Bloglist

This page contains all my blogs from the whole semester. It is sorted in reverse order of the date that the blog entry was created.


blog:Summary of Project

by jenstanjenstan (07 Dec 2008 03:48; last edited on 08 Dec 2008 03:43)

My term project for BIT330, I researched the Social Networking Industry. My Wikidot site gives insight to an analyst in the industry on about how to go about finding information on social networking.

Problems that I encountered

First of all, the social networking is very big so I focused on the three main players, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, for the timeline of current events. I figured this would be most useful, especially to compare who is coming out with new technologies and staying on top of the industry. However, most of my other resources and search tools focus just on the industry in general.

It was impossible to weed out all of the aspects of social networking that were not business and technological related. For example, some of the things I looked for were new updates and applications added to social networking websites, as well as new social networking websites. Many of the searches also included criminal reports and news stories such as "Facebook Group Creator detained by Croatian Police" or "Court Rejects appeal over student-teacher drunk MySpace Pics." I could include in the search query to not include some key words (which I did in some cases such as [-friends] and [-romance]), but there is no way to predict everything. For example, one day when I checked my RSS feed there was about 20 results related to a priest being prosecuted for something on MySpace. I never thought to put [-priest] in any of my queries.

Websites on social networking I found to be the most useful. However, there aren't many sites just devoted to just social networking. Therefore, I had to use some with broader topics such as social software, which were still a lot of times more useful than other searches. For most of the different Search Tools, I didn't evaluate many different ones under them. This is not because I didn't spend a large amount of time looking into others, its just that my topic was not very easy to find information on. A lot of the search tools were hard to navigate through to just find technological information, as I talked about previously.

By the end of Tuesday 12/9, I would like a short blog entry (it would be approximately one page if printed) on this class site that basically summaries this information (and covers those things that you would have liked to have covered if you had been given more time). The point of this blog entry is to make it easier for me to grade your assignment. You want to point out the good things about your site so that I don't overlook them. Point out those parts that took particular effort on your part or that you think are deserving of special attention (for some reason) on my part. This entry won't be graded per se; I will use it as a guide while grading your project.


blog:Google and Money

by jenstanjenstan (25 Nov 2008 22:10; last edited on 25 Nov 2008 22:56)
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Have you ever thought about how Google makes money? Or why they let everyone in the world use their extensive resources for free? If you are like me, then you haven't. It never even crossed my mind once. I always just took it for granted, like the rest of the web resources out there. Little did I know that behind the scenes at Google are thousands of technicians and engineers working like Santa's little elves to keep everything up and running. Who then pays for all this??

Ben Lewis, product manager at Google, came to our class on Monday, November 25 and gave a presentation to us. I wasn't really sure what to expect. However, I definately did not expect the presentation to be all about how Google makes its money to keep the websites running. Although everything in the presentation tied back to the costs and revenues from each of Google's products, the lecture was really relevant and interactive to the class. The main projects Ben talked about included Ads & Search, Google Toolbar, iGoogle, Gmail, Google Enterprise, and Google Earth. So any idea which one of these is the most profitable?? Da Da Dum….GOOGLE TOOLBAR!!!

Google Toolbar

Google Toolbar is one of the most profitable projects for Google. Google has deals with many other companies such as Dell and HP to include the toolbar by default on new computers or download it when the user downloads another program. Also, other Google projects download the toolbar in conjunction with the project such as Google Earth.

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So Why Does Google Pay Companies to use Google Toolbar?

  • More Searches using Google versus other search engines (ties to Search & Ads)
  • Marketing for other Google Products
  • Branding
  • Page Rank

Costs

  • Distribution Cost
  • Bandwidth Cost
  • Paying the Engineering Team

This was shocking to me. I now see those boxes on top of my internet explorers but I don't think I've ever used them once. First of all, I didn't knowingly download them so I wasn't totally aware of their existence up there. Also, my homepage has always been Google as well so all I have to do is hit the Home button and it brings up the search box.

Gmail

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My first guess for Google's main source of revenue would have been Gmail. While I personally do not use it on a regular basis and only made an account for the first time through this class for email and page alerts, I know many people who do. If fact, they even have their school (umich) email forwarded to gmail. However, as I found out through this presentation, Gmail is the least profitable site for Google. Here are some key aspects of Gmail:

  • Google makes some money from the ads at the top of the page.
    • However, not many people click on these ads because the content in their email is much more important than the content in the ads.
  • The main costs to maintain Gmail, which are very high, are servers and bandwidth costs.
    • What offsets this high cost is that Gmail brings people to Google and they are more likely to use Google to search, increasing revenue from Search & Ads.

