Friday, September 30, 2005

Vertical Search: Show Me the Money!

Stanford's renowned Graduate School of Business is energetically incubating a new generation of Web businesses, now focused on vertical search, defined as "providing essential search content and related tools for people who have a passion, need or repetitive task". Four experienced Web entrepreneurs and a venture capital entrepreneur-in-residence talked about opportunities at this recent MIT/Stanford Venture Lab event on the campus. The audience (about 150 attendees) was about half business school students and the rest an assortment of software engineers, search engine executives, headhunters, potential entrepreneurs and venture capital seekers. And yes, about half the audience was working with a vertical search business plan--the business du jour!

Overall, the emphasis was on business changes from the previous dot com boom and bust, in both revenue models and technology, as well as a better understanding of consumer search. Scott Rafer, former CEO of Feedster, was the main speaker describing the new opportunities for vertical search, which I knew in previous iterations as niche websites, aka niche publishing, aka specialized applications, and even local search. The key is finding a "community of interest" with known demographics, aka audience in the publishing world, and adding "editorial" to provide a destination, as he described a Pet-Web, which has information on what to do if your dog is sick along with referrals to local veterinarians (lead generation is valuable!), with ratings from dog owners, free content generated by site visitors! Revenue from listings of local services (does this sound like yellow page advertising?), plus advertising from national brands (buyer's guide?) provide the revenue, while many of these sites can be run on "Google boxes" using open source software, while using blogs and RSS to build traffic. So the future of many viable search businesses looks a lot more like the specialized publishing industry rather than multi-million dollar tech startups, a refreshing change from the past!

Barney Pell, of Mayfield, provided the context for this next generation of search businesses, with the increase in broadband access, wider acceptance of credit card buying on the web, the surge in search advertising and profitability in the long tail of search. Dion Lim of SimplyHired describes their business as providing the best possible experience for job hunting, a discouraging task at best, with a light touch, including well-done forums to share "Pink Slip" experiences. Reid Hoffman, of LinkedIn, has built a community of professional connections, used by recruiters and other professionals. Paul Flaherty, of Talkplus, spoke of becoming the trusted intermediary between authors and readers--familiar concepts in the publishing industry, but new to this audience. When I queried the panel about opportunities for business publications, it was clear the established commercial publishing industry was unknown territory for them, which spells opportunity for innovative publishers who do understand their audiences, and are willing to explore new models.

Headlines for 30 September 2005

With CEO Swap, CMP Switches Focus From Integration To Growth
VNU reportedly mulling sale of business media unit to do IMS Health Deal
The Democratization of Content
Joy: Future of the Web is mobile devices
PDAs facing extinction
Online Product Information is More Influential Than Price to New-Vehicle Shoppers
Feds Unable to Search Own Anti-Terrorism Database
Publishers Settle Unauthorized Copying and Selling Lawsuits Against Two Individuals
Cantor Fitzgerald and Telescope, Inc. Launching Premium SMS-Based Content for Financial Markets
MediaBay and OverDrive Partner to Accelerate Adoption of Download Audiobooks and Spoken Word Content
Hostway Partners with Intellext
EMC Drives Content Management Standardization Through Joint Effort with Adobe
Verizon Signs Agreement for America's Top Two Weather-Information Networks

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Portal in Reverse: Watson Puts Content from Internal and External Sources in Context

I sometimes think of the Microsoft Research Task Pane and wonder what it would have been like if Redmond hadn't been trying to prop up its Office Suite as the core objective of this somewhat ill-fated tool. The answer comes in some degree in the form of Watson 2.0, a desktop search tool from Intellext that does a nifty turn on getting content in the context of what matters most to us at a given moment. Watson is a piece of software that sits on a PC and can find content that matches whatever one is viewing in common desktop applications such as a browser or word processing. Watson uses the current desktop document as "training data" to target searches on content residing on local drives (compatible with Google Desktop), the open Web, premium content from HighBeam and other sources, including sources on an intranet when it's configured for enterprise use. The Watson tool can sit as a sidebar next to your main desktop area or be undocked for background use.

On a 4-page proposal I was working on in Word I fired up Watson and got an interesting and pretty relevant range of search results in the "Top Results" window and good results in some of the other results folders for desktop and other content sources. Once you've found Watson results for a document they pop up in the Watson tool every time that you display the document - instant context. Conceptually this is exactly how the "portal" of the future is going to work: not forcing users to "go" to a Web site and to ask for things that might match a need and that may or may not fit a user's workflow but instead for the library of content that's most relevant to a given task or focus to be always ready and refreshed at our fingertips, like a bookshelf that changes with every document that I pick up. It's also an excellent way to have local resources instantly available to those who love to use a Web search tool as a "go-to resource: users can still do that but their other references will be right there along with the search results.

But as with any search tool using training data, the focus of results is only as good as the source being used. Using smaller documents may yield less perfect results. I tried opening up a blank Word document and typed in the beginning of a familiar story: "Once upon a time there were three bears: a momma bear, a poppa bear and a baby bear." Instead of Goldilocks-style results I got a lot of documents about real-world bears and even the home page of Bear, Stearns, an investment bank. Using a Web page for the story "The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears" as Watson input brought back similarly general ursine results. Yet a search on Google without Watson using the "Once upon a time" sentence brings up some pretty accurate fairy tale results. So for some people used to accurate searches with short phrases or keywords Watson may not be the ideal tool.

Watson is a well-designed tool that offers a lot of useful context for content resources and seems to shine best with relatively finite desktop collections; presumably it would do fairly well with enterprise resources also. With PC screens becoming wider by the day there's going to be plenty of screen real estate for this kind of sidebar tool in many environments. For companies trying to pull together internal resources for "Google-ish" users Watson offers an interesting alternative to lengthy and expensive portal rollouts that can fit in easily with established work habits. Tools like this may be easily absorbed as features into wider offerings, but for the time being Watson offers a good way to try out desktop-contextualizing your content for a fairly modest investment.

Everything Old is New Again: "Rivers of News" come to light in RSS Feeds

I will try to write this one as politely as possible, but I have to chuckle a little bit at a posting that shows how Silicon Valley terminology can make the oldest of concepts sound like they're worth their weight in VC gold. "Standard news readers organize feeds into groups, and then under each feed are items...But there's another kind of reader, an aggregator, that works differently, and I think more efficiently for the human reader. Instead of having to hunt for new stories by clicking on the titles of feeds, you just view the page of new stuff and scroll through it. It's like sitting on the bank of a river, watching the boats go by. If you miss one, no big deal. You can even make the river flow backward by moving the scollbar up."

Geez, I must be Rip van Winkle - I thought that was called a...NEWS TICKER??

Pardon my sarcasm, but it is funny at times how a whole new generation of content producers has come along and sometimes takes such pride in their (re)invention of the wheel. At the end of the day I suppose it's more of an indication of just how early and primitive are the tools being used in today's user-generated media. We'll look back on this era in a few years the way that less-young people such as myself chuckle at the Baudot tickers from the early days of financial data feeds. There is so much yet to come...

GlobalSpec Goes Deeper and Wider into Vertical Search for Engineering

Many vertical search services leave me cold - they're either far too narrow in their content sets or far too broad in their search capabilities. GlobalSpec is a nice example of how vertical search can service a broad array of focused needs within a given community from a common interface. Focused on engineers, the single-box search for GlobalSpec can be tuned to look for products, companies, materials properties, patents, application notes and other key filters that fit in with specific types of needs that engineers have in a product development lifecycle. GlobalSpec provides a hybrid of databased, structured content and outbound links to highly filtered Web sources that seem to match very well to specific queries. For registration you get to drill down into the deepest levels of their database and enter their sales lead generation and newsletter regime, a TechTarget-like model for effective monetization of traffic. With the announcement of access to additional sources from leading SciTech publishers such as John Wiley and Knovel GlobalSpec provides even more layers to its open aggregation model to add value to its one-stop engineering content shop. It's not the most attractive or well-designed site but hey, we're dealing with engineers here: homely and functional kind of works for this crowd in many ways. If you're thinking of what a good vertical search tool and business model would look like in your sector, GlobalSpec should be on your short list of visits for some good hints.

