Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mumbai Journal: Infovision 2007 Highlights Content Transforming a Nation

Three years ago Dr. Shalini R. Urs, the Executive Director of the International School of Information Management at the University of Mysore, contacted me about speaking at the Infovision conference, a new event that was focusing on how leading content technologies and services are changing enterprise, media and personal publishing in India. At the time I had to say no to her generous request and likewise last year. But when her third request arrived earlier this year it was clear to me that the time to say yes had come. Long known for its support of global publishers through development and production services India is beginning to come into its own right as a major media powerhouse, becoming ever more adept at servicing both global and domestic markets with increasingly sophisticated content services.

The Infovision 2007 conference chaired by Dr. Shalini Urs certainly bore out my perception of India as a nation on the move. Peppered with leading thinkers from Google, Yahoo, Thomson and other international electronic publishers the conference was also thick with insight from domestic companies and universities who demonstrated that India is developing an assertive outlook on its ability to innovate, as well as to automate, in the delivery of leading content services. This was a world-class conference filled with world-class thinking.

Yet this move towards innovation comes against a backdrop of India's economic and demographic realities. Dr. F.C. Kohl, Vice Chairman of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), lead off the two day event with a recap of how India's exclusion from much of the industrial revolution creates urgency for its emerging transformation in the current information revolution. Sometimes referred to as the father of the Indian software industry, Dr. Kohl was quick to remind the conference-goers that India had only a handful of PCs - some estimates would place it at about 14 million - for its billion-plus population. In some ways this is good news, as the domestic marketplace has a tremendous upside, yet Dr. Kohl claimed that India lacked basic industrial infrastructure that would enable India to make low-cost PCs for themselves.

But just because PCs are a relative rarity in India does not mean that there is not an enormous penetration of electronic information services into the world's fourth largest economy. Go down the streets of Mumbai and one of the most common sights that you'll find is the local mobile phone dealer sandwiched in to any number of storefronts. According to the Indian government 90 percent of mobile phones in use in India are made domestically, with the total population of phones expected to soar to around 250 million by the end of this year, powered by the burgeoning wealth of India's rapidly expanding middle class. This is stimulating vigorous growth of domestic content services taking advantage of domestically produced mobile platforms - a strong combination.

The technological know-how to power these changes was highlighted in data on patent growth presented by Dr. Hsinchun Chen, the McClelland Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Arizona. Dr. Chen's data showed India to be the world's fastest growing source of patents, much of it via foreign investors who hold those patents but through which the domestic Indian economy is certain to benefit from this nation's re-emergence as a major center of innovation.

Jayanta Chatterjee PhD, a Professor at the Industrial and Management Engineering Department of IIT Kanpur with deep experience in commercial IT services, highlighted at the conference how deeply this revolution in mobile services will penetrate - and how much that it's required. Professor Chatterjee noted that India needs to double its rate of agricultural production growth in the next five years to keep up with the demands of its population, a challenge and a time frame that makes it impossible to rely on literacy efforts alone to educate and inform the 900 million people in India who speak hundreds of native languages and dialects but not English.

Professor Chatterjee's hopes for these people is expressed through the Agropedia project, a repository of agricultural knowledge and know-how sponsored by IITK that uses farmer-created ontologies and insights to help people contribute and benefit from front-line experiences. Currently the Agropedia interface requires villagers to travel to computer-based koisks for access to its resources but IITK is moving to introduce a voice interface to Agropedia that could allow voice access and contributions via mobile phones. Instead of waiting for knowledge to be normalized into a standard printed language the voice-activated Agropedia will enable knowledge systems to be built upon the rich fabric of languages that make sense to the people most responsible for agricultural production in India. As Prabhakar Raghavan, Head of Yahoo! Research put it at the conference, we are moving to an era in which our identities are being built around the concept of "I share, therefore I am." While Arun Ramanujapuram, head of the Advanced Technology Group at Yahoo! Bangalore and other panelists pointed out the usual drumbeat of how Web 2.0 is being used in India for marketing and branding efforts the Agropedia project seems to be indicative of the kinds of publishing tools that are more likely to have a significant economic impact for this complex nation closer to is real economic roots.

I would be misleading you to say that the conference at the ITC Maratha focused only on such macroeconomic matters, for in fact there was a great deal of industry-leading insight at the very edge of he content industry throughout the Infovision 2007 conference. But the confluence of the leading edge of content and everyday Indian life informed many of the insights inevitably. For example Rohini Srihari, PhD, CEO of Janya, a U.S. company specializing in multi-language text analytics, highlighted the emerging importance of proximity-based mobile content applications as helping to drive the value of user-generated content. But she also noted that of the world's webloggers 39 percent were blogging in English, 31 percent in Japanese and 12 percent in Chinese. If most of those 300 million mobile phones in India are being used by non-English speakers then there's a large gap to fill in getting people creating social media content in native languages and dialects.

L. Venkata Subramanian PhD of the IBM India Research Lab noted that the power of the collective wisdom found in weblogs was already so strong in Pakistan that blocking them was one of the first priorities of Pakistan's government during the recent state of emergency in that neighboring nation. He also reminded people of the "hole in the wall" experiment with a PC embedded in a wall available for public use in a poor New Delhi neighborhood several years ago. The most avid users were children aged 6 to 12, who learned how to collaborate with one another to surf the Web and to use software without any instruction. When asked how they liked using the computer, they said, "What's a computer?" In many ways the universality of microprocessors in our daily lives has many people asking that very same question in many venues. Humanity is learning a great deal from one another how to publish at least as fast as we are learning from experts. Teachers, mentors and innovators are still needed, but the innate ability and desire of people to communicate is the most potent power in publishing today.

