Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Inbox Report: LexisNexis Releases AlaCarte Service to Target Small. Medium Businesses

I received a press release from LexisNexis in this morning's email on a new AlaCarte Service, targeted at individuals and small institutions. It's a Web browser interface, and in that way somewhat similar to Factiva's service, but with several tabs of focused services. Payment appears to be strictly "by the drink" - no base fee required. Registration is quick and painless - no charge card info required up front - at which point you may choose to locate content from the following areas: News, Business Research, Legal, Business Research, Legal, Business Public Records, Hot Topics and Additional Search Sources. Searches were pretty slow - presumably because of an initial rush of use? - and don't return much beyond the article title and price for most searches. News search was kind of silly - am I really going to pay three US dollars for a press release that I can get for free on Google News? - though results were pretty well targeted. Business Research results are far more promising, providing a selection of company profiles, related news and patents; same grouse on news, though the sources are well selected, but the company profiles at USD 9.00 from Hoovers, Datamonitor and other premium sources are an interesting option, as are patent filings. Legal searches are not available just yet. Business Public Records returns judgments and Secretary of State filings, but with not enough summary to determine relevance and inadequate filtering. Hot topics so far offers three VERY broad buckets - Iraq War, Terrorism and Taxes 2005. Search Additional Sources promises a "deep dive for historical records" but appears to be a tool for searching specific sources or sections of specific sources and seems to allow only one source search at a time and the sources need to be typed in (guessed at) by the user. Quite honestly I am mystified by this feature and how it may be of any real use.

There are some nice things about this tool - simplicity has its advantages and the ability to hone in on truly premium sources for some very specific purposes at pretty reasonable prices has its advantages - but overall the first impression is one of a very tentative step towards an on-demand offering that lacks the well-designed interfaces and features of the Factiva "by the drink" interface and little thought as to how people actually use information or what's required to make an intelligent choice about a per-item content purchase. For those wanting to get at key premium sources at reasonable prices this is an intriguing option, but as a research tool it's in sore need of some more careful product design and conceptualization, which will hopefully come in future installments. Successful implementations in The New Aggregation require a lot more than figuring out how to disgorge the contents of a database for individuals in a second-class manner. With first-class tools like Google and institutional search engines around the corner making it easy for people to determine which content is worth selecting it's important to assume the most of one's audience and not lean too heavily on the prestige of one's database.

Headlines for 30 November 2004

ProQuest provides muscle for Serials Solutions assault
Google's Orkut puzzles experts Internet watchers ponder reason for social network site
Libel Case Could Chill Speech Online
America's first Blog mogul: Interview with Nick Denton
Fighting for file-swapping on Capitol Hill
Autonomy, Mamma.com Join Desktop Search Ranks
Viyya Technologies -Pink Sheets: VYON- Announces Customer Service Infrastructure
Moreover Technologies Delivers Next Generation Aggregated Current Awareness Solution
IP.com Opens the Creative Registry, Enables Writers, Artists, and Inventors to Protect IP Rights
The Thomson Corporation Completes Acquisition of Information Holdings Inc.
Autonomy Included in Italian Government's E-Democracy Guidelines
Rocketinfo and CanWest Interactive Form Strategic Content Partnership
FAST Announces OEM Agreement with Clearstory Systems

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Monday, November 29, 2004

In Premium Weblogs: MarketWatch Shares Continue to Trade At Or Above Dow Jones Bid, Reuters Covers Its Rear on Instinet

In our Finance premium weblog Shore Analyst Jack McConville provides decisive insights on these and other late-breaking events in the world of financial content.

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Headlines for 29 November 2004

BBC news in crisis as axe hits 350 staff
Europe Stalls ContentGuard Deal
Thomson Announces New Pharma Research Tool
Hung Up on Gadgets With Subscription Services
OJC Reports: online editor calls multimedia essential
Libraries could use some noise and crumbs
Who Do You Trust?
We Have Met the Enemy, and They Will Be Us
Fire Up Your Search Engines:RocketNews remembers and builds on your past searches – and it's free
Intelligence Community Looks at Convera Software
Music Labels Back Online Service

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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Trackbacks and Pingbacks: Building Context for Mainstream Content

An announcement from CNET News on their new support for trackbacks caught my eye the other day. Trackbacks are notifications that webloggers and other publishers can send to a source via a "pingback" notification that lets the source know that their article has received a link from the notifying site. The receiver of the pingback is free to ignore this notification if it's not a site that they care to recognize but if they do it enables an online publisher to create an instant "press clippings" page for any individual piece of content. Trackbacks are nothing new, but it's significant that a major online news organization has taken the leap in this direction, something that CNET in its role as leading online news innovator is well positioned to manage. Trackbacks offer a great opportunity for major news organizations that are trying to get important sources to link to their content the ability to offer reciprocal links in an easily understood format that offers little downside exposure. It's sometimes surprising even for us how mainstream media outlets are storming towards the best practices of the open Web to ensure that their content remains as valuable as possible in the rapidly changing marketplace for vContent.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Clickability Poll: Newspaper Blogs More Credible - But Not By Much

I was forwarding an article to a friend via the site's Clickability service and had the option to take a poll after sending it. The question: " Do you think visitors find a blog on a newspaper site vs. a blog site to be more credible, less credible or no difference in credibility?" The answer: 41 percent of respondents found them to be more credible, 22 percent less credible, 36 percent found no difference in credibility. This kind of polling is of course less than scientific, but here's the kicker: the site from which I launched the poll was Editor & Publisher, a site oriented heavily towards the newspaper industry. There could be other sites feeding into this Clickability poll, but assuming that it's mostly E&P vistors feeding into it it indicates that less than half of people concerned about "credible" online journalism would agree that a newspaper lends additional credibility to a weblog. One can only wonder what the stats would be for the general news-reading public. While the Shore maxim "good content is where you find it" seems to hold true more than ever, credibility is a value attribute for content that will factor into the development of weblogs and other forms of independent journalism. The question is, though, is it really necessary to have an established news organization to provide that credibility? To some degree the algorithm-driven credibility found in Google News and other automated services has established a new regimen for determining editorial relevance and credibility, amplified by webloggers and other sources of editorial opinion. As rating and ranking mechanisms work their way into the world of weblogs it will be as if the world has become its own editorial board. Let's see what this poll looks like a year from now...

