Monday, February 26, 2007

Next Steps for Yahoo!: Right-Sizing for a Trimmer Market Role

In some ways it seems preposterous to be laying low the number one global destination Web site but that hasn't stopped Seeking Alpha's Eric Jackson from delivering a scathing review of Yahoo's financial performance in light of Yahoo's stock price sinking 7% for the past 2 years, compared to Google’s 151% increase. Jackson trashes just about every major Yahoo media initiative and lost deal-making opportunity in recent memory - not to mention CEO Terry Semel's half-billion=plus U.S. dollar compensation package over the past four years. Notably Jackson calls not just for the ouster of Semel but as well for the exit of six others from Yahoo's boardroom and steeper investments in R&D.

In other words Yahoo has become just another top-heavy media company trying to focus on old world dealmaking and brand advertising plays while Google creates infinite reserves of user-tailored page inventory from its search results pages and embedded ads on any Web page that wants to host them. It's not an entirely fair characterization of Yahoo, given some of its good moves as of late into social media, but it's fair enough as a reflection of how many traditional media companies have failed to put their money where the growth is. Put simply, acquiring and generating traditional content is not generating the needed page views to justify the investments that Yahoo has made in recent years leading to an overall decline in site traffic. It's going to be hard for Yahoo to make the kind of radical moves that Jackson suggests, but shareholders will be pushing them in that direction soon enough.

The hardest part of this shakeup will be that Yahoo's outlook on online media has been a major force in propping up many other media companies' hopes for being able to build traditional models for brand ad-supported content online - and in the process provide those with skills attached to those traditional methods and channels a comfortable career migration path. Ousting Semel and complicit board members is as much a slap in the face of the broader hopes of traditional media companies as much as it is for anyone at Yahoo in particular. Yahoo's significant traffic and membership assets are not going to disappear overnight, but the fundamental failure of Yahoo to fund growth in directions that build valuable user-defined contexts does not augur much for other media-centric portal plays. Here's hoping that the changes come in time to save many of Yahoo's best assets from becoming under-invested properties in a too-little-too-late belt-tightening exercise.

Headlines for 26 February 2007

Trends
Yahoo!: Time for Plan B
Seeking Alpha via Yahoo! Finance
BitTorrent to open online store for digital media
Australian PC World
Google in Content Deal with Dow Jones & Company, Conde Nast, Sony BMG
The New York Times*
People with WiFi spend more time online
Ars Technica
Quigo: An Ad Upstart Challenges Google
The New York Times*
YouTube Traffic Surges without Viacom
NewTeeVee
When Real Estate Brokers Blog
New York Magazine
Potter author sues eBay over pirate books
Times Online
SEC sues firm for hacking company news releases
Reuters via CNET News

Best Practices
Babson Working Knowledge Center announces contest - "Improving B2B Content ROI"
Information Today
Community Is Key to Participation in Citizen Media
Media Shift
Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags
Shirky

Cool Tools
Thomson Learning Adopts Sakai Open Source Collaboration and Learning Environment
PR Newswire via Sys-Con

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Microsoft Buys Medstory Amid Push Into Healthcare
WSJ Online*
Elsevier to Launch Point-of-Care Medical Information as Part of Chinese Electronic Health Record
PR Newswire
MarkLogic Server Chosen as Foundation for Flatirons Dynamic Content Delivery Solution
MarketWire
ebrary Signs Blackwell Publishing, Yale University Press, and Columbia University Press
BusinessWire via Digital 50
LinkedIn and imeem Tap Gomez to Ensure the Quality of the Social Network Web Experience
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
Answers.com, Unites with WikiAnswers
Submit Express

Headline Summary for Week of 19 February 2007

Want to catch up on last week's headlines? Try our weekly categorized summary with embedded commentary on the latest trends.

Click here to view last week's headlines in review

Friday, February 23, 2007

Headlines for 23 February 2007

Trends
Could Wiki Rob Traffic from Ad-Supported Info Sites?
ClickZ News
What Steve Jobs's DRM announcement means
BoingBoing
A magazine I would love to read
Matt McAlister
Reuters Looks to Africa and a Decentralized Future for Media
MediaShift
Why the Trust Factor Will Inhibit Web 2.0
Micro Persuasion
There is no YouTube Filter; It’s AudibleMagic
TechCrunch
Satellite Radio: A Good Idea, but a Bad Investment
The New York Times*

Best Practices
Web 2.0 – Personal Branding Checklist
SOA World

Cool Tools
Coveo: Rich Media Content and Rich Media Search Tool
MediaCaster
Rescuing search in 'Second Life'
CNET News

Products, Markets & People
The Nielsen Company (Formerly VNU) Gets Another GE Alum
FOLIO: Magazine

Voxant Aggregates Licensable News Content for feeding Weblogs and Mashups

Why do so many news and entertainment clips show up on services such as YouTube? Well, in part because many content producers make it so doggone hard to extract content through legitimate channels. Voxant is aiming to change that by leveraging users as distribution agents for legitimately licensed news and entertainment content from traditional outlets. The latest announced partner is McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, which will provide news stories, photos and graphics via Voxant's TheNewsRoom portal. TheNewsRoom allows one to search news text, audio, video and graphics by major categories or search terms and then to extract code for embedding the content into a Web page. The embedded object (example below) includes a "Mash" button that will allow others to copy the embedding code. The content is ad-supported, with a portion of revenues from ads going to the person registered with Voxant for initiating mashups.

