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Jul 10, 2008 - Spotting things you'll want to see today.

Google's Second Life
Google's room at Lively

On Tuesday Google announced their creation of a virtual 3D world called Lively. The new world exists as a browser plug in that makes it easy for users to embed their 'rooms' in web pages or possibly on social networking sites. Ars Technia experienced a hands on visit and found the early going a bit awkward. AdverLab picked up on the commercial implications (such as virtual rooms where you can watch Youtube videos on the big screen). Download Squad sized up the technology and wondered if it was simply searching for an application in social media.

The project came out of Google's 20% program (engineers are encouraged to spend one fifth of their time creating their own projects) but it fits in nicely with mainstream Google products such as Friend Connect so that, as Mashable pointed out, users can invite friends to their rooms from external social networks. Virtual worlds are attracting real money this year ($345 Million according to TechCrunch) and there is speculation that their time has finally come. Scobleizer analyzed another new launch called Vivaty and pointed out the very real advantages that now exist for virtual worlds that you can't find in Second Life.

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Long tail short on support?
Long Tail

Chris Anderson's 2006 book The Long Tail described an internet based commerce system where businesses could succeed in consumer niches that were difficult or impossible to accommodate in the brick and mortar world. It has become one of the web's most commonly quoted paradigms but now, as it matures, it will have to withstand the rigors of academic analysis. Harvard Marketing Professor Anita Elberse's article in the current Harvard Business Review presents compelling data indicating that the tail does not stand up to close inspection of consumer data and that mass market tastes still prevail. Anderson's response questioned Elberse's use of data that seemed to ignore the greater variety of products online that demand a different definition of terms like 'head' and 'tail'.

Most bloggers seemed ready to defend their grip on the long tail. Looking at the search perspective Marketing Pilgrim extolled the marketing virtues of customers who make the effort to seek out hard to reach products. Tech Crunch also brushed aside the academic article and pointed to Google's AdSense as proof that lots of little things do indeed add up nicely. Small Business Trends clung to their grip on the tail, claiming that small businesses often don't have the resources to compete effectively anywhere else.

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Google says a bit about how they search

Without endangering any major corporate secrets, the Google engineer responsible for ranking offered a brief introduction as to how the process works. He wrote about finding the best local result, keeping it simple and avoiding manual intervention. Marketing Pilgrim found the revelations somewhat helpful but questioned the meaning of 'local' in a global business. Andrew Wee took a more in depth look at the implications of additional behavioral information being added to the search algorithm. Google Sheds Light on Factors influencing Search Engine Rankings.


Tools: New and/or improved

Radar Screen: Yahoo opens a search API named BOSS

Much of Yahoo's survival strategy revolves around opening its architecture and letting outside developers create new exposures. This week they announced the really grand opening of their search technology with the hope that they will be able to supply ads to a vast network of vertical markets.


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