Monday, February 28, 2005

Headlines for 28 February 2005

Bank of America Says Federal Charge Card Data Lost
Bloggers bring in the big bucks
NFAIS Conference Addresses the Battle for Mindshare
A Tag Team's Novel Net Navigation
IBM's Serrano heats up information integration
Kanoodle Announces 'BrightAds RSS' - Self-Service RSS Monetization and Distribution with Moreover
Ranking.com Database Releases "Free Usage" Guidelines
Crystal Semantics Granted Patent for World's First Sense Engine
OneSource Sees 130% Increase in Legal Sector Business in Three-Year Period

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My Lexis Debuts Behind the Firewall: Flexible Desktop Tools, But is it Really New?

The My Lexis personalized portal introduction this week has been a well-packaged fanfare for a collection of features that in some ways seems to be playing catch-up with some of the desktop capabilities offered by Factiva last year in its own innovative style. My Lexis offers a slick setup of search and services objects on its home page that can be rearranged in a drag-and-drop fashion, while federated searching across selected databases such as legal cases, news, statutes and regulations provides earch results categorized by document types for each category and indications of numbers of documents returned, with separate tabs for each set of search results. Links to other LexisNexis products complete the picture. It's a nice implementation, with good usability and thoughtful features that draw together the powerful LexisNexis suite of legal research tools in a more user-centric fashion. But for the most part these kinds of personalization features are not anything that users in major enterprises have not seen in their portal environments already from major software providers. Providing more productivity and usability for users if a good goal, of course, but for the most part major business content aggregators are still playing catch-up with enterprise software vendors in solving their clients' key content usage needs behind the firewall. My Lexis is a productive step in the right direction, but larger steps are needed by business aggregators of all kinds to get their content into more useful and indispensible contexts.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

iPod Explosion: Content-Centric Platforms Surround Microsoft on All Sides

CNET News notes with other techie journals the ins and the outs of Apple's new gaggle of iPods, from color displays for photos, new case colors and a bitsy little Shuffle model to compete with less expensive players in the marketplace. Apple's aiming to become the default player for music lovers in all price brackets and making a tentative move towards bypassing PCs as the multimedia platform of choice. Rumors were flitting about that Apple also may make a bid for the floundering TiVo business, rounding out the picture of a content-centric consumer content play. Creating a multimedia culture that doesn't rely on Microsoft's PC dominance while accepting that dominance as a leverage point for now is a strategy that just might work. At the same time Microsoft also seems to have failed in securing other new platform venues for content, having nominal luck with PDA handhelds but being largely skunked in smart phones and text devices such as RIM's Blackberry. More and more content providers are getting less attached to Microsoft platforms as key components of the choicer parts of their revenue streams, even as Mozilla's Firefox chips away at Internet Explorer's prior lockdown of the PC desktop for Web content. In sum Microsoft's approach to content doesn't seem to be paying off very handsomely, being constantly locked in to strategies that put legacy platform revenue needs above the needs of content users looking to solve problems with innovative user-centric solutions. Expect this trend to continue as more business and consumer content makes its way onto alternative platforms that solve content problems rather than computing problems.

FindLaw Finds Competition: LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Launches Attorney Match

LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell has announced the launch of Attorney Match(SM), a service that allows consumers and professionals to locate lawyers via their Lawyers.com site that meet their needs for very specific matters. Users can query for free and locate experts in a wide variety of fields in a local area, or further refines searches by languages spoken, business-only matters category drill-downs. Results for a firm include a summary of their focus, bios on key partners, Web site links and, in some listings, links to submit email inguiries to the firm and representative clients. Attorneys pay a $450 annual listing fee be be included in the service. This is of course a direct challenge to Thomson West's FindLaw service and on a quick test drive Martindale-Hubbell seems to have come up with a very effective challenger. The taxonomies for locating service specialites are more robust and easier to navigate than FindLaw's, search result listings provide more information and much better formatting and features, as do the individual firm and lawyer listings, which also have an edge with their partner bio information. Understanding not only usability needs but the use of content to addresss specific personal needs can set a directory database service above its competition by leveraging content, technology and a deep understanding of user needs to create higher value services that command more effective marketing for their clients. Kudos for the LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell team for creating a vContent implementation that promises to raise the bar for barristers seeking effective marketing support.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Feed Me

Just yesterday, VNU's European arm announced a deal with NewsGator to distribute a bundled offering of the NewsGator RSS reader and VNU's business content covering the information technology industry.

Why is this significant? Because I think RSS feeds are potentially very important, and very good news for business publishers, including data publishers. RSS feeds are simply content sent by publishers in a standard XML format to users. Users read RSS feeds with newsreader software such as the product offered by NewsGator. RSS feeds are commonly associated with blogs.
There are two ways to view a blog. You can visit the blog just as you would any other Web site, or you can have new blog entries sent to you as RSS feeds. Every time the blog is updated, the new information is automatically sent to your newsreader and you are alerted.

What excites me is not the technology, which conceptually speaking is quite mundane. Rather, it's the potential of RSS as a new and powerful distribution channel. RSS feeds allow publishers to push content directly to the user's desktop, bypassing spam filters and a whole host of other hassles and delivery impediments.

That's why I have begun to think of RSS feeds as "trusted feeds." Users subscribing to RSS feeds are saying to publishers that they value, trust, and want or need this specific content, and they will pay attention to it upon arrival.