Buying Digital/InfoX Conference(s): Topics To Grow On

What was the InfoX event at the New York Hilton? It was a common vendor showcase for five separate but related conferences focusing on business intelligence, content acquisition and deployment, collaboration, search and taxonomies. It's an interesting concept, but taken as a whole its focus was perhaps ahead of some of the implementers in the 400+ audience. The value of content services is indeed moving to new levels within many major institutions, but it appears as if many of the people saddled with creating that value in evolving work roles are still on a fairly steep learning curve to understand what it means to be at the intersection of open Web content, library sciences and institutional I.T. platforms. On the other side of the coin many of the seasoned information professionals in attendance seemed to be very on top of the issues but finding themselves caught in traditional roles in which they're not necessarily empowered to make the kinds of decisions about deploying content services that are really going to make a difference for their organizations.

InfoX was in some ways a relief from the oftentimes self-reinforcing and non-productive drivel churned out at some Knowledge Management conferences, but at least KM benefits from people who profess to have some thought leadership in a marketable sector. Information Today is on to something with the mix of tracks and topics and vendors provided for this event, but the next iteration of this event will benefit from helping this audience recognize that they really are a part of a common community that benefits from sharing their missions in this evolving common ground. Perhaps it's time for Institutional Publisher to make its debut as a title for InfoToday.

Factiva's Mobile Moves: Locking in Loyalty Through Channel Extensions Has Its Limits

The announcement of Factiva's beta program for Factiva Mobile represents another stride on their behalf to sock in some loyalty from subscribers to Factiva.com, Factiva SalesWorks(SM) and Factiva Companies & Executives(SM). With Factiva's focusing on business intelligence and sales support tools, mobile access to tracking folders will certainly help the sales exec on the go to impress their clients and prospects when the walk in the door with up-to-the-minute information. But it's also another example of publishers and aggregators using channels with more restrictive "choke points" for content access to make it harder to walk away from a service that contains a good amount of replicated content. The fragmentation in U.S. mobile media has been the savior of many dealmakers this year as mobile network operators find ways to shore up their own revenue streams with content service exclusives. But as noted by Dorrian Porter, founder and CEO of mobile startup Mozes, Inc., the desire of mobile operators to use a confusing lack of standards to gain scattered proprietary advantages is going to frustrate users in the long run and confuse them as to who in the value chain is responsible for what. On a PC we know that Microsoft is not responsible when our network connection is down; on a mobile device exclusive to a given network do we really know who's to blame when we're not getting our Factiva alerts?

Dorrian Porter recommends network providers sticking to what they do well - building and providing great connectivity and support for communications networks and helping content suppliers to find their own way through their networks. An imperfect analogy is the jetBlue model used in air transportation. jetBlue does a great job in providing excellent transportation systems at reasonable prices with just the right mix of services that people are willing to pay for, but they're not dictating technical standards to DirectTV to pump content into their TV sets. Google's emerging network is likely to provide a compelling example of how mobile content services can be both open and profitable, challenging mobile operators much in the same way that jetBlue's "focus on what you do best and merchandise the rest" model threw the airlines industry for a loop. Content providers need to build markets through existing mobile channels while they can still build some product loyalty through them. But they should not get too comfortable with their exclusives and think carefully in setting up terms as to what impact the inevitable opening of mobile services is likely to have on their ongoing revenue strategies.

Headlines for 29 September 2005

Yahoo Desktop Search Out of Beta
Internet Grows as Factor in Used-Book Business
VNU Weighs Big Moves To Get Its Prize
One Internet to rule the world: starting to wag the mobile dog
Google and NASA join forces
Esquire wikis article on Wikipedia
Current TV Tries Democratizing Ads
Commission to smooth the way for EU publishers
Bittorrent gets financial support
Factiva Upgrades Mobile Capability
firstRain(R) Creates Search-Driven Business Intelligence
FAST Partners With SISIS to Enhance Search Functionality of Leading Library Management Solutions
infoUSA to launch databaseamerica.com
Pfizer Launches Novel Resource to Enhance Quality Cancer Care and Improve Patient Outcomes

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Buying Digital Conference: Cadmus 3Path Delivers More Sophisticated Digital Payloads

I spoke at the Buying Digital Content conference today, part of Information Today's new multi-track conference held together by their InfoX vendor showcase. While the conference format could use a little tuning, it was interesting to see the cross-section of vendors participating in the event. Most were spot-on in the center of the developing market for institutional content that is bleeding away from the traditional SLA/ALA set and yet still far from the I.T. focus offered by other venues. Yet conflicts with older business models still exist. An interesting example of this was Cadmus' 3Path content packaging and delivery solution. 3Path sets up a private delivery channel for a publication to a user's electronic desktop via software that pulls news content down from a publisher's site into a rights-protected local library. Using Cadmus' dPub software a publisher can move beyond simple "emagazine" page-flipping and embed links, audio, video and Web-like presentation to their desktop presentation. A browser-like interface allows interchanges with the publisher's customer service capability. Great stuff for print publishers trying to adapt to an electronic environment in a way that makes sense within well-established print business models.

But does this really make sense from a content consumers' perspective? 3Path gives each publisher a presence on a desktop via a branded icon within which lies the body of the desktop publication. In other words, each publication appears as a little island of content, cut off from any ability of the user to collate it, assemble it into a larger library of useful personal and external content objects, to enhance it or to share the content with others within the bounds of licensing and reuse standards. In their strident efforts to maintain existing methods of capturing and maintaining subscribers within established performance measurement metrics publishers are missing out on opportunities to use desktop presences as new leverage points for providing value to both their subscribers and their advertisers. What if, for example, an article from that desktop presence in the hands of an implementer could be forwarded to a person with purchasing authority? What an opportunity to slot in a whole new ad regime and marketing approach. What if the content in downloaded digital payloads could be revisited and refreshed regularly with new content, interactivity and functionality as a core element of the subscription package? What if, as with RSS, publisher feeds could be easily re-syndicated to new audiences in rights-restricted formats that could be activated on the recipients' desktops as more full-blown digital services?

Cadmus and other services such as Zinio are doing a good job of servicing publishers trying to leverage more value from their print model on desktops, but they'll be far better served by moving to flip their models and to help publishers to deliver "electronic-first" premium payloads to users that are well-adapted to the power of individuals as agents in the publishing process. Out of those payloads can come print-friendly presentations and even custom print products (want to have a finger in the bidding for a self-designed magazine before it's printed?). We see hints of this in Cadmus' 3Path, but the hints need to become less subtle for publishers to catch up with the shifting value of user-managed content.

Wikibooks Welcome Open-Source Textbooks to the Web

If ever there were some doubt that the open source movement will have an impact on the publishing industry one need only take a look at Wikibooks, a project spun off by the founder of Wikipedia, the open source online encyclopedia. Using the same technology and post-posting jurying of submitted content as Wikipedia, the Wikibooks project intends to build courseware for K-12 curricula in multiple languages over the next several years. As noted in CNET News there are only about 11,000 articles in the database so far, but it's a strong start to what promises to be a significant alternative for school districts trying to stretch their tax dollars effectively. Wikibooks would in effect become a "generic brand" competing against major text publishing houses, much as inexpensive generic drugs compete against major pharmaceutical companies that churn out slightly different and patentable (read: copyrightable) treatments to boost their margins. The difference in publishing, of course, is that there are only so many ways to learn third grade math that would justify all-new textbooks on any regular basis.

