Google Instant: Game Changer or has the Game Changed?

September 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Wondering what to make of ‘Google Instant‘? It’s the brand new search engine Google unleashed upon us this week and it dynamically changes your search results as you type. Brave new dawn or over hyped in an age where Twitter and Facebook bring our friends’ suggestions straight to us?

TrustedReviews has published by thoughts on the subject and here are some extracts below. You’ll find the full article here.

Google Instant: Game Changer or has the Game Changed?

Google may not have been the first search engine, but it has been by far the most successful. Since it launched on 15 September 1997 has become the most visited website on the Internet and receives more than a billion search requests per day.

It is part of the modern lexicon: we don’t search, we ‘Google it’ and if you are to believe the hype Google thinks this week it made the most significant advancement in its search technology to date…

Watched in action (see video above) Google Instant is impressive, but it has drawn a mixed reaction from both users and critics so far. Why? I think I know…

Read on.

Why Google missed a beat with Buzz

March 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Reprinted with permission from my original article featured on the TalkTalk Blog

The attraction of social networking is undeniable. Posting status updates, photo tagging, ‘poking’ and telling each other how pretty we look has been like catnip to web surfers for many years now. In fact, if Facebook were a country its 400m members would make it the third largest country in the World behind China and India and 25% larger than the United States. Understandably, as widely recognised king of the Internet, Google felt it was being left behind. It wanted to catch up, and – as is Google’s obsession – fast.

From the moment it made this decision, however, the problems started. The cleverly named Google ‘Buzz’ was launched on 9 February to widespread disdain. At best, Buzz was deemed a me-too service with little to distinguish it from Facebook or Twitter, and at worst an invasive, assumptive robot that led to genuine privacy concerns and even fears over personal safety.

Google Buzz

Buzz off

What had gone so terribly wrong? On the outside Buzz is a simple, almost Twitter-like, status update service which allows users to share their thoughts across other Google offerings such as Picasa, Reader, Blogger and YouTube as well as integrating with Flickr and Twitter. The key message: that Buzz would bridge the gapbetween work and leisure.

The problem, to my mind, was that Google hadn’t thought enough about the ‘social’ element of ‘social networking’ – that, at heart, it is founded on people’s need to interact and to do this with all of the quirky, illogical, endearing and infuriating methods that make up the human condition. Google isn’t a company based around the quirky, illogical, endearing and infuriating. It isn’t even really a fan of the human condition. To me, Google is more of a fan of ones and zeros, of computer logic and crunching the numbers, of building by formula and that silicon chip approach is ill-fitting with the unscientific heart at the centre of social networking.

Consequently the key message was the most fundamentally misplaced: the gap between work and leisure is often there for a reason. Those who we email most often are not necessarily our friends or the most important people in our lives; in fact they may be the people we least want to know out innermost thoughts and ramblings. Computers don’t pick up on this and neither did Google.

Consequently Buzz automatically conscripted all Gmail users, their friends lists were determined by frequency of communication and their personal information spread between them. The result? Your boss was suddenly told about the slacking you did in the afternoon, your parents about how drunk you were at the weekend, you ex-partner about your latest love life revelations. Understandably, criticism flooded in and emotions ran high.

Back to the drawing board

Thankfully Google was quick to respond to feedback. Within 48 hours it had added privacy options to hide personal information from so-called ‘friends’ and introduced the most basic of human needs: the ability to block people who start following you. Another 48 hours passed and on 13 February yet more changes appeared with fundamentals such as giving users the right not to automatically follow their most emailed contacts. Your personal Picasa Web Albums and Google Reader stories of interest were also not fair game to anyone who had reason to speak with you regularly.

To anyone not using the world’s most powerful collection of servers to make their business decisions these would have been obvious omissions from the start and Buzz product manager Todd Jackson spoke to BBC News acknowledging “tens of millions” of users were “rightfully upset” and that it was “very, very sorry”. I wonder why everything was so rushed? Perhaps Google was upset that Orkut, its previous attempt to hop on the social networking bus, lags far behind Facebook with just 100m users (the majority of which, famously, live in Brazil). Perhaps it didn’t want to rely on the importance of Twitter for real time search. Or perhaps it was just a little frustrated and desperate – two very real, but unfamiliar emotions during its meteoric rise.

Google is famous for launching products unfinished, but this is dangerous with social networking. And you can’t make up for lost time by forcing a social network together out of Gmail users, anymore than you can force users of the same telephone company into a room and tell them to be friends.