Everything Ties Back to Search & Ads

While the other Google projects and sites do bring in some of their own revenue, most of them are profitable for the company to maintain because they indirectly increase the profitability of Search & Ads. How this works is that companies bid for ads that appear when users search for specific keywords. When a user clicks on the ad, the company has to pay Google whatever they bid per click. Again, as do all of the other Google Projects, Search & Ads have some variable costs such as servers and bandwidth cost, operations costs, and sales cost, but the revenue generated by it far exceeds these costs.

My Concluding Thoughts

After hearing all of this plus much more, I really can't look at Google the same anymore. I now give it way more credit for its power and complexity than before. One of the first things I learned in this class is that we shouldn't always go to Google Search Engine whenever we need to find something. There is an never-ending supply of custom search tools that may be better to find what we are looking for. However, after hearing Ben's presentation, I feel kind of feel bad for Google. The employees put so much thought and effort into their projects and really believe in them. As much as I will try, I know I will never stop going to Google as my first stop when searching for information on the internet.


blog:Custom Search Engine for Social Networking

by jenstanjenstan (04 Nov 2008 02:43; last edited on 04 Nov 2008 19:34)

The idea of having a custom search engine embedded into my wiki site sounded amazing. It would make it easy for viewers of my site wanting to learn about specific aspects of social networking to find them on sites that I deemed appropriate and useful. It would save time and organize all the sites into one nice search result. However, what sites would be relevant to search that just include social networking information??

Three Main Players

This custom search engine above searches the three sites for the main players I am researching for my term project, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn. However, I don't really know how this would be useful to someone trying to become an expert in the social networking industry. While even though if I type in news I can get some search results from the websites on press releases and blogs about what's new on the sites, it really doesn't give that much relevant or useful information. However, if I searched for my name, the search engine found my facebook page. It also even found my friend's facebook page that linked to my page because I am her friend. Actually kind of creepy if you ask me.

Sites in Blogroll

Since my information resources on most of my wiki have to do with news and blogs, I thought it might be beneficial to make a custom search engine to search some of the websites in my blogroll. I have RSS feeds for these sites because they typically contain new information about the social networking industry. Therefore, someone wanting to become an expert on the field might be looking for one specific topic on these sites.

Sites included in custom search:

However, I found this search engine to not be super useful either. I tried to do example searches for a topic that someone visiting my wiki might want to know. The only queries I could really come up with were very broad, such as [news] or ["new applications"]. These results were not very useful. Most of the information updates from the social networking industry are very specific in which you would have to know the name of what you were looking for in order to search it. In this case, a custom search engine would work to give someone more information on a news item that was discovered in say an RSS feed on my blogroll. A custom search engine for social networking would not be a useful tool for the discovery of new information.

I may or may not decide to use a custom search engine in my wiki. If I do, I will definately have to tweek my sites included more and maybe discover more useful sites to search. Hopefully this will become clearer as I continue to gather more information for my term project.


blog:CiteuLike

by jenstanjenstan (29 Oct 2008 00:34; last edited on 29 Oct 2008 16:43)
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When I have no idea how to work a website or search engine such as CiteULike, I find it easiest just to experiment and see what happens. After briefly reading the FAQ page, and learning the basics of CiteULike, I just dove right in to find if it would be a useful tool for a student to use.

CiteULike is a free service to help you to store, organise and share the scholarly papers you are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details, so there's no need to type them in yourself.

Soon after registering on the website, I realized that it only works with certain specific sites. Some of them made sense like the Social Science Research Network and the MathSciNet, but then others were really random and specific that I don't think would ever really be useful in any research I would do, such as the Journal of Machine Learning Research. Another site that really intrigued me was Amazon. I was confused on what it would give me citations for because the link just brought me to the homepage of the online shopping site. So I decided to find something here and try it out.

My First Attempt to Cite

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I just looked around Amazon and decided to try the page for a "Present Time Smiley Luxe Fur Water Bottle pink". I copied and pasted the link into CiteULike like it told me, and I got this in response:

Sorry. Can't do it. I couldn't post the page you were looking at to the site because: This item on Amazon does not appear to be a book. It looks like a Kitchen.