It's hard to do justice to all of the great presentations and discussions at this conference but I would be remiss if I did not mention Noshir Contractor, PhD of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His excellent keynote presentation highlighted many of the learnings he as attained from studying firms such as Proctor & Gamble trying to leverage knowledge networks in enterprise and media environments. Looking at publishers such as LinkedIn which are developing tools that are extending social networks into knowledge networks Dr. Contractor offered the term "cognitive knowledge networks" to describe this complex interplay found in peer-driven relationships that is driving many of today's most valuable insights in enterprise and media content markets. The cognitive power of these networks lies oftentimes in their diversity, as opinions that would otherwise be lost in "groupthink" get a fair audience that can help to change the direction of decision-making processes. This ability to focus more efficiently on the weaker or contrasting ties in one's network that can yield deeper insights. As applications that can mine physically proximate people come into play in the near future this concept of cognitive knowledge networks is certain to become a key cornerstone for those trying to maximize their value in publishing.

When you invest 14-plus hours each way in a coach plane seat you're hoping for good return on your investment; overall I must say that this was a conference that paid off handsomely for me. I was also glad to have a day to explore Mumbai itself beyond the posh comforts of the ITC Maratha and to get some street-level perspective on how India is absorbing the changes driven by its strengthening media resources. More on those adventures later. For now suffice it to say that so many of the key innovations that are driving publishing today combine the leading talents of India with those found in Western markets that it will become increasingly important for Western publishers to tune in to India's insights through venues such as the Infovision conference more frequently in the future.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Headlines for 18 December 2007

Trends
FT targets multiple content platforms via new licensing scheme
Mad.co.uk
What is a Google Profile?
Google
Industry Seethes As FCC's Martin Sets New Curbs
WSJ Online*
R.I.P.: The Web 2.0 Office Suite
Microsoft Watch
NYTCO, Media General Post Double-Digit Online Revenue Growth; Others Struggle
paidContent.org
Google looking at technology to make news accessible
Times of India
The Number of Licenses for Electronic Content Held by Libraries Triples from 2000 to 2007
PR Web
Journalists, Bloggers Have a Sorry History at Startups: Scoble Leaving PodTech
MediaShift

Best Practices
Introducing Video Sitemaps
Google Webmaster Cntrl.
Google Android Prototype: Lets Hope Looks Can Be Deceiving
TechCrunch

Cool Tools
Startup Ribbit seeks to unite telephony and the Web
Ars Technica

Deals, Partnerships and Sales
Discovery Communications Completes Acquisition Of HowStuffWorks.Com
PR Newswire via CNN Money
Schlumberger Acquires Exclusive Distribution Rights to MetaCarta for Oil & Gas Sector
Directions Magazine
LexisNexis Selects Kirtas Technologies for High-Speed Digital Book Scanning Equipment
PR Newswire
ScienceDirect To Host French-Language Journals From Elsevier Masson
MediLexicon

Products, Markets & People
Join Elsevier to create and market next generation information products
Really Simple Sidi
Google News Improves Advanced Search Features
Mashable
Bloglines rolls out new features including full site previews
Download Squad
Wolters Kluwer EUR 175 Million Share Buy-back Program
ABN Newswire
ALM Announces Publication of ''Federal Acquisition Regulations: Intellectual Property and Related Rights''
BusinessWire

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Google Knol: More than Just a Wikipedia Play

Certainly Google's announcement regarding its forthcoming Knol article writing service has caused quite a stir in and beyond Silicon Valley as The New York Times, Search Engine Land, Google Blogoscoped, GigaOM and many others try to have a go at scoping out Knol's significance.

In short, Knol will enable people to create encyclopedia-like articles on various topics which can be rated by their readers and have both in-article links to other sources on the Web and automatically generated links to related Knol content. Unlike Wikipedia, there's one author per article, but multiple authors can create articles on the same topic, creating a free-market effect as to who is the leading expert on the topic. Articles will be equipped with Google ads, revenues from which will be shared with the author.

This is quite different in many important aspects from Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia, which in addition to attributing authors only in the history trail on collaboratively edited articles also maintains an ad-free environment for their content. While there are more than passing similarities to Wikipedia in Knol's overall design, the system doesn't seem likely to yield similar results. Knol's emphasis on single authorship without editing means that any particular subject is going to gain popularity based on a particular person's outlook, which may be good one day and quite out of date the next.

So while Knol may help people to get a leg up on what leading experts think about a particular subject - and mind you, that might be great for consultants like us folks at Shore - it's at the mercy of the editing priorities of whomever is maintaining their articles. For fast-changing topics this means that it may take a little bit more work for a reader to figure out who's really at the top of their game on a particular topic - and who's off on holiday for a while. Wikipedia needs constant monitoring to keep powerful people and organizations from trying to add spin to their articles, but at least there's highly active editing of one reasonably definitive version of the facts on a given topic.

While the comparison to Wikipedia is inevitable I see this in many ways as much a play for a wider variety of reference portals. Certainly About.com's docent system has resulted in topic experts who have financial motivations to maintain reference topics well on a wide variety of subjects, and in many ways Knol seems to be aimed at providing more efficient ways for subject matter experts to compete with one another in ways that generate revenues more efficiently than About.com. Knol puts more of an onus on an individual author to keep their information up to date, as others could come up with fresher content first, providing a framework that will help them to focus on content while leaving usability, design and monetization concerns to other. As Google's OpenSocial initiative gains steam one can imagine a person's Knol pages as reference content that can travel with them throughout related social media sites.

