/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Monday, May 31, 2010

What Google Tells You

In Fortune: If Google Told You to to Jump Off a Cliff, Would You?. A woman sues for literally taking walking advice. As several people have suggested, yes they would take advice .. and then they would sue. This is related to some of my previous comments about protecting yourself from Google ... we get more information ... are thus more informed, but where is the responsibility for practically using that information? Or for defending ourselves from each other, or from Google itself? Ann Althouse takes it in another direction, to the world of marriage counseling.

The Value of Being Uncool

Jonathan Baskin spins the interesting case of the mashed-up Pabst Blue Ribbon beer brand. A number of things I did not know about this well known brand. Should the brand be cooler or less cool?

Stop Customer Price Fixation

Herb Sorensen pointed us to a paper on how to avoid customer price fixation in the May Harvard Business Review. Good examples and good read, and also read the comments which have some good points.

Cosmic 140

A visualization of the 140 most important entities on Twitter. This reminds me of Stephen Few's recent document on the overuse of circular images for data visualization. What exactly is the circle meant to accurately and comparatively describe? Its a pretty image, but does not add much to the actual strength of the visualization of the data. Also, the notion of 'cosmic' is pretentious. Twitter is still a simplistic messaging system that makes it difficult to say exactly what you want. There are many people there now, which is why I use it, but that does not mean it is a stroke of genius.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Twitter as a Gaming Platform

In Readwriteweb: Thinking about Twitter as a gaming platform.

I am still convinced that there is real value in overlaying game incentives on serious work. See my reviews of Byron Reeves's book: Total Engagement as an example. The increasing popularity of social networks start to lay the foundation of what he is talking about.

Getting Some Privacy with Google

Good piece on what you can do to make it more difficult to invade your privacy when using Google tools.

' ... Bottom line? Big Brother knows a whole lot more than you probably thought. But you don't have to avoid Google to keep yourself reasonably safe. You just need to take steps to prevent potentially dangerous information from being stored on Google's servers in the first place, and to protect the integrity of your account.

By taking some basic -- and not-so-basic -- precautions, you can minimize your exposure to bad guys, wherever and whoever they are. Read on to learn about things you can do to minimize the security risks involved in using Google, whether for search or for one of its myriad other online services ... '

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Things You Should Know About Statistics

Good overview piece about statistics. This won't tell you how, but will position your knowledge of when stats can be used, and classic errors in their use. A good starting place with interesting links.

Pure Data

Do you know Pure Data? A way to analyze multi channel music data. Can it also be used for other kinds of real time data streams? More here, the system's site. Any comments?


In the Freakonomics blog, regarding numeracy. Like literacy, it should be valued. From the comments a quote I had not heard: Oscar Wilde said: “The mark of the truly educated is to be deeply moved by statistics".

Marketing Power of the Negative

Intriguing piece that is worth considering:

" ... Tim Berry has noticed that when two strangers sit next to each other on a plane, the icebreaker that starts a conversation is likely to be something negative about the airline -- the food, the service, whatever. In blogs and presentations, the same principle holds true: Negatives get more attention than positives. Be sure to capture the power of the negative in your marketing ... "

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Shallows

Nick Carr overviews his newly released book and provides some links to excerpts. ' ... The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. ... draws on material from the chapter of the book entitled "The Juggler's Brain," in which I examine an array of research on how the Internet and networked computers are influencing our mental habits and altering the way we think ... ' -- These changes are inevitable, and we are likely in a long transitional period. Worth thinking about.

Value of Mobile Data

In MIT Tech Review: Mobile Data: A Gold Mine for Telcos,
A snapshot of our activities, cell phone data attracts both academics and industry researchers. ... '

Children More Likely to Own a Mobile than a Book

Are children more likely to own a phone than a book? Not sure what own means here, but I have certainly seen more children with phones than with books lately.

NYC Entrepreneurial Fund

Press release on the NYC entrepreneurial fund, via Rajesh Raichoudhury.

Kyield on Facebook

Kyield, with which I am associated, has a Facebook presence. ' .. Kyield is a software and communications system that revolutionizes the digital work environment through enhanced innovation, crisis prevention, meritocracy, transparency, and alignment of interests between workers and their organizations ... ' Check them out there for more information.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Fascination with Circular Things

Good piece by Stephen Few, on why we choose circular graphical forms for data visualization. Also related another post on circular visual forms.

Our Irresistible Fascination with All Things Circular
Stephen Few, Perceptual Edge

We humans are drawn to circles. From prehistoric gathering places in the round, to Hindu mandalas, to halos that float over the heads of saints, to modern pie charts, we find circles naturally satisfying. I suspect that those parts of us that crave symmetry, wholeness, and closure take comfort in them. A circular archetype must reside deep in our psyches, which swaddles us in a snug, corner-less nest. Despite the undeniable beauty of their perfect form, however, circles often fail to support the functions that we assign to them. This is especially so in the field of data visualization. Elegance of form is undermined when a square-peg function is forced upon a circle... '

Remembering Martin Gardner in Mathematica

In the Wolfram Blog, a number of examples of Martin Gardner's math puzzles posed in books and articles, cleverly implemented in Mathematica. I would have loved to have many of these as footnotes to the original Scientific American articles, as they could be provided today online. These could inspire many more kids to get excited about mathematics today. Though they would probably have not inspired me to code some of them myself. On balance likely a good thing. Good article.

