Google Uses Lyrics Website that Solicited Links to Prove their Strength

After discovering that, a lyric website, had been using illegitimate SEO tactics to increase their ranking and traffic to the website Google seized the opportunity to turn a shady website into a warning for the internet as a whole.  The story began with an invitation from Rap Genius to bloggers asking them to join a new program titled “Rap Genius Blog Affiliate”.  This program promised links to blogs via the Rap Genius twitter account in exchange for those blogs including a set of links back to Rap Genius.  This would, in theory, increase the traffic to blogs that were tweeted by the company and would increase the ranking of Rap Genius among web searches.  Somewhat hilariously, Rap Genius requested that bloggers post specific links to pages related to Justin Bieber and his upcoming album in a way that would optimize their visibility as Justin Bieber fans worldwide searched for his lyrics.  This program was made public by a blogger who was turned off by Rap Genius’s shady practices in a public post that quickly gained traction among the internet community.  Google responded within twenty-four hours by dramatically downgrading the rank Rap Genius among searches Rap Genius relied on for virtually all it’s revenue.  Imbedded below is a graph that shows the traffic to before, during and after Google altered it’s position among search results.


Rap Genius, which previously appeared near the top of many internet searches for popular song lyrics was removed from Google searches virtually overnight which was, ironically, Christmas of 2013.  In fact, the site did not even appear when searching for the terms “Rap Genius” until the sixth page. In an age where the average attention span is shorter than a video on Vine (7 seconds for the unfamiliar), internet users rarely continue past the first page of a Google search which I imagine is especially likely when searching for something as generic as lyrics to a song.  Without incoming clicks from Google search, the web traffic and associated revenue would be nonexistent and Rap Genius as a business would surely cease to exist.  Rap Genius remained exiled from the top of Google search results for 10 days before the search engine loosened it’s grip and allowed the lyric site to reclaim it’s position.

In the end, this scenario has absolutely nothing to do with the Rap Genius as a website or their attempts to exploit Google’s search algorithms because engine optimization is hardly a new practice.  On the surface, Google’s actions appear as an effort to maintain the integrity and validity of their search results but I believe their true motivation might be less clear.  Rap Genius singled out and punished in a way that was very harsh and very public as an effort by Google to alert and draw attention to the reality of their increasing control over information and it’s visibility to the internet as a whole.  Google has an unbelievable ability to promote or restrict an average person’s access to information and the effect cannot be underestimated. They will likely continue to dominate the web search industry in the future but as the company expands their reach (i.e. Android OS, autonomous vehicles, Nest smart thermometer) their relative power will continue to grow exponentially.  I’m not a Google hater in any way, I actually respect the company and their innovations that will continue have a profound effect on human existence.  When I search Google for lyrics to that Justin Bieber song I heard on the radio the top results should not be assigned to companies like Rap Genius, that improve their ranking illegitimately but I think the way Google used their power so quickly and mercilessly implies that they are ready, willing and able to do it again in the future.


The Game Theory of MAD

Mutually assured destruction, ironically, has become the keystone factor of world peace. Jon Von Neumann, a US Hungarian mathematician coined the term mutually assured destruction, or MAD, as a way to describe the arms race that is nuclear warfare. Simply put, neither of two parties will be the first to strike with nuclear weapons knowing full well that their opponent has a second strike capability. In this sense, neither party will become an aggressor when the costs are more than the gains (the costs being nuclear warfare and fallout domestically.) Peace this way is achieved not through diplomacy but instead the desire to minimize losses. And ironically enough, choosing NOT to take part in war is most beneficial to every party in a nuclear game.
In the article, author Clem Sunter discusses the state of the nuclear game now in the 21st century. He compares this game to chess, in which each players nuclear policies are dictated by other players decisions. Funny enough, MAD dictates that no country will use a nuclear weapon while other countries own them as well, but even so the best response to the threat of nuclear warfare is to be prepared with nuclear weapons (to ensure the threat of MAD). The notorious alleged decommissioning (but not destruction) of 17,000 nuclear warheads can also be seen as a game move to be underestimated by opponents; “Secrecy means outsiders have no idea of the latest technical advances in attack or defence systems.”  By recalling the 1996 Russian “Tsar Bomber”, the worlds most powerful use of a nuclear weapon before or since, Sunter recognizes whether or not MAD is still applicable today. When considering how the damage capacity of nuclear bombs have increased 1000x over, is it possible that someone can overpower the checks and balances of MAD? Do terrorists fear MAD or encourage it? The nuclear game is definitely changing globally and the only combatant to the rise of violence is the spread of knowledge.

Will the MERS Virus reach the tipping point?

There has been much talk recently on a new virus which has emerged in the Middle East, fashionably called the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. Scientists are rushing to figure out the biology behind this virus, hoping to find solutions before the population infected passes the tipping point and it becomes extremely hard to contain this disease. 

Although some of the earliest signs of this virus were in March of 2012, in the month of April 2014 the number of onsets of the virus have increase tenfold. This exhibits a change from being in a fairly stable state of about 20 onsets per month to an unstable increase. At this point, the first and second minor waves have passed and is now in its subsequent phases, but this is the first major wave of infectious persons seen. 