Headlines for 26 November

For Net music, exclusives are king
Google Scholar Offers Access to Scholarly Publications Metadata, and Librarians Take Note
The 'blog' revolution sweeps across China
Newspaper Stocks: The Best of the Worst
Film Studios Win $24 Million Against Web Site
XBRL is good for the CEO
The corporate revolution
Simplified Prospectus will give fund investors clear information
Digitization of the Nature Archive Continues
WAN, IFRA Merger Would Benefit Online Publishing

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Reuters Strike Looms: Too Much Too Soon for Offshoring?

The Times of London notes that yes, we do still have unions in the publishing business. Reuters editorial staff has voted unanimously to consider a motion to take targeted job actions against Reuters global operations based on their unfolding strategy of using various global centres to specialize in specific editorial functions. It's a culture shift that will hit all news operations sooner rather than later, but it's doubtless one that cuts to the quick a little more quickly for this venerable news organization founded at the intersection of content and technology over a century ago. Reuters news operations have always been touted as the centre of their cultural mystique, yet have provided a relatively small portion of their revenues since the company opted for more lucrative content services for financial markets. In redefining the nature of the Reuters content business in this new era of distributed editorial development it's important for both sides in this dispute to respect both the realities of shifting requirements for content markets that require new kinds of editorial services and the unique talents that trained journalists bring to that equation. I have nothing but respect for journalists, having lurked with them for so many years, but the trade is changing radically whether they're ready for it or not. Instead of moaning in their beer about how bad things are going down at the blacksmith shop it's time for journalists to set aside pride in past accomplishments and to consider how they can define and position their skills far more effectively in this shifting landscape of content generation. This is a highly emotional issue, but those emotions need to be channeled into defining more effective new roles rather than into trying to hold on to roles that may no longer apply.

Required Viewing - Museum of Media History, 2014

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Jeff Cutler, head of the SIIA Content Division for forwarding a link to a thought-provoking online multimedia presentation by an ex-Poynter denizen that lays out a theoretical picture of where content will be in the year 2014. Amongst the predictions: Google creates Google Grid, a contiguous fabric of content that allows one to receive and publish into this limitless ether; Google buys Amazon to create GoogleZon; in 2010 The New York Times sues Google for copyright infringement; by 2014 the NYT is a newsletter for the elderly and the rich and self-monetizing content on the Google Grid has brought opinion-driven reality media to the fore, whilst pushing out "serious" content. Like a lot of futurism, many of these predictions are more about the present than the future: with AdSense embedded in weblogs we already have self-monetizing content, and it's not likely that copyright wars over Google News are going to wait six years to come to the fore. And we already have a "Grid" in the Web as it exists, albeit not with central corporate control. But like George Orwell's timeless novel 1984 it sometimes takes a dramatic presentation of where current trends are leading us to take them more seriously in present times. In any event, this little presentation is certainly worth eight minutes of your time when you have it to spare.

Headlines for 24 November 2004

TrackBack and Pingback supported by CNET News.com
The Problem with Viral Branding
EU judge calls hearing after Microsoft rivals quit
Watered down copyright act
Google Scholar: Driving New Traffic to Libraries?
National Archives Opens Public Vaults
Dialog(R) NewsRoom Sources Top 10,000
Autonomy to Support Corporate Social Responsibility Rating
Vignette Recognizes Four Customers as 2004 Vignette Efficiency Award Winners
Context Media Joins IBM to Highlight Digital Media and Content Integration

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Headlines for 23 November 2004

Google gets gruff over click fraud
In Pulitzer Guessing Game, Gannett Is Today's USA Favorite
Google Scholar Focuses on Research-Quality Content
EU Commission responds to calls for a new information society strategy
Reuters affirms may seek to sell broker Instinet
Study Finds Government Application of RFID Technology at the Crossroads
Wolters Kluwer Health Partners with Cerner to Enhance Decision Support at Point-of-Care
Law.com Launches Blog Network with Leading Independent Legal Experts
CyberAlert Launches Blog Monitoring Service
SunGard Enhances FAME and referencePoint
New service makes managing RSS feeds easy.
Rocketinfo Successfully Renews Contract With International Trade Canada

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Monday, November 22, 2004

News Analysis - Instant Low Fruit: How Corzen Builds Profitable Professional Content from Web Mining

As publishers squirm to find new ways to leverage value out of long-established databases, a coterie of young companies is harvesting new data from the Web and coming up with highly targeted content products that are more about publishing than they are about the leading-edge technology that drives them. New York-based Corzen is one of this new breed that has concentrated on statistical analyses of Web sites used for job postings and for selling autos. Inventing new kinds of content from the "thin air" of the Web is an increasingly attractive business model for companies with knowledge of specific sectors' needs and access to highly affordable content development tools. That's great for a small company like Corzen - and something to think about for the bigger folks in the electronic publishing world.

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In Premium Weblogs: Reuters Shares Jump on Deals with Banks and Brokers; Talk of Instinet Sale, Dow Jones Bid for MarketWatch May be Topped and More

In our Finance premium weblog Shore Analyst Jack McConville keeps you abreast of these and all the latest developments in financial content.

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Headlines for 22 November 2004

So Much to Read, So Few Readers
Free or Paid? AOL Will Let Its Two Halves Duke It Out
How to Integrate Citizen Journalism Into Mainstream News Sites
SLA Faces Budget Crunch, Global Online University Moves Ahead
Music Industry Is Trying Out New Releases as Digital Only
Swets Information Services Embarks On Document Delivery Partnership
Wi-Fi shifts the goalposts for enterprises
wURLdBook Research Makes Managing RSS Feeds Easy
SuperPages.com Adds Shopping Tool
Internet Bar Code Service Sends People Direct to Web Pages by Entering Bar Code Numbers

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Friday, November 19, 2004

In Events Weblog: Internet Librarian 2004

Blogs and the latest search technologies were hot topics at Internet Librarian 2004 in Monterey, November 15-17. But the approaches were decidedly practical, focusing on content management and library publishing, rather than social commentary. And the role of technology was linked to the mission of the library and the library context, including First Amendment rights and business policies.
Click here to view full report in Events Weblog.