This free-market approach to knowledge is intriguing but it highlights a major problem that Google faces. As more and more high-quality user-generated content comes online, many people are finding answers to their questions from leading experts in social media venues that are precluding the need to reference a search engine for answers. As it is, so many topic-oriented searches display Wikipedia articles as the definitive source that in some ways Google has become the default front end for Wikipedia lookups as much as an index of the Web in general, reducing overall ad engagement on Google search results pages - and, in time, fewer searches generated on Google. Fewer searches means less available inventory for Google ads - so keeping more people engaged in Google inventory of some kind becomes an increasingly important goal for Google. So as much as this is a very interesting and useful approach to knowledge development it's overshadowed by commercial considerations that may or may not result in knowledge that people really trust. Collaborative editing has its limits for generating quality reference content, but at some point one's own version of a topic needs to stand up to the challenge of other knowledgeable people.

There are many different ways that Knol could evolve out before it launches, but the key factor would seem to be to provide people with a way to aggregate knowledge effectively. As much as one individual's view of a topic can be useful collaborative editing offers the most certain way to gain insights that are going to provide people with the deepest insight into a given topic. There's still room in such a system to reward individuals - one can imagine a system like Wikinvest in which a collaborative neutral article could be supplemented by opinionated personal articles - but first and foremost one hopes that Google will see that the best system will be one that serves the truth before it serves the bottom line. Knol holds out great promise as a platform that can help individuals to create useful reference content, but it may wind up having to serve too many competing interests to gain much of an impact on the marketplace.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Headlines for 15 December 2007

Trends
Google Gets Ready to Rumble With Microsoft
The New York Times
Google Runs Out of Content to Monetize; Wants You to Build More
Marketing Pilgrim
Wikipedia Competitor Being Tested by Google
The New York Times
Prosper Magazine Folds: Owner: Economic model "just wasn't working."
FOLIO: Magazine
User-Generated Content Still a Minority Pursuit
eMarketer
Kindle going for $1,500 on eBay
ValleyWag
Berman: Time to revisit the DMCA
Content Agenda
T-Mobile Turns Off Twitter?
TechCrunch
DOJ Blasts New 'Copyright Czar' Bill
PC Magazine
A Librarian's Worst NightmareYahoo! Answers, where 120 million users can be wrong.
Slate

Best Practices
Analysis: New Media vs. Old Media
Mashable
Starting a New Blog? Start With a Mind Map
ProBlogger
AdSense And Robin Good: The First Italian To Earn His Living From Google - The 7thfloor Interview
Robin Good
Are social networks in business a white elephant or is Gartner's report a red herring?
Corante

Cool Tools
New YouTube Visualization Bubbles Up
NewTeeVee
Google Reader adds Google Talk for sharing
Download Squad
Socialtext Aims To Free The Wiki
InformationWeek
Polymer Vision announces rollable displays are in production
Engadget

Deals, Partnerships and Sales
FT, Reuters expand relationship on FT.com to include video
BtoB Online

Products, Markets & People
Yahoo Launches Dashboard For 2008 Elections
TechCrunch
Microsoft Debuts Standalone Enterprise Search
Redmond Developer

Friday, December 14, 2007

Soical Inbox Wars: LinkedIn Tries to Close the Facebook Gap

As an ever-broader swath of professionals setting up Facebook accounts the buzz amongst content industry professionals sometimes has it that LinkedIn has lost its mojo. Compete statistics show that although LinkedIn is no match for Facebook in total audience it has grown its overall monthly audience more than 500 percent in the past year and has downright robust month-to-month growth. A lot of this growth has been based on major improvements in basic social media functions - ahem, it took you how many years to allow people to post a photo of themselves? - and some of the growth has been based on improved networking features and user-generated content from LinkedIn Answers. As noted in the LinkedIn blog the list is getting longer quickly with a an integration toolkit that is enabling BusinessWeek to integrate LinkedIn content into their news portal . LinkedIn is also enabling its members read news that's about one's company and read by people in your company and your personal network.

While some of these are rather tame efforts - the news feature won't be of much use to small businesses not covered deeply in the selected mainstream news sources - it's the sum of the parts that business information providers need to look at carefully. LinkedIn grows through members inviting new people into the LinkedIn environment, but the challenge for LinkedIn, as it is with any media service, is to keep people engaged once they get there and to give them a reason to make LinkedIn a must-visit site for professionals. As it stands now, though, It's must-visit for very specific types of functions - it's not a "check it every hour" type of experience.

The rapid rise of Facebook is based on its ability to act as a "social inbox," generating a stream of content and events from members that makes it the ultimate online water cooler on both a personal and professional basis. LinkedIn's addition of applications toolkits and mainstream news are a step towards that effect, but it's still feeling its way towards the level of personal engagement that allows Facebook to appeal to professionals trying to connect to their peers.

LinkedIn has enormous potential to become a "must-have" context for business information providers to integrate into their own environments and a key portal on which to ensure the presence of their own content. But it needs to get some of that personal, "water cooler" touch into a product that has long been strong on basic structure and professionalism but short on personal charm. Here's hoping that LinkedIn can continue to accelerate both its prowess in content integration as well as move towards tools and design elements that will enable it to bridge more of the gap between its "strictly business" roots and a new generation that's not afraid to show their face to the public online.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Headlines for 13 December 2007

Trends
2007 Year-end Zeitgeist
Google Zeitgeist
Facebook API to open up to other social networks
Download Squad
Encouraging people to contribute knowledge
Google Blog
Google's 10th Year Poses Major Strategic Challenges
PC World
Google Adds Blogs to Universal Search
PC Magazine
Wikipedia Uses Open Source to Remix Content for Education
Mashable
To Watch All Blinkx's Video Would Take 18 Million Hours
PR Newswire via CNN Money
Google Answers Stirs Zombie-Like as Google Q&A
TechCrunch
Copyright Clearance Center Launches Copyright Labs
EContent Magazine
Behind the Downfall of Ascend: Pricey Medical World acquisition gets the blame
FOLIO: Magazine
TV viewers stay glued to the box: Internet fails to pull audiences away
Variety
Murdoch May Take Three Years to Profit From Dow Jones
Bloomberg News
Amazon Kindle Hacked, Leading to More E-Books for Readers
Switched