While TheNewsRoom portal is still a fairly raw work in progress the overall concept shows some promise. By adapting a Weedshare-style revenue-sharing scheme that enables clip copiers to benefit from ad revenues content can move from one context to another in a revenue-generating licensed digital object that observes copyright and still allows for a great viral effect in news distribution. A currently inactive tab in TheNewsRoom's "Mash" display is labeled "licensing," presumably a placekeeper for other ways to redistribute a given item under license such as via reprints, CD-ROM or other media. This may wind up paralleling or incorporating services of this kind from CCC, iCopyright or other online licensing services.

While weblogs and other social media sites are obvious targets for this kind of service the question becomes why this type of feature does not become a standard offering in any site that's displaying a piece of syndicated content, much as many sites use embedded reprinting services today. TheNewsRoom is not likely to be a destination site that will attract social media mavens: they're more likely to find content in context elsewhere and want to take it immediately. So perhaps Voxant becomes a service that can manage "mashup" requests centrally for all of the media sites that take in licensed feeds already. These are important details to work out in the long run but for now Voxant has assembled a compelling model for providing legitimate viral distribution of news and entertainment content that deserves to be studied carefully.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Answer.com's AnswerTips Come to Weblogs with a Mixed Reception

Mashable comments on the announcement of Answers.com's new AnswerTips embeddable lookup feature, which provides pop-up Answers.com reference content for any non-linked word on a page that's double-clicked. The comments aren't terribly positive:

My first question about these tools is always: what’s the benefit to the blogger? Many of these add-ons just hold up your pageloads, direct traffic elsewhere and annoy your visitors. As others have noticed, the answer may be ad revenue: CBS is displaying ads on the pop-up, and presumably Answers will offer revenue sharing on these.

However, I sincerely doubt that anyone is in an ad-clicking mood when they view these definitions: it’s really more of an ad for Answers.com, and surely they should be paying site owners a fee for the promotion these pop-ups provide.

Unfortunately this may have been a bit of a premature swing of the bat at a problem that doesn't really exist. Ads don't appear on this feature by default: note that the CBS implementation is showing only ads for CBS shows, and the pop-up window is co-branded. In other words, this is an opportunity for add-on revenues or marketing for those who would like to use the pop-up for that purpose. Other sites do not display co-branding or ads with the tool embedded, so clearly ads are an option but not a requirement. Since the answers provided in the pop-up is a light summary view of information available from Answers.com there is the potential to lose visitors on a click-through to more details, but if a visitor needed to look up a word to understand what you were writing about you were going to lose them anyway. The pop-up gives you a chance to keep them in context on your site before they move on out of frustration.

The real "why" of this feature is not so much ad revenues as the need for Answers.com to build more brand equity in an increasingly crowded marketplace for answers services. The habitual use of Google for looking up basic answers is now being hemmed in also by Wikipedia's rising role as a default for reference information (Answers.com includes content from Wikipedia and many premium sources). How to break out of this squeeze? Get more trend-setters to see Answers.com as a cool "must have" tool so that broader audiences will get the bug as well. Since a user doesn't have to do any downloading to use this feature on a site using the embedded service getting people to try it is that much easier - if they get the idea to double-click a word to use it. Since the provided icons from Answers.com include a "double-click any word" suggestion hopefully the training becomes fairly simple.

While I can accept that there is a bit of "embed fatigue" settling in for some folks I think that there's a certain amount of hypocrisy involved in Mashable's critique. On the very page that they mash Answers.com Mashable offers an oodle of their own links to promote their site via others' social media sites. Embedded tool users need to be careful about how they manage their own brands with a branded embed, but the preponderance of direct endorsements through blogrolls, social bookmarking links and other services makes the wise selection of tools such as AnswerTips a reasonable and productive tip for many publishers. In a world where the user is the ultimate aggregator it pays to play nice with free - need we remind you - content partners.

Headlines for 22 February 2007

Trends
Google sees video anti-piracy tools as priority
Reuters
Pushing the Industry to Learn How to Count
The New York Times*
News Corp. Buys Technology Firm To Boost MySpace
WSJ Online*
Make Room, Wikipedia: Internet-based Collaboration Could Change the Way We Do Business
Knowledge @ Wharton
FIM-SDC: Interview with Pete Levinsohn, President, FIM
paidContent.org
Getty is Eyeing Rival Jupitermedia Corp.
New York Post
Microsoft Told to Pay Alcatel-Lucent $1.52 Billion
Bloomberg News
Radio Forgets to Pay the User First
O'Reilly Radar
RIM says music biz is strangling wireless growth
Download Squad
LexisNexis revenue on the rise
Dayton Daily News
Hearst Tests Microsoft Program to Download Newspapers
Bloomberg News

Best Practices
Answers.com Launches AnswerTips - Another Way to Squander Your Blog Traffic
Mashable
The Robots Exclusion Protocol
Google Blog

