published Friday, January 7th, 2011

Reader asks: Are Facebook and Google on a collision course?

by Donnie Jenkins

Q: I read this week that Facebook is more popular than Google or soon will be. I don't really see why one would be compared to another, since Facebook is a social network and Google is a search engine. Any thoughts?

A: Actually, I think about this a lot. What you have to keep in mind is that both Google and Facebook are interested in developing their business models to show greater profits.

Google has been successful doing this by selling ads in what was once a unique way. They have always associated ads with whatever a person was searching for online, trying to figure out what you want and showing you an easy way to accomplish your task. This is called contextual advertising and has worked beautifully for them.

Facebook has one major advantage over Google: Personal information can be used to target ads. Because people use their real names and share personal information on Facebook, it becomes a sort of social search engine. Usually Facebook users are searching or looking for personal updates from friends and in their search Facebook can show ads that are targeted precisely to certain characteristics or needs of the user.

Google is concerned, as you might imagine, and has promised to release its own answer to Facebook's social pull at some point. However, they haven't fared well in previous attempts.


Q: I read two articles this week that say RSS is dead. I don't even know what that is, and online explanations just confuse me more. Can you explain?

A: Put simply, RSS is a way to subscribe to audio and video broadcasts online. It stands for Really Simple Syndication. It works by means of what's called an RSS feed. You use a browser or dedicated RSS reader to subscribe to the feed and then you receive each new broadcast as it appears online.

Browsers such as Chrome and others are starting to cut their native support for RSS. It's hard to say what effect this will have. I'd hate to see RSS disappear completely, as it is a handy tool for blogs.


Q: I have owned every Apple iPod MP3 player since Apple first came out with them, and I love them. Why do other companies even bother?

A: I get a lot of comments along this line. Actually there are several other great MP3 players out there, some much less expensive. Apple will probably dominate this area for a while to come, and no doubt the iPods are great.

Interestingly the same variable that makes some love the iPod make others hate it: namely, its dependence upon Apple iTunes software. iTunes is excellent for syncing up with iPods and it has other nice features, but I've always had a love-hate relationship with this program.

I am an Apple fan but iTunes makes me crazy sometimes in its approach to certain tasks. Now, bear in mind that most Apple users don't feel this way and I'm in the minority on this issue. It may be that my early PC attachment blinds me to its merits.

E-mail Donnie Jenkins at

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