And dare I say it, the other reason RSS feeds are so powerful is that they represent push technology. Push technology has been discredited in the eyes of many because it has been so badly over-hyped in the past. But I increasingly believe the successful publishers of tomorrow must have a push aspect to their product. It's simply the only way to engage your attention-deprived users in a value-added way that doesn't offend. I would even go so far as to say that the surprising resiliency of print publications is due largely to the fact they push content to users, a different form of trusted feed if you will. RSS feeds aren't only for blogs and news stories. They are equally adaptable to pushing out new listings and other event-driven data. This kind of continuous customer connection is crucial these days as more and more publishers find that it's actually easier to sell a subscription than it is to get a subscriber to use a subscription. And if they don't use it, they won't renew it. Staying visible with your subscribers is essential. RSS feeds provide a low-cost and increasingly popular way to do this. With RSS feeds, the medium is very much the message.

Headlines for 25 February 2005

Study Shows Rapid Growth in Online News Consumption
Google Toolbar's AutoLink & The Need For Opt-Out
IBM expands corporate search ambitions
LexisNexis creates new start page for researchers
ProQuest tops profits, sales estimates
Googlisation cometh!
Collaboration is the name of the game in New Zealand's libraries
German Search Engines Self-Regulating
Will Apple buy Tivo?
AOL Debuts Local Search

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Headlines for 24 February 2005

Online Ad Points to Product Commentary Rather Than Homepage
Ads Embedded in Online News Raise Questions
A tangled web of law governing content
Bloggers Add Moving Images to Their Musings
Wireless's New Hookup
Apple revamps its iPod lineup
LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Launches Attorney Match, Online Client Development Service for Attorneys
Rocketinfo to Access Prestigious NewsStand Inc. Content
Investor's Business Daily(R) Announces Content Relationship With Yahoo! Finance
Authentica Delivers Next-Generation Rights Management Platform
Viyya Technologies to Release Second Application in the VIYYA Product Suite
RSS Marketing May Overtake E--mail as Top Info Delivery Tool
Managing all forms of engineering content

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Headlines for 23 February 2005

Apple to unveil new iPod?
Don't Fear the Blog and the Fury
ChoicePoint Suffers Fall in Share Price on Privacy Concerns
Desktop Search Tools Spark Enterprise Interest
UN edges closer to "internet governance"
MagazineLaunch.com Website Launched to Provide Online Resources for Magazine Startups
SemioTagger and Skyline--EContent Decision-maker Review
Volantis Launches World’s First Device-Independent Mobile Content "Player"
Market Reports and Information Portal Launched
ToolButton RSS Reader Announced
Searchfeed.com Providing Sponsored Content on Toolbars

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Headlines for 22 February 2004

Google book plan sparks French war of words
Bloomberg Mess: CEO's Portfolio Trimmed
Tribune cuts CEO bonus
My Life In Media: Andrew Gowers Reflects on the FT
Sprucing Up: Financial Websites expand and merge, adding new features
IT is from Mars; Web Content from Venus
A Fluid Look at the News
PR Newswire Adds Print Clips to Industry-Leading Monitoring Service, eWatch(TM)
Autonomy Announces Strategic Acquisition of Revolutionary Structured Data Technology
FAST Improves the Search Capabilities of the National Instruments Intranet and Corporate Web Site

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Gonzo Gone But Not Forgotten: The Roots of Weblogging Rest in Peace

The New York Times and just about everyone else who can get their fingers on a keyboard notes the apparent suicide of pioneering journalist Hunter S. Thompson, founder of the self-described school of "Gonzo" journalism in which his own antics played a vital role in his reportage of various political and social scenes from the rebellious 1960's onward. A difficult personality to a veritable science and not one to take lightly assaults on his outlook or style, Thompson provided a unique and fearless individualistic voice in magazines, books and papers that only loosely could be called edited content. He was the inspiration of countless self-styled journalists who believed in the importance of their own personality and outlook as part of a story, even when they lacked their muse's inherent insights, presaging the individuality that now pervades so many weblogs and other self-styled online content sources. Like Thompson, today's webloggers put it out there in the raw and create pieces that are important as much as for their unvarnished personal narrative as they are for any facts that may surface through their insights. While loose cannons oftentimes explode and go forgotten rather quickly Thompson managed to create a legacy for both his content and his style that has now outlived him in every sense. The importance of his "Gonzo" style may wane over time as widely distributed self-expression leaves the control of mass media outlets, but the courage to be seen for who we are in public venues will find strength from his example for a long time to come.

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Headlines for 21 February 2005

Newspapers' $1 billion bet.
Hard News: Daily Papers Face Unprecedented Competition
Reuters: Not quite all the news fit to print out
Google toolbar move raises online ire
Yahoo 'in talks' over Indian deal
Tired of TiVo? Beyond Blogs? Podcasts Are Here
Couple build startup into blog powerhouse
Reuters' U.S. Workers Vote in Favor of Strike
Wikipedia's Growth Comes with Concerns (audio)
Redefine Information Services and Competitive Intelligence to Impact Bottom Line

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News Analysis - About Times: The New York Times Broadens the Focus of its Portal Development

The "whys" of the New York Times' acquisition of About.com from its magazine-oriented parent Primedia were pegged by our own Janice McCallum nearly two weeks ago in our weblog as a good move for Primedia, which never seemed to know how to get the most out of it. Much of the media twist on this sale is less than complimentary to the Times, but there's plenty of method in its purported madness. When you're stuck between weblogs getting more attention on breaking news and search engines becoming the "go to" place for research, it helps to build a business model that looks more like a general content portal such as Yahoo! than yesterday's newspapers. There's no better time to expand your business model than when others can't figure out what their model is supposed to be.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Friday, February 18, 2005

Back to the Future

When we coined the term "infocommerce" way back in 1999, it was meant to express our belief that information content needed to be linked with software and become increasingly integrated into the business processes of our customers. This would go far beyond assuring high renewal rates. It would drive customer demand for better and deeper data, for which publishers would be able to charge premium prices, with all this data now integral to the basic operation of client companies. We saw this as a very attractive vision of the future, but at the time it really was in the realm of theory.