Cool Tools
Google Apps Premier Edition Launches - One Small Step Towards Google Office
Read/Write Web
Web Search in Google Earth
O'Reilly Radar

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Reuters Launches Reuters Africa – a New Pan-African News and Financial Data Website
BusinessWire
China's Xinhua Finance files $300 million IPO
MarketWatch*
Fox Interactive Media Acquires Interactive Advertising Technology Company Strategic Data Corporation
BusinessWire via DMN Newswire
AdaptiveBlue gets funding from Union Square Ventures
Really SImple Sidi
LexisNexis and HCL BPO Services Sign Outsourcing Accord
Global Services

Products, Markets & People
Dow Jones to Nominate New Chairman
WSJ Online*
Wicks' NewBay Media Hires New CEO to Position Company for Growth
FOLIO: Magazine

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

XM and Sirius: Solving Aggregation Problems by...Aggregating?

About a year ago I posted an item on the XM satellite radio service's failure to use an extremely powerful content distribution technology to support old content licensing schemes. Not much has changed since then, except the announcement of a pending deal to merge XM with the equally challenged Sirius satellite radio service. So the solution to aggregating overpriced media in a subscription model is to...aggregate more of it in a monopoly? Hey, it works for cable, why not satellite radio? The press release claims that there will be a cost savings in the neighborhood of USD 3 to 7 billion by the merger, but that's a pretty big neighborhood - it really says that they're still grasping at how to make this a more potent business model.

Anti-trust considerations aside it probably makes sense to allow these two companies to see what they can make of a combined service that may be of more use to consumers. They're both chasing a fictional "chokehold" on content distribution that is probably best left to dwindle of its own accord. A better deal would be to open up the production of satellite radio receivers to any manufacturer - and to require those receivers to take in signals from any satellite radio supplier on auctioned-off channels, much as terrestrial radio is managed today. A subscription could get you access to the same number of channels as one receives today, but it would leave open the door potentially to additional programmers to leverage individual channels as well.

But a still better deal would be to open up satellite-based services to digital content suitable for mobile downloaders of all kinds. Thanks to the Web programming and publishing has become much more segmented and asynchronous. Why not have a satellite feed that allows downloads to updates on the top 50 games or top 50 blogs? Why not have a Zagat channel that keeps my restaurant and entertainment directory as fresh as possible? Why not pump out the top podcasts for specific market sectors? Why not - please! - give me a feed that keeps my handheld digital road maps and nautical charts up to date with user-contributed content?

Let the channel programming providers be responsible for monetization management, with the satellite service provider taking a flat or negotiated cut of the action. Let's hook up those stubby little antennas to the content that people really want - and watch a new era in mobile entertainment take form on "radios," iPods, PCs and whatever other device wants to park itself under a satellite signal. Just because the signal is serial doesn't mean that the programming needs to be serial. Satellite signals have been wasted on the most unimaginative content marketing imaginable. Let's move on to the good stuff soon, please.

Headlines for 21 February 2007

Trends
YouTube deal with CBS unravels
Reuters via CNET
Stirring Up the Cubicles at eBay
The New York Times*
New York Times to Publish First User-Generated Videos with "How We Met" Wedding Announcements
Beet.tv
NYTCO’s January Ad Revenue Dropped 2.1 Percent; Internet Ad Revs Up 26.2 Percent
paidContent.org
Is Google Courting Trouble with Viacom?
Motley Fool*
Internet is beyond political control: Vint Cerf
The Hindu
UK Rejects Citizens' Anti-DRM Petition
Beta News
Nonprofit Publishers Oppose Government Mandates for Scientific Publishing
NewsWise
Sirius, XM see deal closing in 2007
Reuters

Best Practices
US copyright lobby out-of-touch
BBC News
Poll: Do You Actually Use OpenID?
Read/Write Web
A Swarm of Angels: Crowdsourcing Films
The Blog Herald

Cool Tools
Look Out MyBlogLog - Here Comes Explode
TechCrunch
VoiceXML Forum Launches the VoiceXML Solutions Directory
BusinessWire
The Google Newsbar Widget is a Must for Bloggers
Micro Persuasion
Hands-on editing with Adobe's Remix
WebWare

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
McClatchy-Tribune Teams With Voxant in Bid to Reach Non-Traditional Online Media Outlets
PR Newswire
QuadData Solutions to Integrate infoUSA Data into list rental services
BtoB Online
Thomson Financial Signs Global Deal With Wombat To Embed Low Latency Technology Into Data Feeds
PR Newswire via Sys-Con

Products, Markets & People
Convera(R) Powers Publishers to Manage and Refine Vertical Search Engines
PR Newswire
Answers.com Releases Free AnswerTips(TM) Tool for Websites and Blogs
PR Newswire
LexisNexis Upgrades Lawyers.com Search Features
SubmitExpress
Vivisimo Improves Search Tool's Scope, Ease of Use
Intranet Journal

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Headline Summary for Week of 12 February 2007

Want to catch up on last week's headlines? Try our weekly categorized summary with embedded commentary on the latest trends.

