Google and Other Misdemeanors
I have noticed that over the past few months, the number of people coming to my site via search engines, principally Google, has dropped by something like 40%. Curious, last weekend I took a little time and searched on about a dozen keywords that would be used in the industry.
Media sites just don’t come up in the searches. But what does come up are a ton of ads. The bulk of the rest of the links are suppliers. This is a big change over this time period.
Then I came across a tweet from Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp. He noticed that when he searched for his company, Basecamp, he came up number 4. The first three were ads from competitors who had worked the words base camp into their URLs or name in some ingenious way. And they had purchased the adwords that placed their ad above the real organic result. He explains all this in a podcast on Rework.
Back to my observation. I appeared seldom, except for my own domain name, and I never saw the major trade journals in the industry. Even ones named IIoT in a search of IIoT. Automation got three hits a couple of pages back on the keyword automation. But it should have had a bunch.
But suppliers are the most prone to buy adwords from Google.
If you think that searches are not biased and show you the most relevant to you, then you are years behind times.
I have noticed a similar effect in Facebook. Of course, its ad strategy came from Google in the person of Sheryl Sandberg. I did marketing for a small retail startup coffee house in Sidney, Ohio. Being local, I went to Facebook. I also spent a few dollars a month on ads.
When I ended the ad campaign, I was pestered with several notices per day about boosting a post for only $10, then for only $5. And our reach started dropping. Suddenly not everyone saw all the posts. The algorithm ensured that. When you’re in a small town with only about 1,000 person reach, you get pretty quick feedback.
Once upon a time, I mostly trusted Google search results. I use it for research constantly. Now, I’m not so sure about where to go for better results. Everyone is in such a rush to maximize ad dollars that they manipulate anything, including us, in the quest for eyes on ads.
Oh, the crunch enhancer? Yeah, it’s a non-nutritive cereal varnish. It’s semi-permeable. It’s non-osmotic. What it does is it coats and seals the flake, prevents the milk from penetrating it. Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Technology is for the benefit of humans. It has been ever since some human figured out a better way to trap a gazelle or plow a field.
Except for my wife, who hates soggy cereal, how much benefit is there in cereal varnish?
Or the product manager at Facebook working with engineers and psychologists figuring out ways to keep attention fixed on the app so that an additional few ads can be served up?
Or the engineers doing some fantastic work on digital voice recognition which could do great good for disabled people or help in dangerous situations instead figuring out how Alexa can spy on people 24 hours a day to accumulate data on when people are home to be sold to telemarketers or to governments to find terrorists or political opponents?
Ethics at work concerns developing things for the benefit of people and society. But weapons developed for defense could also be used offensively. Something good could be used to corrupt us. Or undermine us.
Ethics is both what we do and what we fail to do.
Mostly ethics should be in our awareness. At the end of the day one question we can ask ourselves, “What did I do for the good today? Where did I fail to act where I could have made a difference for the good?”
Interoperability enables growth of an industry, innovation, and great benefits for users. We see it broadly in the Web and more specifically in industry with OPC. It is topic to which I return frequently. We can talk about all the components of the “Industrial Internet of Things” whether it be devices, databases, big data analytics, visualization, but without interoperability the IoT will be severely hampered.
Dave Winer developed outlining applications to help writers of prose and code organize their thoughts. He also developed RSS and knows something about interoperability and the politics of standards.
Data is like air
This all reminded me of some previous blog posts about data wants to be free. Moira Gunn, host of TechNation, an NPR show and also a podcast, discussed this topic in her opening “Take Five” essay in that podcast. She said, “Like air, data just flows. The power of data lies in its being replicated over and over.” She was thinking about Google and the attempt to have your past eradicated. But the concept also works for us.
I was thinking about my thoughts voiced yesterday about the use of open technology. Arlen Nipper, co-developer of MQTT, likes to tout that his middleware powers the Internet of Things. He says this because MQTT is the backbone of Facebook Messenger.
Ah, there is my point about the use of open technologies. Messenger is a closed silo. Try to move your data. Try to use your data in another application. Try to text someone from another app to an address in Messenger. Nope. Can’t do anything. Facebook wants you captured completely within its silo.
What’s that old phrase? Buyer Beware?
Reflecting trends I see in consumer-oriented platforms, Rockwell Automation has added custom-device plug-in capability to its FactoryTalk AssetCentre v6.0 asset management software. System integrators can now develop re-usable plug-ins to connect the software to unlimited third-party devices. For manufacturers, this connectivity expands monitoring, backup and recovery capabilities for their critical automation-related assets.
Just take a look at some of the latest developments from Facebook. They are telling media companies and others that the audience is there, on Facebook, so develop apps to reach that audience (owned, by the way, by Facebook).
This is not an exact analogy, but Rockwell has great market share of automation and control in North America and is competitive in Asia. Its software business, while not so dominant, is competitive. Therefore, it makes sense to offer this expansion for asset management.
FactoryTalk AssetCentre software is an asset management tool that allows manufacturers and industrial operators to centrally manage controllers and other automation-related assets. It archives asset configurations on a regularly scheduled basis, tracking changes and providing a point of return for faster recovery following an unscheduled downtime event. Archived asset configurations can also be saved and used as a “golden copy” configuration, allowing customers to pinpoint exactly what should be running in their automation layer and compare it with what is actually running.
“The FactoryTalk AssetCentre software now provides extensive access to equipment across an entire automation system,” said Mohit Singhai, product manager for Rockwell Automation. “Additionally, plug-in definitions created for one third-party device can be re-used with other devices or even in other automated industrial systems to help speed up commissioning and deployment.”
The software also archives user actions and changes. This allows operators or technicians to audit any changes that have been made to more easily identify a problem’s root cause, such as when a temporary code fix to keep a line running leads to an unanticipated downstream issue. Regular comparison reports can also inform operators of any discrepancies that might be occurring between an asset’s last saved configuration and its current parameters.
FactoryTalk AssetCentre software provides configurable levels of security. Administrators can establish role-based data access and activity limitations, and monitor individual user activities.
In addition to the new custom-device, plug-in capability included in the v6.0 software release, independent agent-group functionality has also been added. It allows users to place interrelated programs or agents into groups and then independently configure each agent group as needed, which allows for more scalable and flexible architectures.