Kyield Unveils New Semantic Healthcare Platform

More developments at Kyield:

Kyield Unveils New Semantic Health Care Platform
SANTA FE, N.M.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Kyield introduced today the new semantic health care platform designed to reduce health care costs, improve organizational efficiencies, and escalate therapeutic discoveries.

The health care platform enables patients to better self-manage overall health while making informed decisions with evidence-based data. By combining interoperable protocols with advanced analytics and third party health management applications, the Kyield health care platform exceeds the certification requirements outlined in the recent U.S. stimulus and health care reform legislation ... '

Oil Cleanup

Solution thoughts from New Orleans, a place I worked in for years.


Please forgive a quick personal request. Louisiana is my home of homes, and it's killing me to see this oil mess languish. We saw a story on the Wall Street Journal's Web site the other day of a manufacturer in Florida whose mattress material naturally soaks up oil. Apparently, he can't get through to authorities to make it happen, but it's pretty hard to deny the demo he gave. Here's a link that I'm hoping you'll forward.

And for what it's worth, here's my two cents on lessons to be learned, along with a bit of a mea culpa ....

Eric Kavanagh


Facts about SAP

SAP was very big in the enterprise. We visited their headquarters a number of times to see what they were doing in enterprise optimization applications. Now no longer in the big enterprise I hear about it less often, but they are a formidable force worth understanding. I found this Baseline slide show about SAP interesting.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tribalization of Business Study

I am passing along the SNCR Tribalization of Business Study invitation. I used to be a Fellow there and they produce some interesting work. Pass it on!

" ... We're pleased to announce the launch of the 3rd annual Tribalization of Business Survey (http:// 2010tribalizationofbusiness.com).

We hope that you will once again join us in taking the survey and perhaps also participate in the upcoming qualitative interviews that make up the second part of the annual study.

As you may recall, the Tribalization of Business Study is sponsored by Beeline Labs, Deloitte and the Society for New Communications Research. The yearly study has come to be known as a valuable resource for companies that plan on leveraging social media and communities as part of their business, as well as a benchmarking tool for those already engaged.

In return for your time and your valuable input, we will send you preliminary results of the study. In addition, you will receive a special invitation to take part in a webinar with the study's authors, Francois Gossieaux, Beeline Labs partner and SNCR Senior Fellow, and Ed Moran of Deloitte, and a special discount to attend the 5th Annual SNCR Research Symposium & Awards Gala, where the study's findings will be shared ... '

Take this survey

New Playing Field for Ads

A good prediction, From Knowledge@Wharton:

Going Mobile: How iAd and AdMob Move Apple vs. Google to a New Playing Field

What spending in the mobile advertising industry lacks in heft, it more than makes up for in buzz. Witness Google's recent purchase of AdMob, which brings together the two largest mobile ad networks, and Apple's recent efforts to gain a stronger foothold in the market. The battle between the two major players could represent a tipping point for mobile advertising, Wharton experts and others say, and suggests that the sector could become a significant money-maker in the future ... '

The On-Demand Brand

Brought to my attention: The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World by Rick Mathieson. Includes a look inside the book link.

Flavor Intensity Ramps Up

I have noticed it for some time. The desire for increased flavor intensity in foods has increased remarkably. The WSJ just noticed in this article.

Eye Tracking Methods Look for Killer App

From the CACM: I think there are high value applications for eye tracking as the analytical capabilities for neuromarketing are focused to problems like in-store shelf interaction.

" Eye-Tracking Interfaces Look for Killer App
As you read this page, the movement of your eyes shows where you are focusing your attention. Researchers have found many uses for tools that track where people are looking. But the systems are still expensive, and their widespread adoption as user interfaces will need a compelling, high-volume application ... '

Modern Business Plan

Seth Godin on reworking the Modern Business Plan. Some good thoughts here to add to the usual financials. " ... It's not clear to me why business plans are the way they are, but they're often misused to obfuscate, bore and show an ability to comply with expectations. If I want the real truth about a business and where it's going, I'd rather see something else ... "

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rapid Insight

Via AnalyticBridge, an introduction to Rapid Insight's Veera tool. Was unaware of it, but looks to be of interest for data flow approaches to business intelligence. Will take a further look

" ... Rapid Insight® Veera ... This software technology enables users to access and integrate data from multiple disparate formats and sources. Veera's easy-to-use visual interface empowers users of all abilities to utilize any data to create reports, perform ad hoc analyses, and generate analytic data marts and datasets. Designed to mitigate the risk of errors in reports and analyses, Veera allows users to extract valuable information from data without harming the original data sources and keeping them in their existing locations ... "

More in this pdf

Walled Apps and the Freedom of the Net

In the NYT Magazine, an article on how they see the increasing uses of paid Apps on devices as a means of walling away quality on the Web. Certainly there are still lots of free quality offerings, and most paid offerings are minimal in cost. Only the most specialist applications cost much today. Market forces make the most popular Apps free or minimal in cost.

How Did We Get Mobile?

A short slideshow on the history of mobile communications. A number of interesting milestones I had not heard of.

Bio Detector

A device developed at Lawrence Livermore Labs that can scan for many viruses and bacteria.

Foursquare and Newspapers

In Gigaom: Will the Foursquare location and reward idea help newspapers? ' ... The Journal announced today that readers can get news and reviews about local spots in the Big Apple through a partnership with Foursquare, and can win special badges that have been created for the newspaper, including the “Urban Adventurer” and “Lunch Box” badges. It seems like an interesting extension of the Journal’s core mandate to deliver news and information, but the important question is whether it will help the paper in any tangible way.... ' .