Headlines for 19 November 2004

Google Unveils Service for Academics
The Online Ad Surge
FAST Partners With Content Management Software Company
MPAA seeks Internet2 tests, P2P monitor role
Journal Subscription Price to Increase
Reuters: Not in Formal Instinet Talks
VIYYA Software Competes in a League of Its Own
W3C's workshop aims to improve handheld web access
AIIM: Enterprise Content Management Technologies Move to Center Stage Among User Organizations
Canada's Global Public Health Intelligence Network Uses Factiva to Monitor Global Health Issues
PubSub Now Tracking Over 6.5 Million Weblogs in Real Time, Pacing Explosive Growth of Blogosphere

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RFID: The "Next Big Thing"?

If level of press coverage is a reliable indicator, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is poised to become the "next big thing."

What is RFID and why does it matter? RFID technology is deployed through tags that can be thought of like bar codes with little radio transmitters attached. More precisely, they are relatively inexpensive, paper-thin computer chips that can contain manufacturer codes, product codes and serial numbers and can broadcast this information to nearby receivers. RFID tags could revolutionize the tracking and counting of equipment and inventory, and therefore have potential applications in almost every industry. The first widespread rollouts of RFID are about to begin, and where there are products and inventory, there are (or should be) electronic buying guides and marketplaces.

It seems every industry has its own exciting ideas of how to take advantage of RFID technology. The pharmaceutical industry wants to label all prescription drugs with RFID tags containing individual product serial numbers as a way to combat theft and counterfeiting. Almost every industry seems to see inventory applications, as merchandise can broadcast its arrival at the warehouse door, and its departure at the store's main entrance, all without human intervention. Wal-Mart has already announced that it will mandate use of RFID tags by its largest suppliers beginning in January 2005.

Another important aspect of RFID tags is that the information on them has to be meaningful globally, and that means coordination, which means databases. The big winner to date is Verisign, which scooped up a contract to maintain the primary databases of companies and their products and ship that data rapidly around the world (RFID is designed to allow trading partners to exchange all sorts of product information on a real time basis). However, ICR believes that Verisign sees its biggest opportunity long-term in the movement of the data, not the data itself. That leaves manufacturers or their agents (industry database publishers, anyone?) to upload and maintain the product information.

Further, while the RFID specification provides for a globally standardized company numbering system, it anticipates that vertical industries will use existing product identification systems or create them. Thus, the book publishing industry will likely embed existing ISBN numbers into RFID tags, and the food industry will use UPC codes. Opportunities abound in those industries lacking such standard product identification schemes.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Google Scholar: Prepping for Open Access?

Another exciting introduction from Google today, Google Scholar provides a window into the world of scholarly publishing. Gary Price's ResourceShelf reviews the specialized search tool and adds some good context regarding how Google Scholar supplements resources that already exist to search for scholarly publications. In a nutshell, Google Scholar crawls Websites that it deems "scholarly" and also crawls some of the "invisible Web" through special arrangements with publishers and aggregators to deliver abstracts of premium content that was previously only available to registered users or paying subscribers. Results are ranked by number of citations. In most cases, when users click through on for-fee content, they find an abstract and offers for ordering the article or subscribing to the premium service.

At this early stage, Google Scholar's business model isn't apparent. However, Google does state in the FAQ that Google "does not receive compensation if you decide to buy a subscription to a journal or access a particular article." That leaves advertising as the source of revenue, which fits right in with Google's recent history and mission. The FAQ also humbly suggests that Google "recognize[s] the debt we owe to all those in academia whose work has made Google itself a reality...". Keep in mind, however, that there is a commercial goal, too. As more and more scholarly publications become available on an open access basis, Google is paving the way to include a huge collection of content in its network--content that can be monetized through search advertising and AdSense contextual advertising. With Google Scholar, Google has already done much of its homework in prepping for advances in open access.

Headlines for 18 November 2004

Overture tests RSS ads
Online, people actually (gasp!) read
NASD Panel Recommends 'Soft-Dollar' Changes
Blogging grows by getting smaller
LiveDeal(TM) Unveils New Classifieds; Localized Online Marketplace for Buyers & Sellers Without Fees
Revere Taps Wolyner as CEO
CENTRIX Financial Chooses LexisNexis(R) RiskWise(R) for Identity & Loan Application Processes
The Wall Street Journal Online Launches Video Center; Sun Micro Will Be the Charter Advertiser
Spain's Tourism Information Agency (SEGITUR) Selects Bowne Global Solutions to Translate Web Site
WeatherBug(R) Launches Network of Backyard Weather Stations for Personalized Local Weather
SearchBug Engages FinancialContent for Financial Data and Tools

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Solution to Selling Premium Content When Trend is Toward Open Free Access

This week the big news in the B2B segment was Dow Jones' bid to acquire MarketWatch. The online version of Dow Jones' pre-eminent publication, The Wall Street Journal, has been held up frequently as the exemplar of how the paid subscription model can work for certain established brands in the online news market. Now, Dow Jones appears to be acquiescing to the open access, ad-supported model to gain wider exposure and greater advertising dollars.

In the STM realm, publishers are faced with a similar trend toward open access for research articles that have historically been packaged into print journals for distribution. However, the response to the trend toward free access to previously premium content has been quite different in the STM environment. STM publishers like Reed Elsevier and Thomson are positioning themselves as providers of "solutions" to their constituent user groups in order to extract a premium. [Note, there is still an option for the open access content to be provided on an ad-supported basis.]

This week, Thomson Scientific announced Thomson Pharma, its new platform for accessing "premium patent, scientific, and financial content drawn from across the full range of Thomson-owned businesses". In its factsheet, Thomson Pharma is broadly described in three core elements:
Developing the complete pharmaceutical solution
Fuelling all stages of the drug development pipeline
Providing key functionality.