Over the past few years, we've seen these precepts of infocommerce become part of mainstream thinking in the industry, with more and more publishers talking about delivering high value data as continuous data feeds, and finding ways to embed themselves into the workflow, systems and processes of their customers. But while more of us are "talking the talk," still only a handful of us are "walking the walk."

That's why it is so nice to hear a top executive at leading company demonstrating that they not only see the future, but are making serious strides to re-position their companies accordingly. Nancy McKinstry, chairman of Wolter Kluwer's executive board, told the audience at the recent DeSilva & Phillips conference that it was the goal of Wolters Kluwer to move beyond providing their customers with information to read in favor of finding ways to "embed our content in what our customers do." And in a dramatic illustration of their commitment to this goal, McKinstry noted that the company now devotes as much effort to creating software as it does to creating content and has already reached the point where "we have as many programmers as we do editors."

That's a dramatic statement for a publisher to make, but it reflects the reality that our business is changing profoundly. Reference data has traditionally been standalone and passive, and that constrained both its utility and its value. Need to find something in the old days? You'd stop what you were doing, look it up, and then go back to what you were doing, often cutting and pasting or re-entering the reference data you had found. That's not efficient or productive or easy, which means that a lot of directories and databases became place of last resort, destroying their value. Information that is used frequently and valued highly is information that is integrated into the daily work of the customer, if not driving the daily work of the customer.

We've all talked about the desirability of owning "must have" information. This new environment allows us to get to that goal more easily than ever before, but we've got to see the vision, and make the necessary investment to adapt our products now. Those who do will find themselves with even better businesses than they ever thought possible. Those who don't will end up as roadkill on the information highway.

Reed Elsevier's 2004 Highlights and a Look Ahead

Reed Elsevier reported "the best set of results we have ever seen from the company", according to Lorna Tilbian from Numis Securities as reported by Bloomberg. Despite the positive growth in each of their four market groups, profit for the year fell 9.3 % primarily because of the weak dollar. However, analysts and investors were sufficiently impressed by the 2004 performance and outlook for 2005 to help spur a spike in the stock price, which made the weekly stock price chart for this week look like the proverbial hockey stick.

A few highlights and comments on the future direction of Reed Elsevier gleaned from the reported results and analyst call yesterday:

International: Expect continued expansion into China and other Asian countries for two obvious reasons: growing demand for business, legal, and scientific information in the region (China in particular) and because of the weak dollar, which makes US sales less attractive. Case in point: Reed Business launched 10 new magazines in China in 2004.

New Product Introductions and Enhancements: Look for continued investment in product development to help transform Reed Elsevier content into applications that incorporate must-have content into the daily routine of targeted professionals in the medical, legal, and engineering fields. Elsevier's MDL and LexisNexis' risk management tools are two representative examples.

Acquisitions: Growth in the LexisNexis legal and Harcourt education markets were supported by the Seisent and Saxon acquisitions. Sir Crispin Davis, Reed Elsevier's CEO, used the example of Applied Discovery's 100% year-to-year sales growth to underscore how acquisitions can be leveraged with RE's sizeable sales force, brand strength, and other infrastructure assets. Expect more acquisitions that focus on technology-driven applications in Reed's legal and medical markets.

Online Advertising: Reed Business continues to solidify its relationship with Google with the AdSense for Search program, which has been very successfully implemented on Kellysearch.com. One can imagine an expansion of Adsense for Search into other Reed Business, LexisNexis properties, and even Elsevier publications in the future.

Along with growth through new products and acquisitions, Reed Elsevier's core scholarly journals and LexisNexis database publishing businesses are benefiting from an improvement in academic library budgets and spending on corporate and business information, respectively.

Reed Elsevier management is smart to focus on getting closer to their customers by investing in application platforms that provide productivity tools to their ultimate customers. But, they are smarter still for not taking their eye off of their core asset: quality information that can be leveraged in multiple ways. It is the combination of quality information and tools for using the information to enhance productivity (vContent) that will entice customers to open their wallets to content-intensive products and services.

Headlines for 18 February 2005

The Times Company Acquires About.com for $410 Million
Random House Joins Media Rush to Mobile Phones
Buy and Read Ebooks with Your Mobile Phones
The Bloggers are at the Gate, Sire - Pat Oliphant
The cost of ethics: Influence peddling in the blogosphere
Firefox reaches 25 million desktops
Web Executive Sees Online Video Ads Taking Off
Startup tags along as weblogs go corporate
The copyright 'copyfight' is on
Google blazes trail to Oregon
Factiva Adds Critical Web Content From Moreover Technologies to Media Monitoring and Reputation Mgt.
McGraw-Hill's New Digital Engineering Library Provides Unrivalled Content, Functionality, Editorial
FAST Launches Search Best Practices Consulting Service

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Headlines for 17 February 2005

Search: Scaling Down for a Big Market
Reed Elsevier Rises as Company Predicts Business Titles Growth
The Cahners have left the building
Google soups up search toolbar
The Underrated Enterprise Web: No Gerbil Cannonballs But a Lot More Bang
IPod and MP3 player ownership soars
Dow Jones News Service is Available on William O'Neil + Company's WONDA 5.2
Weblogs Inc named by Business Week in top five online firms to watch in 2005
Rabobank switches to Temtec analysis system
First Wave of Enterprise Customers Adopt Vivisimo Velocity
CNN.com Offers Free RSS Feeds to Users, Bloggers

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Yahoo! Trial-Balloons Enterprise Search: Never say Never?