I also see that it is being used by the regional theater to reward loyalty.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Martin Gardner Dies

Its rare that I do an obituary here, but a particularly inspirational figure to me, Martin Gardner, Puzzler and Polymath, has died at the age of 95. His NYT obituary linked to here is well done. I used to anticipate his monthly column in the Scientific American and coded up a number of his models, including his Mandelbrot fractal descriptions. One of his heroes, as is mine, was Lewis Carroll. See also a mention in the Language Log, about some confusing uses of language he studied.

Location Based Services Revenue

Good piece in E-Commerce Times on charting a revenue stream for location based services. A place I have been examining.

Print Ad Database

A new research database that looks at the relationship of what was done in print and what it achieved based on specific variables. Though this is old tech, print ads will not go away soon. Would also like to see how these results relate to online.

Social Media for Product Launch

The use of social media for new initiatives. Brand Week has a list of a number of recent examples. To this I say, why not do this in addition to other methods? It remains a relatively inexpensive method, and as long as many people are still gathering in any place, it deserves market attention.

Supermarket Space Allocation

In Progressive Grocer: An old problem that we started to look at in terms of optimization starting in the 70s. In recent years increased computing power and better models have started to construct revenue management models to address not only how much space gets allocated, but also precisely where things are best placed. Most importantly, the specific and generalizable behavior of consumers has been explored in much detail by Herb Sorensen and others. Much more about that in posts here. Mixing the two criteria seems an obvious thing to do.

Collective Intelligence by Retailers

Retailers sharing their collective intelligence. ' ... Gartner analysts Mick MacComascaigh and Whit Andrews recently released a study, "Leading Websites Will Use Search, Advanced Analytics to Target Content," that provides great insight into how these technologies will improve site value and user experience. The report reinforces the emerging concept of collective intelligence, which Gartner says will help companies go beyond "Top 10" type results to optimize the user experience based on intelligence gathered up to and including the very last click. Any retailer not adopting this approach will lose sales today and customers in the long term.... ' .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beautiful BI on the IPad

An interesting post on 'beautiful mobile BI'. Next Doug Lautzenheiser on using RoamBI and other IPad BI methods. I have also experimented with the RoamBI App .. the visuals are good, maybe not beautiful. Yet I would much prefer if it was as easy to use and interact with as possible. And of course if the visual represents the data as accurately and simply as possible.

Computers Making Better Drugs

From the CACM, good overview on computer drug design. Another example of intelligence via directed simulation. The power of abduction. ' ... Due to the time and costs involved, advanced computing is crucial to drug discovery efforts. By simulating the binding of virtual proteins and ligands, chemists can screen vast pools of possible compounds faster than would ever be possible in the laboratory ... '

Sarcasm Recognition

A paper on a method of sarcasm recognition. I use emoticons sometimes in personal communications to make it clear I am being humorous, or at least not completely serious. It might be useful to at least warn me when others use these tones, but I have my doubts as to how well this method may work.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Seeding a Startup Culture

What should a startup culture look like? Have been involved with a number now, both independent and within a much larger organization. They look similar, but are not the same. How can the best be convinced into taking these roles? See the comments about other tracks for entrepreneurs.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Psychologists View of User Experience

In UX Magazine, A simple short useful article on the topic of design for user experience. From the psychologists viewpoint. These are the kinds of things that seem like they are common sense, but are often forgotten. Like the fact that many interactions are non consciously processed and that users make mistakes.

Wal-Mart Supports Smart Card Payments

This could result in considerable changes in US retail payment systems. The commonly used 'signature-based' methods were cited as a waste of time.

Wal-Mart to support smartcard payments
Retail giant's reported move to chip-and-PIN transactions could finally nudge others into doing same in the U.S. ... Retail giant Wal-Mart is reported to be planning on making all its payment terminals in the U.S. compliant with a smartcard-based credit card technology that is already widely used around the world, but not in the U.S. ... '

On Biosimilars

Bain writes on Biosimilars, a term I have not heard for a while, though it came up in research work.

Biosimilars: A marathon, not a sprint for pharma
by Bain partners Nils Behnke, Norbert Hueltenschmidt, Andy Pasternak and Karan Singh
While it is hard to predict exactly how—or when—the market for biosimilars will evolve, their potential impact on the global pharmaceuticals industry cannot be ignored. Just as generics emerged as a powerful force in the last two decades, for many in the pharma industry, biosimilars will be a strong agent for change in the future—either through disruption or innovation. ... '

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Google TV

Coming this fall, Google TV. Where will it end? Update: What does it mean for advertisers?

New Open Innovation Strategy at Kraft

In Consumergoods Technology: New open innovation strategy at Kraft.

Procter Online Store Open to Public

After months of testing P&G's online store is now open to the public.

' ... Procter & Gamble Co. said Wednesday the "eStore" is up and running for the general public after months of testing. The Cincinnati-based maker of such household brands as Tide detergent, Pampers diapers, and Olay skin cream has jumped into online retailing with a site operated by Plano, Texas-based PFSweb.

P&G insists the venture's main goal is to learn more about online shopping, and not to compete with stores and online retailers. P&G says it will share the "learning lab" information it gathers and that will help retail partners sell more P&G products ... '

You can use the estore here. (This appears to be US only for now)

Data Diving with Mathematica

Short article from the Wolfram blog about doing data analysis and visualization using Mathematica. The wealth of capabilities in Mathematica are considerable, but you need to know the package well to adeptly mash up solutions.

