Google Being Challenged By Italian Professor

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Google Being Challenged By Italian Professor
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The man who helped inspire Google has created a new search engine that will directly compete with the search engine giant.

Massimo Marchiori, an Italian computer science professor, launched Volunia to a select group of users on Monday. It’s an interesting mash-up of a search engine and social media platform. The service will allow users to “view the components of particular Web sites to find the subject of interest more quickly and to interact with registered users who might be looking at the same Web pages,” according to The Economic Times.

“The web is a living place. There is information but there are also people. The social dimension is already present, it just has to emerge,” Marchiori said.

Marchiori used to teach at MIT where he came up with the algorithm for the Internet page ranking system service “HyperSearch” in the 1990s.

The project has been under development for the past four years in Italy.

He has been quoted as saying that Google founder Larry Page came up to him after a conference on HyperSearch. He says that Page asked to use the search algorithm. Since it was not patented, Page reportedly implemented it into Google. Marchiori holds no ill will against the search giant, however, and says that Page used his algorithm in the “best possible way.”

Marchiori believe that all search giants will soon be implementing a combined search/social media platform soon.

Volunia was launched to power users on Monday to test out the service, but it will be rolled out to all users in 12 languages over the coming days.

They hope to keep the site up and running by selling advertising space.

Here’s a few videos that explain in detail what Volunia is and how it works. With Google already implementing “Search, Plus Your World” across its service, it’s only a matter of time before they integrate the ideas that Volunia brings to the table.

Google Being Challenged By Italian Professor
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  • Matt Cutts

    “He says that Page asked to use the search algorithm. Since it was not patented, Page reportedly implemented it into Google.”

    Zach, you may want to email Google PR over this. It is my understanding and personal opinion, that your interpretation is not correct. Successful people are accused of stealing other people’s ideas quite often, but knowing Larry Page and Google’s culture I find it hard to believe. Since the founding of Google, ethics have been at the core of it and that guides our every move.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/zach-walton Zach Walton

      Thanks Matt. I emailed Google to ask about it. I was just going off of what the The Economic Times reported him as saying and other Web sites were reporting it as well. I will add in a response from Google proper once I hear back.

      • Gianni

        I believe Marchiori defines himself simply as the creator of HyperSearch algorithm and he was ” the first to introduce the concept of hyperinformation in search engines, idea later developed for example in Google”.

        info here: http://www.w3.org/People/Massimo/shortbio (I do not know who has control over this bio).

        • Massimo

          Marchiori makes a much bolder claim in Italy (see links to video interviews posted below). In any case even what he says in his bio is grossly incorrect.

          Without even going into the details of hyper information and how it was used at the time, I will just post the chronology (which is well documented):

          1) March 1996 – BackRub (by Larry Page) is online

          2) ~ November 1996 – Marchiori submits his Hyper Search paper to the WWW6 Conference

          3) April 1997 – the WWW6 Conference takes place, Marchiori presents his paper and meets Larry Page

    • ranger

      @matt “. Since the founding of Google, ethics have been at the core of it and that guides our every move.”
      That’s why Google copied facebook and Ios?

  • Massimo

    Marchiori lies when he presents himself (as I’ve seen in several video interviews) as the creator of Google’s algorithm. This false premise has ensured media coverage in Italy for his embarrassing Volunia project, which has no value whatsoever.

    The difference between Marchiori’s Hyper Search and Brin and Page’s PageRank is like night and day. And on two different planets.

    Marchiori’s Hyper Search asserted that the value of a webpage should be determined not only by the webpage content, but also by taking into account the *content* of webpages that are linked from that webpage (“outlinks”).

    Google’s PageRank, on the contrary, expands the academic citation concept (already applied by other search engines at the time) which took into account the *number* of “backlinks” to a given page (so something completely different and in the opposite direction from Marchiori’s Hyper Search), and introduces a crucial part: instead of considering all backlinks equally, it gives a different weight to each link, based on the number of backlinks of each linking page.

    Marchiori should stop this travesty and the Italian media check the validity of an interested claim before publishing it as a fact.

    Unfortunately in Italy dishonesty and incompetence are the norm and go hand in hand.

