google

Tedium
Forget AI. Google just created a version of its search engine free of the extra junk it has added over the past decade-plus. You just need one URL parameter.
I still use Duck Duck Go as my primary search engine. (Which is technically a more-privacy-focused version of Microsoft Bing.) But Google is better for some types of queries—especially code examples—and this simplified search view is an improvement. A good shortcut to kick off a Google web-only search (seems redundant but sadly isn't) is udm14.com.
wheresyoured.at
McKinsey is to the middle class what flesh-eating bacteria is to healthy tissue.
Edward Zitron reads Google's internal emails revealed in a DOJ suit and names names:
These emails are a stark example of the monstrous growth-at-all-costs mindset that dominates the tech ecosystem, and if you take one thing away from this newsletter, I want it to be the name Prabhakar Raghavan, and an understanding that there are people responsible for the current state of technology.
Scathing.
404 Media
Google Books is indexing low quality, AI-generated books that will turn up in search results, and could possibly impact Google Ngram viewer, an important tool used by researchers to track language use throughout history.
AI is why we can’t have nice things. Also maybe having a private for profit company organize the world’s information was a terrible idea. They make decisions to maximize their profits, not provide a data heritage for humanity.
404 Media
The researchers warn that this rankings war is likely to get much worse with the advent of AI-generated spam, and that it genuinely threatens the future utility of search engines: "the line between benign content and spam in the form of content and link farms becomes increasingly blurry—a situation that will surely worsen in the wake of generative AI. We conclude that dynamic adversarial spam in the form of low-quality, mass-produced commercial content deserves more attention."
I think domain-specific link curation is going to be extremely important very soon. But I've always thought that so who knows?
Ars Technica
Google's default search deal with Apple is worth so much to the search giant that Google pays 36 percent of its search advertising revenue from Safari to keep its search engine set as the default in Apple's browser, Bloomberg reported.
Google pays a high price to be the default search option everywhere.
adactio.com
Instead of responding to search queries by linking to the web pages we’ve made, Google is instead generating dodgy summaries rife with hallucina… lies (a psychic hotline, basically). Google still benefits from us publishing web pages. We no longer benefit from Google slurping up those web pages.
Cutting ties with Google is an interesting idea. I've definitely been trying to minimize my interactions with Google. I don't use Google Analytics here. I use DuckDuckGo for most of my searching. I use Firefox for browsing on a desktop and Safari on iOS. Hard to see a shift from Google happening on a big scale without some other shift in the way people discover new things online though.
The Verge
Google killed Reader in 2013, shutting down its RSS reader after years of neglect. Now, the team that built it reflects on what they made and how the web has changed in the decade since.
Well now I’m mad all over again. Reader was probably good because it was neglected by management not in spite of it. The community sharing and notes are what made it good—not very different from what I'm still doing here.

Update: See also: Chris Coyier on Social RSS.
The Verge
That’s because there is no actual precedent for saying that scraping data to train an AI is fair use; all of these companies are relying on ancient internet law cases that allowed search engines and social media platforms to exist in the first place. It’s messy, and it feels like all of those decisions are up for grabs in what promises to be a decade of litigation.
The current round of language and image model speculation is based on the premise that using any public data for training is fair use not a massive copyright violation.
STAT
"During testing, with every response — such as clicking a button to indicate feeling depressed “more than half the days” over the last two weeks — a pixel sent Facebook the text of the answer button, the specific URL the user was visiting when clicking the button, and the user's hashed name, email address, phone number."
The targeted advertising industry has set up some ridiculous incentives for people to behave horribly toward other people.
contrachrome.com
Excellent parody of Scott McCloud’s 2008 comic about the wonders of Google Chrome. This is about the danger Chrome poses to our privacy. (And I’m obligated to say modern Firefox is a good alternative.)
Pixel Bakery
I like getting shipping confirmations and updates, but all I need is a glance at the subject line and forget about it. The solution: tell Gmail to archive or delete certain emails after a specified number of days. Surprisingly enough, Gmail does not have this as a native feature. Users can set filters to automatically delete emails from certain senders or with keyword pattern matches, sure, but that’s an instant filter and those emails never see the light of day.
This is a great solution to Gmail's lack of retention policy features that I've been using for a while now. I set up a label for regular notification emails and this script moves them to the trash after 7 days or so. I was tired of Google trying to sell me more space. So I did a big purge and now emails are flowing to the Trash regularly.
ProPublica
"'For most advertisers, having an ad placed on a Steve Bannon-affiliated outlet is the stuff of nightmares,' said Nandini Jammi, the co-founder of Check My Ads, an ad industry watchdog. 'The fact that ad exchanges are still serving ads should tell brands that their vendors are not vetting their inventory, and I wouldn’t be surprised if advertisers who have found themselves on War Room request refunds.'"
Alternate title: how Google profits from online hate.
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