Archive for July, 2006

Google Answers…Questions, Questions, Questions

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

Question #1…Why does my back hurt?

I don't know the answer, but it does (oh boy, does it!), and since I'm stuck at home with some idle time on my hands, I've done something rather geekishly amusing.

I took a look at 610 questions posted to Google Answers during the month of June.

This isn't the total month's worth of questions, but it's a pretty good chunk, and perhaps of interest to see how the questions were distributed:

14 were $200 questions, only 2 of which have been answered thus far.

43 were between $100-$200

69 were between $50-$100

155 were for $5 or less

170 questions have been answered

107 questions have expired, most before the 30 day 'natural' expiration date. No doubt many others will expire as the calendar counts down.

The top Google Answers customers

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

Who are the top customers of Google Answers?

My researcher colleagues and I were wondering about this a few weeks ago. We haven’t done a thorough check (because we aren’t allowed to crawl the Answers database), but we think we have identified the top few customers.

Probonopublico-ga takes the lead, with 532 questions asked, of which 331 have been answered.

Quite a way behind is shoaib-ga, with 273 questions (112 answered).

Also with 112 questions answered is grthumongous-ga, who has asked 181 questions, followed by blucken-ga at 168 asked, 91 answered. There’s also joel1357-ga who has asked 124 questions (93 answered).

If you know a highly-curious customer who we’ve missed, please post a comment.

Everyone v Google — Google lawsuits

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

Taking a look at Google’s latest quarterly report  (and, No, I don’t…Sob!…own any Google stock), I am reminded how often a large company like Google gets sued, and not just by litigious Americans:

Certain companies have filed trademark infringement and related claims against us over the display of ads in response to user queries that include trademark terms. The outcomes of these lawsuits have differed from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Courts in France have held us liable for allowing advertisers to select certain trademarked terms as keywords. We are appealing those decisions. We were also subject to two lawsuits in Germany on similar matters where the courts held that we are not liable for the actions of our advertisers prior to notification of trademark rights. We are litigating or recently have litigated similar issues in other cases in the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Israel and Austria. Adverse results in these lawsuits may result in, or even compel, a change in this practice which could result in a loss of revenue for us, which could harm our business.

Certain entities have also filed intellectual property claims against us, alleging that features of certain of our products, including Google Web Search, Google News, Google Image Search, and Google Book Search, infringe their rights. Adverse results in these lawsuits may include awards of damages and may also result in, or even compel, a change in our business practices, which could result in a loss of revenue for us or otherwise harm our business.

From time to time, we may also become a party to other litigation and subject to claims incident to the ordinary course of business, including intellectual property claims (in addition to the trademark and copyright matters noted above), labor and employment claims, breach of contract claims, and other matters…

This prompted me to do a nicely self-referential Google search on “v Google” to see what popped up:

Perfect 10 v. Google, Inc.

…Perfect 10 v. Google, Inc., et al….was a U.S. court case between an adult men’s magazine and the world’s leading search engine company, decided by the district court of the Central District of California in early 2006. The plaintiff requested an injunction for Google to stop creating and distributing thumbnails of its images in its Google Image Search service, and for it to stop indexing and linking to sites hosting such images. The court granted the request in part and denied it in part, ruling that the thumbnails were infringing but the links were not.

GEICO v. Google

…GEICO has filed suit against two major Internet search engine operators, Google Inc. and Overture Services Inc., in an effort to suppress advertising by competing insurance companies and online insurance brokers.


…Field contends that by allowing Internet users to access copies of 51 of his copyrighted works stored by Google in an online repository, Google violated Field’s exclusive rights to reproduce copies and distribute copies of those works.

Lane’s Gifts v. Google

…You may remember that last February, Google was sued in Arkansas over what is commonly called click fraud. We’re very near a resolution in that case, so we thought we’d offer an update…Google currently allows advertisers to apply for reimbursement for clicks they believe are invalid. They can do this for clicks that happen during the 60 days prior to notifying Google. Under the agreement with the plaintiffs, we are going to open up that window for all advertisers, regardless of when the questionable clicks occurred.

Gonzales v. Google, Inc.