    • http://sgtp.net/AndreaSplendiani/ Andrea


      well… I think your judgment on Italy is a bit too drastic!
      As for who comes first, it is difficult to compare an abstract idea with a company the scale of Google.
      Just to maintain Google’s theme: once en ex G-guy told me: ideas, even good ideas, are cheap. Is the ability to implement them and produce something valuable out of it that is rare.

    • lea

      As if in America we were all honest and not tricky about stealing things…I am always hearing stories about Microsoft…ideas belong to everyone, who actually does something with the idea has the right to what he made.
      Massimo not sure where your from but one issue has nothing to do with the other.
      So all incompetent people are dishonest? Or is that all dishonest people are incompetent or both? I would say we may have 4 or more categories…

  • Meh

    I wouldn’t expect an honest statement from a glory seeking professor, nor would I expect Google PR to respond “Oh, yeah sure – that was someone else’s idea”, even if it was.

    The truth is most likely a combination of the two stories. Marchiori probably developed something along the lines of “HyperSearch” and Larry Page probably saw it and said “wow”, but then went and developed their own version of it.

    Google has a history of this. “Groupon says no to our offer? Fine, we’ll build our own.” or “Twitter doesn’t want to allow us access to RTS? Fine, here comes search plus your world”.

    I don’t think Google stole the idea. But:

    @Matt Cutts – I think you’re quickly becoming the minority on the “Since the founding of Google, ethics have been at the core of it and that guides our every move.” bit.

  • Pierpaolo

    @Massimo: “Unfortunately in Italy dishonesty and incompetence are the norm and go hand in hand.” This comment that you’ve made lowers the value of your opinion towards 0.

    • Massimo

      I accept that, but I would suggest you make a distinction between opinions and facts.

      The dishonesty and incompetence comment is obviously an opinion, on which you can disagree, and decide to dislike me for that.

      The difference between Hyper Search and PageRank is instead a fact that can be confirmed by reading the two papers.

      When doing so, you will also see that Marchiori’s paper is cited, together with other 3, in Brin and Page’s paper simply (and correctly) as an example of ”recent optimism that the use of more hypertextual information can help improve search”

      • Antonio

        A paradox. If I should agree with your comment, I have to think that you are dishonest and incompetent, and therefore I definitely have to disagree with your comment and all you say.
        I am an Italian guy and I think that dishonesty and incompetence are spread in all the world exposing a very weak correlation with country.
        Nowadays the best example is the melodrama about meeting between our awful premier Monti and awful US President Obama. Dishonesty is in Italy as weaal as in US.

        • Antonio

          *as well as*
          By the way, I think that Volunia is a total fail.

        • Antonio

          Sorry, I haven’t read yet your further comment. Everybody can do wrong. Glad to see that you recognized your error.

        • Leonardo

          If we want to play logic nazi, I would say the claim is not enough to generate a paradox, since he didn’t say “every italian is dishonest” but just “in italy dishonesty is the norm”, hence admitting an exception (he could be suggesting himself being part of this exception group). And even if he said “all italians are liars” the paradox would have been solved by stating he’s the only liar in italy.

  • ranger

    @matt “. Since the founding of Google, ethics have been at the core of it and that guides our every move.”
    That’s why Google copied facebook and Ios?

  • Fabrizio

    > Unfortunately in Italy dishonesty and incompetence are the norm and go hand in hand.

    Maybe, the Italy YOU know. Don’t generalize, please. And Marchiori never said he was the creator of Google algorithm, there’s just some confusion among journalist.

    • Massimo

      A norm by its own definition has exceptions. In any case, let’s please leave aside this comment of mine that probably I shouldn’t have made.

      Regarding Marchiori never saying that he was the creator of Google’s algorithm, unfortunately there is ample proof to the contrary (in Italian):

      interview 1
      (up to 01:18)

      interview 2
      (up to 01:28)

      interview 3 (up to 01:40)

  • Laura Raggi

    Dear Massimo,
    I am an Italian too, and lucky enough both to be Italian.
    Understanding Italian I went thru the interviews above and I can never hear Marchiori say he invented
    Google or PageRank, rather, saying he had the hypersearch idea, that he met with Page
    at that conference, and that one year later Page and Brin created Google.
    What Marchiori said in those interviews and others as well, is like @Mah was saying: that he
    did Hypersearch, first showing the potential of the hypertextual contribution to the ranking score,
    that Page was at the WWW conference and they had ample discussion about the potential, then Page went
    to Stanford and expanded/modified/innovated, like it always happens in research, and afterwards created Google.
    Marchiori said multiple times in his press interviews it is crazy to say anybody stole his idea, that the
    true creators are Page and Brin and that journalists should stop calling him the “father of Google”, saying
    he just inspired their work with the hypersearch idea. Then, we all know how the media
    work, and that naming the golden word “Google” raises immediately attention.
    Just look at Volunia, where he never said “we are the anti-google”, yet look at the press announcements
    around the world.