Overall, Thomson Pharma appears to be not much more than a collection of content with a specialized interface, but it is a step toward providing users with a "solution" that utilizes content to provide its answers--rather than a disconnected collection of content waiting to be sought out. Recent moves by Reed Elsevier also provide evidence of other STM publishing heavyweights' moving toward providing their content as part of an integrated package. Just last week, Reed Elsevier Ventures was the lead investor in a round of financing for Inpharmatica, a company that provides a drug discovery platform.

Professional publishing has always required knowledge of the target audience's business needs and applications. Now, more than ever, publishers of premium content need to move even closer to their ultimate users in order to provide services and solutions that merit premium prices.

Headlines for 17 November 2004

Google stock falls as share total doubles
Content Aggregation will Change Search Marketing for Ever
Two Days at ONA Hollywood Yield New Web Site Gems
UK Government Offers Cautious Response to STM Report
Interactive Data Extends European and US Market Coverage to Fidessa
Dow Jones' Digital Gamble
PubSub: Managing the Firehose of Real-Time Information
InfoCommerce Group Cites Exemplary Publishers of Rich Data in 'Models of Excellence' list
Thomson Announces Thomson Pharma, Powerful New Research Tool for Pharma and Biotechnology
Dow Jones is New Primary Source of Financial News, Providing Real-Time Content to Quote.Com Subs
Endeca Expands Search and Navigation Vision with New Enterprise Platform, Adds RSS, Web Services
LexisNexis(R) Market Intelligence to Help Marketers ID Growth Opportunities for Law Firms
A Whole New Way to Work: Open Text Revolutionizes Collaboration with First-Ever Unified Platform
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Fortifies Legal Strategy With Verity Technology

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Headlines for 16 November 2004

Sarbanes-Oxley kicks in
Going Public: Corporate librarians are finding public libraries quite attractive
Marketers Need to Adapt to Personal Content
LexisNexis launches accounting software product
Wolters Kluwer Health Launches New Medication Order Management DB to Help Reduce Medical Errors
Factiva Offers New Search and Workflow Tools for the Microsoft Office System
New McGraw-Hill Online Service Delivers Immediate Answers for Physicians and Medical Students
KnowledgeStorm Reaches Government Technology Professionals via PostNewsweek Tech Media
In-Q-Tel Partners with Convera to Expedite Development of Distributed Indexing Capability
American Lawyer Media Increases Corporate Counsel Circulation

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Monday, November 15, 2004

News Analysis - Let it Rain: Reuters and Dow Jones Adapt to the User-Controlled Flow of Content

As Dow Jones makes away with its purchase of MarketWatch, it's worth noting that competitor Reuters has been busy for a while figuring out how to make good money with ad-supported content on the open Web without a subscription model. To profit in this environment takes an understanding of how users are driving the content monetization model more than ever before. But it's not just ad-supported content providers that need to consider the impact of this key deal. The issue of profiting from new patterns of content flow is a universal issue for publishers and distributors, one that has more than a few solutions to consider. The key trick is to focus on electronic content monetization as a destination feature rather than a gating factor for delivery.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

In Premium Weblogs: Reuters Bites on North American Hedge Fund Opportunities, Thomson ONE for Equity Research: A Review

In our Finance premium weblog Shore Analyst Jack McConville provides at Reuters' moves into the hedge fund marketplace and a detailed review of Thomson Financial's new platform for equity research.

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Dow Jones to Buy MarketWatch: The Benefits of Non-Subscription Access Weigh Heavy

The New York Times notes along with AP and CNET News the announced purchase of MarketWatch, Inc. for about USD 460 million in cash, or about $18 a share. The press release from Dow Jones has a lot of great details on the whys and wherefores of this purchase, but the Times article by Andrew Ross Sorkin captures the essence of the situation: with a surge in online advertising MarketWatch's 5.8 million unique visitors look to be significantly more attractive than the 701,000 subscription-only visitors to the WSJ Online site. Guess that experiment last week with non-subscription access to the WSJ Online site showed what they wanted to see. What's missing from the general news coverage, though, is the institutional side of this equation: with Thomson Financial's investments in bolstering MarketWatch coverage there was a possibility that MarketWatch would become yet another major threat to Dow Jones' presence on financial trader desktops. As I noted in an earlier weblog of the companies early rumored to be in the running Pearson might have made sense if they were looking to complement their financial content holdings for financial and consumer markets, but at the end of the day it was the Yanks that pulled this one off.

While this may not be the most perfect cultural match that's probably a good thing for Dow Jones, which is trying to move beyond a traditional press room mentality to a way of doing business that embraces a new generation of investors and content consumers that are very happy with a Web-first content service. Dow Jones' own online efforts are not disappearing anytime soon, but wisely they have acquired an outlet that will both bolster earnings and provide a brand that is in a better position to appeal to younger subscribers and more attuned to the routes to financial success in online content. The online subscription model is not dead, but having staked an early claim to monetizing content the "old fashioned" way on the Web Dow Jones must consider how to layer premium services on top of an open ad-driven core of open online content.

Headlines for 15 November 2004

Dow Jones to buy MarketWatch for $520 million
Blogs Take Center Stage at ONA Conference
AP leader sees Internet as future of news
Librarian Exposes Emerald Practice of Dual Publication
We're Not Dead Yet! University Presses Can Survive and Thrive
In the Copyright Wars, This Scholar Sides With the Anarchists
Searching for Structure
Business Wire Offers Rss Newsfeeds in Five Key Industry Categories
Feedster’s New Blog Search Enhances RSS Search Service
Elsevier Holds Official Launch Events for Scopus
Intelliseek Names Mike Nazzaro CEO; Mahendra Vora Becomes Executive Chairman of the Board

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Striking the Right Print/Online Balance

This week technology media juggernaut TechTarget announced that it's launching CIO Decisions, a new print magazine with a circulation of 60,000, targeted at senior-level information technology executives in mid-market companies.This will be the third print magazine published by TechTarget, which started life as a Web-based publisher serving information technology professionals, a group that by now you would think would want to receive all information digitally.