Some time ago Yahoo! had pretensions of making an impact in the enterprise space with tailored portals, but withdrew to focus on shoring up its core consumer-oriented businesses. On the heels of recent efforts to get its stock quotes up to business-level quality via direct sourcing comes word via ZDNet Australia that it's thinking actively about coming back to the enterprise space through potential extensions of its fomenting desktop search capabilities. Very few details and rather uncertain as to the whens and hows, but clearly this is a Google countermeasure, as are the promises in the article of considering new forms of content that can be brought to a Web audience via search engines. Yahoo! has a very successful media-oriented content strategy, but it's definitely a few steps off the pace just now in taking the more source-agnostic approach to content that's been Google's claim to fame. Yet neither of these companies seems to have done a great job of thinking about how enterprise content differs from open Web content. Google's still trying to get back on its feet with versions of its desktop search that are ready for enterprise-level security expectations and experiencing tepid acceptance of its enterprise search appliance. Yahoo! is still betting more heavily on developing itself as a media property than trying to understand enterprise content needs from the professional user's perspective. I'm not discounting entirely the suggestion that Yahoo! will move back into enterprises with a network search function, but don't expect it to be a significant factor without a great deal of careful product development. Just flipping some search code and indexing at an enterprise is not going to do much to impress them without a much deeper understanding of enterprise knowledge management needs.

Thomson Financial News Debuts, Packaging Old and New Sources Anew

The announcement of Thomson Financial News is an interesting positioning of assets both old and new into a product with much more understandable packaging that compares apples-to-apples more easily with offerings from Reuters and Bloomberg. Broad market coverage via new Dow Jones subsidiary MarketWatch provides an important hub of content that allows pieces from Thomson products such as IFR, CCBN, SDC deals data and Thomson First Call to fit into a cohesive news and market commentary framework with extra depth for Global 1000 companies, sectors, fixed income and foreign exchange. It's an important step in taking Thomson away from its legacy of balkanized products that were increasingly difficult to sell as standalones and creating a market presence with a content product that complements the client-centric approach of the Thomson ONE platform. Step by step Thomson is creating a unified, simplified and flexible approach to financial content that makes it easier to understand as a viable alternative to Reuters and Bloomberg. Does it matter that Thomson Financial News is cobbled together from lots of small pieces loosely joined? Given that this is how much of today's successful content is being assembled anyway, this normalized and productized federation of content is very much in line with other developments in news content delivery. Still, additional editorial capabilities from Thomson and others to assemble news and commentary content into more useful packages on the fly hopefully will be in the pipeline in time.

Headlines for 16 February 2005

Citizen Journalists: Could Wikinews Become The Next Associated Press?
Reuters's Profit Soars On Cost Cuts, Asset Sales

Blog Awards: Like Blogs, They're Diverse, Global and Freewheeling
Thanks to Cellphones, TV Screens Get Smaller
Media pros ask: 'Is it time for a new business model?'
Can Bloggers Be Sued For Libel?
Concepts and a Design for Fair Use and Privacy in DRM
Everything I Need To Know I Learned Online
Thomson Financial Launches Thomson Financial News
WSJ Online and Outercurve Technologies Announce Launch of 'The Wall Street Journal for BlackBerry'
Go Beyond Search Engines. Introducing Keepad. A novel concept in web research tools.
Factiva Educates Global Staff More Efficiently with 'eTopics' Training Initiative Using Brainshark
Bibliotheque Municipale de Lyon Chooses Autonomy to Guide Users to the Right Information
The Fannie Mae Foundation Taps Vignette Collaboration Solutions, E-Mail Integration Key

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

When an Outlet Becomes a Content Market: VNU Online Journal Targets Wal-Mart Suppliers

It's often bandied about that Wal-Mart constitutes the seventh largest global economy, so I suppose that it should come as no surprise that VNU has announced the launch of a subscription-only portal dedicated to assisting companies that are suppliers to the retail colossus. Dubbed Smart Supplier, the site provides exclusive insight into Wal-Mart's product category and operational strategies. Consumer product manufacturers and distributors will find information on what product categories are being introduced or expanded, which ones are being cut back or eliminated and so on, according to Modern Materials. It is interesting to see not only business intelligence packaged for a specific company but to see it packaged as an online title, a highly targeted strategic and tactical tool. While this is focused intelligence on a huge scale, it points the way towards what kinds of titles are likely to thrive in the future. Very purpose-driven content highly focused on very specific business or personal relationships that can leverage intelligence from a wide variety of sources is a winning ticket that may allow publishers to fill an aggregation role that was usually left to more scattered coverage across general titles in the past. It's a race between enterprise portals, aggregators and publishers to identify and fill these highly targeted needs; given the willingness of publishers to leverage advertising in this model to monetize highly contextual content we'll bet on the publishers winning this foot race for now. [NOTE: The Smart Supplier site seems to have some technical difficulties today.]

