Wolfram Alpha: Exciting for Scientists, Boring for Everyone Else

Let me ask you something. Do you think we need Wolfram Alpha?

I know that’s the equivalent of asking someone circa 1999 “do you think we need Google?” but I’m just not sure what role the much anticipated search engine will fill.

Oh, excuse me. It’s not a search engine. It’s a “computational knowledge engine.”

The NYT tells us that Stephen Wolfram–Alpha’s creator–is “not keen” on the comparison with Google. But, even if it’s not a true search engine, will the average web user find value in Wolfram Alpha?

Consider some of the examples given to demonstrate the potential of Wolfram Alpha:

Type in “Pluto” and Alpha calculates the dwarf planet’s distance from Earth at that very instant…If you type “LDL 120,” it will return a graph showing the distribution of cholesterol levels among the United States population.

Why Display Ads are the Lifeblood of Online Publishing

There’s an interesting debate going on about a potential new feature for Adblock Plus–a Firefox plugin that automatically blocks web site ads from displaying.

I’m not so much interested in the proposed new feature–it would allow webmasters to ask for permission to display their ads, in case you care–but the discussion that followed in the comments.

The majority of commenters reacted negatively and really opened my eyes to the sentiment many people have towards online ads. Comments included…

I use Ad Block Plus because I don’t want to see adverts, any adverts at any time. I will never click on them, I will always be annoyed by them. The tiny minority of a tiny minority (ad block users of firefox users) don’t want to see them either. If ad block plus starts allowing ads or constantly nagging me then it will be forked – because it’s defeating its whole purpose – and I’ll use the fork.

YouTube Appealing to Advertisers, Naming Music Video Site Chief

mccafe-youtubeIn a story that has dragged on even longer than the Yahoo/Microsoft saga, YouTube continues to search for its monetization sweet spot. This January, they started a deal to run masthead ad units, which seventeen brands have utilized. Now they’re offering a synchronized homepage placement, and McDonald’s has signed up as the first advertiser.

Most of the brands already advertising with the masthead units are similar (or possibly competing) businesses: specifically entertainment brands EA, Apple, Lionsgate, Universal and Sony, many of which have deals with YouTube already (and more notes on the latest Universal/YouTube deal in a minute!). But McDonald’s advertising shows a departure from this. As Clickz points out,

Google Getting Twitterpated?

Marissa MayerWith the media-sweetheart microblogging service eyeing the search market, is it any wonder than any mention of any of those buzz words from a Googler gets everybody all excited about Google-Twitter convergence? If that’s not enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, check out what Marissa Mayer said in a press conference last week.

We are interested in being able to offer, for example, micro-blogging and micro-messaging in our search. Particularly in Blog Search and possibly in Web Search, but we don’t have any particular plans to announce.

The first reports, from Reuters, didn’t feature an exact quotation, so the first stories on this subject focused on the Reuters line about “integrating microblogging capabilities, such as those popularized by Twitter, into its search product.”

CEOs and Twitter

BusinessWeek is reporting on over 50 CEOs that are usingboardroom Twitter to some degree or another. Last August the magazine covered just 18 folks of this ilk but apparently there is a lot more to choose from these days.

Each CEO has a profile attached to them that gives their handle as well some some insight as to view of Twitter and who they follow but here are some of the basic stats that may be of interest to you. How do you view the use of Twitter by CEOs and other important corporate folks regardless of the size of the company? Is there more good or harm that can be done? Here’s some highlights.

Richard Branson, Virgin Group Chairman
Following: 6,589
Followers: 98,382
Updates: 98

Poltics as Unusual?

While we barely have a presidential election that felt like it was never going to end in the rear view mirror, politics are always cooking in theresonate background. Based on the past success of some efforts to more accurately target issue oriented voters and their web habits a new ad network, Resonate Networks, is getting some attention. The New York Times tells the story of an a mix of party strategists from both sides of the fence have joined forces to start this company. Politics certainly makes strange bedfellows as the saying goes but apparently so does a business venture that can generate some cash.

The lineup of founders and investors shows that money spends the same on whatever side of an issue you may be on.

Would This Google Chrome TV Ad Make You Switch Browsers?

<head scratching>

Let me ask you something. Would this TV ad compel you to try Google’s Chrome web browser?

Google plans to run the ad on television networks starting this weekend.

Do you think the average web user will know that Google Chrome is an alternative to Internet Explorer? Also, where’s the download link?

</head scratching>