Best Practices
Facebook Fallout: Balancing Innovation, Information Use
ClickZ News
Your Guide to Hyper-Local News
MediaShift
'E&P' Audio/Podcast: 'Wall' Coming Down on the Web?
Editor and Publisher

Cool Tools
Yahoo Pushes Content with Automatic Wordpress Plugin
Mashable
Google Turning My Maps Into Social Mapping Platform With Collaboration, Ratings, And Comments
Search Engine Land

Deals, Partnerships and Sales
News Corporation Completes Dow Jones & Co. Acquisition
News Corporation
ClipSyndicate Signs Video Content Deal with The Press Association for International Distribution
PR Newswire
NewsGator Secures $12M in Venture Capital Funding and Adds Lisa Reeves to Its Board of Directors
MarketWire via Earth Times
Infotrieve gets $5m to speed growth
Connecticut Post
Wolters Kluwer buys GEE compliance products portfolio from Thomson Corporation
Thomson Fin. via CNN Money
Yahoo Deal Adds Content From CNBC
The New York Times

Products, Markets & People
Dow Jones Focuses Client Solutions Organization on Custom, Integrated Approach to Information Delivery
PR Newswire via CNN Money
Real estate site will compete with Zillow FrontDoor draws from HGTV
Seattle PI
InfoUSA prepares to launch infoUK operation
BtoB Online
Second Life's CTO Resigns
The New York Times
Northern Light Adds Industry Authority Blog Search to SinglePoint Market Research Portal
PR Newswire via EarthTimes

Dun & Bradstreet Aims to Engage SMBs with AllBusiness.com

paidContent.org is clucking a bit at the USD 55 million price tag for Dun & Bradstreet's recent acquisition of AllBusiness.com, noting that it's well off the mark of deals from just a few months ago for business media properties. There's certainly a lot of bloom off the rose for online plays trying to find traditional media partners, with the whistling-past-the-graveyard optimism of M&A specialists of this spring giving away to a more sober view of where advertising revenues are headed in the short term. But I think that this negativity tends to bypass the fact that Dun & Bradstreet has found a media outlet that complements its other holdings very well - and promises to help transform them sooner rather than later.

The key issue that D&B needs to address is the declining media audience for its Hoover's business information product, a platform that single-handedly defined the Web business information market a decade ago but which has lost much of its media mojo as it focused on building a stronger presence in enterprise subscription sales. Hoover's online strategy helped it to get a strong base of small and medium sized businesses that it continues to mine. But with an increasing range of online business services gaining audience attention, including business media companies seeking to increase audience engagement through business information services, getting the attention of SMBs is a tougher game.

AllBusiness.com is a good match for helping D&B to address many of these problems. It's a nuts-and-bolts "how to" portal that is designed especially to appeal to the SMB crowd needing practical advice and input on the key challenges facing business professionals. AllBusiness.com also has a core of blog content from leading business experts that helps to give the portal a conversational tone. That's in line with research from Shore and other outlets which shows that business professionals are likely to respond to advice from peers as a key source of business information. Combining this content with Hoover's core business information and analysis tools is likely to increase the engagement of SMB professionals who want both easy-to-use business information and peer advice to solve business problems - engagement which in turn should lead to more successful marketing of their subscription products.

The real question, though, is whether this combination will giveDun & Bradstreet enough online engagement to counter increasingly strong business information media competitors. With Zoominfo growing as a media presence far more rapidly than either Hoover's or AllBusiness.com and traditional business media outlets like Forbes improving its audience share is it enough to marry high quality business information with high quality media content? Perhaps not, but the marriage is nevertheless essential for Dun and Bradstreet to build strong long-term engagement with SMB markets. But the Zoominfo model reminds us that business professionals have come to trust the Web as a key source of business content and look strongly towards companies that can help them to organize unstructured sources of information as data in more useful formats.

I think that we can expect to see many deals that parallel the D&B/AllBusiness paradigm in 2008 but I think that we'll also be on the lookout for transformative plays like Zoominfo that challenge traditional business information suppliers to make sense of the Web as a business information resource. Marrying business information and business media is a hot ticket these days, but make sure that you're looking at its hotness through the perspective of audiences who are more likely to embrace Web-based sources of content as a source of business insight along with traditional information and media content.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dow Jones Gets Crowned by Murdoch Management: Keeping up with Globalizing Business Media Competitors

Were we surprised that Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino will be stepping aside for News International executive chairman Les Hinton, key exec for New Corp's business and mainstream news operations?

Nope.

Was it any small surprise that Gordon Crovitz, President of Dow Jones Consumer Media and the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, would be leaving along with Zannino?

Hardly.

With a changing of the guard at the top of News Corp expected and Murdoch itchy to start transforming his new property to compete with other quickly moving global news outlets it only makes sense for Richard and Gordon to move on ASAP. This is of course no reflection on their ability to guide one of the world's premium business content brands into a highly profitable stance in the business media marketplace. This duo has to be credited with managing to maintain both an institution and a highly profitable and growing audience through some of the most challenging times in publishing history. But the new boss in town rivals New York Yankees baseball "Boss" George Steinbrenner for his fixation on goals and results. Lip service to tradition, yes, but hitting your mark comes first.