Also this week, the British Computer Society , another large group of information technology professionals. released the results of an extensive survey of its membership that found that members preferred to receive the Society's magazine, Computer Bulletin, in print format.What's noteworthy is that an audience so comfortable with technology still has an appetite for print, and that publishers are still willing if not eager to support that appetite. Perhaps it's a reaction on both sides to the problem of noise.

For subscribers, so much is flying by them so quickly in electronic form that it's difficult to keep up. The print format allows them to read where and when they choose, when they can best focus. For content that isn't time-sensitive, this makes a lot of sense.For publishers, launching a new Web-based publication means immediate competition with large numbers of competing Web sites, blogs and email newsletters. In print, the number of competitors is dramatically reduced, and with the reduced amount of postal mail being sent, a print publication can make a big impact fast.The British Computer Society study also found that members did want to receive certain things electronically, such as breaking news and job-critical articles, and they looked to the Society's Web site as a reference archive and member bulletin board.All this suggests that publishing in both print and online formats can actually offer competitive advantages, provided that publishers recognize that the optimal mix of formats will continue to change, and be ready to react quickly. It also suggests how dangerous it can be to ever assume we know what our customers want.

Friday, November 12, 2004

MSN Search Beta: Scraping or Comparing to Yahoo! and Google?

I've avoided doing anything so far on the new MSN Search Beta since there's such a sea of blather out there already on the topic. It's an interesting search tool, due in large part to the search building tools that provide very powerful tweaking of results with very intuitive controls (and make it easy to understand how to integrate these special parameters into more techie approaches). A fun feature is the "near me" search initiator, which apparently understands where my ISP is located and where the ISPs of other sites are located to bring up some localised content. But that doesn't seem to help if your hosting service is hundreds of miles away from your offices: I tried "shore content" on the regular search and our site came up right on top but nowhere near the top on the "near me" search. Similar searches found the nearby offices of EContent Magazine, but still no Shore. This is more of a true Beta than one might have expected, but it's clearly a beta that's trying to learn quickly from its experience: the interface has changed significantly in just a few days' time. Web Pro News also notes an apparent attempt by Microsoft to examine search results from Google and possibly Yahoo! to improve the MSN Beta search results. Certain pages don't appear in the MSN Beta search results, followed by an apparent attempt from Microsoft IP addresses to replicate earlier Google crawls, followed by the MSN Beta search results having peculiarly improved results on the same query. Hmmm. Quality assurance? Scraping? Whatever it may be, Microsoft is apparently dead serious about getting it right this time, similar to its no-holds-barred assault on Netscape's looming browser dominance not long ago. Search remains a key component for defining content value in both public and work venues, but while Microsoft plays with new technology others push on into the core of how publishers need to work with technologists to create monetizable content value. Don't rule this effort out yet, especially given Microsoft's increasingly content-savvy consumer plays, but it promises to be a long struggle with powerful and well-funded adversaries who may be several thoughts ahead of the Redmond gang for some time to come.

Headlines for 12 November 2004

Microsoft Crawling Google Results For New Search Engine?
FactSet Selects Reuters Fundamentals for Global Company Fundamental Information
Goodbye, Orlando for 2010; ALA May Move Conference to New York
Journos and Bloggers: Can Both Survive?
Online information should be protected, not suffocated
RIAA, MPAA merger plans
Google Desktop Security Warning Issued
Cell phones take iPod challenge
Atex to Market Private-Label Version of AdStar's Web-Based Ad Sales Solution to Worldwide Customers
First Appointee To Elsevier University Professorship Announced

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Headlines for 11 September 2004

Microsoft Unveils Its Internet Search Engine, Quietly
Bloggers' Influence on the Book Publishing Industry
Copyright-sharing group delves into science
Should Access to Medical Research Be Free?
EU lays out objections to ContentGuard deal
A Closer Look at Google Desktop Search
Do I Need an RSS Feed?
Gallup Mistake Invalidates Copyright
Protecting online copyright
Ask Jeeves Taps Optimost
Dogpile Adding Topix.net News Headlines
Wolters Kluwer appoints Jeffery McCaulley as new CEO of Wolters Kluwer Health
Dow Jones News in Real-Time on TCS' marketStream Service via Blackberry
SIIA Announces Lineup of Top Executives and Industry Analysts to Speak at 2005 Information Industry Summit

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Heard on the Street: IBM Web Fountain/Factiva Alliance Dead?

This just came in on a breeze, and it sounds to be fairly authentic. We'll probably read about it in the papers and magazines that read our blog. If true, and I have no reason to doubt the source, it would seem to match up with some rumblings that I heard a while back. You can look at this two ways, I suppose. From one perspective you could say that this echoes the early experience of AltaVista's hardware driven bigger-is-better model that fell upon the more specific requirements of a market that responded to more platform-independent approaches. The reputation management space is getting pretty crowded these days, after all, and it's not panning out to be the big differentiator that either IBM or Factiva had hoped (see our predictions along these lines from over a year ago when everyone was buzzing hot over this alliance - prophetic? You be the judge). The other factor to consider, though, is that players such as IBM and Factiva are recognizing that concentrating on positioning premium content effectively in as many contexts as possible is a better revenue driver overall than general I.T. capabilities for general content. Someone is going to be the Wal-Mart of business content moving forward, and this will tend to put technology companies and aggregators in more direct competition than ever before.

Going Horizontal: Factiva Boosts Consulting Arm, Adds Functional Focus

Factiva's announcement of additional senior management and functional focus to their integration consulting efforts is interesting from a number of angles, not the least of which is the companies from which they have drawn new talent. The new head of the consulting practice's North American arm comes from One Source, the head of the European arm from Alacra - both aggressive and innovative integrators of aggregated subscription content into corporate client workflows. The why of this is clear when you look at the new arenas of focus for their integration practice: CRM, sales force automation, portals and corporate applications. Like OneSource and Alacra Factiva has taken a horizontal approach to client content integration, focusing on specific user functions where premium content integration serves best. This is likely to be a winning approach for Factiva with user-centered application development focus that takes them closer to being true content solutions providers. Expect this focus to leverage back more stongly into complementary vertical solutions for specific market sectors in which their toolkits gain the most leverage. But in the meantime going horizontal with specific types of users and problems is a good tactic for building up a base of integration capabilities for money being spent lavishly on corporate compliance, sales and other general solutions well suited for Factiva's general coverage.