Click here to view last week's headlines in review

Friday, February 16, 2007

Headlines for 16 February 2007

Trends
YouTube hands over user information on copyright violators
Geek.com
Music Industry Begins to Imagine a Post-DRM World; Will Movie Studios Follow Suit?
paidContent.org
Google Should Pay a Big Share of Wikipedia's Bills
Micro Persuasion
Alexa’s Inaccurate Traffic Stats Become More Detailed
Mashable!
Google hears static on radio bid
CNET News
Perseus Books Wins Fight For Distribution Rights
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
Google Customized Search Engines to Harness The Wisdom of Experts?
Search Engine Land

Cool Tools
Adobe myFeedz - an RSS Aggregator That Learns from You
Digital Inspiration
Viyya Technologies Introduces VIYYA(TM) Free Edition
BusinessWire

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Wolters Kluwer Financial Services Acquires Desert Document Services
PR Newswire

News Analysis - Google Print: Printers Move to Build Google-Like Scale for Custom Publishing

As in publishing the printing business has been undergoing quite a bit of consolidation and scaling lately, creating ever-larger printing conglomerates focused on higher margins and revenues. The key to their improved economic performance will be "short run" printing for customers wanting to reach highly targeted markets with customized messaging. What will happen when the economies of mass customized printing are married with the source-agnostic aggregation of today's Web? Call it Google Print - and call it the next major challenge facing today's publishers.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Headlines for 15 February 2007

Trends
Hollywood Weighs Copyright Protections
WSJ Online*
Viewers Fast-Forwarding Past Ads? Not Always
The New York Times*
Music execs criticise DRM systems
BBC News
How LexisNexis Added Blog Search to Content Lineup
Marketing Sherpa
Social-Networking Sites Open Up APIs to Third Parties
BusinessWeek
Yahoo Suggestions: Not a Digg clone
WebWare
Meet the uber-wiki: WikiProfessional aims for qualified editors
Ars Technica
Newsstand Sales Show Dramatic Change in Product Mix
FOLIO: Magazine
Google Shifting Resources to YouTube Monetization
GigaOM

Best Practices
Attract more subscribers to your blog
Lifehacker
Inventing Business Intelligence 2.0 in the Labs
Business Objects
Free-science movement gains a foothold at Berkeley: Authors, librarians, and politicians call for change
UC Berkeley News

Cool Tools
Analysis: IBM Flexes its Content Management Muscles
Intelligent Enterprise
Flash Enabled Mobile Devices Pass 200 Million
TechWhack Press Releases
Opera 9 web full-page browser coming to Windows Mobile
Download Squad
Enterprise Search from Coveo, Provides Solution for Document Content
Submit Express

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Cambridge Information Group buys ProQuest Information for $222 million: Marty Kahn in as CEO
Washington Business Journal
Google, Adscape Reach Agreement
Red Herring
ImageSpan Secures Series A Financing, Led by Greycroft Partners
MarketWire
Quigo Expands Key Vertical Audiences Signing Breitbart.com, Sparkpeople.com, and Healia.com
MarketWire

Products, Markets & People
Folksonomy meets taxonomy: Introducing Tags & Groups in Engineering Village
Really Simple Sidi

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Headlines for 14 February 2007

Trends
Old media vs. user media may cost billions
The Australian
Yahoo Lays Out Details Of Its New Advertiser & Publisher Group; Schneider To Lead YPN
paidContent.org
HD DVD, Blu-ray Cracks Confirmed
Tech News World /Content
Agenda
The Next Big Ad Medium: Podcasts
BusinessWeek
Publishers highlight risks associated with open access
Cordis News
Is Wikipedia part of a new ‘global brain’?
Spiked
All the World’s a Stage (That Includes the Internet)
The New York Times*
Yahoo Tries to Protect Turf From TV Rivals
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
Lessig explains Open Spectrum - video
Boing Boing
What Will Replace the Almighty Page View?
Micro Persuasion
France: overview, newspapers faced with digital
Editor's Weblog

Cool Tools
Maypole: Agile web development for the rest of us
Download Squad

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
FAST Customer TauMed Enables Health 2.0 with Search and Social Media
FAST Forward Blog
AskMeNow and Merriam-Webster Launch Mobile Dictionary
MarketWire
Magnify.net Creates Custom, User Generated Content Solution for Weather.com
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Search Engine Spiders Love Press Releases For Their Good Relevant Content According to AddPR.com
World SE Information
New York Times Co., Monster Worldwide form recruitment advertising alliance
BtoB Online

Products, Markets & People
New DialogClassic Web Accelerates Information Flow
PharmaLive

Complimentary Download - Content Industry Outlook 2007: Reality Checks

After a 2006 filled with blockbuster mergers, acquisitions and breakthroughs in the content industry by social media products the pace of change for content producers in 2007 doesn't promise to slow down a whit - and in fact is likely to gain steam as a stalling economy promises to push slow-to-change publishers off the stage altogether and to accelerate the shift to electronic revenues in Web and mobile venues. This means that there will be “reality checks” for both new and emerging players in content and for established players that had bet on a more leisurely transition to new sources of revenues. In Outlook 2007 Shore focuses on seven key "A"s for the new year: Answers, Audience, Aggregation, APIs, Alternatives, Acceleration and Asia. This complimentary ShoreViews report provides an overview of Shore’s major themes for the content industry in 2007.

