Next Digital Breakfast with Google

We have the first video up from the Get Digital breakfast with Google.

Yuri Narciss, Head of Technology Industry Sales talks Innovation.

The event was held on Thursday 12 March 2008.

This is Part 1 of 4.

Slides will be coming soon.

Top 150 Media & Marketing Blogs

Just came across this useful list from Adage. Check it out here. Good to know who the online influencers are. Not surprised that Seth Godin’s blog is #1, he’s considered king amongst online marketers.

Also, high up there are Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch, which I occassionally read as well to stay on top of the search game. Problogger is up there too, one of the top authorities on blogging and its Australian too!

Speaking of search, I’m going to be doing a few things to get up to speed on the search industry:

– I’m doing the google adwords webinars. They have these web seminars about various topics. It’s like 1 or two a week. There’s one on tomorrow at 11am for Quality Scores. This is free.

– I’m also attending the Yahoo search Masterclass at ad:tech. It’s on the 11 – 12 March at 12pm. Next Digital is actually speaking straight after at 1pm on Digital Marketing Strategy.Free.

Google Maps + Fire Info = Google Fire

Australia is under a heatwave right now. The temperatures are soaring and bush fires are ravaging through people’s homes in Victoria. As of writing 35 people have died from these fires, which allegedy have been lit by arsonists.

Google has put together a mashup from google maps and the RSS feed from Country Fires Authority as to location, danger, and size of the fires. If yesterday was Google Ocean, then this must be Google fire!

Check out the map here.

Google Ocean? Check out Google Earth’s new features

Google never fails to impress me. I’ve been catching up on my reader feeds, and was reading the Youtube blog and came across the new Google Earth 5.0 features. It’s off the hook!

Now you can look at the ocean, go underneath the ocean, and also check out thing people have landmarked. Like videos of fish they have discovered at a certain point, websites about a certain location. It looks like a mashup feature with geo tagging (tagging the actual location on google earth). I won’t talk any more, and I’ll let the video do it justice.

I’m out like Google Ocean,


Experiment faster, fail faster, quicker to market – Gmail Labs

A lot of people use the popular gmail client. It’s only been around for 4 years, and it is rapidly catching up to hotmail, Yahoo mail and AOL Mail. The techcrunch blog reports:

“According to Google launched Gmail only four years ago, and it is now the fourth most popular e-mail service on the Web after Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, and Windows Live Hotmail. In 2008, it saw some serious growth in the U.S. Google doesn’t break out the number of Gmail users, but comScore estimates unique monthly visitors. According to the latest stats, the number of people visiting Gmail grew 43 percent last year to 29.6 million.”

That’s some serious growth. I’ve got 3 gmail accounts along with 2 other ones for my domain I switched to gmail because it was new at the time and the incredible storage space. But I’m not going to harp about Gmail’s growth.

Google Labs & Gmail Labs

I wanted to highlight this feature which I have known about for a while, but never used. It’s called Gmail Labs. Google has an experimental arm called “Google Labs” which has products that are available but they are not quite ready yet. As part of this, there is gmail labs which contains a host of innovative and experimental features. It’s not ready for public roll out, but you can try it out and leave feedback for them.

The premise is that a google engineer can come up with an idea during lunch time, and have it implemented within a couple of hours. That’s incredible. It doesn’t go through a lengthy process of review, analysis, testing – it just rolled out for experiementation for users. I believe that’s the best way to find out if something will be popular.

It allows google to get new products out there for testing by the public and to get a superior advantage in the market place by being the first to go to market. How many companies would do this?

You can try out gmail labs by clicking on “settings” in the right hand corner of your gmail account. Then you click on labs and you can try out a bunch of nifty features.


Features I’m experimenting with

I’ve currently trialing the following Gmail Lab features:

1. Switched the chat coumn to the right hand side.

2. When I right click on my mouse I get a quarter circle which allows me to navigate to the previous email or the next one.

3. Send & archive button: How often do you send an email and then go to the sent box and archive it. This is awesome. They should have this as a default in Microsoft Outlook. I would use this everytime to archive work emails to clients.

4. Default “reply all”: Normally all email clients are just “reply”, so it assumes you want to reply to everyone as a default.

The catch with Gmail lab features is that they are experimental and can be taken down. There is also a fail safe button to restore back to your normal settings. This is what I like about Google, the ability to come up with innovative products and also to push the boundaries of normal accepted practices.

I’m out like hotmail,

Matthew Ho.

Google on Public Policy

I read about 5 – 6 different Google Blogs such as the Official Google Blog, Adwords Agency Blog, Adsense and the Gmail Blog. It’s necessary for me to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of Google. The great thing about Google is that they have a lot of different departments blogging and keeping the dialogue open with the general community at large. They’ve got 100’s of blogs and I think it’s great. As soon as something new happens, these guys blog about it and it’s really setting the standard for other organisations.

One of the more interesting blogs I have come across is the Google Public Policy Blog. It’s probably not as well read as the other blogs but I would argue that its just as important. An indicator of how popular a blog is the feedburner counter (i.e. how many people subscribe). It’s only at 5,475 compared with 529,000 on the official Google Blog.

Its important to hear about Google’s views on public policy and government. As an organisation, it has really become monolothic and huge like almost overnight – its only really a decade old. Compare this with other other organisations of similar size which probably took decades to build  i.e. 30 – 100 years . It is a very influential organisation which interacts with millions of people on a daily basis through search, email, video, RSS, advertising, maps and so on.

Google is so dominant in the field of search it is without peer. Hence, when they tried to do a business deal with Yahoo to display ads, people were jumping up and down like mad. It has to deal with a lot of issues such as its monopolistic practices, anti-trust,  influence on the U.S government through lobbying on access to more bandwidth access for the community, net neutrality, green energy, etc..

