Monday, March 31, 2003

OneSource announced the availability of financials from its extensive business content service in eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format via its AppLink Software Developers Toolkit. After a somewhat slow start in embracing Web services content delivery, OneSource has adapted an increasingly aggressive stance, and now sees financial analysis as one of its key potential selling advantages. It takes reasonable quantities of usable external content to push these kinds of XML-based standards from the realm of white papers and specs to living, breathing content transports. XBRL is beginning to get some vendor momentum behind it, but some publishers are still struggling to figure out how to support this and similar standards in a way that will protect or enhance existing content revenues. In the world of Content Engineering, it's rarely an issue of just the technical bits...

Friday, March 28, 2003

Reuters has decided to have an "embedded" messaging guru at the helm of their institutional Instant Messaging products: David Gurle has jumped from Microsoft's Greenwich Software IM unit to head their efforts, according to CNET News. IM has allowed financial organizations to couple highly dispersed experts in their organizations to create immediate awareness of trends and "street-level" news much more quickly and effectively - and with more accountability and reusability - than mere shouting or audio "hoot and holler" systems could ever have managed to produce. Merging instituional IM with mainstream content sources will be one of the upcoming opportunities for contextualizing content that should receive additional focus.
It was a fairly quiet day for news, witth more coverage of the impact of events in Iraq on the content industry; CBS MarketWatch notes that in spite of a traffic rise at news portals since war's outbreak, web traffic evaluator Omniture sees overall Internet traffic is down 15 percent from expected levels. Too much realtime content can make the heart grow dim...

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Major magazine publishers continue to pull back free content from their Web portals, with Time Inc.'s announcement to privatize People and Entertainment Weekly being only the latest. Time is allowing access for print and AOL subscribers only to these tabloid outlets, but keeping other outlets open to online access. The significance of this split move is that the CNN online experience has helped to create a very viable news portal experience that lives independently from the AOL/TW consumer media empire. Making highly marketable content exclusive to captive outlets is still a key defensive strategy - witness the long reign of Cantor Fitzgerald's highly valued bond pricing on Telerate for two decades - but in today's content market, exclusivity is more like a sandcastle than a fortress. Content is valued for what it can do within a context, and if content can't be placed in the environments that people value, its subscription value will waste away. Publishers of profressional content need to take a much more serious look at how web services can combine with subscription services to provide more immediate relevance if they expect to protect ongoing margins.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

It was shaping up to be an interesting but quiet group of headlines this morning when the story of Amazon filing for a patent on web ad auctions hit my screen. I've oftentimes turned to Amazon as a paradigm for successful content ecommerce, because more than any other consumer-oriented portal they understand the concept of providing deep and meaningful context to people's needs based on their own interests and the interests of like-minded people. What I believe what Amazon understands in this move is that the value of such contexts can be best leveraged by NOT turning them into a standard commodity but rather into unique selling opportunities to reach the kinds of highly focused and motivated audiences that marketers truly cherish. The moment of seeking something is the moment in which that "something" is most highly valued, and finding something in a context that says "this is just what I was looking for" creates the highest value of all. Content valuation models of ALL kinds, not just ad models, should consider this reality carefully and consider how content valuation models such as auctioning can be put to use to maximize the opportunities that highly contextual content offer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Now weblogging is gaining the imprimatur of WSJ Online: their new Afternoon Report is a series of quick updates on key news items, still avoiding head-to-head competition with other continuously updating news portals. It's an interesting concept, probably making for good train or coffee break reading. Even the government is getting into the weblog act, with a Utah IT manager popping out IT-specific insights on a regular basis. The main problem with weblogs is that you have to trust the editorial capabilities of their publishers, but when you have professionals such as these working on them, their value tends to stand up pretty well to scrutiny.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Some interesting spin from Gartner in InformationWeek on how standalone portal products will be dying out and getting folded into content-oriented application suites. This trend has been underway for quite some time, actually, and is accentuated by the continuing acquisition of Content Engineering companies by major software integrators. Guess they're finally picking up on the trend. It's basically a way of saying that one-size-fits-all portal solutions have never worked, and that tuning them to the real content publishing and consuming needs of organizations has always been a key priority.
The press has quite a bit of buzz about the new MailBlocks spam eliminator service. It's a subscription service $10 a year, additional two years free for early adaptors. The price is obviously right for moving over masses of people, and it has some content-minded concepts, such as building portfolios of trusted content providers. Main two problems: you have to use their email address (so much for serious business use) and it requires the user to build the filters of trusted suppliers from scratch. Worth watching, and we will, but mostly for the trends in how it may use email to amplify trusted content relationships.
Noting how today's papers are catching up with our Thursday analysis on the impact of the content on War and vice versa... ;-)
One of the key factors is how the news and multimedia portals are using the war as a showcase for their content and technology. With so many busines functions hinging on the war's outcome, content and related technology providers have an opportunity to reach out to individual users who can become convinced of these services' indispensability.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

I came across a relatively new site today,, which provides subscription profile information for consumer-oriented online subscriptions for content and entertainment services. It profiles a number of categories that include business-oriented financial sources, including sites for stock trend analysis, and so on. There is no real way to compare subscription plans from multiple vendors in parallel, as far as I can see. This is an idea whose time has come, but so far this appears to be not a very strong implementation of the idea.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Spam with a purpose - one of the tactics used by the U.S. military in getting Iraqi military units to surrender has been to send mass emailings to people within Iraq trying to feel out who might be interested in being approached for surrendering. These mailings have apparently been sent since well before the beginning of hostilities. Carpet bombing of buildings may be out of bounds, these days, but in the information wars we still use very inaccurate and hostile methods oftentimes. E-bombs, anyone?
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