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Leverage (not what you think)

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I’m talking platform leverage – the sort of leverage you can get in a proxy battle by putting a page like this in front of millions of people, many of whom may in fact own your stock, the week before the meeting, for free:

20080807_Yahoo_Proxy.jpg

Or, the leverage in media you can get by interjecting a few weeks before a major global sporting event a “feature” that redirects searches related to that event to content within your own pages (from TechCrunch):

In preparation for the start of the summer Olympics on August 8, Yahoo has added Olympic-themed Shortcuts to its search results. Yahoo Shortcuts serve up contextually relevant content from various Yahoo properties inline within the search results. Now, whenever somebody searches for Olympic results, news, or athletes, different Shortcut widgets will pop up.

Something like this:

20080807_Medals.jpg

or this:

20080807_Olympic_Profile.jpg

Not that Google won’t do the same.

20080807_Google_Olympics.jpg

MSNBC has already done a deal to display Olympic video online in a format that is only supported on the Windows Media Centre.

In this insidious arms race the browser (or browsing enabled OS) is the ultimate high ground. Search captures about 50% of internet users each day, but everyone uses a browser. Sneaking in the door as a general purpose tool or service, pretty soon they can begin dictating what you may or may not do or see. Why shouldn’t Firefox (or Microsoft, or Apple) release a plug-in or widget this week which will dynamically update the medal counts and serve athlete profiles (and why not video) from some OTHER source which pays them money to do so. Then you won’t even need to use a search engine…

I still remember the sense of outrage when Yahoo first began selling the top positions in search results to the highest bidder… it made it that much easier to jump ship when an alternative came along.

(Oh, yes. This post brought to you by Paul Davis at Technology Investment Dot Info.)

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2 comments

  1. Marsha Keeffer

    Outrage indeed. We really have no idea what’s done to data before we see it, or who’s buying/paying. Very Orwellian, 1984ish, and Vonnegutian.

  2. Richard Kline

    When it comes to internet via the info, consider the source path. And do your own cross checking off platform.

    OTOH, I have a graduate library card and a web browser. Of the two the information content of the former is an order of magnitude greater. But the latter is point and click. So the latter gets ‘quick and dirty’ while the former gets ‘deep and pretty.’ I’m just sayin.’ Keep custody of your own imagination, though, don’t let the technology decide (because there’s a greedhead homunculus in there somewhere).

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