Tuesday, November 30, 2010

With Google/Chrome, Everyone is a Website

At work we made an upgrade to the latest version of Atlassian's JIRA (4.2). Apparently, under Firefox and IE, the web content is a hog and creates memory leaks. I had been trying out work in progress builds of Chromium in Linux for some time. However, I'm a long time Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox user who feels fairly comfortable with the browser I've been using for the last dozen years; so, I have not been so quick to adopt Chrome as my default browser. The JIRA upgrade has given me a chance to give it a stronger go.

For the most part, I could not part from Firefox's bookmark management. I was getting close to creating an extension that would provide me that look and feel. I have also grown accustomed to the search portal that resides in the upper right corner of the browser window. I know Chrome has its own approach to these two issues and I suppose I am embracing them more than before.

Back to the bookmarks. So I have been using Google Bookmarks (particularly in a gadget on iGoogle or the Google Personalized Homepage). I am a bookmark fiend; I have accumulated hundreds of bookmarks in my Firefox profile. There are simply too many for me to keep in the folderless Google Bookmarks gadget. Yet, it's good that I keep those bookmarks a select few--the ones I frequent the most.

Google Chrome allows you to sync all of your bookmarks (easily imported from Firefox) and more to any computer running Chrome will you are logged in under your Google user account. This is a huge plus, as I've tried using extensions for Firefox to do this and nothing worked well.

Google now has all of my 300 some bookmarks somewhere in its vast memories. Any information like this that you voluntarily share with Google is fair game for them to use to improve overall user experience for you and for the rest of the Google using world--but not necessarily for them to share.

What does this mean? It dawned on me. Before I delve into such, it is first important to realize:

1) Google is a search engine and all the webpages it helps us find are ordered by a ranking system where webpages/websites are given values based on a number of different properties such as reliability and overall validity (well known and established websites are generally seeded with significant page ranks). A particular interesting property involves the page ranks of the sites that Google finds that link to the page in question, meaning if high ranking pages link to your website, the higher your website's page rank is. For instance, if www.intel.com links to www.little-known-website.com, the latter website that likely has a low page rank gets a rank increase due to the obvious high rank of a site like that of Intel.

2) Google's primary revenue is from it's advertisement system which is roughly based on the content of the webpages where the ads occur. Google uses the page ranking system in conjunction with its assessment of the content of both the originating webpage and the destination of the ad's link. Much in the same way that Google provides us with useful search results, it can render ads that the person viewing the page is more likely to be interested in.

3) Google provides other services like GMail to present users with a useful service while exposing the users with context relevant advertisements (ie ads that feature things related to words mentioned in an email you are reading).

It isn't exactly unheard of that Google is also collecting data from GMail or GTalk in which to provide a better user experience and ads while using Google search and other services like Google Maps. Bookmarks are links to pages that I, a registered Google user, go to without Google's assistance or knowledge. However, now these pages are known and possibly communicated through Chrome. Like a webpage Google's web-crawler visits, my user account also contains links to other websites.

Does this mean that those bookmark links factor in those pages' page ranks? And if so, does that imply that I have, in a sense, a "page rank"? Users having their own page rank? Everyone is a website--a collection of information. Does this also mean that other users can effect my page rank? Perhaps other users in my contact list are essentially my people bookmarks. If the president of the US had me in his contact list, my page rank would get a similar boost to the example listed above with Intel.

Google's AdSense system pays out if someone clicks on an advertisement on a website to the person who owns the site. It also has a way paying out when users are generally exposed to ads without actually clicking. I am making a big leap here, but what if the page rank of the person visiting the page and being exposed to the ad would effect the payout accordingly? If the CEO of a tech company see's a similar tech company's advert, does that mean that exposure was worth more money to the similar tech company? It's hard to say. At any rate, even if the president of the US is not on my contact list, if he visits my website, shouldn't my website's page rank go up?