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Industry News – Round-up #1

For the past 20 weeks I’ve been curating and sending the most interesting stories from the intersection of marketing, technology, and wider “online culture”. I’ve been sharing this weekly with the twentysix search team only. Today, I’m opening this up to a wider audience of the readers of our agency blog, to give you that competitive advantage – I read the news, so you don’t have to!

There has been a number of developments at Google, some wider publicised, some less popular in the media.

(Image Credit: John RagalCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

New features in Google search results

A new feature has come to Google’s search engine results pages – structured snippets, which will be able to display data extracted from tables (circled in red, see screenshot below) in an attempt to provide the user with the most important data. At the moment this feature remains to be in an semi-experimental stage, when tested it did provide some results, however they worked better for some queries than other. Combined with Knowledge Graph both features seem to be promising results. Sounds interesting? Head over to the Google Research blog to read the full post.


Explore the Liwa Desert

Mountain View has taken its Street View product to the next level by using a camel-mounted camera to capture imagery from the Liwa Oasis in the UAE. For some upbeat music, and a demonstration of the camel-cam see the view below. The imagery captured can be assessed from the Google Maps gallery, it’s worth having a look.

Trouble in the EU

The search giant is facing some problems in the European Union. In an open letter the Article 29 Working Party, an umbrella group for European data protection authorities, stated that the current Google Privacy Policy is unclear and ambiguous, and should include a full list of the types of personal data processed. If the privacy policy is overwhelming to users, then it should be personalised to show the end users only the data processing being performed on their data.

Google has announced that 10 percent of all removal requests to be removed from search results under the EU “right to be forgotten” laws have been filed in the UK. As part of the transparency report , the company also announced that almost 2/3 of all requests are rejected, and included some sample requests as well as how they have been dealt with.


Polls Available In Google Plus

If you have signed-up for Google Plus, or if you manage a Google Plus page you can now take advantage of the poll functionality introduced recently. Some might remember that a similar feature was available on Facebook back in 2012, however it got retired. Google allows users to use images, including animated GIFs, to represent the answers which can make it more interesting. Head over to the official Google Plus page for some more examples.

Wearables and “smart” technology

Over a year ago I wrote a blog post expressing my scepticism towards Google Glass. Recently, there has been a Cambrian explosion in wearables, Kickstarters and other allegedly smart technology.

After seeing the over-engineered “smart” cup, I thought we it would be difficult for anyone to top that. While some might argue that the Baidu chopsticks, which are supposed to improve food safety in China serve a purpose, it’s difficult to understand where the Portal, the wearable smartphone is going. Do we really need a smartphone we can use while swimming, surfing and playing tennis? Have a look at the video below, and decide for yourself.

Private browsing

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of recently redesigned privacy search engine DuckDuckGo, confirmed that the site had been blocked in mainland China. It’s hard to speculate what has exactly happened, but it seems like the search engines recent growth, as well as its inability to share any data about users (as they don’t collect it) with law enforcement or other authorities might have set some alarms off.

Search engines have traditionally not had it easy in China, where the government demands that certain information is blocked from its citizens (compare carefully to “the right to be forgotten”). Ultimately, search engines must decide if they are willing to comply with the Chinese censorship by locally blocking the information themselves or to run into difficulties with Beijing.

In related news, there have been hints of Tor integration in Mozilla Firefox, something which might be of interest in light of recent, not so subtle, hints of influencing legislation in order to permit wider mass surveillance.

Last but not least…

On a less serious note, here’s a fun interactive tool serendipitously discovered – Gravity Simulator, worth playing around with various sizes and routes of the particles if you have a couple of minutes to spare.

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