Headlines for 15 February 2005

Yahoo desktop search tools may move from desktop to Intranet
Ask Jeeves mulls Firefox-based browser
Content Management for Everyone: ECM for the masses
Reuters launches interactive TV channel on the internet
Reed Elsevier deals online recruiter Emailjob.com
Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Reporters in CIA Leak
Adding semantics to the Web
ALA Is a Business! - Restore the balance between revenue and service
Healthvision To Include Elsevier's iCONSULT As Part Of Electronic Health Record For Physicians
VNU's SMART SUPPLIER Web Site Provides Coverage of Strategies of World's Largest Retailer
Thomson Delivers New End-to-End Product Labeling Solution to the Pharmaceutical Industry
ValeoIP to Provide Knight Ridder Digital with Online Content-Licensing Services
Mashboxx Selects Peppercoin to Process Small Payments for its Online Peer-to-Peer Music Network
Blackboard Reports Record Growth for ASP Services in 2004; More than 80 New Clients in 2004 for Hosting

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Monday, February 14, 2005

News Analysis - Business Valentine: LexisNexis and Factiva Up the Romance for Business Content Users

Hearts and flowers get delivered less often these days to high-quality business database deliverers compared to those who are getting the right content to the right people at the right time, regardless of its source. Recent moves by Factiva and LexisNexis to up their content quotients for targeted audiences underscore the importance of developing quality via solutions and unique on-the-fly sources for audiences that aggregators can "own". Business content aggregators are evolving into a new kind of content supplier that can position itself effectively alongside traditional publishers and surging institutional and Web-based content collection capabilities. It takes a lot of romancing to win an audience, but these major aggregators are investing heavily to establish and maintain long-term fidelity.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Headlines for 14 February 2005

Bloggers as News Media Trophy Hunters
Picture This: Multimedia Messaging Grows In Europe
Federal Library Funding Would Rise Under Bush Budget
Read (but Not All!) About It
Elsevier's Scopus bags 50th licence
New tools ease online collaboration and publishing
Google lends Wikipedia a hand
Content-Targeted Sponsored Links Fastest Growing Interactive Marketing Tool, Says Kanoodle Survey
Onfolio and Feedster Join to Offer Persistent Web Searching Capabilities in New Release of Onfolio 2.0
Wolters Kluwer Health Launches .Net Edition of Drug Information Bridge for Medi-Span Drug Database
Floridata.com Plant Encyclopedia Launches RSS Syndicated Content, Grows Traffic 16% in First Week

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Friday, February 11, 2005

The Importance of Being Vernacular

I remain amazed at the number of database publishers, particularly those chasing B2C markets for the first time, who haven't seen fit to make their heading structures as friendly as possible to a wide range of audiences.

Consider health sites that offer consumers physician specialties such as "Otolaryngologist." Or legal sites offering categories such as "admiralty law." Or a food ingredients directory with a category for "EVOO" (that's Extra Virgin Olive Oil in case you were wondering).

Technical terms and acronyms may be acceptable as categories in a trade directory (and I say "may" because even within a specialized field, not everyone has the same level of knowledge and expertise), but they're major roadblocks when trying to woo outsiders -- in these cases, consumers.

Kudos then to UK yellow pages publisher Yell, for recently introducing alternate headings based on regional dialects, in recognition that descriptive terms in common use are often not the formal term.

Taxonomies also need to account for common misspellings. One industrial directory found by an analysis of its searches that large numbers of users never got to its category for "throughbolts" because they were typing "thrubolts."

Too much effort you say? Like it or not, we all now operate in a "satisfy them or lose them" environment. Anticipating how users will search for information results in more hits, and more satisfaction. The smartest publishers I know all log and regularly review user searches that generate zero results as a simple way to identify problems. When your site allows users to search your heading structure using free text, such reviews are even more important.
The more paths you can provide to get to your data, the more satisfied users will be and the more successful you will be. When it comes to database taxonomies, if your terminology is correct, and the user's terminology is wrong, then you’re wrong too.

Headlines for 11 February 2005

Speaking Up Through Bespoke Ads
The Rising Popularity of Online Video News
Keywords For Ad Buyers: Pay Up
EU reviews Microsoft, ContentGuard deal
Content Management does analytics: WebSideStory Acquires Atomz
mSpace: Exploring The Semantic Web. A Technical Report in Support of the mSpace software framework
Jury Verdicts Now on AccessPlus(R) for the Web From Law Bulletin
eLaw Adds Legal Expert Information in Its Latest Release
.Blog software for creating and administering personal and corporate weblogs.
FileNet Retains Worldwide Content Management Leadership

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Online Education: Matching Context, Content and Technology

Since I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, a recent New York Times article on online education in Colorado described a very familiar environment of a dying town, with few people and wide open spaces, but which is now thriving by providing an online public school. Enrollees include not just rural students for whom access to the Internet reduces isolation and provides additional resources, but also sick children and those who can't attend bricks and mortar schools. Fast forward to Silicon Valley where I now live and teach classes at San Jose State University in the School of Library and Information Science. Though I enjoy teaching, I've been a dropout for years because it required being in a fixed place at a fixed time for a fixed number of weeks, which didn't work with my life. Now technology has changed that paradigm for the better from both my perspective and my students. Classes are primarily online, and my students can be located anywhere, include one in Hong Kong this semester.

My classes are taught using BlackBoard, which is remarkably useful for organizing, communicating and administering courses. Admittedly there is an adjustment in teaching style, but my other life requires a lot of email and communicating around the world, so using threaded discussion groups is simply an extension. My course materials include my Word document lectures, but also include video clips, links to websites and ebooks. And yes, my two required textbooks are print books. My students are quite happy with the book from Information Today supported by a website for updates, and not so happy with a traditional book from Greenwood Publishing which lacks all those features.

Not only do I have to adjust to teaching online, but my students also have to adjust. They have to become comfortable with "chatting" online, instead of classroom discussions, so online participation is a significant part of their grades. The course is structured with weekly assignments with corresponding discussion boards, much like a weekly homework assignment. They use a digital Drop Box to send me assignments, and I quickly learned to make onscreen corrections, rather than dealing with reams of paper. In addition, I've observed that online teaching is best in some contexts, and not in others. There are no face to face meetings for my online searching class and this works well, but my introductory class in Information and Society has a few onsite class meetings. Presentation skills are important in professional development, and technology is not a good answer for that experience, so back to the classroom! Overall, I see the electronic technology is a powerful tool to enable the educational process, overcoming the limitations of time, distance and learning modalities, but must be supplemented with traditional instructional means.