Headlines for 10 November 2004

Microsoft to Launch Search, Aims to Double Ad Sales
Hollywood mobs p2p ops
Even Digital Memories Can Fade
Hold the Froth: MarketWatch, Slate Sales Signal Online Rebound
The Ontological Challenge: The semantic web reaches dilemmas of postmodern proportions
Dramatic Growth for Content Companies
Factiva Adds Talent to Expanding Consulting Group; New Practice Leaders to Maximize Value for Clients
Autonomy Supports STePS to Access Government Information
Hanley Wood Commercializes Content with eMeta Software for Online Web Sites
RR Donnelley's MediaCompass(TM) Asset Mang't and Workflow Tools Enhances Workgroup Efficiency

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Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Headlines for 9 November 2004

Knight Ridder announces new senior management
U.K. Gov offers confused decision on science publishing
The Big Deal Becoming More Flexible
States, artists urge top court to hear P2P case
Innovative content for BBC website
Firefox 1.0 launches today
The Hidden Cost of Buying Information
TechTarget Inc., to launch a monthly magazine called CIO Decisions (scroll down for article)
AOL's Chief Revamps It, With an Eye on Yahoo
VIYYA Differentiators Attract Attention with Imminent Release to Market

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TechTarget to Launch CIO Decisions Magazine

The Boston Globe got the scoop on TechTarget's plans to launch a monthly print magazine called CIO Decisions in April 2005. This news isn't surprising considering that TechTarget hired 2 key publishing executives from IDG this summer, including Maryfran Johnson, who had been editorial director of ComputerWorld. However, many B2B publishing insiders seem puzzled that TechTarget would choose to introduce new IT titles in print at a time when most publishers are trying to move from print to online. TechTarget doesn't take this either/or attitude, rather they remain medium-neutral and select appropriate media vehicles depending on the needs of the target audience. In a recent conversation, TechTarget indicated that they find print especially appropriate for conveying more indepth analytical stories with information about the strategic importance of products/services of interest to the target audience. As a result, brand-building advertising works well in the print medium. Having the multiple media options allows advertisers to create cross-media campaigns and manage them more easily with a single media partner.

By being medium-neutral--and not getting caught up in the debates about whether online is killing print--TechTarget can focus its attention on developing editorial for tightly targeted audience segments, which in this case is CIOs and senior information technology executives at companies with $50 million to $2 billion in revenue. Furthermore, delivering a diversified platform for reaching these highly targeted, highly qualified audience segments provides TechTarget a compelling offering for advertisers that have products and services to sell to each segment.

Monday, November 8, 2004

The Hidden Cost of Buying Information: Do We Fool Ourselves on Its Value?

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Anne Griffith at the SIIA Content Division for recommending the following article in the Harvard Business Review, an interview with Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School post-doctoral fellow in their Technology and Operations Management Unit. She recently published a working paper, "Getting Advice from the Same Source but at a Different Cost: Do We Overweigh Information Just Because We Paid for It?" The paper's core premise is that when people pay for advice, they are generally more hesitant to discard it as being less relevant based on the fact that they paid for it. In her controlled experiment the subjects were told that the quality of the advice would be constant from free sources and paid sources, yet subjects would rate the value of the paid source higher. Great for folks like us with premium Private Advisory Services, to be sure - and an indicator that decision-makers will always prefer to have some measure of money-valued content behind their decision-making. But is it so clear that this model applies to all premium content? I have my doubts. I believe, however, is that it is pointing that the greatest value in content is when it comes closest to supporting decision-making with trusted opinions. "I trust, therefore I execute" is the magic formula that seems to drive much of today's content value. Does that mean because I paid for it I therefore trust it more? That in and of itself is a dangerous assumption. If the content is well-designed to support decision-making, then perhaps so. This bodes well for the workflow integration movement, but I believe that it has broader implications as well. It will be interesting to see what follow-up research reveals.

In Premium Weblogs: Reuters Will Export More Editorial Jobs to Asia and Elsewhere

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News Analysis - Me-Dia :Yahoo! Explores the Meaning of Centrally Defined Media in a User-Defined Medium

As Yahoo! beefs up its management team with more muscle from the world of mainstream media properties it's clear that producing more unique content will be a key factor for their future growth. Now that the search wars have dissipated and made content licensing relatively moot, they have little choice if they are to keep brand loyalty strong. But as users of all kinds create and consume more content in their own venues the value of creating content without a specific "me" factor in it is becoming more suspect. This is a concept that makes most content executives uncomfortable - even though it's one of the keys to success in The New Aggregation.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Headlines for 8 November 2004

Microsoft Announces Legal Settlements
Bloggers Face Life After the Election
The Wall Street Journal Online Announces Advertising Sponsors for Its ''Open House'' and Sweepstakes
An estimated 57% of Indian law libraries increased their budgets in 2004
Music Channels Move Into Video and Messages Meant for You
Vivísimo Gaining Velocity with its Enterprise Solution
AvantGo to Surpass One Billionth Subscriber Sync Milestone
Playing God: BiblePlayer for iPod catches on
Strategic Marketing Initiatives to Accelerate Adoption of Authentica's Enterprise Rights Management Solutions
Bitpipe Launches New Website on Business Intelligence Software, Services

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Friday, November 5, 2004

Are Consortia Their Own Worst Enemies In The Pricing of E-Journals?

Library Journal pointed to an updated version of the Statement of Current Perspective and Preferred Practices for Selection and Purchase of Electronic Information from the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC). I can't help contrasting their position with the conclusions drawn in an article I read last week, The Costs and Benefits of Library Site License to Academic Journals, by Carl T. Bergstrom and Theodore C. Bergstrom. Note that the authors of both documents share the perspective that scholarly journals are priced too high.