Click here to register for a complimentary PDF download of Outlook 2007

So Sue Me: Google Loses Suit But Claims No Harm

Reuters reports along with others on a Belgian court's ruling in favor of Copiepresse's complaint against Google's crawling of Belgian, French and German newspaper content without their prior consent. The court reduced potential penalties should Google pursue caching of content from these publishers. Some may claim that this is a major setback for Google and search engines, but Google claims on its corporate weblog that it's largely a moot judgment. Google removed the content in question from its indexes months ago and has had success gaining coverage from other news sources in European markets eager to have their content crawled. In other words, Google intends to hang tough rather than to give into every publisher who wants to rattle their saber over Web crawling methods that have been in place for more than a decade.

This seems to make sense, as the real issue is whether or how publishers would license their content to Google for crawling. As with the AFP/AFX suit against Google in U.S. courts the tactic of taking Google to court is more about trying to gain some leverage in licensing negotiations. From that perspective, the Belgian court decision would seem to be a huge loss for publishers who thought that they could force Google's hand prior to a court's judgment. The truth of the matter is that many publishers don't have the foggiest notion of what the monetary value of exposure of their content in Google would be and therefore would rather chance a suit that would allow them to see what is comfortable to Google. This seems terribly bass-ackwards; why not just come up with a little research to determine that value and enter into earnest negotiations from that starting point? Google's "crawl first, ask questions later" policy may be flawed, but the technical control to prevent search crawlers from entering a Web site have been around for more than a decade. It's time for publishers to stop playing games and to take a more serious look at Google as a business partner that can deliver good value from their services - if you have a good handle on the metrics needed to prove out that value.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Headlines for 13 February 2007

Trends
Belgian court rules against Google over copyright
Reuters
About the Copiepresse decision
Google Blog
Hackers discover HD DVD and Blu-ray "processing key" -- all HD titles now exposed
Engadget
The Wizards of Buzz: A new kind of Web site is turning ordinary people into hidden influencers
WSJ Online*
Widgets: The future of content?
Social Media
Tinbag Launches, Soon To Enter DeadPool
TechCrunch
2010: Data doubling every 11 hours
ZDNet
Wikipedia Fights Black Hat SEO with "nofollow"
I Need Hits
Time Warner Starts Over on BBTV
Cable Digital News
Twelve of the Top 25 Newsstand Publications Saw Declines in the Second Half of 2006
FOLIO: Magazine
U.S. Asks India to Do More to Protect Intellectual Property
VOA via Chosun
Feds seek middle ground in Net neutrality feud
CNET News

Best Practices
Selling Your Blog: What Are Blog Buyers Looking For?
The Blog Herald

Cool Tools
Pheedo Launches Social Media Ad Widgets
TechCrunch
Zinio Acquired by Investment Firm
FOLIO: Magazine

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
State by State, Libraries Join AccessMyLibrary.com
PR Web
Behavioral Ad Network Tacoda Gets $7 Million Funding
paidContent.org
DMGI Enters Into Revenue Sharing Content Agreement with YouTube
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Taxonomy consulting firm Earley acquires Wordmap
SourceWire

Products, Markets & People
Wikia Launches New Community Websites, Adds Interactive Features for Collaboration
eMediaWire
Streamezzo Presents End-to-End Rich Media Solution
XTVWorld
LexisNexis CounselLink 4.0 Release Saves Lawyers Time with Matter Management
PR Web
InfoUSA reorganizes company segments
DM News
Answers.com Climbs to 62nd-Largest US Web Property Based on Unique Monthly Visitors
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

Monday, February 12, 2007

Headlines for 12 February 2007

Trends
Google accused of aiding movie pirates
CNET News
MySpace adds copyright filter
Variety
MTV Laying Off 5.5% of Staff; Savings to Go to Newer Ventures
The New York Times*
As Traditional Media Erodes, Magazines Thrive
Micro Persuasion
Microsoft Launches "PlayReady" Mobile DRM System
paidContent.org
DRM is Dead, VC Says
Red Herring
Charge for the British Library? Shocked Readers React
Library Journal

Best Practices
Social Network Fatigue and the Missing Web 2.0 Address Book
O'Reilly Radar

Cool Tools
Attensa Releases New Version of Its Feed Server
TechCrunch
Google Search AJAXified
Read/Write Web

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Wolters Kluwer Health Acquires The Cancer Journal
BusinessWire
InfoSpace joins with Fast to develop mobile-search service for wireless carriers
The Seattle Times
Blip.tv Introduces 'Do-it-Yourself Targeted Advertising' for Online Video: MAKE Magazine First to Implement
PR Newswire
Powerset and PARC Join to Commercialize Breakthrough Search Engine Technology
DMN Newswire

Products, Markets & People
Vivísimo Introduces Velocity 5.5 Enterprise Search Platform
Information Today
Website Application of Dow Jones Wealth Manager Solution Launched
Cheap Hosting Directory

Reuters Alumni Night: Wolf Blitzer and Devin Wenig on News and Networks Past and Present

Reuters hosted its first official corporate alumni event in the U.S. tonight at its 3 Times Square office in the Carnegie Hall room, an events facility that was packed with a wealth of talents who once served at the pleasure of Baron de Reuter's successors. As with other major corporations Reuters has been working actively to cultivate its extensive alum network as a key asset to draw upon for goodwill and ideas. There is an alumni Web site to help facilitate connecting with other alums, planned availability of the Reuters Messaging network for alums on a (presumed) complimentary basis and planned semi-annual networking events along the lines of this inaugural get-together.

