Decisive Moments: Google Gets Life Images


  "When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence."  ~Ansel Adams  

"Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created.  It is a major force in explaining man to man." 
~Edward Steichen



life coversLife magazine was born of the great depression and through much of the 20th century itserved as a key benefactor to the development of modern photojournalism.  The magazine chronicled the civil rights movement, the lunar landing.  It was in the offices of presidents and the cells of pariahs. It was the stage of actors and activists.   Its pages host to famed writers and legendary photographers – from Ernest Hemingway to Gordon Parks.

Through the years, Life survived some of the world’s most violent upheavals. It soldiered through two world wars, a presidential assassination and a shamed resignation.  What the magazine couldn’t outlive, or keep pace with, was western society’s evolution to a media culture.  First diminished by the image-overload of the television age, then crippled by an influx of competitive image centric and niche-specific magazines, Life Magazine finally succumbed to the Internet Information Age last year. 

On April 20th, 2007, after four years on life support as a newspaper insert, Life Magazine quietly passed.  In the media, we said our goodbyes and delivered our eulogies.

Fortunately, in the information age what’s gone need not be lost or forgotten.  And that is the case with Life’s image library of more than 10 million pictures.

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Soundbytes: Murdoch on Technology, Media and Newspapers

quotesIn every business, there’s a select group of people guaranteed to lure a following when they speak.  Typically war tested and battle scarred, these are people that have been there.  People that, over years and decades, have weathered the battles and cultivated experience.  People that offer the prospect of insight only time can yield.   Rupert Murdoch is one of these people.   

If you’re in the media industry and want a perspective, Rupert’s one of your dream dinner table guests.  He took the helm of his first newspaper at 22 and in a lifetime of deal making he grew it into a global media powerhouse.  With News Corp, his holdings span TV, cable, print, film, internet, satellite and they travel around the globe.  

Unfortunately, Rupert Murdoch isn’t someone you can call up and ask to share a few stories or pointers.  That is out of the question.   Luckily, there’s ample supply of soundbytes, especially this month.

Every year for the past 48, Australia’s ABC Radio National has broadcast a series of lectures from a prominent Australian.    This year’s speaker in the  49th annual Boyer Lecture series is none other than Rupert Murdoch.   Through the span of November and December, he’s delivered a total of four themed talks.  Another two will air through December 7th. 

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Google Settles Book Search Suit

goog settlesThroughout 2007, Microsoft and Google seemed locked in a race to digitize  and index the books of the world.  For months the companies seesawed back and forth with news of agreements granting exclusive access to world renowned library collections.

Google tied up the University of Lausanne in France and the University of Mysore in India.  Microsoft captured the British Library in the U.K. and the University of Toronto in Canada.  Google wooed Stanford and Harvard.  Microsoft snared Cornell and the University of California.

Back and forth it went in what seemed to be a small but important front in the companies’ ongoing competition for audience eyeballs and next generation search technology.  Then last spring, in May, abruptly, it stopped.

With little warning, and to limited fanfare, Microsoft pulled the plug.  Organizing all the world’s information wasn’t their mission.  Microsoft was interested in next generation search and a sustainable business model.  Creating a library instead of crawling existing ones apparently was no longer worth it, so they ceded the fight.  Copyright lawyers chasing Google’s Book Search project were less generous, until today.

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New York Times Struggles in July

trouble ahead in printToday just about anyone with the interest and a computer can label themselves a journalist.  In the news media, the barriers of entry have fallen to a level of insignificance.  Barriers to success are another thing altogether.  Building and maintaining an audience and drawing consistent ad revenue are substantial tasks, especially in a weakened advertising economy.  It’s an up and down process that requires constant attention.  Even the biggest brands aren’t immune from the struggles.  The New York Times proved that Tuesday with July results that showed weakness not just in print where it was expected, but surprisingly online too.

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Media Earnings Recap: News Corp, Marvel and Time Warner

earnings wrapWith most of the big names in the media/tech space reported, it’s been an up and down earnings season.   There have been some hits and some misses.  There’s been some positive guidance and some suspect.  Now three of the remaining big names have reported their performances.  Summing them up, here’s the tally from News Corp., Marvel Entertainment and Time Warner:

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Staffing Report: More Yahoo Exits

staffing changesWhen Microsoft set out to buy Yahoo, they acknowledged part of the interest was Yahoo’s talented staff.  Now out of it and sitting on the sidelines, seeing a shareholder revolt, and masses of that talent walking out, some Microsoft execs might be singing along to Garth Brooks “Unanswered Prayers” and counting blessings for the deal that wasn’t.

Over the past few days, a host of high profile Yahoo execs have pulled the ripcord, hit the eject button, or to mix metaphors even more, exited stage left.

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Microsoft Live Search Books Euthanized

digit booksFrom futuristic “Cloud Computing”, to search, from advertising to applications, Microsoft and Google have been battling each other for greater share of Internet audiences and eyeballs for a few years now.  By last June, digitally indexing books looked set to be another one of the fronts in which the companies would face off.   What a difference a year makes.  This week, Microsoft quietly discontinued their Live Book Search project.

In a blog post on May 23rd, Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s VP of Search, Portal and Advertising, made the disclosure. Click to Read More

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