Monday, November 21, 2005


A Base Hit for Google? [ Motley Fool Take] November 17, 2005


Google base is much bigger than it looks. What Google basedoes is puts human intelligence into web crawling!

At first glance, Google baseappears to be nothing more than an indexed and searchable classified advertising vehicle. Indeed, I have tried the system and it is easy to post a notice about a service available, an item for sale or an event that is planned. The option to post such items for free must certainly have newspaper publishers in a stoic state of "what will the internet do to us next?".

I have stated that Google baseis going to be big. It is in the sense that billions of notices will be posted for free and billions of folks will be able to find these notices far more quickly than by searching though newspaper ads. However, there is another very important way that Google baseis going to be big.

Right now, web crawlers such as Google and Yahoo do the best they can to index the web to assist all of us in finding the information that we want. Google basewill fine tune this process for Google by applying human intelligence to the indexing process.

Those who own web sites are likely to place free ads on Google base. The ads will of course include links back to the owners web site. By "tagging" or "labeling" (Google must be afraid of copyright suits as they use a different word for the tagging process), the ads, the owner of the site has helped define the site more precisely.

A lot has been made over the fact that Google's market cap has passed Yahoo, TWX and Coke. I don't see the reason for the "surprise"; everyone in the whole wide world needs to look-up and find information daily. Coke is a very good product but folks have lots of alternatives, TWX puts out some great movies but most are not seen by most people. On the other hand, no one is coming close to Google in its capacity to help people find information quickly. A little more than half the world uses other search products but none of them are improving as rapidly as Google.

Maybe that last statement was a little over the top. MSFT has been making great strides to improve its search product and it is improving rapidly. However, it is so far behind that when it "catches up to Google" Google is going to be gone somewhere else.

When Google had just come public, a Swiss investment advisor and I emailed our thoughts about Google. He said the stock was dramatically over-priced at $90 per share. He called me an "American Cowboy". I asked him a question that he refused to answer. My question was, "Where does the demand curve cross the supply curve when a company offers its service for free?".

Trying to imagine how big Google baseis going to be is like trying to imagine what is at the edge of space. When billions of computers are daily sending from one or more manual postings each to thousands of automatic uploads each, one can appreciate why listings expire in 31 days.

Google's goal is to organize the worlds information. There are two major changes that must be made for this to happen. One, more of the worlds information needs to be made available to the web and the information on the web needs to be cataloged better. The amount of information posted to the web is about to explode upward. The cataloguing of that information is about to take a great leap forward. This will be a great benefit to mankind.

It is amazing how many inventions were made, used and then were lost prior to the invention of the Guttenberg printing press. For centuries, the Chinese and Mongolian governments actually suppressed the spreading of information about new technology. It is no coincidence that within 75 years of the invention of the printing press that scientific, cultural and religious revolutions were under-way. Google's organization of information is just as powerful as the Guttenberg press.

The amount of information that is not used today because it is not readily available is far more than what was lost before the press was invented. Google's work in the heath care area is going to be worth more than we can currently imagine. One of the areas that health data will change forever is in the area of tracing and understanding the genetic code.

For something like 15 years, a large group of nurses have input data about their lifestyle and health practices. This data has started making a difference. Doctors are discovering surprising links between habits and health problems. Google is lending its tremendous "super computer" to help in this important and massive health analysis.

Some of the information I am relating comes from "The Google Story". I don't have a copy yet but I was able to read a portion online and I browsed a copy at a full price store (it was $26.00 there and I have not checked AMZN yet).

Years ago, I listed to a self development tape that suggested that one should always "think big". I just did a Google search and the list of books on the topic is too long. I did not take the time to find the tape. However, it is clear that the Google guys are thinking big.

Sceptics are writting blogs about how Google is trying to take over the classified advertising business. Well, classified ads are only a drop in huge bucket of information that needs to be organized and reachable.

Google Print has been renamed Google Book Search. Those who are fighting Google on this issue are generally the very people who love books. They love books because they love what books do, which is make information available to the masses. Google Book Search is making information available. Never again should one have to drive 10 miles to a library to look in a card catalogue. Doing so is a huge waste of time and resources.

Authors and publishers will get paid for writting and printing books. Google base is going to help billions of people find relevant books. Books they will enjoy, learn from and what more.