Does this harbinger the death of profits in textbook publishing? Hardly so, yet the roads to profit may involve new angles. Open source textbooks may offer smart textbook printing services an opportunity to provide packaging for Wikibooks content to supply school systems wanting hard copies. Then again, if Answers.com can leverage Wikipedia content in a stable of reference materials, who's to say that Answers.com cannot become clever repackagers of open source and copyrighted course materials that complement their reference product - a product that is already popular in school systems. There's nothing wrong with healthy margins, but it is going to become increasingly hard for textbook publishers to design those margins focused on older content production, packaging and monetization regimes. Yet again, copyright is not going to be a protection for content that's not truly unique or cost-effective.

Headlines for 28 September 2005

Classified Intelligence Announces That Google Shops for Classified Providers
Wikibooks takes on textbook industry
Media Firms Dig Into War Chests For Latest Assault on the Internet
Informative Announces Brand Advocacy Blogs That Transform Weblogs Into Valuable Feedback Channel
Internet not eating into TV as it remains the '800lb gorilla' in age of media multi-tasking
PR professionals find blogs threatening: survey
Fairchild Says It Will Close 2 Magazines
Proquest Offering 2000+ Medical e-Books From MyiLibrary
FAST Selected by FirstGov.gov to Bring Enterprise Search Functionality to Content Management
CCH Capital Changes to Provide IRS With Research for Verifying Taxpayer Capital Gains and Losses
Loudeye Teams With Qpass on Integrated Mobile Media Services
Elsevier MDL Logistics 1.0 Manages Chemical Reagent Procurement and Inventory Tracking Needs
FAST Technology to Bring Superior Search to Amp'd Mobile

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Headlines for 27 September 2005

Marshall out as CMP CEO; Weitzner takes over
A Consolidation at Condé Nast Gives Magazines One Overseer
Google says size matters less, drops search boasts
Google Video Integrates Media Player
Corporate bloggers act as online outlets for company information
Pharma and Biotech Companies Turning to Content Management for Compliance Needs
Johnston explores future of digital journalism in new partnership
What is a 'River of News' style aggregator?
Alacra Adds Newstex Newsfeeds with PeopleTickering to surface news stories about people in the news
Wilcox & Wilcox, P.C. Announces New Divorce & Family Law Blog
Dow Jones Launches Dow Jones Wealth Manager Direct to Serve Branch Offices & Independent Advisers
JupiterResearch Finds Only 7% of Mobile Subscribers Willing to Pay for Local Search on their Cell Phone
Handango Unveils InHand v2.0 for BlackBerry and Palm OS Phones, Announces New Licensees
GlobalSpec, The Engineering Search Engine, Indexing Millions of Pages of Research and Reference Content
Interwoven Delivering Most Advanced Social Network Discovery and Content Categorization Capabilities
TMP and ReachLocal Partner to Offer ReachLocal's Turnkey Advertising Platform to TMP's Customers
Blast Radius Accelerates XML Adoption with Launch of XMetaL(R) Author DITA Edition Authoring Solution
Thomson Names Managing Director for Global Accounts

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Headlines for 26 September 2005

News: Moreover picks a suitor . . .
Online local advertising forecast to surge 26% this year
Microsoft Plans to Sell Search Ads of Its Own
Search and Sell: Google Training Ad Agencies on Using Sponsored Links
China tightens noose with new Web rules
PC Law is bought; CompuLaw is sued
Six Apart "Ups the Ante" for Weblogging
TechTarget Debuts Branding and Measurement Programs
PubSub launches new LinkRanks service
New Release of Factiva Public Figures & Associates Provides Enhanced Anti-Laundering Compliance
Mirror Image Brings Rollover Pricing to Content Delivery Industry
mophone(TM) Introduces Peer-Driven Discovery Platform for Mobile Content
Yahoo! Finance Introduces Exclusive Columns From Nation's Leading Financial Experts
Autonomy and NetLibrary to Provide Libraries With an Improved Learning Environment
Handmark(R) Partners with Tele Atlas for Wireless Services Map Data
Thomson Launches MMD Trade Tracker for the Municipal Bond Market
StoredIQ Joins Google Enterprise Professional Program for Classification and Management Solution
Vignette Launches Enterprise Learning Unit to Help Clients Meet Compliance, Regulatory Requirements

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News Analysis - Science Fact: The "Google Grid" of EPIC 2014 Takes Shape

As Google prepares to assemble and test a new content distribution network the content industry is caught like a deer in the headlights trying to figure out the implications of this initiative. Is this the beginning of the "Google Grid," that omnipresent publishing environment foreseen in "EPIC 2014", the online sci-fi multimedia presentation that emerged last fall? It could be that and much more if Google succeeds in deploying a network environment that creates a new world of highly localized content monetization. Be prepared for publishing business models to take yet another bumpy ride along the road of change as the "there" of content moves ever further from central control.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Test Drive: Exalead Tries to Bring Sophistication to Search

Saying that search engines are not perfect is a bit like saying the sun rises every day: as if we didn't know. But there's oftentimes a tendency to think that Google is the be-all and end-all of search, when most content professionals know that oftentimes there are far better tools for specific purposes. A recent article by Mary Ellen Bates in EContent Magazine disses Google in favor of a new search engine from exalead, a French development team deeply steeped in search sciences. Exalead has a lot of very interesting state-of-the-art features to assist searchers. In honor of a French favorite I tried the term "baguette" as a search with interesting results: screen grab samples of pages, a "related terms" thesaurus that offers some interesting potential search refinements (French baguette? Toasted baguette? Baguette diamond? Sun-dried tomato?) as well as related categories, Web site locations and document types. Lots of "best practices" thinking is evidenced in the very friendly interface. But the search results themselves...?

First up out of 176,825 results on exalead is a site "baguette.com" that is just a domain name up for sale, second is an article in German on baguettes, third is an article on putting Stilton, an English cheese, on a baguette, fourth is an article on salade nicoise, fifth a baguette handbag, and so on. Why am I not impressed? On the other hand, Google's search on "baguette" turns up first out of 2,470,000 results a nifty article that defines and gives the history of baguettes with lots of facts and statistics. Second through fourth are popular restaurants and bakeries using the word, fifth is a site focusing on baguette diamonds. Google ads feature bakeries, diamond merchants and handbags. Try a similar search with the more American term "French bread" and exalead returns lots of recipes using baguettes, while Google returns great photos of French bread and a great article on French bread, along with the original article on baguettes down the page after a few recipes for baking and using French bread.

Exalead has a very well designed product whose strengths may become more evident once they crawl more content, but this little test is a simple example of how best practices in design don't always yield best results with search products. Search navigation tools remain very important, especially for finite collections of content that can be traversed more easily via a taxonomy. But in the relatively infinite environment of content on the open Web, search becomes less of a tool for researching possible answers from known high-quality sources and more of a tool to find out how other researchers have found the best "good enough" answer out of that infinite pool of possible answers. Put simply, most people don't like browsing and fiddling to get answers, no matter how sophisticated the interface. This is why the link evaluation methodology and other aspects of the Google search algorithm remain important factors for tuning us into the intelligent opinions of other searchers. No algorithm frozen in time is more intelligent than people who understand the context and use of content in its full dimensions that shift with the evolving human experience. It's a concept that powers everything from search engines to weblogs to stock rating services. Congratulations on exalead for a great Beta product - that hopefully becomes aligned with the content sets and users most suited for its strengths.