The irony in all this is sublime. Google is a company obsessed with collecting and analysing data on human behaviour, yet when it came to the crunch I don’t think it really understands us at all…

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

How Twitter will change internet search forever

November 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Reprinted with permission from my original article featured on the TalkTalk official blog

The name alone instantly polarises reactions, but ‘Twitter’ looks set to have a far greater impact on our lives than anyone could have imagined.

If you haven’t heard the phrase already, ‘Real Time Search’ is likely to become one of the buzz words of 2010. What it refers to is the ability to search for information published on the Internet as it happens and it is something Twitter has perfected as it sought to organise the tens of millions of tweets sent through the service every day. Consequently Twitter users can immediately see what the ‘trending topics’ (read: hot topics) of the minute/hour/day/week are, read about developments and get involved.

Twitter - real time search

High profile examples of this during 2009 include the breaking news of Michael Jackson’s death, the Hudson river plane crash and the Trafigura waste dumping scandal. In fact multiple heavyweight news organisations now scan Twitter on a daily basis for breaking news and trends in public opinion – all of which is pulling traffic away from traditional search engines. After all, why use Google to find what the weather is like in Madrid when a Twitter search can pinpoint a local who made comment on it in the last five minutes and posted a picture?

The keyword in all this is ‘relevancy’. The battle for web supremacy lies in the service which can provide the most relevant information to the user and a key aspect of this is speed. So while traditional search engines work by web search crawls which index them into a logical order, the delay can take hours when the goal is seconds. Consequently the Twitter licensing deal will initially see users Tweets integrated into Google and Bing search results (Twitter users have the right to opt out) and the impact of this is profound.

While what Ashton Kutcher or Stephen Fry had for breakfast is unlikely to trouble CNN, it means the on-location reports from (for example) the Hudson River crash would now break through search engines not the BBC or Reuters. Never before has such people power been harnessed. Of course such a system is also open to great abuse, the recent tasteless fad for spreading fake celebrity deaths on Twitter is a prime example, but with this door now open it is extremely unlikely to ever be closed.

Still not convinced? YouTube and Facebook have recently both announced plans to integrate this technology into their respective sites. So that’s Microsoft, Google, Facebook, YouTube (Google by proxy) and Twitter all focused on real time search. Resistance is understandable, but in the long run it’s futile.

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

The Onion Nails The Web 2.0 Generation

May 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

No-one does satire better than The Onion. Many consider its wonderful Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn’t Fucking Work video the best short of the year so far. For my money however it has just been topped by this cracker which lovingly satirises the so-called Web 2.0 generation, student culture and its obsession with Facebook and Twitter.

So take two minutes out and enjoy: ‘Police Slog Through 40,000 Insipid Party Pics To Find Cause Of Dorm Fire

For those who missed the earlier Sony satire, I’ve also embedded it below:

Do you agree with my take: is this satire at it’s best or simply cheap shots at important new technology and student stereotypes?

#1 UK Journalist? 8th Best Non-Human Twitter User?

February 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Looking for something a little more positive following news the planet was 24 hours from economic and political collapse. Try this on for size…

My liver is in this?!

My liver is in this?!

After the wholly immeasurable honour of winning the UK’s top technology journalist in December (January results should be any time soon – I’ll chase them up!) I’ve turned up on another list, well at least part of me has.

The Twitter profile @iamgordonsliver has been named as the 8th ‘Greatest non-human Twitter User’ on CNet portal Crave. Irony is, I don’t write this (seemingly) tribute profile and have no access to it! Here’s what CNet had to say:

8: I am Gordon’s Liver

Type: Human organ
Typical tweet: “Building my hopes up again for a healthy lunch, but expecting a liquid one.”

This is the liver of a journalist called Gordon. Day to day, the personified organ comments on life inside the human body, providing a unique and easy-to-digest account of what it’s like to work as an organ in a 21st-century male.

Thankfully other bizarre copycats such as @iamgordonsego and @iamgordonstoe have yet to show similar signs of take off (the liver is on over 120 followers as we speak). Of course it’s always possible to just follow me on Twitter instead – it may prove slightly less disturbing…!

via 8 Greatest Non Human Twitter Users (Crave/CNet)

PART II: Twitter verses Facebook: Can Tweets Improve Your Life?

February 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

The second of my two part Twitter feature inspired by comments I made on an article entitled Correct Twitter Usage on my good friend Spode’s Think About Tech website. Part I: ‘Twitter & The Land of Opportunity’ can be found here.

