Articles written in May, 2008

May 2 2008

How we arrived at Web 2.0

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And Web 1.0 Begat Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is a buzzword for sure, and it’s also a style. It goes deeper than these, however. We have gained significant knowledge and experience in creating content for the web as a mass communication medium.

We have learned:

  • Black text on a white background is boring
  • There is an infinite amount of information out there
  • There is never as much time to read content as we want
  • The time people are willing to look for quality information is limited
  • Creating quality web content takes time and skill, which cost money
  • Web users need to promote and sell their services and products
  • The vast amount of Internet users all have something to say, have more web skills than before, and are mobile
  • Web 1.0, arguably, answered some of these dilemmas. Search engines worked on turning data to usable information. Desktop-based What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) web page editors made content production for the web feasible for non-techies. Animated gif files and Flash took the dullness out of hand-coded HTML pages.

    Since then, we’ve learned better ways of visually communicating information, improving user experience, and implementing this knowledge is the impetus for technological advances. These advances attempt to organize information as fast, as efficiently and as naturally as possible.

    Web 2.0 offers blogging software that allows quick and easy creation of entire websites and tagging systems to organize that content. CSS versions 2 and 3 provide very flexible text and layout formatting that is bringing web-based content production abilities up to par with centuries of advancements seen in the print industry.

    Social networks help people find information by reading others’ suggestions as well as assist in creating content and a web-identity.

    Advertisements on web sites are tracked, are available in multiple formats and are intelligently displayed based on numerous visitor-based metrics instead of completely random banner ads.

    Web 2.0 evolved out of various needs of Web 1.0 users, and these Web 2.0 optimizations have been applied throughout the Internet around the time when people started “getting it,” making Web 2.0 appear to be a style. But more than that, Web 2.0 is a thought process and an ideal.

    May 1 2008

    The Search Engine Algorithm Stakes – Alexa and Dogpile Enter the Race

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    As the big three search engines (Google, MSN, and Yahoo) have been so active of late, with advancements and proposals and deals flying back and forth between them, news on other search technologies available might have been missed. We’re going to take the opportunity now to welcome Alexa and Dogpile to the search algorithm stakes.

    Ask anyone involved with search engine optimization about the web traffic monitoring and rankings service Alexa (which is a division of Amazon) and you may have the answer preceded by an exasperated sigh. While the downloadable Alexa toolbar has been used by many Internet users, from the casual surfer to webmasters, the fact that the ranking site had based its statistical information from the toolbar users alone was frustrating. Some of the functionality that Alexa offered with the way it served up this data was good, but the fact that the data was, for lack of a better word, “skewed” was the cause of much frustration. It was Alexa’s heavy reliance on user data that led to the sighing and grinding of teeth.

    But this is no more. Alexa recently announced that it had completely revamped its ranking protocol. Alexa said it would be moving away from releasing data based solely on users of the downloadable toolbar, to ranking sites based on info from multiple sources. The new Alexa rankings are now based on more sources of data. This provides a much better indicator of website popularity, which in turn leads to better rankings as site popularity is more accurately reflected in the new and improved algorithms. Additionally, Alexa has introduced an improved methodology to provide consistently accurate rankings for all countries.

    Not to be left behind, Dogpile (owned by InfoSpace) has also made improvements. Dogpile has not only updated their updated search algorithm, but also their site design and they now offer new partner content.

    Dogpile’s updates include improvements in the blending of results (the importance of blended results has really come to the fore as a result of Google’s Universal Search), the addition of tabbed search categories on the home page, the launch of a “SearchSpy” social networking widget for Netvibes or iGoogle, deep links (which are along the lines of Google site links), and integrated content from new partner agreements

    While the big three search engines continue to one-up each other in terms of relevance and functionality, the smaller search engines and web ranking tools are doing the same. Alexa and Dogpile have shown that they are listening to their users and are serious about continuing to upgrade their offerings and providing their users improved features and technology. As Google, MSN, and Yahoo push one another to be bigger and better, their advancements also serve to inspire the other ranking and search technologies in the market. It will be interesting to see who will be the next entry to this stage of the race.

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