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The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, buy and hold, call centre, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, game design, housing crisis, invention of movable type, inventory management, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, late fees, loose coupling, low skilled workers, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, optical character recognition, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Rodney Brooks, search inside the book, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Skype, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, why are manhole covers round?, zero-sum game
Manber almost had to resort to running his software on employee computers at night and on weekends, but one of his employees found a batch of idle PCs that had been set aside for emergencies. He was allowed to commandeer those machines, although with the understanding that they could be taken back at any time. Amazon introduced Search Inside the Book on October 2003—and for the first time in three and a half years, there was a feature story on the company in Wired magazine, celebrating its significant innovation. The article revived Bezos’s vision of the Alexandria Project, that 1990s-era fever dream of a bookstore that stocked every book ever written. Perhaps such a universal library could be digital and thus infinitely more practical? Bezos cautiously told Wired that Search Inside the Book could indeed be such a beginning. “You have to start somewhere,” he said. “You climb the top of the first tiny hill and from there you see the next hill.”3 As Amazon was adding product categories throughout the 1990s, its executives came to an inevitable conclusion: the company had to become good at product search.
Before Manber joined the company, Amazon had introduced a tool called Look Inside the Book, an effort to match the experience of a physical bookstore by allowing customers to browse through the first few pages of any title. Manber took that idea much further. He proposed a service called Search Inside the Book that would let customers look for specific words or phrases from any book they had purchased. Bezos loved the idea and raised the stakes: he wanted customers to be able to search any book on the site, and he gave Manber a goal of getting one hundred thousand books into the new digital catalog.2 “We had a very simple argument” for book publishers, Manber says. “Think of two bookstores, one where all the books are shrink-wrapped and one where you can sit as long as you want and read any book you want. Which one do you think will sell more books?” Publishers were concerned that Search Inside the Book might open up the floodgates of online piracy. Most, however, agreed to try it out and gave Amazon physical copies of their titles, which were shipped to a contractor in the Philippines to be scanned.
A few days later Bezos calmed down and tried to get Manber to change his mind, but it was too late. Bezos had now lost his two closest colleagues and technical leaders, and just at the time that Amazon’s attempt to break out of retail and embrace an identity as a technology company was faltering. The general search engine at A9.com was a failure and was shut down a year after Manber left. Block View would be overtaken by Google’s Street View. Search Inside the Book was interesting but hardly a game changer, and the world’s best engineers were fleeing a poisonous Amazon culture and flocking to Google and other hot Internet companies in Silicon Valley. If Bezos was going to prove to the world that Amazon was indeed the technology company that he so desperately claimed it to be, he needed a dramatic breakthrough. * * * In early 2002, Web evangelist and computer book publisher Tim O’Reilly flew to Seattle to bend Jeff Bezos’s ear.
In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy
23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business process, clean water, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, discounted cash flows, don't be evil, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, El Camino Real, fault tolerance, Firefox, Gerard Salton, Gerard Salton, Google bus, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Googley, HyperCard, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, one-China policy, optical character recognition, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Potemkin village, prediction markets, recommendation engine, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, search inside the book, second-price auction, selection bias, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, trade route, traveling salesman, turn-by-turn navigation, undersea cable, Vannevar Bush, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator
It had to be a rate that someone could maintain for a long time—this was going to scale, remember, to every book ever written. They finally used a metronome to synchronize their actions. After some practice, they found that they could capture a 300-page book such as Startup in about forty-two minutes, faster than they expected. Then they ran optical character recognition (OCR) software on the images and began searching inside the book. Page would open the book to a random page and say, “This word—can you find it?” Mayer would do a search to see if she could. It worked. Presumably, a dedicated machine could work faster, and that would make it possible to capture millions of books. How many books were ever printed? Around 30 million? Even if the cost was $10 a book, the price tag would only be $300 million. That didn’t sound like too much money for the world’s most valuable font of knowledge.
