Descriptions! Why Didn’t I Think of That

We recently hired someone at my company. Because I love teaching Web marketing, I’m often the person here who does the initial training.

The person we hired has a lot of experience in database marketing and that sort of thing. But she had little experience in search marketing.

I thought it would be fun to go over the history of search engines – and came across the article, “A Brief History of Search Engines.”

I was enjoying the quick quips of how each engine and technology came about:

  • “In 1993, MIT student Matthew Gray created what is considered the first robot, called World Wide Web Wanderer.”
  • Also in 1993 “ALIWEB was a search engine based on automated meta-data collection, for the Web.”
  • Galaxy was established in 1994. “It was created as a directory, containing Gopher and telnet search features in addition to its Web search feature.”

And then there it was. Yahoo 1994. “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.”

The article said, and I quote, “What made it different was that each entry, in addition to the URL, also had a description of the page. “

A description of the page!

That was the contribution.

Now, granted, that’s a good idea. I mean the names of some of these sites are pretty obscure and geeky. That’s the problem with a lot of the Web. Geeks were coming up with names for things. That should have immediately never been permitted.

That whole flash in the pan of social media naming was painful:

You always risked looking like a complete out-of-touch loser if you couldn’t pronounce, spell, or type the URL of these sites. And who doesn’t want to do that…alienate your users.

A description (plus a pronunciation example) has always been an absolute requirement since the beginning.

I mean, really: Gopher, Veronica, Jughead!? With those names right there, all marketing should have been immediately ripped away from these people. Geeks being clever never translates well to the rest of the world.

So David and Jerry saved the world from people like themselves.

The strange part of this is that it never occurred to anyone else that:

a. Someone other than a total insider geek would ever want to use this stuff.

b. A major contribution (which amounted to an initial $2 million from Sequoia Capital) was telling people where they were about to click!

David and Jerry will forever be recorded in history because they added descriptions to a list of links.

I can’t decide what irritates me more about this. Is it that in the midst of probably the greatest evolution of media in the history of humanity, two dudes get forever immortalized (and become stinking rich) because they made a list with descriptions? Or is it that I didn’t think of it?

Either way, I can’t stand it.

But I also can’t stand that Mark Pincus is going to become a billionaire selling pink tractors on FarmVille.

I turned 39 on September 28. No need to buy me any chickens, tractors, or Breton horses on FarmVille for a present. I don’t play. Just send me cash in an envelope. Real cash. I don’t have any use for Linden dollars or any other pretend currency. Greenbacks, baby. That’s what I like.

I think I’m getting old and cranky because all of this is getting to me. In the midst of all the awe-inspiring amazingness of the Internet, we have things like:

  • Pincus conning people out of a few dollars here and a few dollars there…enough to make him a freakin’ billionaire!
  • Google trying to figure out if I’m going to be more interested in Sears, Zappos, or AOL by the single letter I type in.
  • David Filo and Jerry Yang, Ph.D. candidates in electrical engineering at Stanford University will forever be remembered in the history of the Internet for being brilliant enough to tell people what the heck CERN is!

But I bring this all up because Yahoo is slowly but surely getting out of the search business. Do a search on Yahoo and you’ll see at the bottom of the page, “Powered by Bing™.”

Wikipedia reports:

On July 29, 2009, it was announced with a 10 year deal that Microsoft will have full access to Yahoo search engine to be used in Microsoft future projects for its search engine Bing. Under the deal, Microsoft was not required to pay any cash up front to Yahoo. The day after the deal was announced, Yahoo’s share price declined more than 10% to $15.14, about 60% lower than Microsoft’s takeover bid a year earlier.

As you might imagine, this irritates me too.

Somebody basically gives you the keys to the kingdom because you came up with descriptions. You were too good for Microsoft’s $44.6 billion in 2008 and now it is taking over all your search listings for nothing up front.


While Microsoft is at it, will you let it take over Flickr and Delicious? Cause I really like those places and you are sort of messing those up too.

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