One of the major questions is the transmission of the infection from node to node. This virus, like many others, operates in a contact network, where it is necessary for an edge to arise from person for the infection to spread. Recently that edge was in the form of an American citizen flying back to the United States with the disease. Originally thought as being transmitted through dromedary camels, but even people in cities are becoming infected. The infection is currently most detrimental to those with pre-existing conditions. The one trend with this virus, however, is the very low amount of infected persons who show substantial symptoms. With precautions, mostly these viruses remain unharmful.


Will this virus break through the tipping point? I do not think it will, as the contact network has been identified, and while the spike in infected persons is real, the virus has yet to debilitate large numbers of otherwise healthy people. If that occurs, we have a true epidemic problems on our hands.

Old Guard in Congress leaves, a Shift in the Nash Bargaining Solution

This year when congress is sworn in, almost half of the politicians on capital hill will be newly sworn in or with less than two years of experience. This has implications for the allocation of funds to projects throughout the country. The loss of many senior leader in the Senate will change the negotiations and deals made, and we can begin to model the outcomes of these power and experience shifts by implementing the Nash bargaining solution. Right now, politicians with  seniority have caused other members on capital hill to have low outside options, as they cannot band as successfully with other lower ranking members. This power has allowed central members of congress like Tom Harkin and Daniel Inouye have swayed power to their sides for the pass decades while holding seats on committees the Senate Appropriations Committee which make dispersal decisions for state projects.


Now come 2014, 2 years after “the world was going to end”, and we end the tenure of many of these high profile congress members. This will allow for two things in regards to the Nash Bargaining Outcome, first, the power for the internal nodes in the bargaining graph will be up for grabs, essentially rolling the dice anew for who will be in the powerful positions. Second, when those positions are somewhat established, the outside options of other less powerful politicians should be greater, as since there are more younger congress members, there is a greater willingness to form coalitions.

This article also emphasized that seniority is not what it used to be in terms of power wielding in leadership positions. No longer are they the barons of the past. But, the article states, congress will lose an important aspect of the older leadership; the ability to get things done. Looking at a graph of nodes in a time series observing interactions, over time those interactions become more efficient, because each node learns about how to work in the given graph as well as find there ranking in the network of members, and also form strong ties over time. With many new congress members, the ties are weakened, and nodes must learn how to cooperate, as well as what ranking they have in the network. In the coming months it will be interesting to note the slowdown of legislation passed as well as the power shifts, not necessarily from party to party but also from politicians leaning different ways. Maybe this is the opportunity the citizens need to voice our opinions to the new members. What do you think?


WHO sounds alarm on spread of polio

The World Health Organization has declared an international public health emergency due to the spread of polio. With a spread of polio across international boarders the WHO has had raising concerns that it could result in the failure to eradicate a serious disease with a preventable vaccine.

With an increase in the amount of cases of polio in the “slow” transmission months causes worries that an increase in the number of causes will continue to rise. 60% of the cases have been caused through transmit ion across international boarders. With three countries playing a major role in transmissions; Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon. Suggestions have been made to force Syrian people to have paperwork to prove they have been vaccinated before traveling to other countries.

Polio was eradicated in the United States in 1979 with the help of vaccination, but due to the increasing civil unrest in Syria many citizens have not been able to be vaccinated.

Considering the safety of google users.

Of my last post, I discussed about the safety problem of google, which people intent to visit more often the high result of page without considering the safeness. Now, “Google considering a change to its PageRank software, which would favor websites that use encryption to protect visitors’ personal information, meaning safer sites would appear higher in search results.” Since Google takes majority of world search’s traffic, it influences to other Web design company. Changing the algorithm is going to encourage the most of web developers and discourage the unworthy developers whose Web is slowly to load improper software to computers.
Encryption data requires a software key to decode which means unauthorized attempt will be block. Althought Google is not going to change the algorithm in shorth days, it starts to use encrypting system on their services, Gmail and Search. Google understands the importance of users information and it will change the algorithm for better protection of users.

Big Ten sees eastern migration as anything but risky

The Big Ten is a conference that is affiliated with the governing body of college sports, the NCAA.  Over the past three years the conference has undergone an expansion of schools that it has allowed to join its racks.  The expansion is gaining the interest of schools on the outside, as now schools want to be the next one to join the conference.  The cascade effect is effecting different clusters or in this case different conferences.  As one school joins the Big Ten the connection with maybe another regional school could persuade a school that was previously in an uninterested cluster to gain interest.  An example of this scenario is the Big Tens addition of Rutgers.  Rutgers had a regional tie with the University of Maryland, Temple, and Penn State.  With Maryland joining the Big Ten two schools Rutgers had a tie with were now in the Big Ten, so logically Rutgers snatched the opportunity to join the conference.  Temple has more ties with schools such as Villanova and Drexel, which are not members of the Big Ten.  The result of this is a lesser interest to join the conference by Temple.