Wal-Mart Virtual Mirror

In StoreFrontBackTalk: Evan Schuman on Wal-Mart's virtual makeover effort. We experimented with this concept in-store and in-home for a dozen years, in a number of countries. Including work with the vendor EZFace mentioned in the article:

' ... Wal-Mart this month quietly began a 10-store trial of a cosmetics system—called the Wal-Mart virtual mirror—that uses a barcode reader and a digital camera for the virtual application of makeup. What’s interesting in this 90-day trial are the ROI benefits beyond mere increased sales, such as reduced shrink (no need to throw out lipstick after a test), better availability of product and some natural social-shopping benefits via E-mail ... '

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Google Prediction APIs

Google has announced the availability of Machine Prediction APIs. Google is well known for AI based applications. This link to their machine learning capabilities is particularly interesting. Check the link to see a broad list of potential applications. This is currently an experimental service, via Google Labs. You can ask for an account ...

" ... The Prediction API enables access to Google's machine learning algorithms to analyze your historic data and predict likely future outcomes. Upload your data to Google Storage for Developers, then use the Prediction API to make real-time decisions in your applications. The Prediction API implements supervised learning algorithms as a RESTful web service to let you leverage patterns in your data, providing more relevant information to your users. Run your predictions on Google's infrastructure and scale effortlessly as your data grows in size and complexity .. "

Next Generation Cave

I have seen a number of uses of the CAVE environment, at universities, retail and manufacturing laboratories. And although each has been a very impressive attempt to change the context of a person, they have also had a number of limitations. For example not really being suitable for the average consumer, or unable to really understand certain aspects of of the behavior of that consumer without encumbering them with wires and headsets. Or making them dizzy. All short of what is really need to virtualize the experience in store.

Now a report on new advances in the Cave from the CACM. The new generation: ' ... A total makeover of a virtual reality device called the CAVE, invented at the University of Illinois at Chicago, promises rewards that could make Aladdin jealous.

"It'll be the first 3-D flat-paneled display system to provide so much resolution it'll match human visual acuity—literally 20/20 vision quality," says Jason Leigh, associate professor of computer science and director of UIC's Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL). "It will be the most amazing-looking, three-dimensional virtual environment anyone has ever seen." ...

Upcoming Talk on Mashed-up Visualization

On mash-ups for visualization, plan to attend:

The Last Mile: Data Visualization in a Mashed-Up World (May 20, at 3PM ET, then archived) Requires minimal registration.

Dashboards and data visualization technologies provide invaluable tools for understanding data. Mashups represent the latest development in the search for compelling visual representations of information. What's more, mashups enable powerful views of disparate data sets. Some of the world's biggest companies now use data mashups to get a handle on very serious situations. One example would be major insurance companies trying to predict the impact of an impending hurricane. Tune into this episode of DM Radio to learn how you can use data mashups to better understand your business. We'll hear from consultant William Laurent, as well as Allan Wille, Klipfolio; Alexander Chiang of Dundas; and Byron Igoe, InetSoft.... '

Comment from Google on Wifi Privacy

Comments from Google on the recent Wifi privacy problems in Europe. Troubling that they seem to be less than completely serious on this topic. Just because no one individual can be named that has been harmed by this does not mean that a door left open will not create future harm. The EU does seem to be serious about it.

The Security of Cars as App Platforms

There has been software in cars for a long time, but now that Ford has opened an App store they start looking like a platform for software, networked into the grid. How long will it be before we start to see Spam and Malware in automobiles? A paper looks at the issue. It is inevitable.

Location Apps and Capabilities Competing

AdAge review of location Apps and new competitive capabilities in Facebook. I am not sure I want to have another capability rolled into FB. At least in systems like FourSquare I can concentrate on ideas like loyalty without all the additional baggage. Don't like the game overview included in a space where I am looking for social connection. Major brands in the space continue to test with pure location plays: " ... At least three brands -- Ford Motor, General Motors and PepsiCo -- all maintain they are no less likely to consider them for location programs, despite existing and "significant" relationships with Facebook. "I don't think there's anyone 'more attractive'; we're not looking at it that way," said Bonin Bough, PepsiCo's global director of digital and social media ... "

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

KYield Diabetes Use Case Scenario

Mark Montgomery of KYield writes:

" .. I am pleased to share with you our health care use case, which is an important cornerstone of our series 'Semantic Scenarios for the Intelligent Enterprise':
We selected the diabetes mellitus (type 2) scenario to demonstrate the value of the Kyield platform for the health care ecosystem. Given the very high cost of health care in the U.S. currently, with an unsustainable economic trajectory, it is essential that costs be driven lower while improving care. Diabetes type 2 for example has direct costs exceeding $200 billion annually in the U.S. alone, the majority of which is preventable.

The most obvious method in overcoming this significant challenge is with far more intelligent and efficient HIT systems. It's important to highlight, however, that the two largest potential areas for cost savings are in disease prevention and organizational efficiency, which is evidenced in this use case. Not only do the majority of HIT applications and systems fail to address the two most important areas; many actually lead to higher costs across the health care ecosystem.

This was a challenging use case scenario to develop and write due to the complexity of the disease, large body of regulations, incomplete standards, and conflicting interests between the partners in the ecosystem. I had additional personal motivation with this project as my father died a few years ago from complications from diabetes, which was diagnosed shortly after my brother died of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Ever since the shocking phone call from my brother in the summer of 1997, I have followed ALS research, which is a highly complex and brutal disease.

