Even in a data economy, it’s still all about people

I’ve spent this week at a Google SMB (small to medium business) partnership event in Miami, connecting
with the teams at Google that will help me build my business and learning about the ways in which Google is willing and able to help small businesses tackle the fireswamp that is digital advertising.  They do so indirectly, by supporting their channel sales partners with training, strategy, data analysis, marketing events, and a not-insignificant measure of scotch whiskey.

Amidst the torrential summer rains of Miami Beach in August Google has showcased what a large adwordsinvestment they’ve made in people – both their own and those working for their channel sales partners.  As we’ve spent these last few days ensconced in the beautiful (and historic, as guests are constantly reminded) Fontainebleau Hotel it struck me that even a company who has basically all the data in the world that there is to have, and arguably (or perhaps not) the most significant investment in algorithmic data manipulation, optimization and machine learning in the history of our brainy little species, even Google is still powered by people – by their relationships, their trust, their passions, their fears.  None of their data would be sought after if it weren’t organized in a way that makes sense to people – even though that often means organizing it in a way that is inefficient for the machines.  None of their revenue juggernaut of the past 20 years would have been possible had they not been able to convince advertisers – also people – that the best way to transmit their message to their customers – nearly all of which are people – was through Google’s data-driven means, and that meant a great deal of marketing, communicating, hand-shaking, and (most likely) cocktails, all of which are very people-centric practices.  Practices that are laced with data, no doubt – measuring success, analyzing costs, predicting outcomes – but which to execute still require a human with a Google badge to commence the shaking of those hands.

So for those worried that the machines are taking over, take heart knowing that even in the places most dominated by data-fueled artificial intelligence and algorithmic forecasting of even the tiniest of human behaviors, the whole study is still really an exercise in understanding people better and even – perhaps, especially – at Google the role of humans has never been more important.




Fun with geography

So many reasons to love google. If only they had an office in Seattle, i’d go work there… oh, wait… 200 desks in Kirkland and posted availability. But anyway, i digress…

Neat toy of the week is google maps. I love the active scrolling, it’s uber slick. The driving directions are not quite as complete as Yahoo’s but it is admittedly still in beta. What i’m really enjoying about it today is the satellite mapping feature. Lookit me, i’m big brother! I squash you like a bug!

Credit goes to Gabe for finding Area 51 via some exhuberant scrolling. Brian at work pointed out an ill-parked stealth bomber at a california airplane plant. You celebrity stalkers might enjoy spying on Creepyland Ranch for a glimpse of Jacko or (gasp!) the botox-doc making a house call. Wash your hands afterwards, and then head on down to the happiest place on earth, which seemed a lot bigger than this when i was in 4th grade. Not to be outdone, the happiest place in florida is also visible from space. And finally, never missing a chance to splash their logo on something, Safeco Field is even branded from the sky. Scroll N-NE a bit and you’ll notice the Salvation Army is, too. You know, for all those window-seat airline passengers who have been at a loss for finding used furniture, or who didn’t know there was a baseball team (as if!).

What can you find?

Hobbies are supposed to break you.

Back at ya with a link to Montage-a-Google and a call to your creative search query skills and artistic inclinations. Throw something in there, any old thing (your name, an interesting place, your least favorite celebrity) or juxtapose interesting ironies (“fat mcdonald” is good and scary. “stupid tv” has an oddly large emphasis on Luke Perry). It’s fun. And you’ll feel like an artist. Google image search is so neat-o.

As long as we’re making fun of famous people (and when aren’t we, really?) go hit up blink o rama to catch all those crazy media-hounding types blinking in mid-sentence. Where these freeze-framed grabs come from i don’t know, but the one of the guvenator cracks me up.

Spending a bunch of money on my car this month cause, you know, what is a hobby if it doesn’t totally run you into the ground? That’s why we have them, right? Otherwise we’d all be rich and boring. As fate is often ironic and nearly always cruel, i had just decided i had a little money to spare and so i hunted out those new rims, which turned out even better in person. Then, before they even get here, my car decides it needs to snarf down a whole bunch of money like Star Jones in a pudding factory. But isn’t that always the way of things, really? If things came along when you were ready for them, what would you have to gripe about in your blog? Anyway, a couple weeks from now it should be back up and running, with a fully rebuilt motor (does that sound familiar at all?) with a new twist; this time i’m letting a professional do it. All the same, it still worries me, and i have trouble waiting 3-4 days without driving up to everett to check on it. But at least it will be a short downtime and should finally run like those crazy Nissan engineers intended. It all makes me very thankful how well my 88 Pathfinder runs and behaves despite receiving generally about 500% less love than the Z does and laying down 3x the miles.

Okay, enough negative vibes. I’m going to go build Google montages of “puppy”, “free money” and “tropical beach”.

SMS goes Google

Okay, ladies and germs, here’s your cool tech toy for the day. New fun things from the nice people at Google! Yes, as if the Froogle, language tools, and Gmail weren’t enough, those Google kids are hard at work bringing the world’s trendiest and most-useful search engine to your mobile phone. Yes, i know you can hit their search engine via your WAP browser if you’ve got a new-ish phone that has one of those. But this is even handier and more accessible – check out Google SMS!.

Now we all now how much i love SMS anyway, and this is just another great way to use it. You can send a message to “46645” (spells “GOOGL” on the phone, right?) with a query for a business listing – “Starbucks 98101” or “Kenneth Cole Seattle WA” – a residential listing – “Donald Trump New York NY” – a price listing from Froogle – “price simpsons dvd season 4” or simply “f simpsons dvd season 4” (the ‘f’ is for Froogle) – or a dictionary definition – “define thermonuclear” or simply “d thermonuclear”. Use it as a calculator and unit converter – “60 lbs in kg” or “half a cup in teaspoons” or “250 * 20%” – or look up an area code – “406” – or a zipcode – “90210”. If you get lost, just send a message that says “help” or for more specifics, “froogle help”, etc. and you’ll get a reply with more details. I just think that’s freakin slick, and i’m gonna be using it all the time. That unlimited SMS plan is really gonna pay off! 🙂 Those smart people at Google have really outdone themselves this time!