Let’s get this lazy comparison scrubbed from the very first line: I don’t believe Facebook and Twitter are even remotely connected.

The old line: “Twitter is mass Facebook status updates for your friends” I believe to be utter – well – shite. The difference is Facebook has a certain ‘distance’ to it. With it I feel I get to know something about the LIVES of my friends on it and also the school friends I haven’t seen in years, but vitally many – if not most – of my Facebook friends I have no desire to interact with. Facebook is largely voyeuristic.

What are you doing with your time right now?

What are you doing with your time right now?

By contrast, Twitter is INTERACTIVE. Sure, there are professional sites simply rehashing their RSS feeds but they are largely catastrophic failures when you consider their number of followers when proportional to their site’s web audience.

No, Twitter is not about saying “I polished my car today” it is about interaction. It is a great online IM brothel between your friends/respected colleagues or others and one which goes on whether you are there are not. With Twitter I genuinely feel I have BONDED with virtually all of those I follow, I have not just watched them from afar via a sterile ‘Today’ page. I would even go so far as to say Twitter has helped improve social relations with a number of friends because we no longer need to engage in fatuous small talk . We already KNOW what is going on with one another’s lives and have often commented on it via Twitter so when we meet up we already feel comfortable, can cut the “so how has your week been…” waffle and have far more meaningful conversations.

Personally speaking, I know many people have issues with Twitter but let me be blunt here. If you find the people you follow say things you find dull then DON’T follow them. Cruel as it may sound I have many good friends in real life whose Twitter feeds I do not enjoy. I had the stones to remove them and we get on as if Twitter never existed.

Do you really participate with Facebook or just sit back and watch?

Do you really participate with Facebook or just sit back and watch?

Likewise for those I do continue to follow I find I now feel genuinely closer to them. Their tweets delight, entertain and touch me about the goings on in their lives. One friend in particular who is living abroad I watch to see how his very ill son is coping. From his Twitter updates alone and my occasional real time responses to them I feel more useful than 50 Facebook wall messages, virtual app flowers, ‘pokes’, and picture posts ever could.

In essence then, perhaps what I am trying to say is that while Twitter can seemingly be written off by generalist and trite statements it is actually a hybrid creating a new form of communication. A merger of Facebook and IM, a grand forum or cyberspace town hall where you can share your daily/weekly/monthly highs and lows in a way representative of what drives you in this wonderful thing called the human condition.

Hardest of all however is to realise your own tweets paint an unrelenting self portrait, something which scares away many. Yet hopefully this close-up study of yourself and others also brings about realisation of where and how more can be made of your own life. After all, it will give you more interesting things to Tweet about…

Link: Twitter Gordon Kelly Profile (follow me and see just how exciting/dull my life is!)

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

PART I: Twitter & The Land of Opportunity

February 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Time to chip in on what seems to be the hottest of hot topics recently: Twitter. It is the first of two features I’ll be publishing on web’s hottest topic. [Update: Part II: ‘Can Tweets Change Your Life’ Is Here]

Interestingly, this post was inspired by what began as a short comment on my great friend Spode’s excellent Think about Tech website and evolved into something altogether more substantial. Here’s a slightly revised version: Read more

Gordon’s first post…

January 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

First things first. Welcome to my blog!

Home of Gordon Kelly, News Editor at,  I hope to use my little part of the web to discuss journalism, writing and my great loves: technology, film, television, literature and that funny thing known as the human condition. You will also be able to use this site to find out about me via that crazy little thing designed to sum up our lives on a single side of paper – I believe some call it a CV.


I’ll be going at this in my own indomitable style so expect plenty of rants, ravings, cogitations and advice – both in the form of guides for those looking to get into journalism/writing, tips/tricks and even reviews for the products and content I’m often privileged to get ahead of the general public.Those with questions may also email me from the (soon to be set up) contacts section.

My ramblings can be tracked via my Twitter feed (also soon to be displayed on this blog) and at TrustedReviews where I run the News Section. This blog will soon appear under the url once a few technical hurdles are overcome.

Lastly it would be remiss of me not to say a huge Thank You to my great friends Lars Nilsson (formerly of TrustedReviews, PCW and The Register) and ThinkBikes and ThinkAboutTech founder Andrew Spode Miller. Without them you wouldn’t be reading my thoughts today.

Surf’s up!