Diabetes type 2 is also complex, but unlike ALS and many other diseases, diabetes type 2 is largely preventable with a relatively modest change in behavior and lifestyle. Diabetes type 2 has a cure for the majority of patients: prevention through behavioral change and adoption of a healthy lifestyle.

It is not entirely accidental that the HIT sections found in the stimulus and health care reform legislation are well matched for the Kyield platform. Our mission intentionally aligns with the needs of the health care ecosystem; an R&D process that began more than a decade ago.

I am confident that the path provided by this scenario will lead to effective disease prevention, health care delivery at substantially lower costs, and personalized medicine that optimizes tailored therapies for the individual patient. In addition, the integration of anonymous data with life science researchers should result in more effective discoveries in less time at lower costs.

Kyield Healthcare Platform:
Patient Health Management
Diabetes and the American Healthcare System ... "

Mark Montgomery
Founder & CEO - Kyield
Web: http://www.kyield.com
Email: markm@kyield.com

Practicing the Google Rule

Michael Schrage asks why many people do not use the information easily available to them. Obvious, but also worth repeating. We were always taught that before any first meeting, client or interviewer, we should do a search of that persons background, company and work. Today's technology makes it very easy to do. The bigger problem today is separating truth from fiction.

TV Apps

In AdAge: The growth of mobile applications that mirror TV productions. Cross platform delivery and advertising.

Laser is 50 Years Old

The functional laser is 50 years old in 2010. It was predicted as early as 1917 in a paper by Einstein. A very remarkable achievement with many applications. Much more.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Google and the Newspaper Industry

In the Atlantic: Quite interesting detailed article: How to Save the News, by James Fallows: " ... Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life, or why the company now considers journalism’s survival crucial to its own prospects.... " . They may think of it that way, but I still think the newspaper industry, in any form similar to what it is today, will fail if only as a side-effect of many aspects of the information search and delivery industry.

Engaging to Compete

New from the Seriosity blog: Engaging to Compete. Also a link there to a full chapter of the book. I talk about the book at greater length here. Its about using the strong engagement aspects of games to drive real work.

How Iconoclasts Think

A good podcast:
Featured Guest: Gregory Berns, the Distinguished Chair of Neuroeconomics at Emory University and author of Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently ... '

Neural Data and fMRI Scans Confirmed

In Roger Dooley's Neuromarketing Blog: ' ... Now, new research published in Nature has shown that there is indeed a correlation between neuronal activity and what the fMRI can measure ... It remains to be seen whether fMRI will gain ground as a neuromarketing tool. The field has been increasingly dominated by EEG, a very different technology that is cheaper, more convenient, and faster, but which can’t offer three-dimensional localization of brain activity ... '

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strengthening Brand America

Edward Burghard, Retired Harley Procter Marketer, Procter & Gamble, has made me aware of the Strengthening Brand America Project. It is focused on catalyzing the transfer of product and corporate branding knowledge from the private to the public sector. Very interesting ideas are presented. More about this to follow as I learn more.

Soft Reliability

The concept of soft reliability came up again in a recent conversation. Had not brought it up here for more that a year. Good overview site here. If anyone has insider information about new developments in this realm, comment here or send me some additional information. I will be glad to help promote here. My contact information is in the left hand column.

Faceted Search in Linkedin

I have always thought that Linkedin had a messy user interface. It especially confuses new users, who I heard from in the enterprise. Just read of some changes they made in the key 'people you may know' interface, including faceted search. Nicely done Linkedin. More at their blog about it.

Self Healing Software

From CACM on the idea of self-healing software. Mention of some IBM research in this area. Several years ago I went to a meeting on complexity modeling at IBM Almaden and met several researchers in this area. A tough problem. As more smart devices emerge that consumers interact with directly, there will be more need for better adaptive software.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

On the list, but not on the stack yet. Nicholas Carr's new book: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains . Look forward to reading it. Send me a copy and I will get to it this year.

Android Pushes Ahead

I just bought two Android phones for the family. I am still using an IPhone. I have become interested in a comparison of the two options. This post has some interesting statistics between the two.

Smartphones Killing the PC?

Dangerous to say never, but Dell says that Smartphones will never kill the PC. I see it somewhat like calculators versus cash registers. There will always be a need for some large format rarely-moved computing and network devices. Large in a sense of displays and keyboards at least. Just fewer of them. Oh, Oh, I did say the word 'Always'.

Open EEG

For those interested in brain metrics, you can now utilize an open EEG project on Source Forge.

Friday, May 14, 2010

GIMP: Photo Authoring

Since leaving the enterprise I no longer have easy access to Photoshop. I have taken up GIMP, more here. It is very well done open source system: ' ... It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc... '

Social Media and Business Intelligence

Short, common sense, but useful piece on the topic. You can only get what you measure.

Shopper App Goes Frugal

I have been keenly interested in ways to augment the shopping experience of consumers using smartphones and other devices. This blog has covered many such approaches since we started testing them in our innovation centers in 2000. A particularly interesting one is the Shopper App, which I have had on my IPhone for some time. In a new development, reported in this press release, they have plotted out some capabilities to further help you find deals. Overall I like their approach, which includes the inclusion of a bar-code scanner in their application, give it a try:

' ... The Purchase Decision Network’s (PDN’s) Shopper App now includes a host of features designed to save Shoppers money every time they shop and to tell them where the best deals are around them, including a selection of Daily Deals and a Flyer Browser that shows the weekly ads from over 100 Retailers. In addition, PDN’s brand partners have all renewed their support with annual commitments to put the growing network on solid footing ... people are looking to stretch their shopping dollar as far as possible and they love to share a deal ...