The blog could be no more than a mouthpiece for Google’s lobbying efforts to Washington. But from what I have read, it has a lot of interesting information on its views and thought policies. I probably find this more interesting than most people as well, since I’m a qualified lawyer who now works in digital marketing.

On a related note, the interaction between law and the internet continues to evolve. One of the big issues at the moment are the legal issues around user generated content (UGC). I’m probably in a unique position because I’m one of the few people that subscribe and regularly read the Law Society and other legal publications and also marketing publications such as B&T. I can see that its attracting a lot of attention because the talk is heating up in these magazines and on the web. UGC is stuff that users of social media generate, e.g. facebook and youtube videos, flickr photos, etc… The legal issues are around ownership, copyright, defamation, privacy and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I’m out like a decade,

Matthew Ho.

Ad Age Search Fact Pack 2008

Here is the link for the ad age search fact pack 2008. It covers SEO / SEM and is packed full of pie charts, stats and short stories on Google, Microsoft, Yahoo. Took me about 20 mins to go through it – nice overview of what’s happening in search. Covers industries like travel, politics, entertainment, what are the top search terms in these industries. Also lists the top 25 search firms.

Oh and yes we can! Obama becomes president – congrats.

Matt Ho.

Too much coke…..

Just drank too much coke.

Two things I’ve come across in the past 24 hrs:

Confluence. I’ve spoken to two friends about creating a wiki, and I’ve been recommended Confluence made by Atlassian, a company specialising in collaboration software. It’s also got a sharepoint extender which could come in handy as my company uses it. Sharepoint seems more useful for document management as opposed to using it for wiki’s and blogs. Twiki is also available as free open source.

– Yahoo and Google merger deal: This has been going on for a while, looks like its closer to happening subject to anti trust and regulatory review.

I’m out like too much coke.

When competition collaborates

One cannot survive without the need for competition. It is innate in all of us – to survive and to thrive, we must compete against each other. Charles Darwin said it best “Only the strong survive”. It is what pushes us to reach the next level.


Free market economies of the world operate on this principle – the idea of competition. By allowing opposite and opposing forces to generate the best outcome. It is competition which drives innovation. It leads us to higher levels of thinking and standards of living. Sometimes it is as simple as someone looking at the status quo and saying: “I think I can do better than that”.


One of the most interesting concepts I have come across that turns this competition principle on its head is “open source”. The idea that you can release intellectual property to the wider community and have them collaborate to generate solutions. Software companies have been doing this for a while now. Revenue used to be generated in selling licenses to software and the user would have to renew it on a yearly basis.


But now companies are giving up the Holy Grail – the source code to the open community to work with. I have recently heard presentations from Atlassian and Google, where they have provided their proprietary knowledge to the world. To allow people to work on it and develop better solutions and to enhance existing products.


The beauty of open source is that it is always getting updated. It might be version 2.0 today, but tomorrow it could be version 3.0. Plug-ins, enhancements and so forth, will be rapidly developing in the background. It is a symbiotic relationship between the company that owns the code, software developers and customers.


We had a presentation at work today from Google about their new products, and the concept that kept reappearing was open source. The idea that anyone can access it, work on it, and develop into something better. This principle applied to the upcoming release of the Android mobile platform, which will be used across all phones. They also discussed this idea of “open social”, which is one platform for all social networking gadgets and the idea of multiple communities. The problem at the moment is that a lot of these sites like Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster, etc… use different platforms. Many of these companies are now migrating to an open social platform, so that new developments can be rolled out across all these websites without having to modify them.


The other interesting concept that I have come across is “cloud computing”. I first read about it 8 months ago and it has become a much bigger concept now. The idea of cloud computing is that users can access something from anywhere. To illustrate, I can access my email from my home PC. But I can also access it from my laptop, work PC, an iphone, mobile device, from an internet café. You get the idea.


The user can come from anywhere. So applications and platforms need to be built to encompass all these different scenarios. Think of it as a big cloud, and you can fly into it from many different angles. It is the idea that it can be universally accessible. For me, a great example is the social bookmarking site Delicious. I save all my bookmarks on this website and I can log into any computer, on any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox) and can look at my bookmarks. Its brilliant. I have access to my information independent of where I am and from where I access.


The guys at Google also unveiled a new product called “Google Health” which is based on this cloud computing idea. You know how when you go to a particular doctor, that doctor has all your medical records. If you go overseas, and see a doctor in Barcelona, Spain they don’t have access to your medical records (true story – happened to me!). Or if you are in an accident, they need immediate access. In an even simpler scenario, you change doctors and all the records are with your old doctor.Google Health consolidates all your medical information onto one platform, allowing you to access it anywhere via the web. No doubt that security and privacy concerns abound – but you can see the power and the immediate usefulness of cloud computing.

Lastly, one of the cooler Google innovations discussed today was “Google Chrome”. It was released last week and it is a new type of internet browser, competing against Internet Explorer and Firefox. It has a lot of cool features (of course, it has to be open source), such as allowing you to save websites as shortcuts onto your desktop, change window panes around & resize them, view the source code and operating statistics, has all the built in plug ins and just runs a lot faster.


How they position themselves in the browser market will be interesting given that they fund Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer is planning to release version 8.0 pretty soon. But hey, competition breeds innovation. Let the browser wars begin!


In the IT space, we are seeing a different type of competition. Parties are collaborating together, proprietary knowledge is being shared and diffused to the public. Open source is likely to become the norm, as we collectively work together to solve problems. Will this also extend to other areas of business and other types of knowledge sharing? The idea of cloud computing also poses new ways of thinking – by combining all our information and having it accessible anywhere, anytime.