, indexing code, a serving infrastructure, etc.). I had a nice chat with someone from Oodle and gave my recommendations for site architecture and subdirectories vs. subdomains.
- d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. – I mentioned the bad first experiences I’d had with delicious (importing bookmarks didn’t work for me) and Flickr (I hit a size quota immediately because I tried to upload full-size images), and how social search might not gain traction with regular non-techie folks for a while. The analogy I used was wireless stuff back in 2000-2001; it was clear that wireless would be important at some point in the future, but pinning one’s hopes to a WAP/WML search engine back in 2000 could be premature. In the same way that it was early for wireless back then, part of me wonders if Yahoo’s emphasis on social search is too soon. My Web 2.0 was launched around June 28th, 2005, so that’s 246 days or about 8 months (no, I’m not a savant; I searched for [date calculator] and used the first result). The My Web 2.0 page says that Y! is serving 170,160 tags, so dividing that out, is that under 700 new/distinct tags/day? It’s late, so I’ll leave the detailed discussion of tag growth for another day; such is the stuff of late-night debates. Also via TW I notice that Greg Linden of Findory fame is thinking about this too, especially the issues of spam (remember meta-tags?) and non-participation.
- What to expect on webspam in the coming months. We’re open to whatever techniques are scalable and robust. We’re working on decreasing webspam in other languages. No surprises for current blog readers.
- Video search. I used to be a skeptic, but availability of tools/cameras plus distribution like Google Video and YouTube is winning me over, especially after I lost a lazy Sunday afternoon just surfing the top videos at those two sites. The clincher for me was when I got hooked on Lost for a while. I Netflix’ed the first season, but after that I was stuck in the middle of season two without seeing the first few episodes of season two. So I bought six(?) episodes of Lost from the Apple video store, watched them, and now I’m caught up and can watch Lost with the rest of the world. If you’d asked me a year ago if I’d ever pay for TV show downloads, I would have laughed. Turns out I was wrong. Sometimes convenience is worth a buck or two.
What else? I got a couple smart suggestions for Sitemaps features, a couple bug reports, had some really interesting conversations about spam in Germany and spam with a large catalog company, collected the latest gossip on competitors, heard a couple ideas for future spam attacks against us, and got to meet some new folks at dinner. So it was a good day.
Update: David Utter summarizes the pundits panel and the duplicate content issues panel well, if you’d like to read a different report.
Update: And it looks like there’s a podcast of the pundits panel, courtesy of Webmaster Radio. The mp3 is at http://media.webmasterradio.fm/episodes/audio/2006/SC022806.mp3 . So now you can hear the whole thing for yourself if you want. Danny has a post here about the pundit panel, but the mp3 that he points to is http://media.webmasterradio.fm/episodes/audio/2006/SC022706.mp3, which is Barry Diller’s keynote instead. That keynote is notable for Diller’s suggestion that Ask.com should research a “Be Evil” philosophy, so you should listen to that too. (Thanks, Brian!)