Headlines for 23 September 2005

The Web as a Platform: Microsoft's nightmare inches closer to reality
Google Launches Enterprise Partner Program
Ad Spending in China Grew 20% in First Half
Mary Meeker on China's Online Future
U.S. News & World Report to Shift Focus to the Web
We the Bloggers...
Aha! Video Straight to a Computer
Google WiFi hints are on Web
Primedia announces management changes in content division
MetaMatrix Joins Google Enterprise Professional Program
Endeavor Voyager 5.0 library management system increases patron-facing functionality and privacy
Safari Books Online Adds Chapter Downloads to Corporate E-Reference Libraries

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Headlines for 22 September 2005

Google builds an empire to rival Microsoft
TimesSelect value adds...with blogs?
Web Giants Face Issues In Content
The Media World Will Never, Ever, Be The Same
Breaking Views Taking The Wall Street Journal route to crack America
New Search Engine From Microsoft Gets Cool Welcome
NetSnippets: A New Approach to Sharing Web Research
Have you StumbledUpon this?
Tool aims to ease academic file-sharing
To Find a Doctor, Mine the Data
Internet deals: A tangled Web
Paid Search Expected to Outpace Display By 2010
Data Depth Launches iCopyright Conductor
Gather.com Website for Public Radio Listeners Introduces Earnings-based Model for Posters
Thomson Legal & Regulatory Appoints New CEO for Australia, NZ
Thomson Financial Introduces Secure Online Communication Tool for Corporate Board Members
Stellent Extends Content Management To Non-Records Information

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Audio Search: Selling Picks and Shovels at the Podcast Gold Rush

Search is rapidly evolving beyond the HTML pages indexed by Google, Yahoo and the other general purpose search engines. This well attended presentation at the first Search SIG (Special Interest Group) for the SDForum, a leading nonprofit for the technology community in Silicon Valley, highlighted emerging companies providing the infrastructure for audio search. Appropriately enough, the program, with the usual tech pizza, was held at the Sunnyvale campus of Yahoo, which released Yahoo Audio Search in August, to mixed reviews, primarily related to issues of available metadata, not the technology. Unlike text which already contains words, audio needs tags to be "findable" and and it's that process that is in its infancy. Audio music needs artist, album and lyrics at the very minimum, while podcasts need dates, station and show identifiers just as a radio program would be cataloged.

Doug Kaye, the Poderator, led the panel in discussing the companies and their business models, as well as issues inherent in the media. Doug's organization is ITConversations, a non-profit based on volunteers who do the sound engineering and editing to provide "listener supported audio programs, interviews and important events", a worthy cause recruiting experienced assistants. Eric Rice, founder of AudioBlog has a positive cash flow by providing basic tools--for $4.95 a month, anyone can be a blogger, pundit, podcaster or rockstar, requiring minimal time, equipment and technical skills. Equipment is as simple as a telephone or mobile phone, plus a blog! Business models were not as clear for the other two startups, since they intend to become advertising based, but do not yet have a defined audience. Loomia , represented by David Marks, Founder/CEO is an aggregator of podcasts and videocasts. Their model is the community of interest, which has recommendations and personalization features, to be supported by future advertising. Odeo, represented by Ev Williams, Founder/CEO is still in beta and focused on podcasting, for both aggregating subscriptions and Odeo Studio to provide tools for creating podcasts.

The good news in audio is that the production costs are dropping rapidly, more tools are becoming available, and the compression is better. Coupled with the increase in broadband access in homes, user generated content is growing rapidly. Yet, there are still thorny intellectual property issues, such as music licensed to NPR that can't be included in ITConversations audio. Jeff Harms, Yahoo Audio Search, clearly articulated the challenges of aggregating audio from different sources, each with their own metadata scheme, if it exists at all. There is already a relatively orderly set of identifiers which exist for books and print publications, so utilizing the resources of the highly regarded institution just down Highway 101 at San Jose State University School of Library and Information Sciences would greatly benefit the world of audio searching!

Headlines for 21 September 2005

Writers Sue Google, Accusing It of Copyright Violation
New York Times to lay off 500
Microsoft reorg a bulwark against Google?
RSS Users Visit Three Times as Many News Web Sites as Non-Users, According to Nielsen//NetRatings
Google's Own Private Internet
MobVision Launch Promotional Tool - Push!
Comtex SmarTrend(SM) Alerts Selected by Track Data for Business Research Engine
Wolters Kluwer Health to Package New Therapeutic Insights & Review with Hospital Pharmacy
Vivisimo and RAND Offer Clustered Enterprise Search
Siemens Uses 3M Medical Necessity Content to Boost Medicare Compliance and Reimbursement
Knovel Enhances Semiconductor & Electronics Subject Area with Valuable New Content
LexisNexis Accurint Business Provides Due Diligence On Small Business Customers, Vendors and Partners
LexisNexis(R) Martindale-Hubbell(R) Makes Available Free Marketing Toolkit to Help Small Law Firms Grow
Reed Smith Deploys LexisNexis Market Intelligence to Improve Business Development & Client Service

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Google Sued by Authors: When is "May I" Necessary?

In the latest confrontation with Google's library scanning efforts, The New York Times reports on a new lawsuit against Google that includes as plaintiffs The Authors' Guild, which claims "massive" copyright infringement by Google through their Google Print program. Here we go again. The questions on Google's program continue to revolve around "fair use" guidelines for permitted copying without prior authorization. As demonstrated by Google's Cathy Gordon at last week's ASIDIC conference, snippets exposed of copyrighted works tend to be fairly small. But what does one make of entire short poems being exposed, as in this example from plaintiff and poet Daniel Hoffman? If we want ever to read "In the Days of Rin-Tin-Tin" we're good to go indefinitely. But given that the use is non-commercial, that there are only a few sample poems exposed, and that there are links from the sample pages to commercial outlets for the content, it's hard to imagine that this exposure is commercially harmful. Moreover, there's actually somewhat less content exposed in this example from Google Print than for the same title seen via Amazon's "Search Inside the Book" feature.

Mr. Hoffman et al. need to consider carefully what benefit their suit has to the future of print-centric authors in an era in which fewer and fewer of their works are going to be thumbed through in local bookstores. Poetry is a particularly interesting example: it's slow-moving merchandise that takes a certain commitment on the behalf of bookstore owners to support. Google has been on the defensive lately with its efforts to make copyrighted content part of the natural flow of online searches, but at the end of the day they seem to be toeing the fuzzy line on excerpts from copyrighted materials as best they can in ways that can only benefit marginal authors. The issue is not making copies, but rather whether the use made of copies is fair. The Authors Guild addresses many issues important to the future of individuals trying to profit from their writing skills, but the scope and focus this suit seems to be ill-directed and counterproductive towards furthering the future of profitable authoring in today's electronic content environment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Look-Ahead Searching: Looking to Cut Down Time-to-Answers

As noted by Robin Good and CNET News, search denizens are trying to come up with ever more clever ways to get people answers before they even complete a search query. First up: SurfWax's Look-Ahead, demoed on Robin Good's content, which can be used to provide a dynamic index of possible results matching your query on a given site as you type in your query. Tests showed that this capability highlighted many specific articles, but the tool is not able to move from specific articles to more general search results if you find a query that doesn't match. On to Yahoo's new Instant Search, a tool more designed to pop up answers to specific queries before you even complete a search. Punch in any valid U.S. street address and before you can get to the end it oftentimes pops up the exact map of the location. Neat. Other queries are less targeted. Type in "Boston" and you get the link to Boston.com, the Web site of The Boston Globe. Type in "Boston weather" and you get the current weather forecast instantly in a popup. But many queries yield no results whatsoever - very much a showcase. Finally we now have Google Suggest, a tool that will pop up a listing of possible queries that match your typing with the number of valid results that correspond. In some ways this is the most practical implementation in that each pop-up result is a query into itself, in effect becoming a taxonomy of queries that gets refined as you type along. In several tests there were always valid results. But it also brings us back to standard search results rather than answers, which is a little disappointing.

