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Thoughts about New/Social Media

TechWatch: Bing! Google’s gotcha.

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1/ Bing bongs

Microsoft and Google are the two biggest headline makers this week with product announcements, but there was only one winner at the end of it. Despite being the more optimistically named product, Microsoft’s latest foray into search, Bing!, created a small splash in the tech world before rippling away into a collective “meh” heard across the Web.

Initial reviews on the “decision-making engine” (as they call it) have largely been positive, with critics pointing out that Bing delivers results more contextually, and gives the user a deeper look into the page without leaving the search page — say, for instance, that you’ve Binged Mandy Moore (heh), and her videos  would pop up on the search results page, which you can play without going to the source site. However, many are doubtful over Bing’s effect on the search market, seeing the Goog’s dominance in search. To paraphrase a saying: “If a search engine launches but no one is around to query it, does it exist on the Interwebs?”.

Bing, much like its namesake Chandler, tries too hard to get something out of their league. 

2/ Waving goodbye to e-mail

While Microsoft gets the mehs, Google Wave gets the w00ts. The product — due out at the year’s end — can be roughly described as a cross-breed between Instant Messaging and e-mail. The thinking behind the project is this: “If e-mail was to be invented today, how would it look like?”

The answer, according to lead developers Lars and Jens Rasmussen — the brothers who created Google Maps — was to restructure electronic communication into a thread-like structure, as seen from this chart that Mashable drew up:
waveentities

Which translates into the Wave page like so:

gwave

Seeing how e-mail is becoming shorter, and how users are attuned to Facebook’s and Twitter’s message structure, Google Wave is a step in the right direction in re-inventing Web communication — if it does what the pitch says, it would change the way we organise projects, converse, and share documents. Wave’s functionality goes beyond being a re-invented e-mail system: With the combination of third-party applications being developed for Wave, it could be whatever you want it to be.It could be a bulletin board, an assignment board, a tool for media companies to discuss with their readers… the possibilities are endless.

On top of that, Wave also enables real-time communication, so instead seeing the “John is typing a message” line as you would on an IM client, you get to see what the other person is typing, letter-for-letter, as if you were conversing in a Sesame Street cartoon. Very cool. Except during the times when others can see how bad your train of thought is. (Thankfully, Google has given you the option of switching off that function.)

Here’s Lars to demonstrate to you the potential awesomeness of Wave, due to make e-mail irrelevant in 6 months time, if not sooner.

3/ Obligatory Apple rumour

Of course, it wouldn’t be a tech-roundup without an Apple rumour as the WWDC gets closer. Gizmodo has scoured the web and found a Hong Kong-based blog with photos of a new iPhone that it says are “very real”, featuring compass and auto-focus functionalities that will get fanboys drooling until the new phone is announced, which is almost a certainty.

“I would be absolutely shocked if there is no announcement regarding the iPhone 3G refresh at WWDC,” writes Ed Oswald from the Technologizer. “Everything we are seeing — from the shortages, to the ever-building rumors, to those ‘leaks‘ all point towards it. ”

4/ Microsoft’s hard times

We have also learned this week that EU Comptetion Commissioner Neelie Kroes is one hard woman to please, especially where Microsoft is concerned. Though the EU has stacked up more than $2 billion in fines against Microsoft, the outgoing commissioner — who has called out Microsoft as not compliant and more than doubled the original penalties — plans to hit Microsoft further by forcing them to incorporate other browsers into Windows. According to the Wall Street Journal story:

People close to the case say EU regulators are inclined to demand a so-called ballot screen that would present a new computer user with a choice of browsers to install, and the option to designate one of them as a default. Regulators have also signaled that they may require Microsoft to ensure contractually that computer manufacturers keep the ballot screen on machines they ship.

5/ The Web does not like Scientology

As we’ve seen before with Project Chanology — a protest movement against the practices of the Church of Scientology — the Internet is not Tom Cruise’s friend. Last week, Wikipedia banned contributions from the Church of Scientology, ending a long-running dispute over the editing of Scientology-related articles on the site. Wikipedia ruled that all IP addresses owned and operated by the Church of Scientology and its associates are to be blocked as if they were open proxies.

According to the Guardian article, the disagreement stems from the “edit-warring” between the Church of Scientology and its followers and critics in trying to portay the belief in a positive or negative light; Wikipedia maintains a strict policy on being neutral.

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Written by John Lim

June 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Posted in New Media

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