Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Category Archives: Search Engines

Commentary – Google and Amazon make us worse people

CNET – “Let me show you a magic trick. Make a choice — any choice. You’re already online, so maybe you want to read the news, check your email, surf your newsfeed, buy some food or any other number of things. Now for the trick, I’m going to tell you the companies that facilitated whatever choice you just made. It was almost certainly Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft or Facebook. OK, not much of a trick. After all, everyone knows these five tech giants control vast swaths of the internet, directly or indirectly — Amazon alone, for instance, facilitates nearly 40% of online commerce in the US and holds a whopping 23 million IP addresses thanks to its subsidiary Amazon Web Services. That online control has material ramifications. Last week, leaders of companies like Sonos and Popsockets took shots at Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook in a House antitrust hearing, arguing that the tech giants exert unfair control over their respective markets — shutting out competitors, squashing startups and exploiting smaller companies to maintain their immense power and profit. Ah, monopoly: It’s a tale as old as, well, the board game, at least. But the problem goes deeper than the economy. These massive companies might actually be making us worse people. They’re narrowing our choices online, intentionally corralling us toward behavior that benefits them. Rather than outright coercing us, though, these companies use a handful of key motivators — convenience chief among them, not to mention the “approval, attention, retweets, shares and likes” of social media — to condition us to behave in certain ways. But that conditioning has an unexpected outcome: As we practice decision-making driven more by impulse and economic self-interest than by any more deeply held values, we erode our conscience over time. In short, we’re becoming worse human beings…”

Google’s ads just look like search results

The Verge: “Last week, Google began rolling out a new look for its search results on desktop, which blurs the line between organic search results and the ads that sit above them. In what appears to be something of a purposeful dark pattern, the only thing differentiating ads and search results is a small black-and-white… Continue Reading

How to Be a Better Web Searcher: Secrets from Google Scientists

Scientific American – Researchers who study how we use search engines share common mistakes, misperceptions and advice – “…We Google researchers know this is what many students do—they enter the first query that pops into their heads and run with the answer. Double checking and going deeper are skills that come only with a great… Continue Reading

The browser wars are back but it’s different this time

The Verge – It’s about privacy, not marketshare: “…First: there are new browser technologies and limits coming that could radically change how ads work and could make it easier for you to protect your privacy no matter what browser you use. Since this is the web, it’ll take time, but everybody seems committed. Second: the… Continue Reading

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

The New York Times – “A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images — and “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says. Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow… Continue Reading

Google ends third-party cookies in ad-tracking

MyBroadBand: “Google is planning to “render obsolete” a key tool advertisers use to track people around the web, increasing user privacy but also disrupting the marketers and publishers who rely on the search giant’s ad products. Over the next two years the Alphabet Inc. unit intends to stop supporting third-party cookies in its Chrome browser,… Continue Reading

Verizon Media launches OneSearch a privacy-focused search engine

VentureBeat: “Verizon Media, the media and digital offshoot of telecommunications giant Verizon, has launched a “privacy-focused” search engine called OneSearch. The launch comes at a time when public trust in big technology companies has hit rock bottom following countless reports of breaches, lapses, and data harvesting escapades. Consequently, “privacy” is pretty much the buzzword of… Continue Reading

A Billion Medical Images Are Exposed Online As Doctors Ignore Warnings

TechCrunch: Every day, millions of new medical images containing the personal health information of patients are spilling out onto the internet. Hundreds of hospitals, medical offices and imaging centers are running insecure storage systems, allowing anyone with an internet connection and free-to-download software to access over 1 billion medical images of patients across the world.… Continue Reading

I finally switched from Chrome to Mozilla Firefox and you should too

Digital Trends – “The biggest draw for me was, of course, the fact that Mozilla Firefox can finally go toe-to-toe with Google Chrome on the performance front, and often manages to edge it out as well. But that didn’t happen overnight. Since Firefox’s 2017 overhaul, Mozilla has been pushing updates around the clock. Today, in… Continue Reading

The end of the beginning – changes in technology shift

Stratechery: “The story tech most loves to tell about itself is the story of disruption: sure, companies may appear dominant today, but it is only a matter of time until they are usurped by the next wave of startups. And indeed, that is exactly what happened half a century ago: IBM’s mainframe monopoly was suddenly… Continue Reading

Introducing the CC Search Browser Extension

Creative Commons: “Creative Commons (CC) is working towards providing easy access to CC-licensed and public domain works. One significant step towards achieving that goal was the release of CC Search in 2019. Through this search and indexing tool, we’re making a plethora of CC-licensed images accessible in one place. As CC Search expands to include… Continue Reading