To kick off festivities Reuters CEO Tom Glocer, COO Devin Wenig and newly crowned Reuters Alumni head Julie Holland welcomed CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer to share his thoughts on news past and present. Given that Wolf's first assignment as a reporter was for Reuters in Israel during the eventful 1970s the warmly welcomed alumnus recounted the virtues of perseverance, objectivity and - of course - getting it first that are the hallmarks of Reuters journalism.

Blitzer recounted one key moment from 1973 when he was covering the visit of German Chancellor Willy Brandt to the historic mountaintop fortress of Masada in Israel. The helicopter carrying Brandt and other dignitaries almost disappeared off the top of the steep cliffs of Madada when a strong burst of wind caught the aircraft just as it was landing. Seeing news when other journalists were getting ready to follow the visitors on a sightseeing tour Blitzer badgered the site's tram operator to take him to the only nearby phone booth at the bottom of the mountain and managed to file a world-beating story on the incident a full hour before the general press had made its way down from the mountaintop.

Kudos to Blitzer, but then fast forward to today's news. While he acknowledged that he was still trying to hold to traditional standards of journalism, Blitzer also had to acknowledge that the army of citizen journalists who are creating their own breaking news through a myriad of channels were already making news gathering a very different profession. Blitzer sees major changes afoot in the next five years as user-generated news content begins to play a more leading role in journalism, not supplanting the traditional qualities and tenets of mainstream journalism but definitely changing the power balance in news even more than it has today.

Reuters COO Devin Wenig echoed this somewhat in an earlier Q&A when he acknowledged that Reuters would be moving aggressively to incorporate Web 2.0 publishing technologies into their core financial information offerings in the not-too-distant future. Already a company that bases much of its content on facilitating real-time market conversations between peers in the securities industry user-generated content is certainly nothing new to the 150-plus year-old company. But the advent of Web 2.0 technologies that make it ever easier for peers of all kinds to communicate in ways that they've become accustomed to via consumer content products augur a new era of more direct and open communications between peers in finance that promises to bring market conversations to a new level of immediacy and intimacy.

As with the movable feast that is the Reuters alumni network - or any other professional network - content created by people who one trusts at a personal level is providing a level of endorsement that is hard for content providers tied to other forms of endorsed value such as brand advertising to replicate. The basics of this personal communication have been there since the wealthy and the wannabes congregated under the buttonwood trees of Wall Street centuries ago to exchange their shares of stock with one another. But now with Web technology the world congregates under a virtual buttonwood tree and the peers use any person, place or thing with the potential to help them make the most of a good financial situation. Be it real-time news or real-time trades the world is learning how to create its own market realities with or without major publishers.

My thanks to the Reuters crew for a wonderful event and to all the alums gathered there who have helped to shape great content through the years. We're only getting better at it - hopefully. Certainly a revived Reuters wants to convince their alumni network that they're on the case.

Yahoo Pipes Makes the Web a Content Factory for Everyone

With luminaries like Tim O'Reilly posting on the new Yahoo! Pipes facility you hardly need someone like me to say how neat it is, but nevertheless, let me try. As someone who cut their tech teeth on the Unix computer operating system years ago at Bell Labs the idea of being able to hook up the output of one program easily into the input of another is certainly not a cutting-edge concept, but how it's applied in the Yahoo! Pipes toolkit is downright brilliant.

Anyone can use the Yahoo! pipes to develop a range of sophisticated filters on content that allow one to feed outputs from any number of sources such as an XML feed, Yahoo! search query, Google Base or other key source, filter it and wind up with surprising combinations of content. The popular example program takes a headline feed from The New York Times and finds photos on Flickr that match up with headline keywords. The resulting feed is intriguing, if a little raw. All of a sudden the content of one source is given instant context based on filters applied from another source.

As in Unix's pipes the power is in the library of filters that one can apply to content streams. You can take an input and apply a library of logical operators and filters, you can extract location information, you can count items, de-duplicate items, join items, perform text string substitutions, and so on. The interface that provides this capability (above) is a easy to use visual interface that allows one to connect and adjust sources and filter modules easily - a whole lot nicer than the shell scripts command files we used to have to build on Unix systems and resembling the ease offered by a high end product like Reuters' Kobra object-oriented desktop solution for financial analysis.

