Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wanted: Corporate Blog Writer

So is the idea of a company hiring someone in the role of "corporate blogger" a passing fad or something many well-established companies will be looking to in the coming years. Seems to me the idea is both bizarre and fascinating. Why would a company hire someone and give them supposed free-reign to talk about the goings on behind the cubicles? Ten years ago the idea would be heresy, but in the fast-pased "new" business world, it seems perfectly logical.

I think this position really works well if the conditions are right: 1) Blogging has to fit the corporate culture (Think: a company which embraces business casual 5 days a week). 2) The company has to be innovating in ways that their potential customers find interesting (who wants to read about chewing gum) 3) The blog does not look, feel or sound like it's written by a committee or by the Marketing Department.

I applaud companies who have tried it as an official position (Stonyfield Farm, GM) or who have allowed it to go on in a more unofficial way (Scoble at Microsoft). I'd like to see more companies take the plunge.

If this is all in place, it sets the company up in a position of thought leadership, drives traffic to its Web site, supports its initiatives and gets the attention of the media. Hey, wait, that sounds like Marketing's job. Maybe so, but at the same time, this could be marketing that works.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Score Another one for Joe Q Blogger

Score another one for Joe Q. Blogger working hard to keep another company honest.

This time it was security researcher Mark Russinovich who first reported earlier this month that some of Sony's new music CDs were monkeying around with a Windows "rootkit", helping Sony to prevent copying of the music -- and opening up users' PCs to potential security leaks.

Information Week has a good piece on the news, including this stinging summary:

"Sony made an unpopular product decision and got its reputation incinerated by
waves of flaming bloggers. That's a lesson for other companies."

Sony indeed made a mistake when they tried to brush this off. Why not just take your lumps on day one. "We screwed up, we're pulling the CDs. And we'll make this right." That's the way to go. But during a Morning Edition interview on NPR on Nov. 4, the Sony exec interviewed tried to say that this problem was an esoteric technology thingy that the average person wouldn't care about. "Most people don't even know what a rootkit is so why should they care about it?, " he said. That arrogance hasn't played very well. Hundreds of bloggers have ripped Sony for this. Sony's users might not care about the details of a rootkit but they do care about privacy and their computer's security.

You'd think by now a company with the smarts of Sony would see the potential downside of trying to sneak one by. But oh, the bloggers are watching you...

Marti Hearst: Why are you always No. 1?

I have nothing against Marti Hearst. I met with her once a few years back on the campus of UC Berkeley where she teaches in the School of Information Management Systems. And while this document is a good overview of text mining, I can't figure out why Google has ranked it as the No. 1 hit for the search "text mining" for at least the past two years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Google Gives Nod to Taxonomies with Launch of "Base"

For years, Factiva has preached that document-level metadata rolled up into a taxonomy is a vital piece of a content management solution. For years, Google has not enbraced metadata for organizing content with such vigor. Today, with the launch of Google Base, however, the Internet startup took a small step in that direction. The new offering includes "tags," which are author-applied metadata.
ZDNet's take | C|Net's take

Data Mining Helps Find Needle in Corn Fields

I always love it when I'm driving to work listening to NPR and something I'm not expecting grabs my attention. In this case, a piece on how data mining is helping catech farm insurance cheats.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Even More Text Mining Options with Factiva

Factiva announced another partnership with IBM this week and another way our clients can monitor their media exposure and reputation. This shows me that we weren't kidding when we said our relationship with Big Blue would continue even though both sides decided to part ways around the WebFountain platform a while back.

The new announcment talks about reaching customers who are already IBM shops and who need behind-the-firewall, customized solutions. So in this way, it fits nicely as another piece in Factiva's overall text-mining picture.

Down Under, Corporate Blogs Might be Seen as Liability

Ok, so a few days ago a survey of U.S. CEOs said blogs are useful tools.

But here's an opinion from Down Under (Factiva subscription req'd) in the Australian version of Computerworld saying: "Corporate blogging in Australia has stalled because of a perceived security threat and a belief by employers that an active blogger is a liability." According Hydrasight analyst John Brand "less than 5 percent of organizations in Australia actively use blogs as a corporate tool, with some blogs creating an IT security risk," Computerworld reported.

This article doesn't say where that number comes from, but it could be interesting if different parts of the world view corporate blogs differently.

Media Monitor Plus Relaunches

Factiva recently re-released one of its media monitoring products -- Factiva Insight: Media Monitor Plus. The release took the product off the 2B legacy system (which we've been running after Factiva's purchase of 2B Media Intelligence this year) and put it on the Factiva Insight Text Mining Platform.

This allows us to offer a broader content set (blogs, boards, Web and mainstream media from Factiva's archive) along with the speed and intraday update features built by our colleagues from 2B.

I haven't worked directly on MMP to this point as most of my time has been focused on Reputation Intelligence, but I really like this product, too. It's taken several months, but the former 2B products are starting to blend more with the Factiva look and feel, which is great.

I'm also starting to learn more about how clients are viewing it. Some of them see it as we expected -- a tool to more efficiently monitor their media coverage. Others, interestingly, see MMP as way to help their teams get up to on a sector or an industry. For example, say Acme Corp. is a consultancy that works with 10 different industries. It's vital for the Acme consultants working in the auto industry to stay abreast of the news and trends in that industry so they can speak intelligently and understand the issues of their clients. With Media Monitor Plus, Acme can set up 10 dashboards, one for each industry, so each group of consultants can stay on top of the big picture in their industry.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This is really how we text mine

The Text Mining Platform explained.

Study: CEOs find blogs useful

Here's a good item supporting the Blogosphere's future:

About 59% of CEOs said blogs are useful for internal comms and 47% see them as useful for external communications, reports CNet on a study by PRWeek and Burson-Marsteller.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Factiva CEO Among Finalists

Many of us are proud to work for a company that gets recognized for its products -- and its people. Our boss, Clare Hart, was just named a finalist for the New York Ten Awards, for significantly impacting New York business innovation through technology.

MSM lagging behind the corporate blog story

The mainstream media is still in "hey look at blogs" mode. I'm disappointed. I'm looking for more insight and anecdotes about how corporations are leveraging blogs, but I'm not finding it. It seems to be the same stories everyday about Kryptonite locks, Microsoft's Robert Scoble, etc.

The local newspapers in the U.S. are still slowly rolling out their: "what is a blog?" articles. Even the Financial Times felt obliged last week to state "...Weblogs, or blogs, ..." And the had the trite lead: "To blog, or not to blog? That is the question vexing marketing managers ...."

The Wall Street Journal* had a good piece on the value of blogs, but they, too, felt obliged to define them in the lead:

"IT USED TO BE rare for an established, mainstream company to buy an
individual's personal blog. Blogs are frequently updated online journals,
written by pretty much anybody -- professionals, hobbyists or regular Joes
reaching out to share their thoughts, information and photographs with

The New York Times for the most part is hip to the blog story. They don't feel the need to define blogs in every article, when the context makes it obvious.
*Full disclosure, my company, Factiva, is half owned by Dow Jones, the publisher of the WSJ.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Visualizing Complex Data Relationships

I came across, a very nicely done compilation of data visualization samples, put together by a New Yorker named Manuel Lima, a self-described interaction designer and information architect.