Garbage in, garbage out

22 10 2008

Years ago, way back in 1992 I believe, when I built my first FileMaker data base, a programmer friend of mind told me to be sure the field I was creating would be ones I’d use and relevant to what I’d be looking for later on. Why? Because…”Garbage in, garbage out.”

I’ve built and architected numerous databases since then and this message has been the baseline for each and everyone. The closer I toe the line on what can be garbage, the more successful the end result. At the same time, training people to use the database once it’s built, is the second key to keeping it out of the grabage heap.

So why am I talking about such old technology today?

Well, today so much content on the web is “User Generated”. Yes, we’re all users, but UGC comes mostly from people who are not professional data gatheres and don’t understand the implications of mis-labelling or omitting a label on something. That’s fine, why should we expect everyone to know this about data?

BUT… but I just got a reminder of why it is important. Search. A new serach tool just brought me back to web serach as it was 10 years ago. OK, so it’s really nothing more than a gimick. However, the results this engine delivers are pretty bad. Junk, garbage, call it what you will but I only got a 10th of the results one should expect.

School classes on tagging and content labeling? Facebook cources maybe? It sure would be sad to turn back the clock here.





Cancelling Copyright or Capping Creativity

8 11 2007

Finding a balance.

An ongoing argument/ discussion with an American lawyer friend about copyright and the current cultural trend of transforming existing copyrighted works. YouTube is filled with video mashups of music and video that has been transformed from it’s original creative intent. Much of this is intended to pay homage to the original creation, some transformations put unusual twists on the work.

Here is a presentation on the topic at TED. And then again there is this organization which promotes such creative freedom.

Smarter people than I will figure this out but everyday I ponder how this might work out. I want it to. I want the freedom to be able to mashup my own take on something using the cultural tools of my day. Still, I don’t want to send artists to the welfare lines because they can’t earn enough money publishing their music in to pay rent.





Facebook’s new ad network is it spywear?

8 11 2007

If Facebook is going to be pimping my profile page, going to use their knowledge of what I’m doing on the site to place ads for partners, shouldn’t I get a cut of the revenue? Why am I feeling very wary of this development? I understand behavioral marketing. But this project is setting off alarm bells for me – me as a user of FB that is.

The Beacon Project as it is known, aims to leverage the way social networks work in a new and potentially revolutionary way by extending the reach of social networks into consumers’ daily Web-based lives. Facebook Ads launched with three parts:

  1. a way for businesses to build pages on Facebook to connect with their audiences;
  2. an ad system that facilitates the spread of brand messages virally through Facebook Social Ads™;
  3. and an interface to gather insights into people’s activity on Facebook that marketers care about.

The first part is logical and I have no problem with this at all. I like to know when I’m interacting with a company. It’s at point 2 that things start to get a little murky. Sure being a “fan-sumer” for brands that I have a good relationship with is not a problem… but will all the ads look like ads and how exactly will my behavioral information be used. I don’t really want to know everything that all my “friends” are doing as they interact with advertisers.





Do You Microblog?

1 11 2007

Do you even know what it is? Yes, yet another buzzword to add to your day. While you may not have heard of microblogging, you’ve probably come across Twitter. Yes, I Twitter – but in a very limited manner. If it didn’t have so many wonderful benefits and applications I’d hang my head in shame but it’s a great little tool to have in the mix.

So you’ve mastered the art of placing your daily thought/message/status in your IM program and your friends and colleagues enjoy knowing what’s going on with you everyday. Great! You’ve started doing this from time-to-time on your Facebook page. Now comes the ultimate in keeping folks up-to-date with your life/work. Yup… microblogging. Just a line, hardly enough characters to offer a complete thought… and even strangers can follow your feed. Your lifestream, stream of consciousness in brief little snippets for the world to enjoy.

While Twitter is the leader of the pack, there are a couple of runners-up: Jaiku, Tumblr, Pownce and Soup.io

Now if you think that these platforms are only for the teenage crowd, think again. There are multiple benefits for business applications and those applications are vast. The top of the list comes with SEO. This is a great tool for that effort and it works. Several analysts have made recent comments that this is the next big thing and I’m on that bandwagon. After all, anything that can be done in 140 character spaces… well, that’s got to be efficient!





Is your PR firm lazy?

31 10 2007

PR is not the biggest part of my business but I certainly have had occasion to pitch for my clients. I believe in PR and developing contacts with media and getting the message out there. It’s actually fun to make a connection with someone who is honestly interested in a product or service that you’re pitching. I’ve enjoyed some inspiring conversations. Yesterday, in a post on his blog, Chris Anderson – Wired Editor-in-chief and author of The Long Tail – published a list of emails collected from his INBOX from people he says were basically spaming him with lazy PR work.

“Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching.”

I see a couple of names in there that will not be very happy to find they’ve been bumped out as spam. But really, if the PR firm doesn’t have enough fire to get the message out to the right journalists… via a creative and well-designed presentation, is there any real hope of the message getting to the end-user in a manner to inspire them?

A good PR firm or communications department should know who is following a given sector and have a list of journalists and trend-setters to contact. If this sort of list doesn’t exist, it really isn’t that difficult to build one. This shows how lazy automated systems make us and how doing the same thing day-in-day-out can breed contempt for our work.

Part of my professional background being in journalism, I have a healthy respect for the work journalists do but I also know that the more of their work that I do for them, the more likely they are to run with my story. I’m just about to start on a project – a CD-ROM for journalists covering the jewelery fashion industry. Each year our focus is on providing a tool that makes the journalist’s job easier. I guess it’s working. It’s the fifth year for this project.

“I am where I am because I believe in all possibilities.”Whoopi Goldberg





Cool tool of the trade

30 10 2007

I’ve used many presentation tools (software) over the last 15 years, but I have to say that I really like the ease-of-use and transportability of Jing Project from Techsmith Corporation. In just a few minutes you can have a simple presentation together – voice over included – and it’s available anywhere on the Web if you wish.

For now the project is running as a free service and Techsmith is asking for feedback from users. While not opensource, the project is collecting plenty of comments from users with the intention of further defining the product. Eventually, we’ll have to pay to use Jing but the price will certainly be worth it.

I find it very useful for projects where the team is spread out in multiple locations. I can flip through my ideas on screen and record my comments as I click through the windows. Really, I can set up a meeting in minutes. My colleagues can see what I’m talking about and I haven’t had to type a word.

I’ll post a couple of examples here soon.