Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The web is broken, please fix it.

This is a rant.

I swear every god damn ad I have seen on the Internet this week is either: "One flat stomach rule." or "Get your economic stimulus check." Both sound like scams. Do Facebook and Digg think I like to be scammed? "Head-on apply directly to the forehead" was cute 2 years ago, now the ad blitzes are just ****ing annoying.

Advertising is broken.

Google makes the big bucks because ads is what they do. Hell they even applied machine learning to advertising. That's right artificial intelligence, people worry about a robotic apocalypse via military means. Little do they know robots will just get us to spend ourselves into oblivion.

Facebook doesn't make money because there is no splash page. You can't show the same rotation of ads to everyone that other sites do. You read the same type of content on every page of Facebook, yet the context of every page is different. Give me ads relevant to my current context and CPM's will go up. If I didn't click on an ad the first time you showed it to me, why would I click on it when it is next to Billy's profile? I have to give them credit for generating ads relevant to me, but give me some variety already! Yes I am a software developer, that doesn't mean every ad I have to see be in regards to "Great company looking for a rock star developer". (Whoever made that ad, I will never find a job through an ad. Job site maybe, but truth be told, if your an 'awesome' company, developers will find you.)

Facebook is broke(n). (You could argue they never had a business model.) (Twitter is following closely in facebook's foot steps).

On the topic of repeated things. I'm sick of seeing old web pages. PageRank worked great when the web was still new, the web is old now, I want recent information (I don't want JavaDocs from 5 years ago, I want the JavaDocs of the latest release.)

The web is old, stinky, and full of noise.

Case in point: is probably the biggest thing to happen to search since Page Rank. Take up to the minute status updates from Twitter, re-rank articles based on Tweet freshness. Dead simple idea, obvious improvement to results, innovation. What's even more ridiculous is that using twitter results has its own crowd sourcing-esque result (How many times was this topic tweeted recently?).

Innovation lives.

Google, stop slacking. You've gotten big and lost your touch. PageRank gave you lots of money, but you can lose market share. It won't be this year or any time soon simply because all the other big names suck. But it will happen unless you focus on being disruptive. Otherwise your next in line after Yahoo. (AOL you are already dead to me).

Facebook: Sell user data, just don't sell it all. Companies will pay big bucks to know what interests a user has, but doing anything more than city/state and user interests is pushing the limits of privacy law. i.e. "Service: I've got this user with this email address, what are they into facebook? Facebook: X has friends playing game Z, follows sports team Y. Or "X' is generally interested in video games and basketball. Or 'X' lives in Dallas. This is the type of stuff that Amazon spends many, many millions of dollars to calculate and track, and users are giving it to facebook for free.

Digg. Use your fancy user recommendation engine to get better ads.

The web is full of noise and it always will be. The methods we use to discover content will consistently improve, and the noise will consistently increase. What will change is the means to sift through it whether it be personal recommendations, editor selections, searches, user recommendations, or whatever comes next.

Ok, that's enough late night rambling.