All of these approaches are interesting in their own ways but all show the difficulties of coming up with a truly robust service that can accurately anticipate what a searcher is going to want to look at for a specific purpose. With map coordinates, the Yahoo! service can save precious seconds if you're on the right track; but for more topic-oriented content it's likely to give a wrong steer. For a single-site search demoed in the LookAhead product there may or may not be enough content to provide a rich enough "instant taxonomy" to satisfy browsers. And for all of these tools there's no bookmarking capability: if I want to see updates to my query it's back to the typing bar. Moving so quickly from query to response also eliminates intermediate layers of context that could be useful to both the user and the publisher trying to monetize context. This kind of tool is likely to catch on in time as an optional method of accessing content, but we're still a healthy distance from tools that can truly move from questions to instant, authoritative answers across a wide body of content. What is "THE" answer to your question? Sometimes even we don't know the answer to that question, or learn new information in the process of finding an answer that helps us to refine the question into a new query altogether. Sometimes content is as much about the journey as the destination, after all...

Headlines for 20 September 2005

Google invites 400 to 'off the record' event
Google Plans Own WiFi Service -Company Web Site
If It's Going on Sale, Google's Getting a Pitch
Web brings 'us' and 'them' closer
Magazines Further Experiment With Print's Digital Format
Content will keep papers alive: Fairfax
Dynamic shift in way consumers access Web news
The Mining of the Invisible Web
File-Sharing Services Seek Pact With Record Studios
China's Baidu.com 'guilty' on copyright violations
Google Earth Gains National Geographic Content Links
Nature Publishing Group Chooses ProQuest To Deliver Online Periodicals
FAST Signs OEM Agreement With Lexisnexis Applied Discovery
LexisNexis(R) Martindale-Hubbell(R) Introduces New Client Service Center for Law Firms to Update Listings
TradeWeb Goes Live with U.S. Dollar Denominated Interest Rate Swaps Online Trading & STP
Morningstar Systems Joins LexisNexis Interface Software's InterAction Program with CRM Solutions

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Man Bites Dog! Aggregator Posts Wiki! Alacra Tries on Social Software to Build a Content Community

Well, at least one of the exclamations above is true. While the press release will not go out until Wednesday Alacra, the business information aggregator, has launched another progressive stab at communicating with professional content consumers and producers - the AlacraWiki. The initial motivation behind AlacraWiki was to recycle lots of the profile information on publishers and aggregators that Alacra had collected through its years of licensing content for use in its products, using this as "seed" content to attract further information and postings - nice bait for people wanting to know more about these companies, many of which are included in the Alacra product itself. But interestingly AlacraWiki also includes snippets of profiles on prominent figures in the B2B content industry and postings from weblogs covering this space on its home page (clever way to get folks like us to write about it ;-)).

For a company that's trying to find new angles on how to appeal to its primarily institutional content buyers, the AlacraWiki provides an interesting way to draw some of the industry's dialog to its own doorstep as a focal point - and hopefully some sales and licensing discussions in the process. While vendor directories of this kind have failed oftentimes in the past due to lack of interest or industry-wide "gravitas," the addition of other industry content does create the classic "watering hole" effect that none of the contributing publications has managed to provide individually. This may not turn out to be the most trafficked wiki in the world, but it serves as a very interesting example of how aggregators can look at their industry role in new and refreshing ways. When your business is attracting people in a business community to an up-and-coming product it helps to be able to engage major players in that community in a way that makes them feel like they're a part of a peer conversation. There may be some interesting lessons for B2B publishers of all kinds to consider from this exercise in their efforts to reach and engage professional audiences. Thanks and a tip of the hat to Alacra CEO Steve Goldstein for pushing the outer edges of the envelope yet again.

News Analysis - Authority Figures: ASIDIC Uncorks a New Blend of Professional and Personal Content

With new authoring tools such as weblogs and wikis coalescing professional and personal content more effectively than ever before, what's a professional content producer to do? Embrace the best of them effectively, according to panelists and attendees at this year's ASIDIC Fall Meeting in Napa Valley. New ways of packaging authoritative content are emerging that promise higher margins and better branding for content companies. Conference panelists demonstrated that although the best solutions for profiting from blending personal and professional content are far from in hand, those that are pushing to embrace the blend are creating some of the most potent value in content today.

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Headlines for 19 September 2005

Google Search: 'AOL' and 'BUY'
Foreign media has ‘hit a brick wall’ in China
Niche journals both battle and embrace high tech
Yahoo! outlines plans for IPTV
User feedback drives five principles for multimedia news on the Web
Even a Darling of the Newspaper Industry Is Starting to Sweat a Bit
Study: B2B Users Need Better Content
Boston publisher uses an arsenal of visual techniques to appeal to today's learner
The Best Thing a Library Can Be Is Open
The 'We're Not Taking Any More' club: Mothers Fight Back Against File Sharing Suits
Pre-Browse The Content Of Any Site Via Look-Ahead Search
Highline Media acquires Bloomberg’s 'Wealth Manager' magazine
TimesSelect, the New Premium Online Offering from The New York Times, Debuts Today
Congressional Quarterly Unveils Greater Flexibility and Timeliness for Legislative Tracking Process
E-MedicalMalpractice.com Provides an Overview of Medical Malpractice Law
Apple's iPod 'Nano' Sets the Stage for 'Nanocasting' - A Business Model for Podcasting
Comtex Names Keith Kaplan Vice President

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Friday, September 16, 2005

AP's ASAP Gears Up for Born-On-The-Web Content Consumers

Telling a story used to be squarely in the hands of wordsmiths and newscasters. But as noted in Shore's definition of content (found now on Wikipedia - "Information and experiences created by individuals, institutions and technology to benefit audiences in venues that they value") a new generation of content users have become used to stories that are told as interactive experiences. Where does this lead an aging market for print-oriented wire services? Squarely in the thick of things, with AP's introduction of its new ASAP news feed aimed at younger audiences. Beyond the richness of multimedia that you would expect in such a service ASAP also takes on a new attitude towards news development that includes input from a new staff of 20 journalists. According to The New York Times the service includes more "in the raw" personal content such as personal essays and audio clips - still in an objective vein but definitely stretching the concept of traditional news reporting beyond the usual rip-and-read genre. It's stronger stuff for online presences of major papers, scuffing the line somewhat between the domain of webloggers and the world of mainstream media - and not a moment too soon. As more and more content consumers are discovering the ability to find the news is much more about the "who, what, when, where and why" of a matter and much more about reporting on the multi-dimensional environment in which news is coming to life. Like a video game player hitting the pause button to admire the on-screen artistry of the scenery, the ability to explore the environment in which content is generated is becoming as important as the traditional core product. Kudos to AP for "getting" this in a big way in what promises to be a prototype for many future news gathering efforts.

InfoUSA Boosts its Targeting of Data on Retail Businesses

The folks at InfoUSA have a peculiar habit of leaking interesting things into the press long before they are going to be a product reality, much less slideware. The following item in BtoB Online indicates that next year they will have "hours of operation, credit card acceptance, ad size in Yellow Pages directory, standard industry ad size code, advertising spend, Web address, and e-mail addresses." Wow, that was easy BizIntel, no? InfoUSA already supports many yellow pages providers with its business data, so it's not great surprise that more data supporting their sales and marketing list business extracted from profiles of yellow pages advertisers should be coming on board. While mass mailings and other large-scale campaigns are still important being able to "right-size" sales and marketing efforts with highly efficient filtering of prospects and markets demands much finer qualification of their prospects' sales and marketing profiles. But beyond these obvious traditional targets is a growing market for more sophisticated and localized approaches to online business profiling in online directories and more generalized community media. InfoUSA's database now includes business photos and GPS coordinates of business locations, data that will be well complemented by next year's non-yellow pages data in the hands of mobile users. InfoUSA is taking a number of interesting directions to position itself as a highly cost-effective provider of all things relating to small and medium sized consumer businesses, geared for consumption in a wide variety of venues. Now if only they could get those AdWords spends in their database...

