May 2014 Essential News Recap – Nerd Edition

Crap Content Expelled

For all my readers who are blog mavens, your chances of appearing in organic Google searches just got better.  A major  SEO or algorithmic adjustment,  Panda 4.0,  was rolled out late in the month to continue Google’s efforts to reward authoritative, original content. Phrased a bit differently Google has taken aim at content mills, such as Demand Media’s eHow site, just as it has previously  taken on link farms and content scraping and republication sites.

I think the best summary of how Google algorithm changes impact content creation is outlined in this Motley Fool article. Summaries written for investors are often some of the best overviews of complex topics because essential elements and trends are isolated and presented without having too many layers of marketing polish applied.

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Searches that Produce Crap

Another, previous, algorithmic change, termed PayDay Loan, was updated concurrently with Google’s Panda 4.0 update.  Quite distinct from crappy content,  PayDay concerns itself with crappy searches, well actually from specific queries such as “Where is the closest place to get a payday loan?” or “hot babes” entered into search.

A huge percentage of the internet is a dark, creepy, out of sight and search sort of place.  While the specifics have changed in the past months since Kevin Goodman wrote a good summary of recent dark net hacks..   The FBI raided and removed of Tor-based “Freedom Hosting” servers that hosted huge amounts of child pornography.  Other dark sites that deal in the world of drugs sales and other black market trades were overturned and disrupted with massive theft of digital currency a few months ago.  The bitcoin is the digital currency used in most dark net transactions.

The official Google info about PayDay Loan algorithm release simply stated:

So porn and loan-shark queries, as examples of  queries that had been targeted by black hat techniques to misdirect searchers to sites and server them ads using unscrupulous tactics are what Google attempts to filter out through what they term “Pay Day Loan algorithm” updates.    This update helps filter out  the underside of the public, unhidden web, but it does nothing to address the truly illegal and depraved side of the internet.

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Feminization Ruffles Feathers

Feminism is not a mainstream word again, but there has been lots of good talk about social media, women and cultural norms this past month.  Good discussion has come from horror.  The hashtags #bringbackourgirls and #yesallwomen trended on Twitter for long days on end and there was some dismissive response to them as “hashtag activism.”  All activism grows out of knowledge and the belief that others feel as you do.  Talk of human trafficking and the pan-global disposal of wide swaths of groups in societies is a first step in addressing the issue.  The Nigerian School Girl kidnapping happened in April but worldwide reactions did not occur immediately.  Late April through mid-May saw #bringbackourgirls top social media.  Rallies and educational events continued throughout the month.

Unfortunately another event allowed the hashtag #yesallwomen  to trend after the Santa Barbara shootings.  The societal treatment of women as chattel deserving of punishment, abuse, and harassment has allowed the conversation about mental illness and guns to expand to include mental illness at a societal level.  This too seems to have gone beyond hastag activism.

Looking at these together, a shift in awareness seems to be happening, and women not previously active in socio-political issues are acting as a group.  This is significant and something to watch.

While the title of the piece “Women vs Women: or the Ugly Side of Feminism” is an unfortunate one that depicts feminism and women’s behavior as inherently negative, but the article on is a good read in that I think the overall situation described is one of change and improvement.  Yes, tech is still far too male in all ways, but the very existence of this article shows that the awareness of the incongruence between women in tech, women having distinctly different interests from men, and  the expectation that women will develop apps and products along the same line as men is a good sign.  The core of this article is reaction to a hack-a-thon at which an app for finding local nail salon-related businesses took second place.  Some women reacted poorly to a beauty-related  app being created apparently feeling that it was stereotypic.  Or it could be taken as a sign that second wave tech feminism is developing.

These three news items seem to signal a perspective shift that is manifesting right now in our culture.

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The right to be forgotten was held up in European courts recently and Google has created a web form that will allow people to request take downs of information that is derogatory to them.  The right to know is not greater than the individual right to be free of past problems.  This is likely to be one of the most important changes in internet practice and policy to occur recently.  It will impact privacy considerations around the world although this is an EU ruling.



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