April 15, 2004

Searching for a New Power

A9, Amazon's Search Portal Goes Live

And I have to say I'm a bit scared. Amazon, like Google (which is actually powering A9) and Yahoo, is hinting that its real business might just be datamining. The front end services these companies offer to the masses are all used to collect vast amounts of information. Information on what people are buying, what they are interested in, and how they connect to one and other. Information with real value. Mass value. Perhaps even more valuable then obstinate business of Amazon, Yahoo and Google...

Even ignoring the potential value encoded in the hordes of data collected by these companies, its easy to see how the've embarked on this information guzzling path. All it takes is a few executives intoxicated by the information highs delivered by these database's. Hell if I worked for one of these companies I'd be one. "Give us more info" they cry. What is the relationship between people who search for search for lyrics online and actually buy CDs? Which zip code searches for porn the most and do they buy more videos or less? Just how much information can we extract from these fools anyway?

If information is power then we have met our new kings and they're thrones are the cubicle farms of Silicon Valley. And their websites are bringing in fresh data like Spanish galleons carrying new world gold. So what do we as subjects obtain in return?

update: John Battelle has an interview with Udi Manber the developer of A9. He seems like a person genuinely out to make a better search engine, although he never talks about his bosses motives. And then he makes a blatantly misleading statement "Our privacy policy is very clear on this subject -- we will never share this data with third parties." This not true at all, the policy actually states that among other entities A9 reserves the right to share the data in "Business Relationships with Third Parties We Do Not Control". Is that clear? No and it pretty much contradicts the won't share bit either. I remain hesitant on the real goals of this service...

Posted by Abe at April 15, 2004 01:48 AM


I like it very much, nice lat out friendly progress and info resluts



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