Watch out Lexis-Nexis and WestLaw! Google’s coming: You can now read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts with Google Scholar. Expect an oligopoly (as in the legal research industry) to feel some pressure as Google rolls out another free and disruptive service. You can search by cases, topics or specific phrases. You can also explore how different rulings are cited by other judges and later opinions.
Google also experiments with visual search through Image Swirl: Google is using a Wonder Wheel-like interface to help users discover images in a new visual search experiment called Image Swirl. It builds off technologies the search giant developed for Similar Images and facial recognition in its photo sharing site Picasa. If you search for an image, you’ll see stacks of photos which you can then click on. Each stack expands out into a web of similar-looking images around a keyword (like the Eiffel Tower or the Washington Monument to the right).
Twitter can’t keep its user interface straight: No infamous fail whale this time, but Twitter was having problems earlier today with its user interface. There were huge visual gaps between tweets and background images weren’t showing up correctly.
Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft back new Open Web Foundation legal agreement: The big giants are playing nice — for once. A non-profit they’ve lent their support to called the Open Web Foundation just released a standard legal agreement for sharing open source software. It should accelerate innovation for many projects, because it will make it easier for developers to understand what they can or can’t legally do. Because a number of tech’s larger players have thrown their weight behind the foundation, the non-profit’s work should have a good chance of widespread adoption. Google backs the use of the new agreement for its PubSubHubbub protocol, which powers many real-time web projects, while Facebook backs its use for its OAuth protocol. OAuth lets you log into outside services without giving your password and ID to an outside party.
It’s not a completely altruistic move, there are business motives too: “What the Open Web Foundation has done is give Facebook a way to contribute and influence the creation of these standards directly,” said David Recordon, who recently joined Facebook and is on the board of the foundation. “Hopefully, the goal is to have standards in the community that we’ve helped develop.”
TypePad takes aim at Tumblr with a short-form blogging project: Blogging pioneer TypePad can’t take it anymore, as young and sprightly competitors Tumblr and Posterous get all the attention. So now it’s launching TypePad Micro, a short-form service that lets you just post photos, music clips, thoughts and videos. That’s a step change from the longer essays and blog posts that TypePad’s user interface has traditionally supported.
Crowdsource your corporate social responsibility: JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s retail banking arm is giving away $5 million to non-profits voted on by Facebook users. The winner gets $1 million while runners-up get either $100,000 or $25,000. Smart! Get even more publicity for your good will generating campaign.
SuperFeedr gets seed funding from BetaWorks, Mark Cuban: The startup, which converts feeds into an XMPP or PubSubHubbub-compatible format (which makes them faster), got some high-profile backers. Betaworks is also behind URL shortening service Bit.ly and Twitter. SuperFeedr didn’t disclose the round size.
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We’re moving from a broadcast era to a network era: Web anthropologist Danah Boyd muses upon the changes unleashed by real-time information and social networking. “As networked technologies proliferate around the world, we can assume that there is a channel of distribution available to everyone and between everyone. In theory, anyone could get content to anyone else. With the barriers to distribution collapsing, what matters is not the act of distribution, but the act of consumption. Thus, the power is no longer in the hands of those who control the channels of distribution, but those who control the limited resource of attention. This is precisely why YOU were the Person of the Year.” Take a look. It’s well worth a read.
MySpace and Imeem are courting each other: Looks like a familiar storyline in the world of music startups is replaying itself. Much-hyped music startup pledges to come up with what no one else can — an ad-supported, all-you-can-eat music service. Hopes quashed by exorbitant streaming fees. Layoffs. Writedowns. (Please take notes, Spotify.) A sale would be a decent ending to this story. Imeem is a pioneering music service and the first to sign licensing deals with all four major record labels. MySpace could be a good host for the company, as it’s been trying to return to its original roots in music and is on a buying spree, with its recent iLike acquisition.
Larry Augustin gets a permanent post atop SugarCRM: Interim CEO Augustin turns official CEO today, says the open-source customer relations management company.
VB’s research team is studying mobile user acquisition: Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.