... a top selling iPhone Shopping Assistant has added a Store Finder that uses GPS to locate nearby stores and connect shoppers via click to call to quickly check item availability. Shoppers can browse the store’s weekly ad directly on the phone and store the savings they find on their shopping lists.

The Shopper team also locates particularly great retailer specials and lists these under the new Daily Deals tab, localized to the Shopper. All lists and specials can be synced with other shoppers or shared with friends via email or Facebook ... '

Visa to Add Contactless Payment to IPhone?

The whole article shows how companies can back away from a press release. But why? In Storefrontbacktalk:

' ...Which is stronger: the curse of contactless payment or the coolness of the iPhone? Last week, Visa said it planned to launch an add-on to Apple’s iPhone that will turn it into a contactless payment device for Visa’s payWave system. Or maybe not... '

Lost as Hypertext Storytelling

I was involved in the early use of hypertext as a means of storing and retrieving knowledge. A number of hypertext systems existed before the Web. We constructed systems that used blocks of text that integrated different kinds of knowledge, which then could be linked to broader data that existed in the enterprise.

Here Amelia Beamer sees the TV series 'Lost' as hypertext storytelling.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Procter's Green Scorecard

Procter & Gamble has established a green scorecard for advertising agencies.

Demise of the Land Line

Good piece in GigOM about the demise of the landline. Includes some useful statistics about how more people are using mobile as their only phone. We are getting closer to that, but the driving force is that there is much less unsolicited calling on mobile. That will likely change, but for now a call on a mobile is usually legitimate. Its essentially a way to wipe clean your land line history.

About Your Web Site

Paul Gillin has a nice post on Seven Questions to Ask About Your Web Site.Good overview for people setting up their first site, but also a useful checklist if you are reviewing a site for a redesign. I also get many people asking me about their blog or web site, and I concur with these points.

Social Media a Fad?

If you have not seen this yet, worth a look. Video regarding Socialnomics. Via Duncan Berry.

Mobile Business Intelligence

In BeyeNetwork: A podcast on the power of mobile business intelligence.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Google Says it Failed at Social

In an unusual revelation, Google has admitted that it has not done very well delivering social media solutions. Most notable is their most recent solution, attached to GMail, called Buzz. I have used Buzz now for a few months, and though it is easy to use, it is not drawing many participants outside your usual GMail network. Some indication they are now looking for a head of social technology.

Measuring Likes in Facebook

A curious piece in AdAge about measurement of affinities to products in Facebook. Does liking this, or liking that create an obvious connection for targeted advertisement? Reminds me of work we did long ago in content analysis and then later in text analytics. Language is a powerful indicator.

Sands Research Reports EEG Breakthrough

An intriguing development that includes both speed and coverage, remains to be seen what this implies for data that can drive neuromarketing conclusions from Sands Research

Sands Research Acheives Neuromarketing Breakthrough Captures Highest Rate of EEG Data Acquisition
Leading neuromarketing firm Sands Research Inc. and its Chairman and Chief Science Officer, Dr. Steve Sands announced today a breakthrough in the rapidly growing field of applying neuroscience in the field of market research. The Company announced the capabilities to now employ high-density arrays of EEG sensors to capture brainwave activity across the full brain at 10,000 times a second per sensor ... '


Jerry Michalski, who we often had in at the enterprise, does his first braincast. We explored some of his methods of retrieving information using a method called PersonalBrain a few years ago. He has been using this method for over twelve years.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mass Customization

Upcoming Mass Customization event at MIT. And more on mass customization.


Steve Rubel visits Idealab and discusses Tweetup.' ... TweetUp combines sophisticated relevance algorithms with a bidding system to raise your best tweets to the top of search results and make it easy for you to acquire new followers. No longer worry about your important tweets being pushed down by the noise and disappearing into the ether... '

Atlas Category Management

More on TNS's Atlas Category simulation tool. Unique in its ability to predict the results of key merchandising decisions. I have discussed Atlas here a number of times.

' ... This report introduces Atlas, a model that accurately describes shopper behavior across a series of supermarkets in terms of traffic across the store, share of shopping at various locations, resulting purchases, and the amount of time shoppers invest in these activities. The value of the tool to measure the in-store “audience” for advertisers is assessed as is its utility for allowing store management to evaluate a wide range of “what if” movements of categories to alternate locations, with alternate display sizes. This report focuses on center-of-store aisles but points the way to deployment for the full store, including end-caps and perimeter displays.' ... Via Herb Sorensen of TNS and Jacob Suher of Wharton

Predictive Analytics in Retail

In the IBM Performance Perspectives Blog:

What's in your basket? Predictive analytics for retail
This is the first in a four-part series exploring the performance challenges in retail as stores and chains of all sizes begin their recovery from the turmoil of the past year. In today's installment, we look at the ways predictive analytics can help retailers better anticipate what their customers expect from their shopping experience, thus enabling them to better serve the people coming through their doors ... '

Monday, May 10, 2010

Social Media Advertising Case Studies

From USA Today, a number of targeted social media advertising case studies. Useful for seeing the directions that companies are taking.

