Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Home Runs

I do some of my best "blogging" not here but as comments on other web sites. Slashdot used to be the primary target, and I still post there, just less frequently.

These days I read Valleywag and All Things D as my first pass on technical news (and gossip). Since they often don't do in-depth coverage, the hit and run pieces they offer up are excellent fodder for my excess verbage.

Today I hit two home runs (really, out of the park material). The first was regarding a feared rollback of IT workers built on a survey by one of the companies that question people who lie about their jobs to get free magazine subscriptions. What follows is only the link and my comments (as quoted text):

49 percent of US companies cutting back IT spending

"IT" has been the make-work of the last quarter of the 20th century. I am regularly in touch with IT workers who have no idea why they go to work daily and do what they do. They have learned not to ask ("What? You're not enthusiastic about what we do here?!").

I last worked for a company that was entirely composed of people who would be categorized as "IT workers", thousands of them. We worked for a federal agency, on a contract to an IT department, subsidiary to an IT division... and so on. It would have been impossible, had I tried, to actually speak to someone who's job wasn't providing information to someone else who was in IT.

We "analyze" everything to death, and then we "analyze" why it died. So many people are used in processing the data and no one is left to interpret what (if anything) it actually means.

The PC has of course made the situation much worse, though it was already underway with the explosion of small departmental computer systems and the staff needed to run them. The only thing that keeps this in check is the steady stream of companies going out of business after forgetting why they went into business in the first place.

I have a small hope that the re-centralizing of computer services (via web-based tools or by other means) might set this process back to a more healthy state, at least in the private sector.

Next is a comment on why Google's new scanning of newspapers is a good thing and not a bad thing. Really, how can anybody think more free things on the Internet is a bad thing?

The cuddly embrace of the Google monster

"But really, isn't Google's move to archive centuries of newspapers a bit like the architects of a genocide dedicating a museum to the holocaust they committed?"

I am with the bad analogy police and you are under arrest.

Most of the content Google is scanning for this thing would never see the light of day otherwise. Hits that involve the New York Times, Time Magazine, some publications already indexed by Cornell University and many others go directly to those sites where they can charge for the content, monetize it with ads, or whatever they want to do. But there are hundreds of other papers around the country that don't begin to have the resources (hardware, know-how, or will) to archive their own historical content in a way that will last, and be usable. These papers weren't broken by Google, they were broken by USA Today, cable news, Ebay, and Craigs List.

Nothing stops other big Internet companies from getting into this. It would be right up Yahoo's alley if they had any desire to provide real content instead of fluff.

Microsoft showed some initiative when they matched the Google Books project for a while (and in some ways they did a better job of it than Google). Why did they stop? Because they are total pussies that's why. To match what Google is doing in this and other areas with buildings full of Windows servers would mean (as I've calculated it) about 2000 Blue Screens of Death every second.

Google's secret isn't search, it's clustering on the cheap, and the only way Microsoft will match it is to go back to Unix. Yahoo has a head start (and I think a quick reentry into alternate OSs might have been a part of MSs acquisition strategy), but as you portray almost daily, the people running Yahoo are airheads.

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