This is sophisticated stuff in a very friendly package that encourages people to develop their own ways to look at content that they can share with others or use to a personal or institutional advantage. We've seen a lot about widgets that users can drag and drop onto desktops or embed in weblogs, but Yahoo! Pipes takes this concept one step further and allows non-techies (well, at least people who can't be too bothered with tech stuff) the ability to do their own light programming against content sources to come up with a wealth of interesting combinations that can be fed via XML feeds or JSON widgets. It's also the first truly interesting thing technologically to come out of Yahoo in ages - something that Google could have and should have (and may yet) come up with to put publishing in a whole new light. If you thought mashups were exciting before this, get ready for a wealth of new toys for viewing content that will make Yahoo! Pipes a very popular destination for creative content producers of all sizes who want to create unique content in unique contexts.

The Web as Research: Connotate Boosts Goldman Sachs' Proprietary Research

The announcement that Connotate Technologies, Inc. has inked a deal with investment bank Goldman Sachs to supply them with content mining technologies that can create proprietary research doesn't come as a complete surprise, but it's nevertheless a telling event. Investment banks have long taken positions in promising content technologies that can give them an edge with their clients, especially when they can help to supply a proprietary edge in content services that is increasingly hard to come by in today's open market for financial information and research. What's interesting in this deal is that Connotate's technology in essence allows its clients to develop their own research channels by mining their own content from the Web and other sources supplied by Goldman Sachs to their clients via Connotate's technology. Think of it as a primary research workbench and customized delivery and filtering tools all in one convenient package.

Broker research generated by investment banks has long been bashed as being little more than sales collateral for hungry trading desks, a factor that has tended to suppress the willingness of their clients to pay for research reports of any kind. Factor in offshore research houses that are used by more and more firms to crank out custom research on investments and it's an increasingly bleak picture for the traditional stock research report. To compensate for this major investment banks are developing more sophisticated tools to feed insights and data to their trading partners that are more likely to be ingested as trade-moving information than as "when I get around to reading it" reports flooding the in-boxes of portfolio and fund managers.

Helping customers filter and interpret insights in ways that meet up with their immediate business needs is as important as the information itself, a factor that is turning both financial research and other forms of business intelligence into an extension of the real-time information marketplace. We'll continue to see stacks of printed reports pile up in the offices of buy-side analysts for some time to come, but increasingly the aggressive money is being made by those who are willing and able to turn research into immediately actionable insight. Expect the business information sector as a whole to move increasingly towards these kinds of increasingly real-time information products that find the diamonds in the rough seas of online and private information sources.

Headline Summary for Week of 5 February

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Friday, February 9, 2007

Headlines for 9 February 2007

Trends
Can Google score with in-game ads?
CNET News
Ad Deal Between Newspapers and Google Paying Off -- So Far
Editor & Publisher
Search marketing tops $9 billion in '06
BtoB Online
Google's Agent Rank Patent Application
Search Engine Land
Yahoo Taps Its Inner Startup
BusinessWeek
Primedia Looks To Sell Enthusiast Division: 100 Web Sites, 75 Titles
paidContent.org
EMI May Sell Entire Collection as DRM-less MP3s
Slashdot
Global Mobile Content And Services Over $150 Billion By 2011
Telecomm Online
Legal Scholarship Goes Online
Virginia Law Weekly
WeMedia: Informal Conversations Trump Pomp of Panels
MediaShift
The Future of Cable TV in an Open World
MicroPersuasion
News Corporation Earnings Decline 24%
Bloomberg via NY Times*
Forgive Me, Viewer, for I Have Confessed in a Banner Ad
The New York Times*
Top Tech Trends: Digitization, Social Networking, and the OPAC
Library Journal

Best Practices
How to Best Use Page Monitors For Online Research
Informit
A Taxonomy of Social Networks?
GigaOM

Cool Tools
Formatpixel - create your own online magazine
Download Squad

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Connotate Technologies Announces Investment by Goldman Sachs
BusinessWire
ESPN Inks Exclusive Mobile Content Deal with Verizon Wireless
TMCNet
VNU launches Internet television service to further strengthen its brand portfolio
SourceWire
Data Impact, EDGAR Online Offer New Tool for Electronic Document Delivery & Retirement Plan Mgt
eNewsChannels
AP launches citizen media deal
BusinessWeek
Social Search Platform Searchles(R) Launches Site Enhancements and Secures Additional Angel Funding
DMN Newswire
The New York Times Announces New Partner in EuroReach Network
BusinessWire

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

NY Times' Sulzberger on the Future of News: Pinching Print?

Haaretz covers comments at the recent Davos summit by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Chairman and Publisher of The New York Times Company, in which "Pinch" lashed out at a number of newspaper sacred cows, including print itself. When asked if he thought that the NYT would still be printed in five years, Sulzberger replied, "I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care, either," citing his focus on making the Times a leading online property. When any sort of major investment in print for the national/global/regional/local daily costing a billion or more U.S. dollars, investing in online production seems to be a more cost-effective way for them to keep a leading role in news curation and creation.

Sulzberger's stance is admirable in its own way, showing a commitment to bringing NY Times operations into more cost-effective and profitable online venues appealing to younger demographics that expand their advertising base significantly. In five years most nationally-scaled newspapers will be under extreme pressure any way if they are still relying too heavily on resource-intensive print revenues. What's not clear is whether the NY Times or any other major news organization will have sussed out their cost structures to the point that they will be able to compete with a rapidly broadening array of online news outlets. Saying that you're going to go premium online no matter what presumes that you've cracked the online premium formula. It's far from clear that this is the case with either the NY Times and a host of other online papers.