Headlines for 10 February 2005

The Unassociated Press
Amazon invests in blogging site
Sirius seeks place for satellite radio in iPods
Yahoo Unveils Firefox Toolbar
Pay P2P Makes Headway in New York
Infotrieve® Acquires GenSys Software, Enters Electronic Laboratory Notebook Space
LexisNexis Adds Enhanced D&B Credit and Business Reports
eMeta Enables Software Vendors to License and Sell Software by Subscription and as a Service
Blake Cassels deploys LawPort portal system
Endeca Reports 100 Percent Annual Growth, Names Jim Baum CEO
The Bank of New York's Pershing Unit and Dow Jones Newswires NewsPlus Available on NetExchange
Escape the Blogomess with AFreePress.com
XOsoft Introduces WANSyncCD for Real-Time Content Distribution
Ctr. for Information Therapy: Information Prescriptions Population Care and Disease Management

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Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Headlines for 9 February 2005

The Coming of blog.gov?
Wanted: Just About Everything - Film on Craigslist
Yahoo Seeks Spotlight in Hollywood
Dialog's evolution develops into a split
Digital rights management 'could threaten privacy'
Copyright/Copyleft: Myths About Copyright
Online Collaboration At No Cost
Hummingbird Announces New Release of ECM Platform
Ignite taps utility model for digital content delivery
LexisNexis to Enhance Content for Legal Professionals with Top News and Business Sources
Inxight Software Announces ThingFinder Advanced to Allow Users to Customize Entity Extraction

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Tuesday, February 8, 2005

COMPLETE Coverage of the SIIA Information Industry Summit on our Industry Events Weblog

Missed the conference? Were there but spent most of it networking in the side rooms? Here's a blow-by-blow summary of each speaker and panelist with our leading insights to guide you through one of this year's most powerful industry events.

Click here go view Shore's coverage of the SIIA IIS conference

Headlines for 8 February 2005

About.com, Primedia's Web Venture, Is for Sale
Special Report: The State of Analyst Weblogs, Part 2
Search engine designers trying to provide better information
PubSub Offers Real-Time Feed of Earthquake Information
Ingenta Expands Relationship With Infotrieve
FBI Selects Captiva's InputAccel for Major Document Capture Initiative to Streamline Access Field Offices
eLaw Adds Legal Expert Information in Its Latest Release
Reed Smith LLP Selects LexisNexis to Host the Firm's Data Network
FinancialContent Opens Shanghai Office to Start Newsroom and Wire Service
Interwoven at Australian Department of Family and Community Services for Compliance and Efficiency

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It's About(.com) Advertising Real Estate and Interactive Content

The New York Times reports [reg. req.] today that Primedia's About.com suite of web sites is for sale. Primedia, which is owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), bought About.com in the waning period of the dotcom boom in October 2000 for $690 million in stock. Today, the company is expected to sell for between $350 and $500 million.

About.com was initially envisioned as the ready-built Web strategy for Primedia. Primedia publications would be advertised and cross-sold across a wide swath of About.com consumer guides. Primedia also had the Sprinks advertising network to optimize placement of the ads in context. But, the forced synergies between Primedia pubs and About.com sites didn't pan out. When Google bought the Sprinks ad technology and network from Primedia in 2003, it also acquired rights to place ads on About.com sites. Maybe those rights will expire soon. If not, it is unlikely that Yahoo! or other ad-dependent search engines will be top bidders.

At this point, About.com is most attractive as a collection of communities web sites that in the whole represents a huge lot of real estate on which to place online ads. But, About.com is also a content creator and its community web sites most recently have been repositioned as blogs. The timing is great for Primedia to be putting About.com up for sale. Blogs are the hot new form of interactive community-based content. High growth in online advertising is leading to a 2005-style dotcom boom. And, as we predicted in our Content Industry Outlook 2005, "There will be a slew of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and IPOs...much of [the activity] precipitated by private equity firms." But, it's not a slam-dunk to guess who will purchase About.com. It would be a major departure for Google to purchase content sites. Yahoo! or AOL seem to be more likely candidates; but there's that sticky issue of Google having rights to place AdSense ads on the About.com network. Then there's the perhaps more interesting question: what will Primedia/KKR do with the proceeds?

Monday, February 7, 2005

News Analysis - Leaving Retrograde: The Vision Manifest at The SIIA Information Industry Summit

The SIIA Content Division has been working on a vision of what the content industry was about in a Web era for several years, now. Sometimes skeptical publishers seemed to doubt that vision, but there was little in this year's SIIA Information Industry Summit that left room for doubt. The combination of content, technology and people that has promised a new era of profitability and challenges for publishers and aggregators is clearly upon us, with few in attendance at this event wondering about the whether and most intent on learning best practices for the "hows." Branding, online ads and multimedia are three key factors that drew focus at the conference that point to important new best practices emerging.

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Choose Your Sectors: Dialog Focuses on STM, Business News

Information Today reports on the splitting of Thomson's Dialog business unit into two separate lines of business. Dialog and DataStar will shift to Thomson Scientific & HealthCare, the remaining units (NewsRoom, NewsEdge, Profound, LiveNews, and Intelliscope) will stay as part of Thomson Legal & Regulatory. This reflects both the separate platforms used to deliver these services as well as the distinct audiences to which they catered, and is aimed to take advantage of Factiva's unexpected exit from the legal scene as well as to focus on other business news opportunities. More importantly, though, it begins to bring the Dialog assets more in line with the overall Thomson mission of defining content solutions for specific users in specific market segments. All-singing, all-dancing databases are a thing of the past from a product perspective: content is what happens to information and experiences in the venues that audiences value, not what sites in a database. Giving the news-oriented assets of Dialog an audience that appreciates news and research-oriented assets a similarly well-aligned audience is an important step in reinvigorating these products' value in the eyes of their audiences. Thomson's ability to mix and match databases to service specific audiences' needs in an integrated fashion is becoming their hallmark, a far cry from the balkanized holding company of only a few years ago.

