This week: Google, Bing, and ‘bawdy houses’

I’m going to look at a few articles I’ve meant to write about from the last week. 

Firstly: 

I really have nothing intelligent to say about this, besides how wacky it is that 21st-century legislation in Canada still refers to locations in which prostitution takes place as “common bawdy houses”. 

***

This week Microsoft launched Bing, their official attempt at going head-to-head with the omnipresent (potentially omnicient?) Google.  Bing includes a search engine, mapping software to compete with Google Maps, and even 411 business/business category searches.  I got the following in another email at work (this tends to happen a lot):

Lost in all the excitement around today’s public preview launch of Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine, was the subsequent launch of Bing 411. This is a direct swipe at another Google product, GOOG-411.

Both are free and both use speech-to-text technology and voice recognition to completely automate directory assistance calls. GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) has been going for a while, and is surprisingly intuitive. It keeps adding features like nearby intersections.

My take on this?  Bing is a Google clone.  There have been a few attempts in the past by others to compete with Google, and all have failed miserably.  But if anyone has the money and the influence to face-off against Google, it’s Microsoft.

***

Speaking of Google and searching, here’s an interesting article by the nearly-as-omnipresent (at least in matters webby-and-right-wise) Cory Doctorow in this week’s Guardian:

Search is too important to leave to one company – even Google

((I’m just going to cut to the chase and give you Doctorow-fans what you really want to see: the advocacy of user-based/public control))

Put that way, it’s obvious: if search engines set the public agenda, they should be public. What’s not obvious is how to make such a thing.

We can imagine a public, open process to write search engine ranking systems, crawlers and the other minutiae. But can an ad-hoc group of net-heads marshall the server resources to store copies of the entire Internet?

***

AOL and Time Warner to separate (news.BBC.co.uk) – What to say about this?  “It’s about time?”  “What took so long?”  “What’s ‘AOL’?” Yep.  I think that about sums it up.

***

Back in March I started using this nifty website called OpenTable.  Basically you sign up (for free) and it allows you to make reservations at restaurants across Canada and the US.  They have some interesting  partnerships as well; say I want to have flowers waiting for me at the restaurant to present to my date, a couple clicks of the button and I can.  So when I read about how OpenTable was so successful its first day on Wall Street, I was delighted. 

Its I.P.O. on Thursday made a lot of people think of 1999, as its shares, originally set to be priced between $12 and $14, were instead offered at $20, opened at $24.50 and then climbed to a high of $33, a gain of 65 percent. They closed Friday at $28.71.

Maybe the age of the dot-com isn’t as dead as we thought it was?

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