Google Introduces New Commerce Search Engine
Google announced the launch  of their new commerce oriented search engine on Thursday. According to some analysts , the launch is a bit surprising, coming from Google, as their traditional search engine already occupies a large, healthy retail based business. It could be that Google is trying to use their commerce search engine as a preemptive strike against Bing, which has concentrated on online shopping. While this may not be a ‘game changer’ for experienced, large retail business, it could help mid-size retail companies have a more robust online marketing presence this coming holiday season.
Social Media Doesn’t Isolate
A new study came out this week from Pew Internet Personal Networks Community that debunks the argument that social networking sites encourage social isolation in society.  The study directly challenges a now famous study, from 2006, which was written by Miller McPherson and Lynn Smith-Lovin that addresses an increase in American social isolation since 1985. According to McPherson and Smith-Lovin, weakening ties to neighbors and the community demonstrate this trend. According to Pew Internet’s survey, Americans are not as isolated as McPherson and Smith-Lovin wrote and in fact, social networking sites foster more diverse social networks.
Can’t you just hear precocious teenagers throwing this argument at their parents, as they tell them to get off of Facebook or MySpace and come to dinner?
Google Address Privacy Issues and Offers Transparency
Google announced their new service , Google Dashboard, at a conference in Spain on Thursday. The service pulls together user information from Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and other Google services, allowing users more transparency and the right to edit their privacy settings. While most of the information was already available through different sources on Google, the new services brings this data together. The service has already generated both criticism and praise, I suggest checking out both on the New York Times’ Technology Blog. 
Good ol’ MSN got a makeover this week.  The newly designed homepage allows users to directly access their Twitter and Facebook account within MSN, allowing users to update tweets or news feeds without being redirected. Check out the new homepage for yourself! 
Facebook to Implement New Anti-Scamming Rules
Facebook announced yesterday, via a blog post , their intentions to implement new anti-scamming rules around app advertising. The announcement comes on the heels of user complaints and industry criticism.
Bits and Bolts
- Twitter started their ‘retweet’ integration project this week,  making the popular communication method part of the site’s features.
- It turns out that the creators of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2  tapped into their devoted fan base, using Twitter, to ask questions and seek advice on their new game.
- eBay launched a fashion focused website this week . Using their wealth of consumer data, eBay plans to follow fashion trends, generating articles and op-ed within a blog-like community.
- Google celebrated the 40th anniversary  of the beloved children’s show Sesame Street this week with a collection of doodles devoted to the show’s favorite characters.
- Early sales of Microsoft’s new operating system Window 7 suggest that Windows users are making a quick and welcomed switch to the software. Preliminary analytics show that sales of Windows 7 is 234% higher than Vista’s launch in 2007. 
- Microsoft announced this week their plans to lay off 800 employees . The cutback comes as part of Microsoft’s plan to downsize by cutting 5,000 jobs, which was announced earlier this year. It is still unclear which departments will be impacted most directly, or when the cutbacks will be made.