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Around the Web 5.21.08

May 21, 2008 | 10:00 am

Do the Internets know the identity of the next American Idol? After analyzing the Web searches conducted related to the two finalists, research firm Hitwise said in a report released before last night's performances that David Cook would edge out David Archuleta to win the singing competition. But it included a big caveat: "if there are no surprises in their last songs." We watched the show. Verdict: Cook rocked, but he doesn't stand a chance against the young fella.

Microsoft has tried everything to get people to use its search engine, except pay them. Now it's trying that, too. The Seattle PI got the scoop. SearchEngineLand plays around with Live Search Cashback and filed this early review. John Battelle got briefed in advanced and said there's much more than cash-back coming, but offers no details. Stay tuned.

Our pal Tom Petruno at the Money & Co. blog noted a milestone: Technology bumped financial services from the top of the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

Google, Yahoo and Cisco got an earful in Washington yesterday about their human-rights track records, according to the Merc.

Google started layering news on top of maps in Google Earth, so you can see what's happening in the places you're spying on looking at.

StarBrand, an L.A.-based Web company that sells clothes and props seen on TV, has been snapped up by Sugar, the San Francisco company behind PopSugar and other woman-oriented blogs, TechCrunch reports.

Facebook is working on a redesign of some of its popular features, which means its users will flip out (because they always do when Facebook changes something). The company posted some early screenshots. The LAT's Jessica Guynn is heading there later today and will write about what she learns.

What will Time Warner do with the $9.25-billion cash dividend it receives for spinning off Time Warner Cable? Do more acquisitions, says.

The guy behind Boost Mobile and Amp'd Mobile is teaming up with William Morris Agency to create Agency 3.0, an ad agency slash tech consultancy, Dawn Chmielewski says.

Don't you hate when you hit "reply" instead of "forward"? Countrywide Financial Chairman Angelo Mozilo made that mistake, Scott Reckard reports.

And finally, to get you in the mood for Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote at Macworld on June 9, here's a blooper reel from previous keynotes.

-- Chris Gaither