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On Spock, MySpace and Real Embarrassment

December 6, 2007 3 comments

I’ve written previously about Spock, but only in a dry dispassionate way. Now the shit has hit the fan, and I have to rant.

Spock really screwed me over. I mean, big time. At the office, through a series of unfortunate incidents that I won’t go into detail about, a few coworkers found my “profile” page on Spock: http://www.spock.com/Saumil-Mehta-3WLSK1rB 

And of course, the goddamn thing had a photo of me while I was chillaxing in a hot tub in South Lake Tahoe.

Sigh. What an unmitigated disaster from there on out. Now my photo might well be up on the company bulletin board.

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Categories: life, spock, tech

On Spock’s Public Launch

August 10, 2007 Leave a comment

Okay, I feel bad for being a prickly, churlish man. Yesterday, I left a snarky comment on Valleywag (yay, I auditioned and got accepted!!! Nerd auditions so cool!). The post was talking about Web 3.0 – gag gag gag – and Spock + Radar Networks. Here is what I said after hearing about Spock’s crashes on Day One of launch:

Who decided that Spock.com is a semantic web play? Any semantic web shop, even as loosely defined as possible by a layperson’s standards should have an RDF-OWL component to it. Radar’s does, indeed. So does that of Metaweb.

And what of Spock? What have they offered above a LinkedIn crawl with tagging and voting capabilities? Not jack, that’s what. Oh wait, they have offered us a site that falls over within the first few hours of launch. Sounds a lot like Web 0.03, dontcha think?

Mea culpa. Jaideep Singh informs us that they had budgeted for 100 page views per second and ended up receiving 400 page views a second! Whoa!!! One Billion page views a month!?? You gotta be f*ing with me. For what? LinkedIn + MySpace with tags? How much of this is hype and how much is a sustainable business?

Categories: search, spock, tech, valleywag

Spock, The People Search Engine – Service Review

My good buddy (who will remain unnamed because he may not want to associate with this post) recently forwarded me an invite to Spock, the “secretive people search engine” whose executives created a nice PR shit storm for showing Victoria’s Secret models during a product demo. Naturally, anytime trashy people are involved, I want a ringside seat.

Here is what I said about Spock a month or so ago:

Spock.com, the “secretive” people search engine claims that 30% of searches on the web are people-related. This is the basis of their entire freaking business model. Sure, but what the hell does that 30% mean? Almost no one out of that 30% is searching for Saumil Mehta (I wish I had a stalker; I’ve wanted one for a long time but no one seems to oblige). 20% of those searches are for some combination of “Lindsay Lohan”, “Britney Spears” and “Sanjaya”. In other words, head terms, for which a Wikipedia page written by a freckled 17 year old will probably suffice. If it doesn’t suffice – well, that’s a sign that the reader has bigger problems than a poor flipping search experience.

Okay, so time to find out if I totally called it or if I totally blew it.

I played around with Spock for about 30 minutes (including time to sign up, get myself a damn password, etc.). Here are the points I want to make:

  • As of now, Spock is primarily a profile aggregator across multiple sources such as LinkedIn, MySpace and Wikipedia.
  • As of now, Spock’s ONLY differentiator over existing social networks is the ability to tag a profile and the community’s ability to vote upon those tags.
  • For head terms such as “Barack Obama”, Spock may provide a set of tags or quick-hit answers for users unfamiliar with the person. Anyone with half a brain and a few minutes to spare would simply head to Wikipedia or any other site (maybe even Mahalo! Actually, no, that would be stupid) with more meat than what a bunch of tags can offer.
  • For tail terms such as “Saumil Mehta”, Spock once again provides tags that serve as quick-hit answers for someone too lazy to look at my LinkedIn + MySpace.
  • The social network crawl is still incomplete as of first week of July. My LinkedIn profile was not found when I signed up for the service.
  • The visual treatments are very nice. The UI is clean, crisp and pleasant.
  • Unless these guys have real tricks up their sleeve (or a strategy to drive massive user adoption a la LinkedIn), they are fucking doomed. As far as I can tell, the technology to simply crawl social networks and use a Wikipedia DB dump ain’t that impressive.
Categories: search, spock, tech

Bogus Vertical Search Percentages

June 2, 2007 6 comments

Is it me or are people routinely making up numbers on search verticals and categories? Over the last few months, I’ve heard search vertical percentages thrown around like money by drunken sailors at a Vegas whorehouse. I’ve never seen a source, neither has anyone who seems to quote these:

  • Spock.com, the “secretive” people search engine claims that 30% of searches on the web are people-related. This is the basis of their entire freaking business model. Sure, but what the hell does that 30% mean? Almost no one out of that 30% is searching for Saumil Mehta (I wish I had a stalker; I’ve wanted one for a long time but no one seems to oblige). 20% of those searches are for some combination of “Lindsay Lohan”, “Britney Spears” and “Sanjaya”. In other words, head terms, for which a Wikipedia page written by a freckled 17 year old will probably suffice. If it doesn’t suffice – well, that’s a sign that the reader has bigger problems than a poor flipping search experience.
  • While I can’t personally afford to attend the swanky All Things D show, a colleague of mine made it down to San Diego to hear Jason Calacanis brag about how 24% of all searches are for the top 10000 terms. This is the basis behind Mahalo, a Hawaiian word that Bloat! so hilariously derides as translating to “Bandwagoneer”. While the product IMHO is a redundant version of Wikipedia + Google, the number sounds like it came from where the sun don’t shine (don’t quote me on it though)
  • Lesser luminaries have quoted me other BS search percentages: 15-30% navigational queries, 20% local queries and 68% pornographic ones (okay, I made that last one up).

Does anyone know what the real numbers are? Do they even exist, or are we all just making shit up as we go along?