QPass Responds to "Chaos" of Mobile Content administration

QPass, the content ecommerce service focused on mobile services after an ill-fated run on the Web, notes in a PC World article that though deals for mobile distribution of content are mushrooming, the back-office aspects of administering payouts to content vendors from network providers oftentimes are crude at best - sometimes still in the "punch it into the spreadsheet" mode. QPass sees its streamlined administration of content ecommerce that's friendly to both users and content vendors as a logical solution for this dilemma. In part they're probably right - most technology companies are not equipped to deal with the issues that come from being the "choke point" in premium content aggregation. The question is, why are they bothering? It's typical to find in an early phase of content technology channel development exclusive deals to promote end-user appeal, as in the early days of CompuServe and Dialog exploiting pre-Web network connections. But the mobile content marketplace comes to us in a post-Web era, in which effective and powerful content services are being aggregated from both professional and personal sources of content far more quickly than any traditional content licensing deal can encompass. Mobile content will benefit most from a more open approach to content distribution that moves as quickly as possible from proprietary licensing "choke point" approaches to a more object-oriented model that can collect fees on the fly from any Web-based content service using mobile connectivity. In the meantime it's a field day for lawyers and consultants specializing in licensing.

Workflows as Content: New Windows Workflow Foundation Tries to Trip 3rd Parties

As we mentioned in our report on The New Aggregation, the current mania that publishers have for workflow applications has practical limits. Everything in technology can be commoditized easily in time - including the ability to support sophisticated workflows. As PC World notes the new Windows Workflow Foundation (part of the WinFX development environment) suite announced for next year's debut of Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system is an interesting point. The promise of WWF is to simplify vastly the process of developing, testing and maintaining workflow applications, aiming to push out third parties such as portal providers, content management systems and content aggregators that are gobbling up the high-end of software value in today's institutions. In a sense Microsoft is saying that workflows themselves are becoming more content than software, units of information and experiences to be consumed within a proprietary venue - WinFX.

While Microsoft's plans are not likely to crack the 20 percent of high-end users who can extract more value from their current vendors their typical hope of appealing to the 80 percent who are willing to find cheaper solutions that they can tweak themselves is likely to find both content vendors and solutions providers willing to cater to small-to-medium sized businesses and departments that can afford to get "pretty good" workflow infrastructure to do the job. But at the other end of the spectrum are emerging "platformless" solutions such as Salesforce.com, which treat both content and functionality as discrete modules that can be added to a browser-based application with no software development required by the customer. As indicated in last week's weblog, this approach has increasing appeal to major business content producers such as OneSource that have been spearheading integrations into portals via Web services interfaces for some time. These approaches to workflow integration that take the software out of the clients' hands altogether are likely to gain in popularity where they contain the right amount of configurability and administrative ease. Content producers and aggregators should look at WWF as a far more sophisticated approach to true workflow integration than that provided via the crude Research task pane capabilities found in today's Office applications, but focus more broadly on a wide variety of XML-based objects with embedded content and functionality that can work in many different portal environments effectively.

Headlines for 16 September 2005

Microsoft Is in Talks To Buy a Stake in AOL As Google Looms
Microsoft Targets Workflow Apps
Microsoft takes on Google by opening up MSN
Google Scholar - SWOT analysis
Just What the Professor Ordered: Why should students pay $150 for one textbook?
DRM in ERM: Know Your Rights Providers
Yahoo: Mistrust Is Popping Up
PubSub Concepts' Prospective Search Search Tool for Tomorrow
QPass: Mobile content industry heads for chaos
infoUSA to collect additional information for business database
CCH to Offer BNA Content on CCH Tax Research NetWork
Thomson Pharma Exceeds Expectations With More Than 100 Customers to Date
McGraw-Hill's AccessMedicine Becomes First Medical Online Service to Launch Free Podcasts
ContextWeb, Inc. Announces the Addition of Venture Capitalist Ross Goldstein to Board of Directors
Reference.com Adds Wikipedia's Online Encyclopedia Content to Search Capabilities
The Seattle Public Library Adds New Service: Patrons Can Download Digital Audio Books and eBooks
Sage Software and CCH Canadian Expand Partnership to Benefit Canadian Accountants

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Headlines for 15 September 2005

Yahoo set to unveil new search feature
A.P. Fashions a News Feed for the Young
Has the Wall Street Journal signed a blog content deal?Email This Entry
Newspapers, Writing's on the Wall
Gates on Apple, Google -- and Microsoft's future
The Austin American-Statesman launches blogging service
File-Sharing Firms Are Urged To Protect Music-Industry Rights
Penton Custom Media wins four accounts
Qpass Launches Fully-Managed Mobile Service for Creating Content-Heavy Digital Superstores
Inxight Powers Discovery Compliance in Content Control Systems' Online Repository System

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The Art of Relevance: Google Blog Search

Google launched its highly anticipated Blog Search engine today, with Yahoo and MSN expected to follow shortly. The need for industrial strength searching capabilities for blogs has been obvious, given the explosion of blogs in the last two years. The specialized blog search engines simply didn't have the resources to handle the sheer number of individual publishers and the amount of user generated content being generated by today's bloggers. Interestingly, there are two different URLs: google.com/blogsearch with a Google style interface and search.blogger.com with a Blogger style interface, showing the integration with Blogger.com for content creation.

The creation of a separate Blog Search shows further development of Google's maturation into a more sophisticated search service with updates and search options tailored to the type of data. According to the Google FAQ, the mechanism for including blogs is through standard ping services and RSS, which provide more timely updates than the crawling mechanism for the main web search. While the first search option is the usual white box, the advanced searching options reveal new search options unique to blog content: author, since blogs are created by individuals; titles, similar to an article title, date created and URL, which could be considered the equivalent of a publication name.

Websites in the main Google search engine have a PageRank, which is based on link references. However, relevancy for blog content is heavily dependent on "freshness", and the algorithms for determining relevance are substantially different for typical short postings found in blogs. Sorting of search results by either date or relevance is a very useful feature. Overall, Google Blog Search is a welcome addition the search world, and should make the chore of monitoring sentiment changes more doable.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Headlines for 14 September 2005

Google launches blog search
Editor of Opinion Pages Resigns at The Los Angeles Times
What will newspapers look like in 20 years?
International Herald Tribune Adds Mobile-Friendly Sites to Digital Portfolio
(Textual) Content is King
ECNext Secures Additional $4 Million to Fund Growth
Satellite Newspapers and BaySys Technologies Offer On-Demand Global Newspapers Onboard Private Jets
PubSub to Offer Prospective Search Tracking Technology for Forbes.com RSS Content
MetaCarta Signs Contract with Environmental Protection Agency
Sun and FatWire to Bring Free Portal Content Mgt to Sun Java(TM) Enterprise System Subscribers

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Headlines for 13 September 2005

Yahoo Hires Journalist to Report on Wars
Google creates tools for hurricane relief
Dow Jones Aug WSJ Ad Linage Down 1.9% On Financial Weakness
Time Inc. to Merge Business Mag Brands Online
Wolters Kluwer targets health business data
Zinio Systems, Blue Dolphin Group merge
Digital Rights Management - The Next Battle Area for ECM
How to build on bubble-up folksonomies...
Bankers Systems and S1 Corporation Expand Alliance
OneSource Announces New ''Match and Append'' Content Optimization Service
Handmark(R) Announces Content Distribution Agreement with The Associated Press
firstRain(R) Incorporates SourceMedia Content for Financial Services and High Technology Customers
Inxight SmartDiscovery Analysis Server Enhances Extraction, Categorization and Search Indexing
180solutions Announces ZangoCash for Web Publishers
NewsGator Technologies Partners With ROO to Deliver Premium Online Video Content