The goal: build the most sophisticated and recognized global brand of business news that can be wrapped around leading executives' decision-making processes in whatever context matters most to them and to monetize it in whatever way hits the bottom line best. Pride in subscription online portals and "the value of real journalism" be damned, it's the first to crack this converging marketplace that wins the gold. And Murdoch is not alone. With Reuters teaming up with The New York Times' International Herald Tribune to deliver business news in IHT's global daily news outlet and Bloomberg, LP choosing a media investments specialist for its top spot the marketplace for business media and information is shaping up to be increasingly complex. Add on The New York Times' stellar traffic growth since dropping its subscription firewall
and it's anyone's game to build a new dominant position in business news and information services.

The odd leg out in this discussion so far, though, is Dow Jones Enterprise Media, AKA Factiva plus the remnants of Dow Jones' enterprise feeds business. The opportunity is for News Corp to enable a more aggressive melding of enterprise and media services as the differences between today's business media outlets and today's enterprise portals begin to narrow. No word yet as to whether Clare Hart is expected to move on, but with relatively little expertise within News Corp in managing subscription business information database services she may wind up being a well-positioned player - that is, if some of the industry's other merging interests don't tantalize her more than playing NewsCorp Survivor. With an established global base of clients Factiva is likely to become an important fulcrum as NewsCorp tries to leverage its way further into global business information circles.

There's a lot yet to unfold in this fascinating merger, but already we can see that promises of journalistic integrity in Murdoch's world view are not synonymous with the status quo for journalists in any sense of the word. In may ways this may turn out to be a great plus, as Dow Jones journalists get to play out their careers in an increasingly sophisticated global marketplace. In the meantime it's time for U.S. business journalists of all stripes to recognize that as much as they have been biting the hand that's fed them pretty well all these recent years this hand has been mightily slow in creating better long-term career options for them. Certainly not everyone will be happy with these impending changes at Dow Jones and some "old guard" insight is surely going to be lost along with this increased global nimbleness but there's no time to waste if NewsCorp is to make the most of the Dow Jones family of content brands. In this landscape the purity of outdated methods can be no match for the purity of mastering new ones.

Headline Summary for 11 December 2007

Trends

As 2007 winds down the war for open Web access in mobile content is just starting to take off...
FCC poised to unlock cell phone user access
Mercury News via Content Agenda
Google versus the telecoms
CNET News
Google officially announces wireless spectrum participation, but are they serious?
Download Squad
iPhone Delivers: Bigger Browsing Share Than Windows Mobile
TechCrunch
Verizon gets behind Android, still iffy on Open Handset Alliance
Engadget
Apple faces challenges with iPhone in Europe
CNET News

Second-guessing Google is a major cottage industry, but in spite of weak product focus it continues to expand its markets...
Is Google Headed in the Wrong Direction?
eWeek
Another Googler gone: Is Google's brain being drained?
ValleyWag
Google to Enter Renewable Energy Business
InformationWeek
Gmail Hearts AIM
Google Blog
DoubleClick Or Not, Google To Explore More Partnerships
paidContent.org
Google nears DoubleClick OK
The Deal
Google Gets OK to Display Copyrighted Images
LA Times

But Google's greatest weakness remains failing to crack the social media marketplace effectively...
What Google hates and loves: Why Wikipedia is taking over search results
OnoTech
Is Google 'Wiki' Getting Whacked for Google 'Sites?'
PC Magazine
Google Experimenting With Digg Style Voting On Search Results
TechCrunch via OriginalSignal

After years of false starts and fortunes spent on online publishing major publishers are finally turning out engaging Web content...
Is CondéNet's Web Approach Paying Off?
WSJ Online*
The CNN/YouTube Republican Debate
Google Blog

Memo to Dow watchers: did you really expect that the status quo would last a second longer than Murdoch wanted it to...?
James Murdoch seen as News Corp heir
FT.com
Wall St Journal's New Glossy to Go Global
AdAge
Murdoch Said to Have Plan for Shake-Up at Dow Jones
The New York Times
The Exit Interview: WSJ Publisher Gordon Crovitz
paidContent.org

With Reuters cozying up to Thomson and The New York Times Bloomberg gets ready for a broader media footprint...
Bloomberg LP gets LBO guy
Reuters MediaFile
Reuters and Intl Herald Tribune sign content deal
The Guardian

A leaner, meaner New York Times is thriving on open Web exposure and a more aggressive pursuit of global markets...
NYTimes Surges, Cnet Slumps
TechCrunch
NY Times Announces Layoffs, Hiring Freeze
New York Observer

But the race to convert to profitable online outlets remains difficult for publishers tied to aging print platforms...
Newspaper Companies to See Declines in 2008
Editor & Publisher
ARL Report: Five Years to E-Journal Tipping Point?
Library Journal
B-to-b magazine revenue, ad pages down through August
BtoB Online
Once a Mainstay of Magazines, Cigarette Makers Are Dropping Print Ads
The New York Times
FCC Clears Tribune Co. Sale
AP via Yahoo! Finance

Facebook backlash increases but it's still the fastest growing online community for prosumer adults...
Facebook founder faces shareholder revolt
ValleyWag
Facebook and The Myth Of Contextual Advertising
Read/Write Web
Serious Privacy Issues With Facebook’s Beacon
Webomatica
Media CEOs are Facebook and BlackBerry users
Reuters

Placing pressure on business databases to become "must see" content...
LinkedIn Opens Site to Developers
The New York Times
Announcing LinkedIn News, Redesigned Homepage & more
LinkedIn Blog
Dun & Bradstreet Buys AllBusiness.com
AP via Houston Chronicle