Coke's High Tech Mixing Machine

Late stage differentiation of Coca Cola products. Its been out for a number of years, but the roll-out is slow. What's the delay? Complexity, profitability, cost? Seems it could make a marketing splash in a retail space.

' ... Coke's new Freestyle machine is housed in a curved metal shell created by the designers of Ferrari race cars, and features a touch-screen menu. Inside, technology common in measuring tiny doses of chemotherapy drugs is used to release digitally-controlled amounts of concentrate flavor from dozens of plastic cartridges ... '

FMI Phone App

In a clever development this week's FMI (Food Marketing Institute) 2010 conference has constructed a free smartphone application supporting the event. I may be behind the times, but had not seen an App that supports a conference. Not too much different than a web site supporting a conference, but had the potential for location and after-conference information. As an App it has unique presence that should draw some interest.

Local Inventory not Close to Available

In a previous post there was a mention of local inventory search, knowing where the inventory of a product may reside. Storefrontbacktalk has a post that suggests that we are no where close to this being available yet. Large inaccuracies greatly decrease the potential value of the data.

Japanese Brainwave Initiative

An interesting project out of Japan. I remember well the Japanese AI initiative, which led to some crucial results in robotics. Though the generalized Japanese AI/Knowledge Systems initiative was certainly not evidently successful.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

How Brands Grow: First Read

Correspondent Byron Sharp, Professor at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, University of South Australia, has a new book: How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know. Here is the book's web site. I have mentioned the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute's work in this blog a number of times. My former enterprise was one of the companies that commissioned some of the studies used in this book.

This is a remarkable book that shakes the underpinnings of marketing science. When I first started to look at the application of analytics to marketing I found many loose connections. Marketing books just did not have solutions to questions being asked, and answers that marketers used often came out of thin air. This book examines a number of key issues and using existing data, changes your views and suggests that marketers may be bleeding the companies that employ them.

The book starts fundamentally, exploring the differences between large and small brands and why each of them are large or small, and why they grow.

Useful findings from the book abound. For example, that loyalty among brands varies little and is mostly an artifact of other simpler aspects of the structure of the market. Along the way Sharp develops a number of simple and easy to understand 'laws' that describe what is happening in the real world. For example the double jeopardy law states that smaller brands get hit twice: their sales are lower because they have fewer buyers who buy their brands less often.

The idea that our brands are different and can be specifically targeted is also deftly criticized. In recent years the emergence of online interactions has led to the claim that brands can be micro differentiated to directly target consumers. Sharp suggests that the variations among consumers can be artifacts of sampling and it is better to mass market intelligently than try to carve the market into increasingly small segments.

In his chapter on passionate consumer commitment he enlists brain scan research to show how real world loyalty is everywhere, and the extreme loyalties apparently shown by examples like Apple Computer and Nike Sports Equipment are not what they seem. You can find radical commitment, but you can find switching even in apparently passionate advocates. Extreme loyalty is not what it seems, based on actual empirical data, not just stories from extreme fans of a product. The Saatchi LoveMarks program is particularly strongly criticized.

Differentiation is also discussed. Sharp suggests that differentiation does exist, but the degree of differentiation is weak and varies little between rival brands .... He suggests it is more important to develop distinctive assets that allow a consumer to notice a brand and ultimately buy it.

In a chapter on how advertising works Sharp positions the importance of noticing and processing the message. If the consumer won't do this, and ultimately at a conscious level, a purchase cannot be concluded.

Another chapter concludes that price promotions do not work the way we expect them to, and that Loyalty programs have at best a very weak effect. All of these conclusions are supported by empirical studies, not wishful thinking.

This is a very good book, deserving of several close reads. It has already made me think about the 'science' of marketing more carefully. It will make me ask for more real data before accepting a popular conclusion about the behavior of consumers in the future. Start here and then be vigilant about what you accept.

Another view: "all marketers need to read this book...or be left hopelessly behind"
- Joseph Tripodi, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, Coca-Cola Company.

Virtual Reality as Pain Relief

The use of games and virtual reality for pain relief. From CACM.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Shopping at the Mall of the Future

In Retail Traffic a fairly good exploratory look at shopping in the next decade. Overplays, yes, but reasonable speculative views based on existing technologies. We have worked on similar directions during the last decade.

Writing an IPhone App

Good first advice before writing a smart Phone App.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Young and Affluent Moving to Private Label

In MediaPost, Nielsen shows data that the young and affluent are moving towards increasingly better and more readily available private label offerings.

The Details of URLs

Have you noticed how much longer URLs have been getting? Its been a trend that has been going on for years. Have you wondered what all those things in a URL mean, beyond just a simple address? A very good article in Skorks about that. Admittedly from a technical and developers perspective. I think anyone with interest in what they are saying when they copy and paste a long URL will find this useful. Via O'Reilly Radar.

Text Analytics

Good non technical overview of text analytics, often called unstructured data, text is not of course unstructured, but has the complex structure of language. That complex structure can get in the way of analyzing it.

Emotional Design

Correspondent Mark Capper on What is emotional design?. Relates to other non conscious elements of emotion.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Kraft and Coke Move to IVend

Kraft and Coke showcases touch screen vending machines. It is suggested that their machine design comes from the IPhone. Not sure I buy that

Writing a To-Do List

On the effective use of a to-do list, in Fast Company.

Chrome is Still Here

I have been using the Google Chrome browser off and on since it has come out. Just recently I made it a standard book mark. It has improved consistently over the last year, and is worth a look at and its share is continuing to increase. Simplicity is its value. Others are noticing.

