Sunday, April 12, 2009

Things I hope we can talk about now [Setting myself up for disappointment]

It's far from Christmas and it's not my birthday but I'm going to ahead and make a wish anyway. Here are the thing about which I'm really excited to see intelligent analysis following the drama of #amazonfail

1. The massive gaps/fails (loooove NiemanLab's use of #mediafail in reference to this debacle) that came to light. Author Craig Seymour says that his book was de-ranked back in February, and media outlets weren't interested. Will they only be interested now because it's had a day of internet madspin? How much of it has to do with the Easter holiday? How much to do with less reporters reporting? How much to do with the subject at hand?

2. Amazon is consistently pointed to as one of the kings of predictive search, behavioral targeting and general keyword mastery. What does this massive fail say about that? Does it make us question who, if anyone (besides Google), really is a leader in this area? Is it scary that someone who supposedly uses it so well screwed it up so royally, making it clear that the knowledge gap in this arena is even wider than a casual glance makes clear? Are we all even on the same page about how important this type of technology is to the next phase of making $$ on the web?

3. Twitter as a news-breaking entity. I know. I don't really want to talk about it either. But here we are. Not talking about it is silly. There will likely be a lot of whining and complaining and disagreeing and "but how will the monetize-ing," but it would be nice to see discussion on how the power of Twitter (I can't believe I just typed that) can be harnessed and used by traditional outlets on a regular basis - if at all.

And what remains to be seen, is what Amazon will do. While a Publisher's Weekly report that a representative called is a "glitch" crashed their site, an LA Times blog reports that indeed, they're trying to play this off as a mistake.

Best of luck with that, Amazon.

(And ps, I found the link to the LA Times through following the trend topic "glitch" on Twitter.)

When Twitter breaks news [This hurts me more than it hurts you]

Apparently, late last week, Amazon started stripping rankings from books it deemed "adult" in nature. Not surprisingly, there seems to be a lack of rhyme to their reason - or some would say, definite rhyme to their reason - suppress books that have gay themes; ie: Brokeback Mountain's ranking has been removed, Playboy's The Complete Centerforlds still has its ranking.

I found out about this just because I randomly decided to look at the top trending topics on Twitter. One was #amazonfail. I had to read a few tweets to see what that meant and I was able to quickly discover it had something to do with some new policy. So I went to Google to search "Amazon policy" and came up with nothing. Went to Google News search and found nothing. So back to Twitter (ugh), where after reading more tweets, I was lead to this blog entry, which seems to be where it all started, a mere 12 hours ago.

Then I went to Amazon and checked out some titles. Seems to be true.

So I went back to Google and searched "Amazon.com adult policy." Nothing. Searched Google News. Nothing. Also haven't seen anything show up within my usually-on-this-type-of-thing Facebook network.

Regardless of right or wrong, this will be a PR nightmare for Amazon, and will eventually make it to the mainstream. The question is, how long will it take? And I guess the more interesting point here is that Twitter beat everything else for timely delivery.

Oy.

Note: At the time of this posting, there are only 6 Google results when I search '"Amazon Follies" Mark Probst' (the name of the blog post and blog author of the incident that started it all). Twitter is showing up about 10 new results every 30 seconds.

UPDATE: More here - #Amazonfail and the politics of anti-corporate cyber-activism

And a Google-bomb attack attempt is already underway.

Still no Google News results. The top Google web results belong to aggregators, keyword hoarders and twitter-bots.