Google Makes Public Data More Usable

In what is being called just a start, Google has introduced the ability to better search and then actually use public data. The data that beinggoogle-logo used in this initial run is provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Census Bureau’s Population Division. Google’s hope is to not only make this data more easily accessible but then be able to use it in a way that can be helpful through comparisons of different data sets.

Two years ago Google purchased Trendalyzer, which is part of this offering. The Google blog states

Online Sales Up in the US for Some

In a report from eMarketer there is a mixed bag of news for onlineshopping-bag sales from Q1. The study that was done by Forrester Research and shows an overall increase in online sales of 11%. Nice number for sure considering the daily doom and gloom that seems to dominate the economic news of most days.

Digging into the findings just a bit reveals how that increase is not something that appears to be felt across the board. Overall, 58% of those using the online sales channel experienced an increase in sales. When you put it that way it seems to say that the increase may be more a result of some areas showing bigger increases which were offset other poor performers. The chart below reveals the weak spot.

FTC Issues ‘Warning’ to Internet Companies

Yesterday we looked at the SEC and its involvement in the world of social media. The impact of even the thought of raising a big ftc-logogovernment agency’s eyebrow in this environment is enough to send the most daring social media companies to the corner for a time out to think about what they are doing.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that another of the US government’s big boys, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), fired a warning shot across the bow of Internet companies regarding proper collection and use of data for advertising.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that

Companies that track consumer behavior on the Web for targeted advertising without proper consent are near their “last chance” to self-regulate.

Facebook in the News – Again

facebook-logoThe arms race between Facebook and Twitter or social media supremacy has its good and bad moments. The good is that all of this ‘one-upsmanship’ should eventually lead to better tools for social media users. The bad news is that we have to hear about every time someone at one of these two companies has a thought.

So today’s update comes from Facebook. According to the WSJ

Facebook Inc. is expected to announce significant plans to open up core parts of its sites — namely the information that appears in the stream of updates on users’ homepages and profiles — to third-party developers so that they can build new services on top of it, people familiar with the matter say.

Posts, Tweets and the Law

ebay.jpgToday the WSJ tells the tale of eBay and its foray into social media that began in April 2008 with a blog then quickly moved to the world of tweets and tweeple in Twitter. The author of much of the content, Richard Brewer-Hay, spent most of the past year pretty well ‘on his own’ with what he was writing in both vehicles then the corporate version of a buzzkill took place.

The growing Twitter audience also attracted the attention of eBay’s lawyers, who last month required Mr. Brewer-Hay to include regulatory disclaimers with certain posts. Some followers think the tougher oversight is squelching Mr. Brewer-Hay’s spontaneous, informal style.
Financial services and insurance companies have long been hampered by what they can and cannot say that would upset the folks at the SEC and for good reason. Considering the state of the financial industry maybe this didn’t even matter.

Google Toolbar Lab Open for Business

google-toolbar-logoDon’t have anything to do this weekend? Wondering how you are going to fill the hours between now and whenever then is for you? How about kicking around the new Google Toolbar Labs for a while. The Google blog announced the new opportunity to test things out and help those crazy Googlers improve on the Google toolbar.

Just as Google Labs and Gmail Labs are playgrounds for new ideas, Toolbar Labs was built to get ideas out there quickly to see how you like them.

The first two Lab versions of the toolbar are interesting and quite different. The first is called Google Toolbar with My Location. This is designed to create the same experience for computer users that was given to the mobile set last September with Mobile Search with My Location.

Facebook Vote Results In!

Based on a post for the General Counsel for facebook-logoFacebook, Ted Ullyot, the results for the Facebook vote are in and the new rules / terms of service are in. Or are they?

As I read the post my greatest question was did they actually get 30% of their active users to vote so the following statement in a post from Facebook’s Grand High Poobah, Mark Zuckerberg, would play out

We encourage you to participate and make your voice heard. For this vote and any future one, the results will be binding if at least 30 percent of active Facebook users at the time that the vote was announced participate. An active user is someone who has logged in to the site in the past 30 days.