Reuters Chairman Niall Fitzgerald Zeroes in on Branding

The Independent scoops the first interview with Niall Fitzgerald since his taking on the chairmanship of Reuters Group PLC. Fitzgerald, who formerly headed Unilever, a global consumer products company thousands of brands, now finds himself with one highly revered brand and a group of products that seems to have a hard time filling that brand's globally recognized potential at times. Last week according to the Independent Fitzgerald told young Reuters executives that their job and their opportunity "is to make the company as big as the brand". This is certainly a needed exercise, but one has to wonder whether the world of CPG is the best model for a content industry in which branding has become much more ad-hoc and personal, defying the packaging of a factory-driven production model. Understanding one's audiences, how a brand resonates with them and what provides value to them is a key exercise that may point to a manner of brand management that's building upon Reuters' reputation as an "anti-brand", a content brand that gains its value through transparency and openness. Before marketeers run off in dismay, it's worth noting that the transparency of a brand such as Google has been at the core of its content value. Fitzgerald has great opportunities ahead, but it's going to be a different set of opportunities than those that presented themselves at Unilever.

Headlines for 7 February 2005

Different visions drive Google, Yahoo
A New Direction at Google
Ask Jeeves to buy Bloglines?
Niall Fitzgerald: The brand plays on
Atypon Acquires Extenza e-Publishing Services From Swets
Dialog Divides into Sci-Tech/Intellectual Property and Business/News
Custom Publishing Deserves a Second Look for CRM
Answers.com: The Best Internet Innovation In Years
Search engine surge a boon, but it's ads nauseam from MSN
Showdown builds over Net piracy
LexisNexis Adds Content for Academic and Library Community

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Friday, February 4, 2005

Don't Disconnect From Your Data

I'm just back from the SIIA Information Industry summit, and it was refreshing to see so much enthusiasm in this industry again. Online advertising is back with a vengeance, and many in the room are predicting 20% to 80% growth in online ad revenues this year. And for the subscription-based publishers in the room, there seemed to be growing comfort with their products, and in how to market effectively to ever more demanding customers. And all this wasn't just my sense: more than a few speakers and attendees were noting that "it feels like 1998 again."

The only disturbing note was the seeming appetite to address the growing cost and complexity of data compilation by simply skipping the hard stuff. What I mean by this is that there is a lot of activity around the idea of essentially automating the editorial function. Halsey Minor created some buzz when during his luncheon talk he mused about the possibility of building services such as CNET without editors. We heard from companies whose entire businesses were based on re-packaging data gathered on the Web. In several conversations with publishers, it seemed that all of them were seeking opportunities for products that could be built largely, if not entirely, from Web-based data gathered on an automated basis.

This thinking stands in stark contrast to one of the main themes I heard hammered home by speaker after speaker: success depends on adding value to your content and building content products that were not only useful, but unavailable elsewhere. Certainly, software is more powerful than ever, and there are examples of products built largely on an automated basis that offer real value. But when it comes to building database and directory products, I believe a lesson I learned early on still holds: if the data you need for your product is easy to collect, your new product is probably a lot less valuable than you think.

Re-formatting readily available data or adding a few additional data elements rarely yields "must have" data products, particularly in today's demanding environment. Just as important to remember, if you can get your hands on the raw data easily, so can your competitors. And the software you developed to create your automated product? Every single day, application development tools are becoming cheaper and more powerful, meaning that your "proprietary software" offers little competitive protection either.

While you can light up a data publisher's eyes at the thought of eliminating phone calls, faxes and mail, and possibly even eliminating human editors altogether, what we're really seeing is a re-emergence of the perpetual motion machine fallacy on the late 1980's, where a number of half-baked schemes were launched where the database was supposed to somehow maintain itself, the product would be shipped automatically, and the publisher's primary responsibility became checking his daily bank balance from the beach. If only!

I am very excited by the potential of data mining tools and user self-updating, and all the wonderful things that can be done by applying software to the wealth of data available on the Web. But I'm concerned by our blind rush towards the world envisioned by computer industry visionary Bill Joy where "the future does not need us." Let's not be too eager to disconnect data quality from human effort just yet. Instead, let's recognize that the human editorial function, which by the way allows us to address the sizable base of businesses that still have no Web presence, is fundamental to the creation of the value added products we need to produce in order to succeed and thrive in the years ahead.

Microsoft Struggles to Enter Workflow Game with Antiquated Office

CNET News notes that Microsoft is making moves to integrate its legacy Office applications further into its database infrastructure, in hopes of competing more effectively in the burgeoning market for workflow solutions. Office XP sales have not been transformative, while enterprise content management for corporate compliance, enterprise search solutions and sector-specific workflow solutions from software and content vendors dominate the hopes for valued content in most of today's major organizations. Overall, Microsoft seems to be wasting their money. As the center of gravity has shifted to Web content, gluing old paper-oriented applications via XML to the Web has been a weak response at best to most of the core publishing issues that confront Microsoft. The real problem that Microsoft has is the yawning gap in content management capabilities between its weak Front Page solutions and PHP/mySQL-enabled content management solutions and weblog authoring tools that are eating up the bottom end of the content management market. More and more publishers of all stripes are able to get reams of content out of the Web effectively without pausing to use Word or other Office tools to get the job done. Microsoft's own content management solution is cheap and weak compared to enterprise-quality solutions from Vignette and Stellant and very expensive compared to the open source upstarts. Microsoft's clients moved past office automation to true content solutions long ago, becoming highly effective electronic publishers through tools that do not hold on to the paper world for their core value. The basic infrastructure of publishing is passing Microsoft's core value proposition very rapidly. Major publishers should be wary and aware of this to a larger degree and temper their strategies of Microsoft alliance with a more open consideration of the technology players that are likely to dominate the content value proposition in the future.