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Monday, September 12, 2005

The New Dot-Com Buying Boom: Going After Valuable Content

The Washington Post covers the online buying frenzy this year in media, as predicted in Shore's annual outlook. The WaPo article focuses on the value of About.com, a property purchased by The New York Times for a cool $410 million in March. Much of the About.com content gets a little static compared to a newspaper or weblog-driven publications but when topics such as Hurricane Katrina take hold of events the About.com docent for New Orleans becomes an important clearing house for useful information and the model comes to life harvesting both professional and user-generated media that makes a difference. Besides being money-makers in their own right, the new generation of acquisitions largely focus on that intersection of professional and user-generated media, as opposed to the rash of magazine title acquisitions lately which seem to be trying to gather dwindling audiences for professionally-produced print and online media. Somehow the online service buyers seem to have the game figured. What a simple concept - buy what's going to produce a new base of content inexpensively while leveraging more costly-to-produce content more effectively in more contexts. Makes you think that we have some smart people in the content industry, doesn't it...?

Bango Leverages PayPal for Buying Mobile Content

Mobile content is its own thing in many ways, with well-defined "choke points" where platform providers can define licensing arrangements with content partners that provide value-add points for subscription services. But clearly the open architecture of many mobile platforms calls out for a more free-flowing approach to content and services. Bango's announcement of a service linked to PayPal for on-demand content payments points the way to a broader array of content ecommerce-driven services beginning to make their way on to mobile platforms. This is obviously consumer-driven in its initial intent, but it's potential scope is far more than just ringtones and tunes. When people are mobile they're oftentimes in environments where content in a context specific to their location, a fact not lost of Google with its new networking efforts and one that should be exploited more actively for on-demand content purchases. Serving local markets is an "everything old is new again" play these days, and being able to put out both subscription and on-demand premium content is part of that evolving picture that should be considered carefully by content companies developing licensing agreements with mobile carriers.

OneSource Launches Enhanced Integration via Salesforce.com's AppExchange

Salesforce.com is renowned for its progressive "no software" packaging of sales force automation tools and has for some time encouraged integration of professional-grade content and applications into their on-demand SFA environment. But with today's launch of Salesforce.com's AppExchange at their DreamForce conference in San Francisco they are taking the installation and purchasing of applications and content in the SF.com environment to a new level of simplicity and object-oriented integration. Organized like a typical application sharing service, complete with user review and rankings, with a click here and there you can have software and services integrated into your SF.com service and payment added to your SF.com tab. We could gab on about the software aspects of this if that were our mission, but with OneSource Information Services on board as one of the charter members of this program it's important to focus on its importance to business content providers first and foremost. OneSource has made its business information available via SF.com for some time, but with AppExchange OneSource is announcing an integration of their content that is far more intuitive and simple with administrative features that make it easy for companies to specify exactly which content goes where and which can be updated by whom with point-and-click ease. The scope of this first effort is somewhat limited - basically sales lead downloads into the SF.com product platform, with integrated links back to OneSource for more chunky content such as detailed business profiles, key executive contacts, financials, corporate family structures, analysts' reports and company news - but the net effect is quite powerful in its ease of use and ultra-simple integration. Best of all (from the purchaser's perspective) the cost appears as a line item on your SF.com bill, starting at $50 a month for a low-end package with a specific geographic region of coverage. Since distribution is via the SF.com platform access management for off-platform content is quite simple, no need for federated logins, etc.

For professionally-oriented content this on-demand solutions packaging is exactly what many enterprises are crying for, a platform that keeps the software required to provide content-oriented business solutions at arm's length from I.T. costs and offers them access to content vendors that can integrate into that platform without having to resort to being locked into content vendor "X"'s view of what works best from a workflow perspective. It also sets the stage for object-oriented solutions of many kinds that can have content built into them and exposed on either a subscription or on-demand basis to fit many different kinds of usage contexts in an integrated online portal product. Content vendors of all stripes should sit up and take note of this development with eyes wide open, for this is the likely future for many kinds of business content as enterprises become used to point-and-click downloads of content services that fit into a wide variety of portal environments with simplified administration and access management.

Headlines for 12 September 2005

eBay to buy Skype for $2.6 billion in cash, stock
Internet Entrepreneurs Draw a Crowd in China
Remapping The Blogosphere
I Webbed the news today — oh boy!
Want a Hedge Fund? Here's Your Homework
Macromedia FlashCast Technology for New Mobile Phone Service, i-channel
German court supports DRM
OneSource Introduces Account Intelligence for AppExchange at Dreamforce '05
Bango enables mobile phone users to pay for content using PayPal
The Wall Street Journal to Launch Weekend Edition on Sept. 17
Aviation Week Group Debuts Defense Technology International Today

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News Analysis - Common Market: The Power of Transactions Draws in Business Publishers

Reed Construction Data has dipped a toe into the surging world of online ecommerce with a new relationship with eBay, the world's largest public online marketplace for goods. While the deal is fairly tame in its overall shape, it's an indication of where business database and directory publishers are going to need to head in the months ahead to position their content effectively as eBay grows its business-oriented services. Where transactions take place is where content reaches one of its most valuable contexts, a concept long exploited in financial markets but an idea whose time appears to be dawning now in new Web-driven markets. Business database and directory publishers need to move quickly to consider how eBay and other online marketplaces can help to position their content most effectively in the transaction-driven workflow of today's business content users.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Friday, September 9, 2005

Headlines for 9 September 2005

Why Google hired Vint Cerf
News Corporation, With IGN in Its Stable, Backs Up Promise to Be Bigger Web Player
Saatchi CEO: Branded Content Future For Ads
Craigslist: Stopping the Presses?
It's a Web Buying Spree for Big Media
Epsilon acquires Bigfoot Interactive
Econtent and the Law Practice
Lycos, Yahoo offer portals for information on Katrina victims
Lancet slams own publisher Reed Elsevier for arms link
Harry Potter online. Again. (But this time it's legal)
Wolters Kluwer Health Acquires Boucher Communications
Watson 2.0 Tool Delivers Relevant Content to the Desktop From All Sources Based on Context

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Thursday, September 8, 2005

Rumor of Google Acquiring Reuters: Closer Than Thought?

The Guardian's Wednesday business roundup touched on Reuters stock taking a nice uptick on "wild rumors" of an acquisition by Google. First of all we think that this is unlikely in the short run, in spite of some interesting synergies. Think about the culture clashes resulting from absorbing one of the world's oldest electronic publishers, which, in spite of its comprehensive modernization efforts, is still awash in a corporate culture very distant from that of Google's ("Don't be evil?"). It's far more likely that the rumors are springing from Google's emerging interest in creating a media portal that is likely to use financial content and tools from Reuters and other financial content providers. But at the same time it's fun to think about how the pieces would fit together.

Internet-aware Reuters CEO Tom Glocer has been instrumental in reworking its technology and focus into a more streamlined property with well-positioned public Web content while trying to build best-of-breed financial content solutions for the most technology-driven players in financial markets. Geekishness runs thick in both companies. Most importantly the international reputation of Reuters news may make it easier for Google to get more growth in overseas media markets by claiming Reuters as its own. It would also give it some people with experience in transaction-driven business content markets that have eluded Google in large part. The lack of growth at Reuters and the lack of operational synergies loom as the largest sensible reasons to call this rumor just a bit of foam on the last beer of the night. But at some point in the next year someone is going to get brave and give Reuters a new home. Why not Google, which may have much to gain from having a new treasure trove of unique and valuable content for individuals and institutions at its disposal...?