After having a good laugh about it, I realized that if I would've thought this through I should have realized that it would at least have to do with some sort of writing or book, but now I know. And I also fell in love with an adorable pink fuzzy water bottle that I would like to point out does not look like "a Kitchen". (HINT: You should really get this for your daughters :) )

From a Student's Perspective

As a student, I feel that CiteUlike could only be somewhat beneficial, due to its lack of compatibility with most sites. After realizing that it meant that it could cite books sold on Amazon, I tried doing The Scarlet Letter, which they sell on the Amazon website. It worked. It also let me tag the page to make it easy to find in the future, which is really nice. I think that this would be very beneficial in doing an english paper or researching information from books. Once you have your sources, you can then export them and it basically makes a bibliography for you. Amazon is probably the site that I would use most, since it has such a broad range of books. Most of the other sites I have not heard of and found hard to navigate through to find information on a specific topic.

When I do research for a paper or project, I normally go to library databases for my sources. CiteULike does not recognize these files and would not automatically cite them from the URL. I could, however, type them in manually so that they appear with the rest of my sources and get tags, but it would almost be just as much work as doing them by hand. Therefore, I found the major benefit of CiteULike to be the online library that can be accessed from anywhere and shared with other people. For example, for a group project all the members could put the sources they found on CiteULike and share them with the other group members. They could also organize them by tags for the project to make it easier to find information.

Overall, I was not very impressed by its features and probably will not use it much in the future. The part that interested me the most was the amazon searches for things other than books, which doesn't really have anything to do with the actual features of the site.


blog:Yahoo Pipes

by jenstanjenstan (26 Oct 2008 02:19; last edited on 26 Oct 2008 19:09)
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Yahoo Pipes is so intense and elaborate and confusing yet really cool. In this blog I'm going to attempt to make a blog of news related sites with information on each one of my main players, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn. Hopefully as I go along this whole idea about Pipes and how it works will become a lot less intimidating.

Problem #1

Do I make just one pipe for all three, or do I make three separate pipes? To go about answering this question, I decided that I probably should just start making the pipe and see which direction it leads me in. In order to get a feed from a news search engine to enter into the source box, I had to first search for a specific item in the search engine. Therefore, I ended up searching for news articles about Facebook. This made me run into a second problem of having way too many results, which I discuss below. However, I just kept going and entered the specific feed on Facebook into my pipe. I decided that it may be easiest due to the fact that this is my first pipe and I should just go with wherever it takes me. I know for a fact, however, that feeds doing all three players at once, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, are possible through the filter functions and other things, but I will leave the discovery of those functions for another time.

Problem #2

Even after using my knowledge of search techniques learned in the class, the searches that I ended up with produced way too many results to actually look through them all. I'm not sure how this will affect the end output feed of the pipe, such as will I get 500 new results each day or will it automatically know that I've already seen the old ones and not show them again? I don't think that I can figure this out without trial and error, therefore I will leave it as is and modify it in a week or so if it overwhelms me with the number of new articles each day.

Problem #3

If the site does not have an RSS feed attached to it, what source do I use for the URL? For example, I used "Fetch Feed" as the source to input the URL of the RSS feeds for Google News and Yahoo News, but AltaVista News does not have RSS feeds for its searches. After reading the descriptions of each source and looking at examples, I realized that with my knowledge and inexperience with Pipes, using AltaVista News as part of my pipe may be too complicated for me to do.

My Sad-Looking Pipe

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Overall, I think that my first pipe creation taught me a lot, but I was not happy with my end pipe. Although I feel like I didn't do anything wrong so that the pipe wouldn't work, it will not be that helpful for my term project. I ended up only using two sources, Google News and Yahoo News, because they were the only ones that I found RSS feeds for. Perhaps I can use the other skills I learned about Page Monitors to somehow produce a feed for the other ones and then integrate it into that pipe. It is very scary how Yahoo Pipes required me to use a lot of the skills I've already learned in the class such as news searches, RSS feeds, search techniques and strategies, and others in order to make the pipe.

What Next?

Tutorials. Practice. Tutorials. Practice. I need to learn so much more about Yahoo Pipes to actually get the full benefit.
A shortcut that we learned in class that I would highly recommend is the Browse feature. You can clone other peoples pipes that they've already done the work making and then use or modify them to fit what you are trying to do. This is going to be my next step and hopefully will prove more successful than trying to make my own.

Unfortunately, Yahoo Pipes is still just as intimidating to me as it was before I tried using it.


blog:Deep Web

by jenstanjenstan (08 Oct 2008 21:59; last edited on 09 Oct 2008 02:37)
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Google, Google, Google!!!

Before BIT 330, I will admit that I was a typical user of the internet and always went to Google to search for information. I thought, "If I can't find it on Google, it must not be out there." Well, I was right on the aspect that Google search engine contains A LOT of information, but I did not realize that there was the whole other realm of the internet that people call the deep web.