Headlines for 4 February 2005

Time Warner's Net Income Jumped 76% in 4th Quarter
Microsoft's Office bucks for a workflow promotion
U.S. Publishers Eye Growth Outside Newspaper Sector
New York Times buys featured position on Topix.net
Factiva Acquisition Enables Effective Reputation Management
Are bloggers journalists? Do they deserve press protections?
eSelf Introduces Mulgrew, Advanced Information Lifecycle Management System
Newspaper made of gold
TNS sees 5.1% ad growth in 2005
MS, Macrovision, sign DRM pact

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Thursday, February 3, 2005

Headlines for 3 February 2005

Yahoo to launch search tool
The Google Opportunity
Hide Your iPod, Here Comes Bill
Analysts Give Thumbs Up to Pulitzer Deal, Stay Cautious on Lee Stock
Visualize A Weblogs "Neighborhood"
RSS feeds attract venture dollars
After death, a fight for digital memories
It's a Wiki, Wiki World
2B enhances Factiva's reputation
Moreover Technologies Provides MSN With RSS Feed Search and Access Capability
ProQuest Business Solutions to Acquire Syncata Corporation
Convera's Next-Generation Search Technology Achieves 1 Billion Page Web Index
MediaPost introduces new publication site

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Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Google Doubles Profits on Ad Revenues: Still Room for Profits Elsewhere?

The New York Times along with other majors the doubling of profits in its most recent quarter, driven by ad revenues from its contextual ad programs. Google attributes much of this to advertisers learning how to control their campaigns and target more valuable click audiences, yielding better return on clicks. Notably, though, AdSense revenues from placements on destination Web sites were down in the face of competition from Yahoo!'s Overture unit. Still, with half a billion USD in ad revenues from AdWords and about equal for AdSense, it's a grand performance. The key is that Google is offering its advertising community effective tools to get to the audiences that they require for effective campaign performance. This is the same strategy, of course, that destination Web sites are taking in reaching their own audiences, albeit with more focus on marketing content to specific professional and social communities and more of a diverse and integrated approach to the needs of both advertisers and specific audiences. As Google works towards more personalization capabilities in its search capabilities it's likely that additional revenues from community-oriented publishing will flow to Google ad programs. But at the same time an increasingly well-honed publishing industry already does this in highly focused and contextual ways. Publishers as marketers to and for communities will be the ultimate salvation of the publishing industry, adding far greater value from content contextualized to the well-researched needs of specific communities than ever before, but they will have to get used to more open sources of content such as Google search results, webloggers, governments and corporations competing for different levels of interest in content. The best news of all is that the ad pie as a whole is expanding rapidly, allowing everyone taking a bite to enjoy it.

Headlines for 2 February 2005

Google Defies Its Warning, Growing Briskly
TiVo Says President Yudkovitz Resigns
Pay or Free?: Newspaper Archives Not Ready for Open Web...Yet
Yahoo Japan launches blog beta
AP, Too, Offers a Blog; 'Bad Language' Will Cover Pop Culture
Reuters Faces Integration Struggle
ProQuest closes on $361M Voyager acquisition
The digital context revolution
Elsevier Global Partnership To Grow Libraries In Developing Countries
Icrossing Moves Beyond Search
ALM Acquires Insight Information, Leading Producer of Canadian Business, Financial and Legal Conferences
Bond Market Association Launches Redesigned Investor Ed Website
Factiva Acquisition of 2B Group Adds Critical Elements for Effective Reputation Management
Three New Partner Properties Expand the KnowledgeStorm Network
ClearForest Sees Growing Adoption of Text Analytics Solutions in Business Intelligence Market
Global Healthcare Exchange Opens AllSource(TM) Content Repository to All Healthcare Suppliers
Intellext Software that Revolutionizes the Way Computer Users Get Context-Relevant Content
Autonomy Unveils New Idol IP Television Suite
Handango Expands European Operations With Fully Localized Support for continuing European Expansion

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Coverage of the SIIA Information Industry Summit in our Industry Events Weblog

Shore will be providing coverage of this week's SIIA Information Industry Summit in our Industry Events weblog with insights on each panel and speaker and overviews of the significance of the event as a whole. Enjoy the entries as they get posted througout the week!

Click here to view our Industry Events weblog

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Headlines for 1 February 2005

Microsoft Introduces Its Own Search Service
The Rise Of Business Blogging
Europe fluffs its digital content opportunity
In search of more: the 'friendly' engines that will manage the data of daily life
Dumb Jones & Co.
Web site publisher not liable for content of e-messages, appeals court rules
Study Asserts South Carolina PLs Produce $347 Million Economic Impact
Thomson West to Offer Information Technology Management Services for Law Firms
ALM's Law.Com Launches Legal Technology Center, Featuring News, Software Downloads and Papers
Unleash the Marketing Power of Corporate Blogs and RSS - New Book for Marketers
Thomson Gale Adds Content and Features to Select Databases
McClatchy, UPI Arabia 2000, NoticiasFinancieras News Titles Now Available Via LexisNexis Academic

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