Wikipedia wrestles with threats to its content quality and a broadening array of user-generated content communities...
Wikipedia: Where There’s Democracy, There’s Oligarchy
Mashable
Wikipedia Moves Towards Creative Commons Licensing
Lessig Blog
Insightory Wants To Be Wikipedia For Management Knowledge
TechCrunch
TechPresident, 10Questions Put Spotlight on 'Voter-Generated Content'
MediaShift

With social media becoming a mainstay of publishing, the winners will be those who blend the best professional and personal content...
The future of media
Silicon Republic
Pluck hooking up media outlets with social networks
The Globe and Mail
Jaron Lanier: Pay me for my content - When will Web's wealth reach creative people's doors?
Dallas Morning News

For the losers, well, there's always eBay...
Another Startup Lists on eBay
GigaOM

If you think that it's been interesting online so far, what happens when "Google" is the first English word for billions of people...?
One Laptop Per Child orders surge
The Boston Globe

In other major trends in content this week...
EU Online Copyright Bill Coming; Publishers Debate DRMs
IP Watch
Adobe, Yahoo test running ads inside PDF documents
Reuters
Bloomberg Seeks Less Info Control in China
AP via Google
Amazon Askville to take on Yahoo Answers
ValleyWag
NASA Site Seeks to Draw the MySpace Crowd
The New York Times
Dow Jones May Sell Community Newspapers
AP via Motley Fool
EU pushes for open access research
Scientist
Lots of Little Screens: TV Is Changing Shape
The New York Times
Nokia in Free Music Pact With Universal
Reuters via The New York Times

Best Practices
Business Lessons from Kiva
Read/Write Web
6 Reasons I’m Not Hooked on Podcasts
MediaShift
Making Money In The Long Tail: Dream Or Opportunity?
Robin Good
MSN Search Fights Duplicate Content
Web Pro News
Nokia Study: 25 Percent of Entertainment in 2012 Will Be Created by Peer Groups
Nokia
New corporate "Blog Council" misses the point of blogging
Ars Technica
Where’s the Content? - Positioning Ads on Your Blog
ProBlogger
Social Websites As Games - How to Win at Digg, YouTube, Facebook
Read/Write Web
Google Smart Pricing: What Is It And Why It May Affect Your AdSense Earnings
Robin Good
Effective Search Engine Optimization Means Harnessing Social Media
Web Pro News
YouTube as a Source of Information on Immunization: A Content Analysis
Journal of the AMA
Extreme Democracy - When Wikis Inform Legislation
New Assignment.net
Revamping the Story Flow for Journalists
MediaShift
Stealing eBooks with Amazon Kindle Is as Easy as Stealing Music
Marketing Vox News
Content Cash in India
New India Press
Friending, Ancient or Otherwise
The New York Times
Creating a Niche eBook in a Weekend Using Off-line Resources
Best Syndication
Social Media Releases & Meatball Sundaes
Web Pro News
The Launch Dilemma: Print or Digital First?
FOLIO: Magazine
Study: More Than 60% Don't Trust Campaign Coverage
Editor & Publisher

Cool Tools
Cellfish Provides Mobile Media Conversion With AddToPhone
TechCrunch
Yahoo! concocts a spicier new version of Widgets and Konfabulator
Download Squad
Plaxo adds Windows Mobile calendar and contacts sync
Plaxo
WetPaint White Labels For Businesses And Brands
TechCrunch
ICQ Founders Roll Out Alpha Version of Online TV Platform
WorldScreen
Eurekster Officially Launches Custom Search Swickis
Mashable
Alfresco Mashes Up Content Management, Social Computing
eWeek
Microsoft Challenges the iPod (Again)
The New York Times
Google Reader Now Recommends Feeds
Micro Persuasion
Google's My Location: A Peek at Location on Android
O'Reilly Radar
AT&T CEO outs 3G iPhone: "You'll have it next year"
Engadget

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

MuseGlobal's Integration and Mark Logic Work Together as Ultimate Content Management System
eMediaWire
Formtek and Alfresco Partner to Introduce Open Source Enterprise Content Management
Reuters
LexisNexis Names Doug Kaplan CEO for Asia Pacific Region
BusinessWire
Endeca Teams with EntropySoft on Data Integration and Platform Development
PR Newswire via Ad Hoc News
Copyright Clearance Center Integrates Licensing Services with HighWire Press
BusinessWire
Reed Construction Data Acquires Tectonic Partners Inc.
PR Newswire via CNN Money
Universal offers free music for revenue from promotions viewed on Imeem.com.
LA Times via Content Agenda
TomTom, Google team up on business information
Reuters via CNET
Gemstar-TV Guide Sold for $2.8 Billion
FOLIO: Magazine
Social-networking company Visible Path to be acquired
CNET News
Hearst-Argyle Television and Google Strike AdWords Reseller Agreement
PR Newswire via CNN Money
InsideView Buys TrueAdvantage
Private Equity Hub
Dell To Sell Google Enterprise Search Products
CNN Money

Products, Markets & People
Forbes Launches Online Advertising Network
FOLIO: Magazine
Thomson Scientific Launches Innovation for IP Research and Analysis
Information Today
TheMarkets.com Launches Enhanced Version of Broker Voting Platform, MeritMark
PR Newswire
ALM’s Law.com and Law Technology News Launch Law Technology Now Podcast
BusinessWire
Latest Yahoo Org Changes: Scott Moore Adds Entertainment, Broady Out; LMC Splitting Up
paidContent.org
Digg adds images, new categories
Download Squad
Wiley Puts 2000 Titles Online
Book Standard
Google launches AdWords Local PlusBox
BtoB Online
Thomson Scientific Debuting Intellectual Property Research and Analysis Tool
Library Journal
Cambridge to Launch Ebooks Collections
PR Newswire via EarthTimes.org
SixApart Unloads LiveJournal on Russian Media Company SUP
Mashable
EntreWiki Launched - a new Web 2.0 Directory of Business Ideas and Opportunities
PR-USA
Variety Publisher Koonves to Step Down
Variety
IBM Updates Free Enterprise Search Tool
PC World