As both overall revenues and margins decline for news organizations the nature of The New York Times' "curation" role for news will come under increasing pressure. Rosy revenue and net income stories from the Wall Street Journal bolster the confidence of news organizations everywhere, but few if any newspapers have the specialized audience that the Journal enjoys to help drive up ad revenues for both online and print editions. The bottom line is that news in print is going to be around for far longer than five years - perhaps decades or more - but in formats increasingly defined by audiences used to aggregating their own content. The NY Times is right to push aggressively into online venues for its core news operations but making the most of personalized print and other personalized media will be an increasingly important contribution to news organizations' bottom lines in the years ahead.

My fear - and expectation to some degree - is that a Google Newspaper initiative will come along and trump short-sighted news organizations at their own game. With users as the ultimate curators it will be interesting to see whether news organizations will have spent their development funds effectively in preparing news for a predominantly digital present and future that's supplemented by strong and specialized print offerings.

Headlines for 7 February 2007

Trends
Arthur Sulzberger's End Times: No Print in Five Years?
Haaretz
Ads Made by You, in a Click
The New York Times*
MySpace's Pact With Google Hits a Snag
WSJ Online*
Media Summit: Without A Seamless Model For Digital Revenue, Costs Will Rise
paidContent.org
Showbiz News Publication Variety Makes Web Content Free
Digital Media Wire
Pontiac and Yahoo! Leverage Social Media to Create New Form of Dialogue with Consumers
BusinessWire
Bud.TV: A Taste of the Future of Online Content?
Seeking Alpha
Hollywood Takes Its Concerns About Piracy and Taxes to Washington
The New York Times*

Best Practices
Brands Are Inside-Out, User Experience Is Outside-In
Robin Good
Indexes are the speed limit on the information highway
Seth Maislin's Indexing Blog
AAF survey finds advertising and media execs embrace new media
BtoB Online

Cool Tools
Feedeye: Defining relevant content in RSS feeds
Museum of Modern Betas
Wetpaint Raises the Bar on Wiki Customization for Consumers
dBusiness News

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Holt Online Mathematics Textbook Debuts With Integrated Formative Assessment and Intervention
PR Newswire

Jobs DRM Bombshell: A Real Stance or an Opening Position?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs' weblog post on the future of DRM-encrypted music has caused quite a stir amongst the online media. The gist of Jobs' rationale for dumping DRM: under 3% of the music on the average iPod is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with their DRM controls. So why should Apple continue to invest in supporting the 70 percent of published music emanating from the four leading music publishers with DRM when most of their customers are content with unprotected MP3s? This is a question that's getting harder to answer as European markets try to open up Apple's iPod to non-DRM content. Jobs' solutions, though, seem to provide a fairly limited list of options: a) stay the course for no true benefit to Apple or its customers, b) create a licensed version of their DRM for other platform providers or c) drop DRM altogether.

Jobs points out that the licensing option increases its exposure to hacking, which would require potentially endless maintenance cycles that would do little to protect what little property of music publishers was sold via DRM and drive up Apple's cost of sales. Instead, Jobs argues that opening up music sales to more innovation in online outlets would increase sales overall. A good point, especially given that most music is sold already via non-protected CDs, but it seems to walk away from both viable technology alternatives and the inherent problems of managing intellectual property online. On the alternatives side, an open standards, open source approach to IP rights management supported by publishers could remove one of the greatest potential threats to protection - accessing proprietary source code and developing hacks - and put the responsibility for rights protection squarely on the shoulders of publishers instead of consumer technology companies. Beyond DRM there are lighter approaches to identifying licensed content such as digital watermarking which could be used to help users to be informed when there was a copyright issue at hand and could link to tools that would help them to "do the right thing" with respecting copyright.

But the real problem with DRM is not technology but licensing: music publishers, as most other kinds of publishers, have yet to define a business model that will prosper when users are in control of most content distribution. Most DRM systems run counter to the notion that audiences can or should be active agents in the content distribution process - which would seem to fly in the face of what really happens with music today. Jobs knows this, and is likely using his weblog manifesto as a starting point for negotiations with publishers that will allow them to take a portion of revenues from new business models such as ad-supported downloads. It's not DRM that's defective but the licensing schemes that it's designed to protect. Adjust the monetization models to fit the realities of the distribution channels and the rest will fall into place rather quickly.

If publishers move in the direction of accelerating rather than slowing down user-managed distribution channels they are far more likely to build online revenues than if they had dragged their feet. Instead of wringing their hands about lost revenues from online distribution music publishers could be focusing on how to harvest the best music that the online world has to offer and to package it for physical media such as CDs and other platforms most effectively. Just as print publishers are thriving with custom printing music publishers can begin to build a new industry profile by using their CD production capabilities to build more high-end products tailored for individualized tastes. Hopefully media companies lift up their focus from the next-reporting-period grind and begin to plot out ways that online distribution can benefit their long term profitability goals.