Archiving Those Little Bits

Former P&Ger Kevin Roberts now Saatchi CEO on the Library of Congress Twitter archive. Via Richard James. Have written about this a few times, the permanent archive is another erosion of privacy, not that this was not all out there before, this just shines a little more light on this particular set of information.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Getting Rid of Paper Receipts

Why have we not rid ourselves of paper receipts? In Storefrontbacktalk.

Art of the Twitter Pitch

Some good if sometimes obvious comments about the idea of the Twitter Pitch. Common sense ideas about how to use 140 characters to convince someone of something. That's part of what I have been doing since my experiment with Twitter started, about two years ago. I have found it working, not always as successful as I would like, but it has led to new connections.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Using Social Media to Complain

An instructive example of consumers using social media to complain:
Parents Use Social Media to Sound Off on J&J Recall
Many Take to Blogs, Facebook, Twitter to Complain About Drug Giant's Handling of Concerns ... "

Saffron is Cool Vendor

I have mentioned Saffron Technology a number of times in this blog. Visited them first about four years ago and have had recent conversations. An announcement today: ' ... a privately held data analytics software firm providing Experience Management solutions for business and government, today announced that it has been selected by Gartner, Inc. analysts as one of its “Cool Vendors in Information Infrastructure for Enterprise Information Management, 2010.... '.

Future Consumer

Future Consumer, by Carte Blanche. Includes Arnaud Frade of TNS Group, who I have heard on this subject before. Nothing very new, but some good points to repeat about the future of the consumer in their environments.

Tesla Predicted Blackberry

Physicist Nikola Tesla is said to have predicted the Blackberry type device over a century ago. Best known for his invention of alternating current, high energy devices, motors, generators and pioneering early radio transmissions. Is that enough for you? Tesla ultimately died nearly penniless in a NY hotel. Via Richard James. Much more on Tesla.

Global Time Sink

Carr in Roughtype discusses the Web as a global time sink, and outlines efforts to go 'cold turkey' on using the Internet. One participant suggests that getting away from the net leads to a burst of productivity and creativity. I wouldn't doubt it.

Internet of Things Mashup

The Internet of Things conference starts today in London. Much more about it here. More information at the link, a blog, videos, etc. I will report on aspects of it as required.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Google Voice and Skype

In Computerworld: You can now make calls using Skype from Google Voice. There is also a unified caller ID between the two. Very nice connection that can make both more useful. Voice is most useful if you need to have multiple numbers.

Dis-Loyalty Program

Clever thought:

Is The Anti-Loyalty Program A Fun Way To Get Competitor Intelligence? by Evan Schuman
A UK coffee retailer had an unusual idea, something he called a Dis-Loyalty Card. It was designed to take customers coming into his shop and to reward them for leaving and visiting that shop’s direct rivals. Crazy? Brilliant? Perhaps both? ... '

May/June Analytics

In the May June Analytics Magazine. A number of good articles including analytics in health care, text analytics, supply chain analytics overview. As usual, good largely non-technical expositions.

New Way to Measure WOM

A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing from McKinsey that includes exposure and impact.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Neuromarketing List

A new neuromarketing Twitter list being constructed #neuromarketing Online here. Looks to have some useful follows.

Frugal and Bandit Innovation

Sammy Haroon in the Global Cognition Blog on Frugal and Bandit Innovation.

Mobile Acts Differently in Store

An intriguing idea at Barnes & Noble. This also can cause people to enter the store, a loyalty play: In StoreFrontBacktalk:

" ... For this experiment, Barnes & Noble’s Nook ebook reader will be able to read the full text of any ebooks in the chain’s “more than one million” title electronic library while users are in a physical store. But there’s a one-hour limit per book per day. In theory, a customer could sit with the device in a store and read books for free for 12 hours, as long as they don’t spend more than one hour on any particular book ... "

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Computational Knowledge Summit

From the Wolfram Blog, a London Computational Knowledge Summit, being held on June 9. Some interesting topics covered:

•Delivering knowledge-based computing to everyone
•Democratizing high-level computation
•Automating custom answer generation from data
•Changing technical communication with computable documents
•Impact on education and skills priorities in the computational knowledge economy
•Integrating knowledge computing into an enterprise strategy ... "

Rhymes for Our Times

A long time advertising colleague of mine, Norm Levy, who pioneered a number of marketing techniques now used broadly, has published a book called Rhymes for our Times. We worked in the same mega advertising enterprise. I had seen him present some of his work in Cincinnati a few years ago. Wry-fully appropriate for our times. See more about it and order it here.

' ... Rhymes for Our Times is an anthology of light verse extensions of actual headlines that have appeared in newspapers, magazines, or on the Internet. For more than 50 years, Norm Levy has been intrigued with headlines, referring to them as thought marshmallows easy to swallow, but with a core of substance. From headlines containing quirky puns to serious obituaries, Mr. Levy has added wry commentary in this delightful collection of humorous verse ... "

Data Mining and Infection Control

A piece from the ACM on infection control using data mining, we were also involved in a project that addressed a similar problem. Good description. ' ... According to Chun Wong, chief executive officer of Asolva , a developer of data mining software for hospitals, "Data mining of hospital information can help identify MDROs promptly. By linking pharmacy and lab results, infection control practitioners can quickly identify clusters of organisms found in the patient population and then administer the appropriate antimicrobial drugs." ... '