The "Invisible" Google Doesn't See

What Google search engine doesn't see is over 100 billion documents that compose the deep web, including real time documents, proprietary sites with passwords, query-able data, and more. Many of these things I would have found very useful in my searches through Google. So the next step on my discovering of the deep web was to look through the sites used in class that search the deep web and see what is out there. A couple of the main sites we used were Scirus, Google Scholar, BNET, and Turbo 10. WAIT…Google Scholar? Maybe I can still have my faith in Google…

Google Scholar?

Wow. After learning of some of the flaws of Google Scholar, my faith in Google dropped even further. Yes, the advantages of it such as connecting to school libraries and indexing the full text of articles are very useful. However, my ten-year-old cousin could do better math than it. Okay, well technically the search engine doesn't do math, but in the realm of common sense it fails. When I used its seach box to find google it found 12 million results. When I searched for scholar it found about 4.84 million results. Now from first grade math we know that a search for scholar OR google should retrieve around 16.84 million results. Wrong. The search found only about 5.93 million results. How this works? I have no idea. But I do know that it is not right. Now don't get me wrong, the search results that it did find were useful and good, and no one in their right mind would look past the first 100 or so if they were really ambitious, but its just the point. Professor Moore made a good point in class that Google Scholar should be used like we use Wikipedia, as a starting point to base our research off of, but not as a main source.

Anti-Google, Pro-Deep Web Sources

Below are a few other deep web search engines that I feel are better than Google Scholar, not to mention far surpass the capabilities of my old go-to site Google Search Engine:

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  • Turbo 10 —> General deep web search
  • Scirus —> Specilizes in deep web searches of scientific information
  • BNET —> Specializes in deep web searches for business information
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Next time I need to find reliable and credible information on a topic, especially for a school project or paper, I will definately visit these sites instead of the boring old Google search engine!!


blog:News Search for Social Software

by jenstanjenstan (06 Oct 2008 16:39; last edited on 07 Oct 2008 19:13)
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Since Social Software is such a broad category and so many people with no authority write blogs about it, it is very hard to find credible sites of information on the subject. This is where I realized news search engines would be very useful. In this blog, I will explore news search engines that I didn't even know existed before this class. Hopefully, they will help me find more information on social software.

Google News Archive

The most intriguing and interesting search to me in class was the Google News Archive. Since Social Software is just in the last couple of years becoming such a popular thing, I figured a timeline might be a uselful tool to look at. Indeed, it was and my prediction was correct. The number of sites on the topic was small and stayed pretty steady until about the year 2001, and then steadily increased up until the present. Now it is almost triple the amount than it was in 2002. I would definately recommend Google Archive if you want to track the progression of information about a topic.

Jamesoo

My next news search was through site called Jamesoo. I thought the name sounded pretty funny and I questioned its abilities and also its statement on its homepage "Find what you'll never expect." This time I was definately proven wrong in my first reaction. I am amazed by this site and think it is probably one of the coolest that I have learned about it this class. What makes it so different from Google News and Yahoo News, is that it formats the page to look like a real newspaper, with tabs on the side to get to page 2, 3, and so on. The site even adds humor to the fact that it looks like a newspaper, stating in the top right corner "Please do not litter your computer after reading." In addition to the layout, I found the information in my search for Social Software to be very relevant to what I was looking for. The only downfall of Jamesoo that I found was no link to an RSS feed for searches. I wish there was one because this would be a very helpful feed to have on a blogroll to find information on the Social Software Industry.

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LexisNexis News

Finally, I will search LexisNexis News. My first impression was that it seemed very professional looking and credible, the opposite of Jamesoo. My impression was also biased because when I hear LexisNexis, I think of the search database that I used through the library for papers and projects. However, when I tried using the search box to search for my term project topic, a new window opened from LexisNexis that said there was an error. Now I'm not sure if the search function is just down now or the site is not very reliable in general, but it definately discourages me from using it as a news search engine in the future. On the other hand, if you are just browsing top news stories in large categories such as Businees or Sports, there are links directly on the homepage to what seem to be good sources. Unfortunately, however, LexisNexis News did not help me with my search for Social Software because it is not a common category.


blog:Searching for Social Software Information

by jenstanjenstan (30 Sep 2008 00:13; last edited on 01 Oct 2008 01:19)

As my next blog entry, I've decided to try applying what we've learned in class about Web Directories and RSS feeds to my term project. Up until now most of my searches in search engines have been unsuccessful, with maybe finding a relevant page or two to my topic. Let's see what I can find now.