…The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court seeking a court order that would compel search engine company Google, Inc. to turn over “a multi-stage random sample of one million URL’s” from Google’s database, and a computer file with “the text of each search string entered onto Google’s search engine over a one-week period (absent any information identifying the person who entered such query

Authors Guild v. Google

…Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Copyright Infringement


…The eleven claims are: (1) direct copyright infringement, (2) contributory copyright infringement, (3) vicarious copyright infringement, (4) defamation, (5) invasion of privacy, (6) negligence, (7) Lanham Act violations, (8) and (9) racketeering, (10) abuse of process, and (11) civil conspiracy. v. Google

…Google has been sued for downgrading the PageRank of websites in contravention of its stated “objective” policies. In KinderStart’s case, they got kicked out of Google in March 2005 and immediately lost 70% of their traffic. Google is now 0.01% of KinderStart’s referral traffic.

Toback v. Google

…Sensing that his 15 minutes of fame was up, Jeffrey Toback has withdrawn his lawsuit against Google regarding Google’s alleged facilitation of child pornography.

Agence France Press v. Google Inc.

…The French news agency AFP (Agence France-Presse)  sued Google Inc. before the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., for pulling together photos and story excerpts from thousands of news Web sites (see Update 29). In its brief filed Oct. 12 Google argued that news headlines that are purely factual and merely ten words long lack sufficient orginality to preclude others from copying them. Google also seeks dismissal of the lawsuit on the ground that Agence France has failed to identify the allegedly infringed works with sufficient precision.

McGraw-Hill v. Google

…McGraw-Hill v. Google is the latest publisher lawsuit against the Google Library Project (via Copyfight). The complaint seems basic, again claiming the project is copyright infringement.

Digital Envoy, Inc. v. Google, Inc

Google has won a case brought against it by a specialist in location technology, reports. A district judge in   northern California last month dismissed a lawsuit filed by Digital Envoy that alleged that Google was in breach of a contract and was illegally profiting from Digital Envoy’s software. Digital Envoy owns software that pinpoints the
physical locations of Internet surfers to deliver advertisements.


And from Lexis-Nexis (no links…sorry!) I also came up with:

Advanced Internet Techs., Inc. v. Google, Inc

…Google sells advertising online. The plaintiffs in the present action allege that Google has fraudulently over-billed those who purchase advertising from it on a per-click basis.


…Plaintiff, NetJumper, Inc…initiated this lawsuit, in which it complained that Google, through an application of its “Google Toolbar, had infringed upon two of its patents…

Elwell v. Google, Inc

…Elwell challenges her demotion and reduction in pay during a high-risk pregnancy

Search King, Inc. v. Google Tech., Inc

…This case involves the interrelationship between Internet search engines and Internet advertising, and their collective connection to the First Amendment. More specifically, the questions at issue are whether a representation of the relative significance of a web site as it corresponds to a search query is a form of protected speech, and if so, whether the “speaker” is therefore insulated [*2]  from tort liability arising out of the intentional manipulation of such a representation under Oklahoma law.

And lastly, we have:

SEC v. Google

in a case involving flagrant stock fraud:

…This is an action for permanent injunction, accounting, and for the surrender of monies received in connection with…Company’s unregistered public offering and sale of securities.


Involved in stock fraud!!! 

How could I not have know about this?

This warranted some further investigation.  Using my much-heralded skills as a researcher, I determined the full name of the case:


No doubt, Jonathan N. will soon be suing the Google corporate namesake for dragging his good name through the mud.

Or should it be the other way around…?

pafalafaga Dave Sarokin


Online Digital Newspaper Archives for History Research

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

I love reading old newspapers online.

Actually, I love reading old newspapers even if they’re on paper.  But the advantage of online historical newspapers is not only the ease of pulling up such and such a date from 150 years ago, but the sheer wonderfullness of full-text searching.  Researching historical newspapers used to be a painstaking, mind-numbing, onerous task.  Now it’s a breeze.