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Headlines for 4 December 2007

Trends
Google Gets OK to Display Copyrighted Images
LA Times
Is Google 'Wiki' Getting Whacked for Google 'Sites?'
PC Magazine
DoubleClick Or Not, Google To Explore More Partnerships
paidContent.org
Facebook and The Myth Of Contextual Advertising
Read/Write Web
iPhone Delivers: Bigger Browsing Share Than Windows Mobile
TechCrunch
Verizon gets behind Android, still iffy on Open Handset Alliance
Engadget
Wikipedia: Where There’s Democracy, There’s Oligarchy
Mashable
Amazon Askville to take on Yahoo Answers
ValleyWag
Gmail <3 AIM: AOL Instant Messaging Acessible via Gmail Messaging
Google Blog
Newspaper Companies to See Declines in 2008
Editor & Publisher
Nokia in Free Music Pact With Universal
Reuters via The New York Times
NASA Site Seeks to Draw the MySpace Crowd
The New York Times

Best Practices
Nokia Study: 25 Percent of Entertainment in 2012 Will Be Created by Peer Groups
Nokia
Google Smart Pricing: What Is It And Why It May Affect Your AdSense Earnings

Robin Good
Effective Search Engine Optimization Means Harnessing Social Media
Web Pro News
YouTube as a Source of Information on Immunization: A Content Analysis
Journal of the AMA
Extreme Democracy - When Wikis Inform Legislation
New Assignment.net
Revamping the Story Flow for Journalists
MediaShift
Stealing eBooks with Amazon Kindle Is as Easy as Stealing Music
Marketing Vox News

Cool Tools
Eurekster Officially Launches Custom Search Swickis
Mashable
Alfresco Mashes Up Content Management, Social Computing
eWeek

Deals, Partnerships and Sales
Endeca Teams with EntropySoft on Data Integration and Platform Development
PR Newswire via Ad Hoc News
Copyright Clearance Center Integrates Licensing Services with HighWire Press
BusinessWire
Social-networking company Visible Path to be acquired
CNET News

Products, Markets & People
Digg adds images, new categories
Download Squad
Wiley Puts 2000 Titles Online
Book Standard
Google launches AdWords Local PlusBox
BtoB Online
Thomson Scientific Debuting Intellectual Property Research and Analysis Tool
Library Journal

Lunch with Collexis: What Happens When KM Tools Get Married with Professional Networking and Great Content

I took the suggestion of my colleague Jeff Cutler and sat down to lunch recently with Collexis EVP and CMO Darrell Gunter to get a briefing on their progress in launching product platforms leveraging their core content technologies. I must admit that I approached the lunch with some skepticism. The knowledge management landscape is littered with startups that had great technology ideas but which never quite made it as independent companies. With this troubled environment in mind, what was it that Collexis could offer that would distinguish it quickly enough to be a successful David amongst content Goliaths?

Collexis' core competency is being able to apply its "secret sauce" of semantic processing and faceted navigation to more valuable forms of content than others and to develop unique ways to apply those semantic tools to real-life business problems. Where companies like Inxight had semantic engines trained to parse already commoditized forms of content such as news articles Collexis focuses its semantic processing capabilities on unstructured content generated by professionals such as medical researchers. The story could have ended right there like so many other companies in the KM "dead pool", but instead of settling for marketing a nifty content categorization tool Collexis has worked with its recently acquired platform partner Syynx to develop some very serious solutions for scientific, technical and medical clients that are strong indicators of how semantics and professional networks can combine to create powerful publishing solutions in high-value enterprise markets.

The most interesting of these emerging platforms is biomed experts.com, a portal being readied for launch by Collexis that combines Collexis' semantic capabilites with public research articles from PubMed to develop an extremely powerful expert network tool. Put in any relevant set of terms from the world of STM publishing and biomedexperts.com will return a cite-ranked list of relevant categories that can be navigated to find experts who publish research in that topic specialty. Choose any one of these experts (click on screen grab to right for more detail) and get an excellent analysis of their publishing patterns in this topic arena, including a publishing timeline and categoried publication cites organized by more than a dozen related topic areas, including disorders, anatomy, procedures, physiology and so on. If this person's work is of interest to you it's easy in biomedexperts.com to track this person's publications and to invite them into your personal network. Biomedexperts.com enables one to view patterns in research and relationships amongst researchers with other powerful analysis tools, including a nifty map representation of which locations are collaborating heavily with other worldwide locations on a topic as well as a startree-like representation of the strength of publishing ties between different authors.

While we've seen some navigation tools like this deployed on platforms such as Factiva's Search 2.0 research portal Collexis has taken sophisticated analysis of texts to a whole new level in placing the exploration of authors and their network of relationships at the core of biomedexperts.com's capabilities. Not only can one identify rapidly the strengths of an author's research with biomedexperts.com but one can also move rapidly to understand the social contexts in which that research is developed. When your next step in your own research is understanding not only who wrote what but who's in thick with whom in their research it can accelerate rapidly your own next steps.

While it's uncertain that biomedexperts.com will succeed in developing community around its platform any more effectively than other efforts such as Elsevier's 2Collab its focus on organizing both content and authors into meaningful patterns is a key advantage that could help Collexis accelerate its product development efforts in a number of very interesting directions - including other market verticals where professional expertise is expressed effectively through publishing. Collexis understands as well as any other content company out there today that content is as much about the people who create it as it is about documents and data and has developed tools that exploit that understanding very effectively.