In The Costs and Benefits, Bergstrom and Bergstrom demonstrate how bundling across users reduces "the amount of variation in willingness to pay among buyers". Consequently, more profit can be realized by the seller if price is set to maximize profit when selling to a group. The microeconomic analysis of selling to a "bundle" of users via site licenses draws upon similar analysis that has been conducted to show that selling bundles of information goods can improve profits.

Library consortia that collectively negotiate prices, especially when package deals are involved, may in fact be overstating the demand for the packages because some member libraries rely heavily on certain titles and the must-have titles of individual libraries drive up the demand for the bundle. The ICOLC Statement also declares that "Improved measures of electronic information value will be essential to enable libraries to secure future funding..." Perhaps a return to a pricing model that reflects usage by institution as a measure of value is called for.

Headlines for 5 November 2004

Yahoo's Overture Mulls Other Search Ad-Payment Methods
Ad Leaders 'Insinuate' Online Into Mix
Viacom expects to bid on MarketWatch
Exit Polls Bring Traffic Deluge, Scrutiny to Blogs, Slate
ICOLC Update Says Pricing Remains A Top Concern
Newspapers: Charge for E-Content at Your Peril
The Yellow Pages are Dead! Long Live the Yellow Pages!
Dialog Reorganizes & Expands Beilstein Content
FeedForAll, an RSS Feed Creation Tool, Makes Content Syndication Easy for Everyone
Net Snippets: Information Management Made Simple
Select Registry selects Cadmus MediaWorks and ArticleWorks(SM) for Members Marketing Resource

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Thursday, November 4, 2004

When In Doubt, Buy Someone Out

With the ink still dry on its wacky deal to sell online advertising for Google, BellSouth has topped itself by announcing an Internet yellow pages joint venture with SBC Communications. And if that isn't enough, the new joint venture has announced that it is finalizing a deal to acquire Internet start-up YellowPages.com. The dust hasn't settled sufficiently to know if the new joint venture will also be selling online advertising for Google, but hey, why not?

What's going on here? Great question. Having had limited success selling to their own home markets, these two regional giants will combine forces so that they can enjoy limited success selling online advertising in their combined home markets. The press release announcing the joint venture proudly notes that it will have "50 million monthly consumer searches, giving advertisers increased traffic." Actually, the new joint venture's Web site will certainly get increased traffic, but the local auto body shop in Macon, Georgia isn't likely to, and therein lies the rub: yellow pages owes all it success to advertising from local businesses serving local markets.

The big yellow pages publishers have always been long on cash and ambition and short on creativity. That's why it's not all that surprising that when they want some fresh new ideas, they pull out their checkbooks and buy some. In this case, the fresh ideas are being supplied by YellowPages.com, a seven-year old Internet start-up, which is being acquired for possibly as much as $150 million, according to some press reports. Do the math: even yellow pages publishers wouldn't pay that much for a domain name. What they're really trying to buy is a clue.

Weblogs Spill the Beans on Election Details - Perhaps Not Wisely

My ear caught a radio report this morning saying that about ten percent of Web election content traffic was going to weblogs while the remainder when to major media Web sites. That's one of those half-empty/half-full things: given that four years ago there was essentially NO weblog coverage I'd call that a pretty significant achievement. Most importantly, weblog readers tend to be opinion-makers themselves, providing amplification to their own local audiences. Thus it comes as no surprise that some prominent weblogs were used to leak details of exit poll numbers and other salient details during the course of the U.S. election day, as noted by WSJ Online. Spilling leaks is an old journalistic tradition, but in their enthusiasm to seem like big shots with the inside scoop I suspect that some of these webloggers may not have paused long enough to think about the motives of people handing them this information - and how that information would surely spread like wildfire through personal networks and influence voter turnouts by people who may have been pleased or alarmed by the leaks. While bloggers did a good job of acting as Newsmasters to keep people abreast of dispersed breaking stories, they added relatively little news or insight themselves during election day other than the strategically relreased tidbits that were fed to them. Yet that alone may be the story. Weblogs are still trying to find their place in authoritative journalism, but if they're serious enough to be manipulated by politicos for their own purposes then it's not very long before their voices will mature and amplify news and events far more effectively and professionally.

Matching Professional Services to Specs: Opportunity for Directory Publishers?

Somewhere between online dating, online procurement and electronic trading lies a vast range of professional services that are just beginning to find help from Web-delivered content services. The New York Times notes the rise of ServiceMagic, a portal that matches home-oriented contractors to consumers' needs in a format not unlike an online dating service, driving people through a series of project spec menus to match your needs with qualified contractors, with customer feedback available to help avoid bad blind dates. It works for everything from home finance to architects to plumbers and provides an interesting model around which to develop a wide range of content services. A model like this would be very interesting to extend into the arena of B2B product directories, which are already focusing on what Shore affiliate Russell Perkins refers to the "Three R's" of online directory content - ratings, rankings, recommendations. Getting people not just to the right product but as well to the product that meets specific needs is a key factor in today's content - oftentimes going beyond simple taxonomies to a deeper understanding of purchasing or transaction requirements.

Reed Elsevier Makes Peace with Google, Learns How to Balance Benefits

From This is London comes some more insights into Reed Elsevier's developing relationship with Google. Initially concerned about Google's reach into its base of publishing properties and its LexisNexis aggregation service, Reed feels that they're winning clients back and is even experimenting with Google's AdSense ads in its Kellysearch products and services search portal. Key quote from MD Sir Crispin Davis: "For the last year or two we have had a lot of discussion over whether Google is an ally or a competitor, but there is a logic to working with Google in one or two areas. Google brings its size and we bring our content." Hmmm. A round at Blackfriars for the first content aggregator who wakes up and starts offering access to premium content bulk-licensed through their service via Google. Make that two rounds if they come up with a methodology that will allow access to bulk-licensed content via any search engine. Save me a stool by the window...