    I don’t why you are arriving to hate a person this much, just a suggestion of netiquette: if you want to
    attack and spam with offensive statements specific persons like in this case, at least do it with your own
    face, not as an anonymous in an Internet forum.
    And in addition to that, just never ever spam forums with sentences like “Unfortunately in Italy
    dishonesty and incompetence are the norm and go hand in hand”, which immediately show your bias
    and are really offensive not just to Marchiori, but to 99.9% of Italians, me included.

    Laura Raggi

    • Massimo

      I am surprised you didn’t hear Marchiori say that he invented Google in the 3 videos I posted. It is quite clear.

      interview 1:
      the interviewer presents him as ‘uno degli inventori di Google con l’algoritmo HyperSearch’
      Marchiori accepts this definition and concludes the story like this:
      “Larry Page mi ha detto ‘e’ un idea veramente ottima, cerco di vedere se riusciamo a fare qualcosa di nuovo basandoci su quest’idea'”

      interview 2:
      “quello che succede e’ che in quel periodo mi viene l’idea dell’algoritmo che poi avrebbe cambiato il mondo dei motori di ricerca tramutandosi in Google l’anno successivo”

      interview 3 (starting at 00:35)
      Un suo lavoro ha reso possibile l’invenzione di Google. E’ vero?
      “Si e’ vero. Nell’ormai lontano 96 avevo fatto un mini motore di ricerca all’universita’ di Padova, poi l’ho presentato [alla conferenza], li’ cera Larry Page, ha capito subito come tutti quelli presenti che la cosa era molto interessante perche’ creava un motore di ricerca molto migliore di quello che era prima [..] e poi praticamente, correttamente citandomi, hanno fatto Google.

    • Massimo

      RE: “Marchiori said multiple times in his press interviews it is crazy to say anybody stole his idea, that the true creators are Page and Brin and that journalists should stop calling him the “father of Google”

      Completely and blatantly false.

      In fact, it is exactly the opposite: Marchiori has said multiple times, even elaborating in details, that he is the true creator and the real father of Google, going so far as explaining how his HyperSearch is equivalent to PageRank, how he could challenge Google’s patent if he wanted to (since they just changed some small and insignificant details) but wasn’t interested in doing so, and how he is the genetic father of Google, proud that the world appreciates his creation even though it has been then adopted and raised by Page and Brin.

      Refer to the book “Google Marketing” by Fabrizio Barbarossa (p. 263) where the author asks Marchiori “Sei davvero il padre o semplicemente l’ispiratore di Google?” (“Are you really the father, or simply the inspirator of Google?”)

  • Laura Raggi

    I think you should stop transforming a tech discussion into a personal attack. You omitteed translating the sentences you quote into English for your audience here, with full context, and said a good bunch of tech inaccuracies (thanks for not having replied to the tech points, btw).

    But the simple point is that you commenting the launch of a web service like Volunia by instead offending a person under an anonymous coverage, motivated by your very impartial statement ““Unfortunately in Italy dishonesty and incompetence are the norm and go hand in hand””

    Troll troll, go away…
    Laura Raggi

  • lucia

    @massimo true!!!!

  • lucia

    @massimo @matt
    marchiori said to me “yes, i invented google algoritm”

    my article: http://www.datamanager.it/news/english-contents/google-made-italy

    so sorry :(

  • http://divbyzero.it/ Massimo Chieruzzi

    Let me first say that in my opinion Volunia will be a complete fail. It’s an unoriginal idea, the search is totally broken, the funding is too low, the design is horrible.

    Having clarified this, @Massimo, when you attack someone, and a whole nation, with such violence and hate, at least do it using your full real name.

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