Headlines for 8 September 2005

Acquisition hysteria grips Reuters
EBay May Buy Web Phone Firm Skype In Strategy Shift
Citizens' media gets richer
IPod Phone Isn't Perfect, but It's a Start
Enterprise Search in Need of Improvement
Helping publishers, bloggers get the word out
Yahoo Spain Sues Blogging Network Over Content
Harris Corporation's Metadata Approach Breaks New Ground in Intelligent Content Delivery
LexisNexis(R) Martindale-Hubbell(R) Expands Relationship with Foley & Lardner
Reed Construction Data(R) Teams Up with eBay Business in Content Distribution

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Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Headlines for 7 September 2005

Saudi prince raises News Corp stake, backs Murdoch
The New York Times to add comics section
Lexis Closes the Research Gap
The global carveout: Magazine M&A enlarges publishing titans
For Victims, News About Home Can Come From Strangers Online
Keeping my eye on: Web Based Aggregators
Group: Yahoo Helped China Jail Journalist
Latest B-to-B Publisher on the Block: 101communications
Knight Ridder sees profits in smaller papers
Acquisition Projected to Add More Than $2 Million to Viyya Revenue for 2005
SRC Announces Availability of Geo-Content Business Intelligence Tools for Google Maps

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Tuesday, September 6, 2005

News Analysis - The Big Blow: The New Pecking Order of Content Looms Large in Katrina's Wake

Cataclysmic events such as Hurricane Katrina do not create trends in content, but they do help to forge into harder forms trends that were already forming. In the wake of this natural and human disaster Web content has emerged as the definitive focus for people needed both fast-breaking general news and very personal news on events and locations impacted by powerful events. Traditional outlets that once leaned tentatively on user-generated media discovered that combining personal content with their professional product can point the way to both hard facts and a sense of community that is impossible to replicate with just a polished professional product. The raw, the cooked and the cooking are all required to provide today's definitive picture of unfolding events to the satisfaction of sophisticated content users.

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Empowering Volunteer Knowledge: Disaster Wikis

When a disaster like Katrina hits an area with complete disruption of normal lives, there are fundamental questions to be answered requiring massive amounts of information from random sources. The Web with its infrastructure is well suited to sending messages, through emails, forums and blogging. But seeking bits of information across multiple sources, let alone linking them up has been difficult, if not impossible. Yet in a matter of days, wiki technology has been harnessed to provide content solutions which capture the knowledge base sought by victims of the hurricane.

As reported in Wired, one project is Scipionus.com which combines Wiki technology with Google Maps to provide information about property damage, a vital interest to the residents of the city trying to determine whether they will have homes to return to. Anyone with information to share can contribute to the site by posting information about conditions at specific geographic sites marked by pins, along with dates. Interestingly, the biggest challenge is keeping the information postings to actual observations, rather than questions about conditions and messages for missing people.

Reported on my local San Francisco television, KTVU, yet another project is KatrinaList.net, is designed to link up missing persons and reestablish communication. The challenge was to create and populate the wiki with all the content contained in other missing persons databases, such as nola.com and CraigsList , where messages could be easily added, but were difficult to search. The PeopleFinderVolunteer project solicited volunteers to "claim" chunks of these databases to put into the wiki, matching names reported missing with "found" reports. This has been a truly impressive, well organized effort, with the end result being successfully linked friends and relatives. Disaster planners, take note--Katrina may be the event that marks a coming of age for wiki technology....and since San Francisco expects a major earthquake to occur again, planning is a major concern for those of us who live in the Bay area.

Headlines for 6 September 2005

Australian court rules against Kazaa
Hurricane Forces New Orleans Newspaper to Face a Daunting Set of Obstacles
'People are not really flocking' to multipurpose cell phones
Blogs and Information Community Respond to Hurricane Katrina
Wikipedia, Prices, and Hayek
Ballmer statement from court proceedings: 'I'm going to f***ing kill Google'
Ebooks Worm Their Way into the Reference Market
Helping publishers, bloggers get the word out via FeedBurner
Reuters enriches its fixed income and money market content with Telerate benchmark data
Reactivity Enters Enterprise RSS Market
Zinio Expands Digital Magazine Publishing in Asia via Agreements with Dow Jones Asia and True Digital
thePlatform Showcases New Release of Media Publishing System at IBC2005

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Monday, September 5, 2005

Friday, September 2, 2005

Headlines for 2 September 2005

'Times-Picayune' Blog/Forum Reveals True Horror of Disaster Today
Google opens digital library to European book publishers
Thomson files $2 bln debt shelf offering
Thomson Gale Announces Addition of New Publishers, Titles
The Dream of OneCleveland
Operating Systems as Content Pushers
P2P "Google" search engine
Google thinks I care about the Orioles
Google dives deeper into networking
'Opening' A Digital Library
AskMe to Integrate FAST InStream
infoUSA's OneSource Division to Upgrade its Global Business Database and Distribution
IDG's CMO Magazine Enters Asian, European Markets with Launches in China, Poland
JISC Agreement Will Bring Elsevier's Scopus - World's Largest Science Database - to British Universities
Institutional Markets Team to Educate Financial Community About Dow Jones Wilshire Indexes
Lionbridge Completes Acquisition of Bowne Global Solutions
Susan Clark-Johnson named president of Gannett's Newspaper Division Gary L. Watson to retire

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Thursday, September 1, 2005

Inbox Report: The Times-Picayune's Nola.com Becomes a Community Life Saver

Our thanks to the AP for forwarding a report from New Orleans, LA newspaper The Times-Picayune indicating that they will be resuming printing from a facility in nearby Houma, LA tonight in the wake of the tragic aftermath of hurricane Katrina. But the real story that they convey is the courage and resourcefulness of their companion Web site nola.com, which had not only superhuman efforts put into basic reporting under the most trying of circumstances but also rigging up community forums to help citizens find missing persons and loved ones, as well as postings for volunteer requirements and homes available. Between Sunday and Thursday, the Times-Picayune reports, there were more than 72 million page views on nola.com. We are of course very grateful for the dedication of these brave people and also noting the ongoing importance of professional community news organizations in times of crisis. The webloggers have of course played a pivotal role in this drama as well, but when you need a definitive voice and a strong central community, that's not their role. Organizations dedicated to a community as opposed to a single view or set of views within a community remain an essential component of content formation. Today's news organizations are discovering through natural disasters such as Katrina and through their responses to the economic pressures shaping a changing landscape of commercial news content to adapt to the new needs of their readers and form new ways to serve them. As a person with family above and below ground in New Orleans (all safe) I thank The Times-Picayune for showing the way to combining professional and personal content in such a powerful way at this critical time.

Here is a portion of a recent posting on the nola.com forum covering Orleans Parish: "People are dying now from untreated injuries, from unsanitary conditions in the street, from the heat, from lack of food and water. WHERE IS THE HELP! This is unconscionable. There are no resources left locally...RESOURCES SHOULD HAVE ARRIVED ON MONDAY. People are dropping like worthless flies. How can this country forgive itself for letting this happen."

Please consider your ability so support relief efforts via organizations such as the American Red Cross at this time of need.

Headlines for 1 September 2005

Google: The next Microsoft? Noooo!
Australia's media giants may join forces
The FOLIO: Roundtable: Strategic Planning For 2006
CanWest to spin off newspapers
MIT’s ‘Technology Review’ cuts print frequency
Reconsidering Apple's Music Store
New Google Adsense ad spotted
PR Newswire content now packaged into MarketXSPro(tm)
Bloggers Emerge As Information Sources in Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath
The Folio Society Brings Beautiful Books to the Amazon Generation via New E-Commerce Business
washingtonpost.com Partners with Technorati to Deliver Content and Comments from Blogs

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