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March 25, 2009

Google Launches Semantic Search

Google announced today on its blog that it will be sprinkling in semantic search to its regular results. It appears that at the moment the biggest change will be in the suggested search categories at the footer of the search results page, but the search results are sure to change as well.

It's good to see that Google is getting on board with semantic search. At NeboWeb, we have all been expecting such changes in Google, as predicted back in June 2008, in an article we wrote about semantic search. So far, semantic search engines such as Hakia have struggled due to irrelevant results and slow load times.

In theory, semantic search is extremely promising, but has not been put into practice very well. The primary reasons for such failure in semantic search are that it takes a massive infrastructure to accumulate the data necessary to perform semantic search. Additionally, queries need to be returned quickly in order to provide the user experience that users expect. Google is probably the only search engine that can bring semantic search to the web in a successful and effective manner.

It's also interesting to note that at the same time that Google announced its semantic search update we are seeing a toolbar PageRank update as well. Most SEM professionals believe the toolbar PageRank is merely aesthetic as the actual PageRank is months ahead of toolbar PageRank.

In other words, you should not notice a drop in rankings at the same time as a drop in toolbar PageRank.  However, I do think it's interesting though that Google is rolling these two updates out at the same time...

Also, and probably not something that we're likely to see again (as well as a sign of the update) is that Google's Toolbar PageRank was 0 earlier today!!!  Like I mentioned above, this is relatively meaningless during an update, but it's still fun to see this in the screenshot below:

Google PageRank 0

March 18, 2009

NeboWeb Book Club: Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam

We had our second installment of our book club this week. The entire team read "Back of the Napkin" by Dan Roam. I put together the presentation for this one because it's a topic really love, and I wanted us to all read a book about visual thinking.

We eased into the idea of visual thinking by watching a vintage Kermit the Frog video circa 1966. Then we went through the key high-level ideas from the book that I felt were the most important.

To help bring the lesson to life I walked the group through two visualization exercises:

1) We drew toast.

Yes...I asked everyone to draw "how you make toast". The point being was a) everyone thinks differently and b) they're are multiple ways to communicate successfully with visuals. Drawing a 10 step flow chart of how bread comes out of a bag and ultimately ends up golden brown with jam on it illustrates how you make toast...similarly, the drawing of ordering a piece of toast from a server at a restaurant who is writing down "toast" is ALSO a way to make toast...ish.

2) Next I created what I called a "VISUATHALON!"

This one just really got people up and thinking and drawing - and that was the point. Creating an exercise for eleven people + one white board + twenty mintues = challenging but basically we all came up with words - we swapped words...and we drew them. We didn't end up with a cohesive story told through pictures - but we had a LOT of fun talking about our end result!

the first three nebo-ites take to the white board

Most importantly, everyone had a good time and I think we all got something out of it!

March 12, 2009

This could be the future of the human computer interaction

Gesture based user interfaces were once considered nothing more than science fiction fantasy. I remember everyone talking about the computer interface used by Tom Cruise in Minority Report, and asking when will it finally come to fruition. Well, thanks to the smart folks at MIT. It looks like the future is almost here.

Watch Patti Maes demo some of very interesting advances in interface technology from the MIT media lab.

March 10, 2009

Firefox Passes Internet Explorer as Most Popular Web Browser on w3schools.com

Ask any web developer, designer, or web application programmer what they like least about web design, and 9 times out of 10 the answer will be browser compatibility issues, and more specifically, bad browsers. As a web developer, designer, online marketer, and overall web enthusiast, I am always excited to see great browsers gain market share. Today in particular, I noticed that Firefox became the number one web browser of choice for users on w3schools.com, with 46% of the total visitors in January.

Browser Stats

Besides the overall elation of seeing Firefox succeed due its superior product features, there is a bigger picture here: compatibility. Every website has a different user base and demographic, and as a site owner, you should be monitoring what browsers your visitors are using to view your site. It's easy to overlook outdated web browsers such as IE6, but a good portion of the users that visit your site may experience problems or have formatting issues if you are not fully cross-browser compliant. It's good to see that people are switching over to improved browsers, but we still have a long way to go. Click here to get Firefox.

February 17, 2009

Cardpricer.com gets covered by TechCrunch

In our five years, we've worked with quite a few startups. We love to watch their progression and to see them grow. Over the past two years we've been working with CardPricer.com, a sports card valuation site. We overhauled the brand, gave consultation on the business model, redesigned the website & the application interface, and are about to launch a new pricing engine for them.

So we were extremely pleased to see them featured on TechCrunch's homepage. Congrats to the CardPricer.com team! We look forward to your continued success!

CardPricer Covered by TechCrunch

Quick side note: we've always been curious about what the value of a TechCrunch mention means in terms of traffic. Since this gives us the perfect opportunity to test, we'll be following up with a blog post next week outlining the "TechCrunch Effect", so stay tuned...