That is, it’s a breeze if you happen to have access to the right digital archives.  Proquest is the biggest and best, but also the most exclusive, available at large libraries and universities, but not to most mere mortals.  But if you’re lucky enough to have access to it, then you’ll find a century or more of newspaper heritage online.  Depending on what particular papers are subscribed to, you might find The New York Times (1851-2003), Washington Post (1877-1990), Los Angeles Times (1881-1985), Wall Street Journal (1889 – 1989), The Chicago Defender (1905 – 1975), Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1985), or the Atlanta Constitution (1868 – 1929), among others.

But even without Proquest, there are options for historical newspaper research.  I’ve written before about the wonderful service from, so I won’t repeat myself here, except to say this is one of my most frequently-visited research sites.  If you haven’t had a look, please do. is a subscription site, but there are a few options for completely free access to some historical newspapers. 

 You can search historical Georgia newspapers covering the period from 1750-1925.

The Northwest History Database  out of the University of Washington has extensive clippings from around 1900-1950.  Here’s a cool shot of the Bonneville dam under construction in 1937. 

The University of Virginia makes an interesting resource available…almost a century of the school newspaper, The Collegian (1914-2003).  Almost a century-worth of The Cornell Daily Sun  is also available, beginning with 1880, though the coverage over the years is not complete.  Anyone out there old enough to remember these quaint pre-Ipod music delivery devices, that rocked the dorm rooms back in 1937?  Another college newspaper, The Argus out of Illinois Wesleyan University is keyword (not full text) searchable from 1894-2003.

Into cowboys, indians, shoot-outs and prospecting for gold?  Check out the archives of newspapers from Colorado (1859-1923)  or Utah (roughly 1850-1950). 

For a slice of the Big Apple, old time, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has been digitized and is online from 1841-1902.

If World Wars are your thing, then check out these two.  The Stars and Stripes from 1918-1919 are online…the complete seventy-one-week run of the newspaper’s World War I edition.  The Canadian War Museum has available more than 100,000 newspaper articles from World War II.

Canada isn’t the only non-US country to offer some free newspaper archives (though they are surprisingly few and far between).  Some others to note are:

Tel-Aviv University makes available the Palestine Post (1932-1950) and a few other Jewsih newspapers.

The Guardian Newspaper in London offers about a century of searching, though with a rather limited search interface.  The British Library Online Newspaper Archive  offers a few isolated years of archives between 1851 and 1918, and a rather clunky interface, but still…on occasion, it can be a fun and useful site. 

And I can swear I once found an Australian newspaper archive back to the 1920’s or so, but for the life of me, I can’t find it now.  Sound familiar, anyone…?

pafalafaga Dave Sarokin

Advert juxtapositions on Google Answers

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

The context-sensitive advertisements that appear on Google Answers are matched to the text of the surrounding webpage by a process that is “untouched by human hands”.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that occasionally some rather odd juxtapositions occur between Google’s AdSense and the surrounding question and answer.

I’m not sure if the advertisement shown with this question is going to put the questioner’s mind at ease…



Sunday, July 2nd, 2006

Academic resources on the web are living a pretty schizophrenic lifestyle. A lot of them are freely available, and show up in plain-vanilla web searches. When they do, you can click on them for easy access…or not. Increasingly, the search results are just teasers to articles that you can only read if you’re willing to pay for them.

But a lot of scholarly resources aren’t pulled up in a simple search, even they they reside somewhere in the vast reaches of cyber-academia. They are invisible to Google and other search engines. For these, you need some specialty resources like:

Google Scholar, of course.

Microsoft has a similar, though oddly named, tool at Windows Live Search Academic .

Much more cleverly named is the University of Michigan’s OIAster, which doubtless stands for something…it’s a good collection of scholarly materials that include video, audio, databases and images along with text.

Want to search for a thesis? Canada’s done a nice job of making full-text thesis search available on an amazingly wide variety of topics. There’s also the NDLTD (who names these things?), with a rich, albeit ungainly, collection of searchable theses.

And, for that late-at-night-paper-due-tomorrow-morning, there’s Questia, the college student’s favorite (next to the papers-for-sale sites, anyway). Unlike the others I mentioned, Questia is fee-based, but you can still search its large and impressive collection at no cost, and at least see some snippets of results, before deciding whether to ante up or not.

Have fun.

pafalafaga Dave Sarokin