She identified books in that session by time stamps on the scans. 349 “The sun is setting” Vincent Cartwright Vickers, The Google Book (1913; reprinted Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979). 350 If its patents were Steven Shankland, “Patent Reveals Google’s Book-Scanning Advantage,” CNET, May 4, 2009. 355 That was the day An excellent account of the Amazon project is in Gary Wolf, “The Great Library of Amazonia,” Wired, December 2003. 355 “I think it’s an important part” Brin gave me the quote for my column about Search Inside the Book, “Welcome to History 2.0,” Newsweek, November 10, 2003. 356 “innocent arrogance” John Heilemann, “Googlephobia,” New York, December 5, 2005. 357 Page was rhapsodic Page called me at Newsweek in December 2003 to explain the project. 359 books published in 1930 Lawrence Lessig, “Copyright Law and Roasted Pig,” Red Herring, October 22, 2002. 359 Google’s chief economist Hal Varian, “The Google Library Project,” prepared for the AIE-Brookings discussion “The Google Copyright Controversy,” February 24, 2006. 360 aviation industry Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), pp. 1–3. 360 “Google saw us” Heilemann, “Googlephobia.” 363 “a path to insanity” Lawrence Lessig, “For the Love of Culture,” The New Republic, January 26, 2010. 363 “hack the Google Book Settlement” Steven Levy, “Who’s Messing with the Google Book Settlement?
Page himself dismissed the argument that sharing Google’s scanner technology would help the business in the long run, as well as benefit society. “If you don’t have a reason to talk about it, why talk about it?” he responded. “You’re running a business, and you have to weigh [exposure] against the downside, which can be significant.” Google got a shock in October 2003, when it learned it was not the only company doing a massive book-scanning project. That was the day Amazon.com introduced its “Search Inside the Book” feature. Amazon head Jeff Bezos had ordered the project to see if searching inside books would increase sales. (It did, by about 9 percent.) He had hired Udi Manber (who would later go to Google) to become “chief algorithms officer” and lead the project. Amazon began scanning books, and after the first 10,000, Manber’s engineers began working on ranking algorithms. The results didn’t prove satisfactory until Amazon had around 120,000 books in its indexes (many of its books were scanned in centers Amazon created in India and the Philippines), and putting in a keyword would pull out an apt passage in this virtual library.
One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt
Amazon Web Services, automated trading system, big-box store, call centre, cloud computing, Dynabook, Elon Musk, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, new economy, science of happiness, search inside the book, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, software patent, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K
That will create huge value for people. Great merchants have never had the opportunity to understand their customers in a truly individualized way. E-commerce is going to make that possible. Another feature, added in October 2001, is “Look Inside the Book.” Not all publishers or authors like the idea of letting people read some of the book before buying it. Even worse, two years later he added “Search Inside the Book,” allowing people to pick out only the topics they’re interested in without paying a cent. It’s a great research tool for college students, but doesn’t bring in revenues for either the publishers or Amazon.com. It does, however, create enormous goodwill and brings people back to the site. Some of them end up buying that book or others on the site. The 1-Click patent, however, created the most controversy, one that lasted for more than a decade.
Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning by Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris
always be closing, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, business intelligence, business process, call centre, commoditize, data acquisition, digital map, en.wikipedia.org, global supply chain, high net worth, if you build it, they will come, intangible asset, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, knapsack problem, late fees, linear programming, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Netflix Prize, new economy, performance metric, personalized medicine, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, recommendation engine, RFID, search inside the book, shareholder value, six sigma, statistical model, supply-chain management, text mining, the scientific method, traveling salesman, yield management
Gary Klein, a consultant on decision making, makes similar arguments about fire-fighters making decisions about burning buildings.11 Even firms that are generally quite analytical must sometimes resort to intuition when they have no data. For example, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, greatly prefers to perform limited tests of new features on Amazon.com, rigorously quantifying user reaction before rolling them out. But the company’s “search inside the book” offering was impossible to test without applying it to a critical mass of books (Amazon.com started with 120,000). It was also expensive to develop, increasing the risk. In that case, Bezos trusted his instincts and took a flier. And the feature did prove popular when introduced.12 Of course, any quantitative analysis relies upon a series of assumptions. When the conditions behind the assumptions no longer apply, the analyses should no longer be employed.
Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-To-Peer Debates by John Logie
1960s counterculture, Berlin Wall, book scanning, cuban missile crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Hacker Ethic, Isaac Newton, Marshall McLuhan, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, peer-to-peer, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, publication bias, Richard Stallman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, search inside the book, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog
I searched my departmental office, my home office, the stacks of books in my bedroom and the overflow storage in my basement. The book was nowhere to be found. I considered buying a used copy from Amazon, and discovered that they were quite inexpensive. More than one dealer had settled on $3.30 as an appropriate price for a hardcover described as appearing “new.” With postage, I could have had a copy within a week or so for under $10. But as I considered this purchase, I noted that Amazon’s website allowed me to search inside the text of Menn’s book. I was able to double-check all of my citations, though the interface was a bit cumbersome. At no cost to me, over and above the fees I pay for high-speed broadband access to the Internet, Amazon was offering me a functional copy of my missing print text. In fact, Amazon’s version was more readily functional for my purposes (checking citations) than the lost print text.
Natural language processing with Python by Steven Bird, Ewan Klein, Edward Loper
bioinformatics, business intelligence, conceptual framework, Donald Knuth, elephant in my pajamas, en.wikipedia.org, finite state, Firefox, Guido van Rossum, information retrieval, Menlo Park, natural language processing, P = NP, search inside the book, speech recognition, statistical model, text mining, Turing test
Make sure that the unigram and default backoff taggers have access to the full vocabulary. 34. ● Read the following article on semantic orientation of adjectives. Use the NetworkX package to visualize a network of adjectives with edges to indicate same versus different semantic orientation (see http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/P97 -1023). 35. ● Design an algorithm to find the “statistically improbable phrases” of a document collection (see http://www.amazon.com/gp/search-inside/sipshelp.html). 36. ● Write a program to implement a brute-force algorithm for discovering word squares, a kind of n × n: crossword in which the entry in the nth row is the same as the entry in the nth column. For discussion, see http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/ languagelog/archives/002679.html. 4.11 Exercises | 177 CHAPTER 5 Categorizing and Tagging Words Back in elementary school you learned the difference between nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis
23andMe, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Anne Wojcicki, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, cashless society, citizen journalism, clean water, commoditize, connected car, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, different worldview, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, don't be evil, fear of failure, Firefox, future of journalism, G4S, Google Earth, Googley, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Mark Zuckerberg, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, old-boy network, PageRank, peer-to-peer lending, post scarcity, prediction markets, pre–internet, Ronald Coase, search inside the book, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, web of trust, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, Zipcar
It has captured millions of reviews and ratings of every imaginable product from people who have bought and used them: a more valuable repository of consumer reports, I’d say, than Consumer Reports itself. No one knows more about the stuff we buy than Bezos. Handling stuff becomes a small price to pay to become so smart. Amazon is positioned perfectly for the transition to digital content delivery. It is selling and delivering books to PCs and its Kindle e-book reader. It is selling movies direct to our TV sets. It is selling music downloads. Amazon has built a strong position in content thanks to innovations ranging from reviews to searching inside books to automated recommendations. By reflex, many of us go to Amazon to check out products before we buy them. That is Amazon’s brand and value, as much as the stuff it sells. Bezos built a digital knowledge and service empire. Just as fast-food joints make more money selling Coke than cheeseburgers and some retail chains have built more value in real estate than merchandise sales, Bezos doesn’t really make his money pushing atoms.
The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin
"Robert Solow", 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, bioinformatics, bitcoin, business process, Chris Urmson, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, crowdsourcing, demographic transition, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, global village, Hacker Ethic, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, mass immigration, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, phenotype, planetary scale, price discrimination, profit motive, QR code, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Stallman, risk/return, Ronald Coase, search inside the book, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social web, software as a service, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Nature of the Firm, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, working poor, zero-sum game, Zipcar