This interesting marriage of social insight and insight into topic expertise is a valuable combination that we can expect to see in many major content platforms over the next few years. Collexis has a window of opportunity in which it can sling its very potent capabilities at Goliaths focusing on similar opportunities - or decide to collaborate with a wide range of Davids and Goliaths to help them succeed in keeping their value propositions from frittering away as social networking tools begin to replace document repositories as primary content discovery tools. Lock and load, Collexis, you're in the right place at the right time. Thanks for the sandwich!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Let the Party Begin: Elsevier's 2collab Awaits Engaged Audiences

Rafael Sidi is pumped up about Elsevier's new 2collab social bookmarking service, which he describes as the product of "the young turks in Amsterdam," presumably product developers trying to encourage this major scientific publisher to engage the online world of collaborative content. As what sounds to be a countercultural "intrapreneur" initiative 2collab has a lot going for it. 2collab has all of the features that one would expect to find in a modern social bookmarking service - public and private groups, tagging, commenting, voting, easy bookmarking and a very attractive and highly usable design - combined with editable citation information stored with each bookmark (click on the screen grab above to get a flavor of the metadata). However, the citation data cannot be referenced via the 2collab search engine yet, a minor inconvenience in the short run but something that should be addressed once a significant body of content is aggregated via the service.

As to when that significant body will appear is anyone's guess at this point. In spite of a decent launch and prominent billing for the service on Elsevier's corporate portal there appear to be relatively few takers for the service so far. I was challenged to find any publicly posted articles with comments other than my own in five days' worth of posts and thus far today there have been nine public posts in all. To the product's credit the timestamping makes it very easy to figure this out, but in the meantime it's a reminder that the community is still in the process of forming around this product. Group participation doesn't fare much better, with public groups still very small and formed around topics mostly centered on online technology topics.

2collab has an excellent design and the development team is to be commended for a first-rate job in launching a highly credible platform right out of the box, but it's going to take more than features similar to established social media outlets to attract people already using those other platforms. Just as a simple example of the challenge that faces Elsevier, a topic like "congestive heart failure" returns 141 results on del.icio.us, accumulated over a long period of time, to be sure, but in the meantime indicating a ways to go for 2collab to attract active participation. As important as it is to get the technology right in social media it's equally important to get some core communities invested in the platform so that their examples of successful interactions can get other participants jazzed. Consider 2collab to be in serious need of jazzing at this point.

Can Elsevier manage to get some more mojo behind 2collab and develop it into a thriving social media community? In truth Elsevier and other scientific publishers are so far behind in embracing social media that it's going to be an uphill struggle for any of them to make significant progress in developing social media capabilities that are, admittedly, rather long-term investments for as-yet-uncertain future revenues. But one thing seems to be certain: whichever scientific publisher is able to finally crack the social media marketplace and develop a tool that becomes the "go-to" place for sharing and discussing scientific literature is going to win a big, big prize at the end of the day - regardless of how that prize scales to current revenue streams. Consider 2collab a modest bet by Elsevier on the future of social media as a publishing platform that is in need of doubling-down sooner rather than later to ensure a place at the emerging world of user-driven publishing markets.

Join Us at the SIIA Brown Bag Event - Users as Editors: What's the Key to Quality Social Media Content?

A reminder that I will be chairing a great panel this Wednesday, 5 December on how users acting as editors via social media platforms are creating excellent content and establishing the best practices that will be guiding user-guided publishing for years to come. We have a strong attendance list already as I am told by the SIIA, so sign up soon for in-person or online participation. Late-breaking news: Bruce Smith, Chief Strategic Officer at Answers.com, will be joining the panel to give insights as to how their contributors on WikiAnswers are creating excellent reference content. Join us at the McGraw-Hill building at noon on Wednesday for a great session with Wikipedia, Newsvine, Answers.com and Wikinvest!

Headlines for 3 December 2007

Trends
Lots of Little Screens: TV Is Changing Shape
The New York Times
FCC Clears Tribune Co. Sale
AP via Yahoo! Finance
Google nears DoubleClick OK
The Deal
Google versus the telecoms
CNET News
Google officially announces wireless spectrum participation, but are they serious?
Download Squad
Jaron Lanier: Pay me for my content - When will Web's wealth reach creative people's doors?
Dallas Morning News
Serious Privacy Issues With Facebook’s Beacon
Webomatica
Wikipedia Moves Towards Creative Commons Licensing
Lessig Blog
One Laptop Per Child orders surge
The Boston Globe
Insightory Wants To Be Wikipedia For Management Knowledge
TechCrunch
What Google hates and loves: Why Wikipedia is taking over search results
OnoTech
Media CEOs are Facebook and BlackBerry users
Reuters
B-to-b magazine revenue, ad pages down through August
BtoB Online

Best Practices
Making Money In The Long Tail: Dream Or Opportunity?
Robin Good
MSN Search Fights Duplicate Content
Web Pro News
Content Cash in India
New India Press
Friending, Ancient or Otherwise
The New York Times
Creating a Niche eBook in a Weekend Using Off-line Resources
Best Syndication

Cool Tools
Google Reader Now Recommends Feeds
Micro Persuasion
Google's My Location: A Peek at Location on Android
O'Reilly Radar

Deals, Partnerships and Sales
Formtek and Alfresco Partner to Introduce Open Source Enterprise Content Management
Reuters
LexisNexis Names Doug Kaplan CEO for Asia Pacific Region
BusinessWire