Left Bay’s Musings on the Media

Searching for answers in sales and marketing

Archive for Google

How private are IP addresses? YouTube says “very,” but…

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article titled “Court Order for Viewer Data on YouTube Stirs Privacy Concerns.”

The gist of it is that Google (YouTube’s parent) has been ordered turn over log-in names and IP addresses of its YouTube subscribers. Viacom, which is pressing a copyright case against Google, is seeking the data to help prove how often its copyright-protected content helps draw users to YouTube. Which in turn helps make Google money.

Google originally resisted turning over that info, saying it would allow Viacom to “likely be able to determine the viewing and video uploading habits of YouTube’s users.” Well, no duh! But now that the ruling has come down, Google has tried another tact: It has asked Viacom for permission to obscure info that might help personally identify YouTube users.

So what information is so sensitive?

It’s the login names of YouTube users, and when that’s not available, it’s their IP addresses and “cookies” that YouTube captures from each user.

IP addresses, for those that don’t know, are numbers that are assigned to each user by an internet provider, like Comcast or a DSL company. Sometimes the IP addresses change at some interval — those are called “dynamic” — and sometimes they’re “static.” Some IPs can’t ever be linked to individual users because they’re in public places, like a library or internet cafe, while others are assigned to companies and corporations.

The judge in the case says most users don’t use their real names when creating accounts. And IP addresses can’t easily by themselves be used to identify individual users. Viacom, for its part, says it will handle the data in a “highly confidential matter.”

The big question: Can an IP address be used to tract activity on the Internet that users think is private?

My take: For the most part, no. It’s a piece of the puzzle, that along with cookies, country of origin, user-agent hash and other identifiers, helps an investigator identify an individual user. But that’s just the point — it’s a piece. When tracked — which practically all companies do with their logs — it’s a piece of our privacy that’s given up so we can have access to websites.

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Goodbye 2007!

It’s that time of year again, when we all buckle down and face our shortcomings to eagerly make promises to ourselves that we’ll fix them in the coming year. We ponder the year past and wonder how our regrets could have been avoided and vow to not make those mistakes again. We delight in our fond memories and hope that the future has room for more. Fittingly, this is Left Bay’s 2007 recap, and hopes for 2008.

What We’ve Learned

Traditional brand advertising is dumb.

What Web 2.0 really is. Just in time too, since we’re at the dawn of 3.0, and all…

We have to turn the space heater on at least an hour before we settle in the office to brave the wintertime.

College professors of interactive advertising react to SEO jargon with nothing short of puzzled looks. (“No professor, not like banners…”)

What a blogopotamus is. Surprisingly, not a plump desk-chair potato who reads and writes blog posts all day.

We wasted far too much time perusing Google StreetView. And I didn’t find anyone I knew in the pictures.

Ask.com is going off the deep end. (Still waiting for that algorithm, btw).

Apple and Google are going to continue growing and will one day have a knock-down, drag-out battle-of-the-superbrands where the victor will take over the world (my loyalties lie with Apple, but I have a feeling Google will take the spoils).

Acquisitions will forever be news until the day that battle takes place.

This will always be funny.

Our Resolutions

We should try to read our SearchCaps more often instead of having 15 messages in our inbox daily from accrued newsletters. (which when we read, realize we missed a lot).

Update the blog more.

Make resolutions again in June when they start to go stale.

Happy New Year from Left Bay Media!

The Apple-Google Superbrand: The Merging of Two of My Favorite Things. Appoogle?

I just heard news that is going to make 2008 a wonderful year for me! Two of the strongest Internet brands (and two of my favorite and most used products) – Google and Apple – are continuing to merge their services. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect marriage; that is, assuming the romance stays alive, and some sort of “formal” engagement ensues.

Apple, since its induction into the technological world in the 1980s, has been known for its simple, classy designs and easy-to-use hardware. While they’re market share is dwarfed by Microsoft’s, I’ve never seen a group so devoted to a brand like Apple-heads such as myself.

And such is the same with Google, the search king. Less then 10 years ago, a googol was just a math term. Now it’s a commonly used verb.

Here is a recap of the new (and some old) Apple-Google enhancements:

iMovie: Upload files directly to YouTube to share
iWork: Speculations about integration of Google Docs
iPhone: As you’ve seen already – Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail
AppleTV: Support for YouTube
iWeb: Easily embed interactive Google Maps and Google AdSense to your webpage. Here is a screenshot.

You can view more screenshots here.

What are Steve Job’s comments? “We are working closer with Google, they offer back end services we want to tie into our offerings,” replied Jobs. “Google likes our products, too.”

To think, I was way jazzed when I downloaded Google Notifier for Mac and received my Gmails on my desktop. Now this? Thanks for the early Christmas, Appoogle!

Read more:
Last 100 – Apple and Google Alliance Just Got Stronger
Engadget – Live From Apple’s Summer Mac Product Press Conference

The New Internet Time-Killer: Google’s Street View

How many hours have I lost to YouTube? We’ve all been magnetized – going to the site to watch just one video, but finding ourselves 20 videos later with an hour lost. Or lost in a string of MySpace pages trying to find someone you thought you used to know. Or immersed in Flickr photo albums that somehow got you trying to figure out why the chicken crossed the road.

I’ve found my latest time-killer: Google’s Street View. I’ve been perusing the streets of Fremont, looking for people in the streets I may know, browsing blogs for funny images while trying to find some on my own, and finding myself like I was after a click frenzy on YouTube: hungry, and an hour behind on my work.

Last week Google announced its new street-level map view, allowing users to zoom in to the maps at street-level. Currently the feature includes the San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and Denver areas. With the launch, many privacy issues arose. Many opponents think the images are too close and too private, which I agree with to a point, because some are legitimately creepy. And legible license plates? Too close for me.

I’m mostly amused. Yes, I do think it’s eerie that a Google van is driving around mysteriously somewhere (is it marked?) snapping photos and possibly catching private moments that will be published on the web for all to see. But, through my browse of the images today, it would seem that these private moments are mostly just being used on top 15 lists to humor the viral sphere temporarily. As Street View expands, I’m sure new privacy issues will come to light, but the future I envision is of people browsing the streets to find themselves or people they know doing funny things and plenty more Vote on the Best Urban Images blog posts.