Directories

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With tons of directories out there such as Yahoo Directory and DMOZ, I would think that I could find something. In a directory called Mahalo I came across a category called Social Networking that produced results useful to me. However, the category of Social Software encompasses much more than just social networking sites (a rough list can be found on Wikipedia). I found this to be a big problem when searching directories. Not all directories have the category you are looking for. In fact, in my search of numerous directories, I failed to find one that actually had a category just for Social Software. It was kind of disappointing since the benefit of such a directory would have been extremely valuable to my project.

RSS Feeds

Since my search of web directories was not very promising, I now am going to search for some RSS feeds and integrate them into my Bloglines page, which can be found on this wiki under Blogroll.

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My first search was right through Bloglines, using the search option "Search for feeds." The first ten did not look very intriguing or relevant. However, I continued to scroll down and found a feed from CNN on Social Software and Tagging. Now this is what I am looking for and was hoping to find to help make my search for information easier. This then intrigued me to keep looking at the rest of the feeds found. Normally, I would not look past the first 5 or ten results in a search engine, but I learned that this may possibly not be the case for blogs and feeds. I also took note that Bloglines automatically sorted the feeds by the number of subscribers, with feeds with the most subscribers at the top. This is not necessarily a good thing, because the users may have subscribed to these feeds for information other than social software. The method of sorting also reinforces that idea that I may need to look at more than just the first few results.

Actually, 10 minutes later I realized I was deceived into thinking that the site sorted them by number of subscribers because it was like that for the first few, with zero subscribers toward the end. However, after much more scrolling, I found feeds with hundreds of subscribers and in fact found them more useful. I didn't want to fix my information above to show that your first impression of a new search site is not always right. You cannot just make judgements about its procedures and ways of doing things without thoroughly analyzing it. However, my thoughts on looking past the first few results still stand, as how I found a very useful site near the 50th result.

What Should I Do Next??

Well, I find this to be a very difficult question. Web directories told me that I needed a more narrow search topic such as Social Networking. RSS feed databases told me that I could find information, but it was going to be extremely hard to find (not to mention super time consuming to search through pages and pages of results). As I continue my searches, I will look through other blogs such as Technorati and Blogs.com. Also, finding the RSS feed on CNN has led me in the direction of searching news websites. Therefore, even though my searches here were not very successful, they have given me clues as to other places to look for information and what aspects of social software I may need to focus on.


blog:Google Sets

by jenstanjenstan (21 Sep 2008 19:11; last edited on 21 Sep 2008 21:13)
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Google Sets is a version of Google's search engine site that automatically creates sets of items from a few examples. It is put out by Google Labs and is still in prototype form. SEO by the Sea, a site that provides internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) research and services, has a good article that explains how Google Sets works if you would like to know more background information about the site. The article also points out some flaws in it's accuracy, which is what I am going to look furthur into in my blog. I performed a couple of searches in Google Sets using all cities in Michigan. I then analyzed them to see if all of the results were in fact other cities in Michigan.

In my first search, I used large, well-known cities from all across the state:

  1. Detroit
  2. Ann Arbor
  3. Grand Rapids
  4. Marquette
  5. Kalamazoo

The search was very successful, with all of the cities returned in the results cities in Michigan. However, I re-ran the search, but this time using towns near my hometown in the upper peninsula:

  1. Ironwood
  2. Wakefield
  3. Bessemer
  4. White Pine
  5. Bergland

Because these towns are near the border of Wisconsin, the search returned towns near them in Michigan and also Wisconsin. Therefore, it did not specifically pick up on the fact they are all in the same state.

Despite some lack of accuracy, which is to be expected with any type of search engine, overall Google Sets does what it says it will do. I only searched for a small set (15 items or fewer). However, if you want to search for a larger set the results obviously get less and less close to what you intended the words to mean. For example, when I grew the set of towns in the upper peninsula, I started to even get some that were not only in wisconsin but minnesota as well. Overall though, compared to other search engines, Google sets seems to be in the same range of accuracy.

Therefore, I would recommend Google Sets to anyone looking for related terms. For instance, when you know there is a word for what you are describing but can't think of it, you can type in related words on Google Set. If you are lucky, one of the words that comes up may be the word that was at the tip of your tongue. This happens to me all the time and next time it does, I will be going right to Google Sets to see if I can find the answer.


blog:My first test blog

by jenstanjenstan (12 Sep 2008 03:28; last edited on 12 Sep 2008 03:28)

This is my first blog entry. I hope it works.

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