Google is Dead

February 23rd, 2009 Design, Thoughts

I think Google Search will become irrelevant within a couple years, but I’m interested in what other people think right now.

When and why do you use Google, and what does it get you?

To find a home page of a site you’re already aware of — I don’t remember the exact URL of John Gruber’s markdown site, but I can find it in two clicks with a Google search. It’s not long before Mac and Windows will allow you to do this with one click (50% better). We all use Google for this today, but who really needs Google for this?

To find a person. The first few results are always Facebook, LinkedIn, WhitePages, and ZoomInfo. I can search those sites myself, thank you. Again, Google is only serving to save me 1 or 2 clicks today. Their service is easily replaceable by better-integrated interfaces like QuickSilver.

To research a technical topic. Today the only useful result is Wikipedia, and its content is becoming more and more incomplete and unprofessional (un-useful) every day. This used to be a core strength of web search engines — one of the original missing features of the internet, which they solved — but they all seem to have lost it, partly because experts don’t make webpages anymore and partly because the search engines have abandoned any desire to focus on serving a technical audience. I think the only audience that matters online in the long term is the technical audience, because today’s techies define tomorrow’s mass-market. Google Scholar and Google Search are opposite poles (both useless) of the service we need. This is technically feasible but completely un-implemented right now as far as I know, though I know a startup looking at business services. As an aside, I think PageRank is responsible for this mess.

To look up something in pop culture. At their current pace, this is probably the only place where Google’s general search will still be relevant in 5 years, which is sad for Google because MS, Time Warner, News Corp, and anyone else can do this just as well. This “lowest common denominator” search is not distinguished, interesting, or profitable. The only explanation for why Google has gone this way is relentless pursuit of growth (measured indiscriminately). Let’s hope they can spin out enough interesting side-products to remain somewhere near the cutting edge (or hope not, depending on who you root for).

Google Search is dead. Google will make plenty of money from organizing others’ advertisements for a while to come. “Internet Portal” has always been one of the most fickle and unreliable businesses to stake a claim in, and this is effectively where Google Search is. Now that I think about it I’m convinced that in the next 5 years “Portal/Search” belongs to the operating system developers (Apple, MS), and not internet companies — because operating systems own the first click, and that’s all it ought to take to find anything. Google won’t have a say unless they can get Chrome to replace the Finder/Explorer, which they want to, but I don’t think they can do that soon enough. Perhaps Facebook could get a niche foothold in if they can broaden their service enough to include static information as well as social info.


February 19th, 2009 Personal

I’ve read a few books this year and realized that it can be fun and informative. Obvious? Well, it’s been a while since I made time for it.

But reading mad me realize there’s a bunch of books I want to read. Just in case anyone ever feels like buying me something (and partly to keep track for myself), I used Amazon to make a wish list.

Check it out: good things to buy Tom.

CA State Parks now include Kitchen Sink! (aka WiFi)

January 21st, 2009 News, Outdoors

This is incredible (press release). A couple years old but I’d never seen it.

Ed Abbey may be spinning in his grave, but State Parks have always been the piece of our land management system that compromises for convenience and accessibility. In some ways they’re the gateway drug that helps urbanites understand land management and conservation. In some ways they’re the inverse-wilderness area that helps keep careless, inexperienced tourists away from the more fragile and less-watched wilderness further from highways — at the same time raising funds that partly go to protecting those places.

I think this is a good move, and I may even use the service some day.

Thanks to Steph for the link.

I like Stanford

January 13th, 2009 School

It’s only Tuesday, and this week I’ve seen talks by (along with many of Stanford’s distinguished faculty) Jamie Dimon, John Doerr, and Eric Schmidt. Those are possibly the three most important people in American finance and entrepreneurship today.

It’s only the second week of class, and I’ve met about two dozen new classmates. It seems like they’re all smarter, more focused, and more accomplished than me.

Stanford is intense. and awesome.

I’ll post more soon about the results of my job search (looks good!) and my classes this winter soon. But for now I just wanted to say that I entered this quarter determined to give myself a more relaxed schedule, with more time for personal development and relationships, and that while I’m only taking 3 classes, every time I shave something from my schedule I immediately seem to find 3 more exciting opportunities to use the time I just saved. As long as I can avoid the temptation to do everything, I think everything will be sweet.

End of Quarter

December 10th, 2008 School

The three finals I’ve taken so far all went better than expected, which means I will probably pass all of my classes but study less than I should for my last final, which is tomorrow morning. There’s not a lot of snow yet, but all I can think about is strapping on skis (save the board for real snow). Ozomatli show in SF tomorrow to celebrate, and then I’m off to Tahoe (Heavenly) for most of the next two weeks. Life is about to be awesome again.


November 14th, 2008 Design, Thoughts

I recently got into three albums which are all surprisingly good, so I thought you should know:

Rise Against – Appeal to Reason
Somehow these guys keep getting better. It’s hard to argue whether this album sells out more or less than Siren Song… did, but both are effective and I think this album returns them to slightly harder (while still extraordinarily well-produced) punk rock hooks. Infectious, and despite how catchy it is, you can’t quite label it pop-punk.

Hilltop Hoods – The Hard Road
Australia has a hip-hop scene. I discovered “Recapturing the Vibe” on the trailer to Poor Boyz’ latest ski film and there are a number of other standouts on the album (Stopping All Stations, What a Great Night). Also checkout Nosebleed Section on their Calling album. They rip the mic and they tell good stories. Oh, and they have funny accents.

E.S. Posthumus – Unearthed
Ever watched a movie trailer that had a symphonic score but with a techno beat to make it harder-hitting? It turns out all of those trailers feature one of 3 or 4 songs by E.S. Posthumus. Really good mood music, depending of course on your mood ;)


November 3rd, 2008 Thoughts

After the umpteenth time spilling water on my wireless keyboard, I think it finally died.

My new Apple USB keyboard doesn’t have a Help key. Man, I hated that key. No other key always makes an annoying window pop up when you accidentally tap it. An awful window that, in MS Word at least, can’t be closed by keystroke. Grr. Thank you, new keyboard.

We had a great Halloween party last night. Having a bartender for a roommate is not only convenient and enjoyable, it can make you cool by association. Phil, you’re the man, and a very scary clown.

Technology Prices

October 28th, 2008 News

I just wanted to share that buying a second 1GB stick of RAM for my computer was nearly 10x cheaper than when I bought the first stick a little under 3 years ago. $22 is so much less painful than $172. Technology is sweet.

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