Headlines for 4 November 2004

Google and Reed call ceasefire
Yahoo wades in content waters
How Insiders Were Fooled - Bloggers Leaked Secret Data
Architect and Client Matched by Mouse
Spotlight on new desktop wars
Time Warner Reserves Funds for AOL Penalty
Topix, Citysearch Team for Local Content
FinancialContent Launches Online Advertising Program
Interwoven, DuPont and Ernst & Young to Webcast on Collaboration Best Practices for Corporate Legal
eMeta Named Seventh Fastest Growing Technology Company on Deloitte Technology Fast 50 - New York

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Wednesday, November 3, 2004

SCO Plans for Anti-Linux Legal Site Stall: The Power of Community-Driven Content

We're noting the news from Linux Insider and other online outlets about Unix licensor SCO Group's failing to launch a Web site with legal information to counter Linux devotee site Groklaw - not so much for the core I.T. industry issues it's meant to address as for its failure to launch in the face of Groklaw's solidly supported community content that could not be replicated. "The value of Groklaw is the community itself, with people attending hearings, scanning documentation, getting it posted online and discussing it," notes an I.T. analyst in the article. In other words, if you're trying to persuade a community with content, you have to present yourself as a bona fide member or focus of that community: it's nearly impossible to insinuate your way into the center of an established content community with a strong point of view with just your own content, no matter how relevant. Building successful content brands requires a new kind of accepted authenticity, built from a community's direct recognition of and participation in the quality of that brand. To upload to me is to love me...

Headlines for 3 November 2004

Our apologies for the lateness of headline posting in this weblog today, we had some technical difficulties that have been solved. The headlines were posted early this morning on the Web site.

Sites scramble for Election Day results
Lawyers Alarmed by International Libel Lawsuit Trend
Elsevier Launch New Scientific Abstract Database
Advertising Age Launches New Digital Edition
Self-service content ecommerce: a way of the future?
SCO Skips Legal Issues Web Site
Can Radio Kill the Digital Music Star?
Content Pipeline: Content integration software comes to the fore
Workshare Names John Laing to Its Board of Directors
ebrary Announces New Library Advisory Board to Guide ebrary in Developing Products for the Library Market

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Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Vox Populi: NY Times Gives Bloggers Last Word on the U.S. Elections

What can be said about this year's U.S. election coverage that hasn't been said already? Well, The New York Times gives it a stab by providing some prominent webloggers some prominent space on their Op/Ed pages to give their take on the most important aspects of this year's Presidential campaign. The opinions gathered ranged from conservative to liberal to libidinous (yes, Wonkette), but one thing is not up for an opinion: these are voices that were not anywhere near the map of ContentNation four years ago and that are now as familiar as reality game show hosts to many political aficionados. This year's election has seen the rise of content from countless new sources that have both enriched and enraged the proceedings, most in the hands of individuals and institutions that have nothing to to with established media outlets. Wondering if that has anything to do with the continuing slide in major newspaper circulation numbers announced by the Audit Bureau of Circulations? Yet again good content is where you find it, making the democratic environment of Web content the true choice of the people in this hotly contested election year.

Post-election update: It was interesting to note that the most relevant information during the evening of the election results was by far the Web sites of major news organizations and specialists in political news. While talking heads were droning away antiseptically on television and cable news stations, the raw numbers from exit polls, dramatic headlines, rumors and rumor debunking and second-by-second updates to state-level voting returns were readily available from a wide array of sources. ContentNation was downright vibrant. As to how much this online content changed the electorate's mind is debatable, but clearly it kept them engaged and expanded the range of people engaged in the process.

Headlines for 2 November 2004

The Revolution Will Be Posted
DoubleClick Likely Will Be Broken Up
New FAS-FAX: Big Drops at Some Big Papers, Amid a Slight Decrease Industry-Wide
OPA Study: Content becomes More Popular than Communications Online
Web ensnares the internet
What is your Website doing in my Inbox?
OneSource Adds Tool, Content
OverDrive eBooks At New York Public Library
blinkx Appoints New CEO
Wolters Kluwer Health First to Help Healthcare Systems Comply with New JCAHO Patient Safety Goal
Top U.S. Law Firms Switch From Competing Systems to Interwoven WorkSite for Matter-Centric Collaboration
Penton Media Relaunches InternetWorld.com As Interactive Community for E-Commerce Professionals
Groxis Secures $12 Million in Funding and Expands Board of Directors

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Monday, November 1, 2004

In Premium Weblogs: McGraw-Hill 3Q: No Surprises at Standard & Poor's

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News Analysis - Objects of Desire: Publishing Digital Objects Nears a Turning Point for Business Publishers

As Adobe Systems Inc. and Yahoo! announce an alliance to merge desktop search tools with Adobe's document packaging capabilities the era of sophisticated digital objects as destination content residing on our local hard drives is arriving. Digital objects in the consumer realm are becoming widely accepted, but they lag in the circles of publishers serving professional markets. This is not likely to be the case forever, especially as tools like Adobe Acrobat make it increasingly easy to consume, personalize and redistribute rights-protected content in valuable forms. Many major business-oriented publishers were caught flat-footed at the dawn of the Web era: who will have the fallen arches as the era of digital objects emerges?
Click here to read the full News Analysis

Headlines for 1 November 2004

FastClick.com Gets $75 Million In Financing
Blogs play critical role in campaigns
The Stock? Whatever. Google Keeps On Innovating.
Cashing in on Service: Entrepreneurial ventures make money and extend the library's mission
At LexisNexis, Here lies lots of 1's and 0's
Cutting Through the Clutter: Desktop business systems at last begin to tame a profusion of Websites
iTunes aside, Web is changing the music industry
It's Like a Blog, But It's a Wiki
IPOX Schuster LLC Selects FinancialContent for Financial Data and Tools
Bitpipe Launches New Website on Enterprise Wireless Networking

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In Events Weblogs: KM World & Intranets 2004

What do "The Fridge" and the Canadian Inuit Inukshuk have in common? Both are humanistic metaphors for successful Knowledge Management implementations presented at this conference in Santa Clara, October 26-28. The Fridge was used for an advertising agency to represent a depository of ideas gleaned over 30 years of business, with the introduction and internal promotion planned as carefully as an external advertising campaign. The Inukshuk looks like a person but represents culture, technology, leadership, knowledge, and measurement, all components of the evolving world of enterprise knowledge management.
Click here to view the details in our Industry Events weblog.