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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Magazines Rush to the Pads

Is it based on Insanity and Fear?  And will it take decades to complete?  An AdAge interview looks at the implications.  I think there will be dual channels for some time, if not for decades.  If the traditional advertising model continues, the pad will sell to those with more money for some time. 

Greenbook on Mobile Market Research

Their section on Mobile, an increasingly important area, as mobile devices become data gathering and sensor devices.    At an event recently I gave an impromptu demonstration of using a smartphone to explore location-based demographics.

"GreenBook Blog provides original insight into the challenges faced by the market research industry today. Contributors from both sides of the table share their expertise and offer unique perspectives on a wide variety of issues, both strategic and tactical ... "

Using Recorded Future for Competitive Intelligence

A good presentation video on competitive intelligence.  The startup Recorded Future is a novel search engine that uses the rich time-based information found in searches.  Semantic search and in particular results that have implications about the future.  What will happen next based on the results of a search?   What events can be reliably predicted?     I am currently studying how their methods can be used inside the enterprise to do competitive intelligence.  See also their informative blog, which includes an example relating to when the IPhone 5 might be released.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Visual Beauty of Machine Learning

From Matthew Hurst's site. I remember seeing similar visuals which represented processes like sorting, also very naturally visual.  Since this is so visual, could human driven vision help the process?

Tide Brings Loads of Hope

Tide's Loads of Hope comes to the tornado strucken area. In Drug Store News, a simple but very useful gesture that follows disaster, by my former employer.

Behavioral Economics for Startups

Reports Dan Ariely:  Looks to be quite interesting, would love to attend.

"August 26-28th, 2011   Introducing Startup-Onomics

Startup-Onomics is about infusing behavioral economics into the core DNA of new companies.
Through interactive lectures in the morning and 1:1 working sessions with famous industry experts in the afternoon, you’ll walk away with the scientific tools to better understand your customers and build products that meet their needs ... " 

Gigabit Network Case Study

Case study of a Chattanooga network. Impressive work in a two part article.

Recommendation Engines for Art

Recommendation has exist for music and books for some time. Now it is starting to be seen for visual art as well. In ReadWriteWeb. " ...  there's been no comparable recommendation engine for works of art. If you like a particular Henri Matisse painting, there hasn't been a website for you to visit that will suggest other works by the artist or that will recommend other artists altogether. But that's the aim of ArtFinder, a London-based startup that wants to help make it easier for people to find art that they love. Or rather, that's part of the aim .... "

Sunday, May 29, 2011

First to Market Products that Failed

An instructive list, over many years and technology contexts, of ideas that were clearly groundbreaking, but failed in their first commercial use.  I knew about many of these, they are common examples, but the implications are good to think about.

First Commercial Quantum Computer

The first commercial quantum computer, from D-Wave, has been sold in a multi year contract to Lockheed Martin.  More in Engadget.   Impressive step towards commercial legitimacy.  We discussed enterprise applications with D-Wave in 2007. Much more on Quantum Computing and why you should care.

Pads in Schools:Games as Learning

Should devices like the iPad replace books and other learning materials in schools?  A recent experiment in the UK asks the question.  I am still a proponent of simpler is better.   While devices can be great augmentations of the experience. Look forward to the outcome. This week I also learned about Quest to Learn.  A school based on the use of games.  Has it been successful? A review: Still too early to tell.

Endeca Business Intelligence

Newly discovered: Endeca. " ... For organizations seeking to improve daily decisions or purchase decisions for customers, Endeca is a search and business intelligence software company that helps people both find what they need and understand what they found. Endeca enables IT organizations to rapidly deliver innovative, interactive solutions for the most demanding decision-making environments in the world, including large global enterprises, online businesses, and government agencies dealing with enormous volumes of sensitive information.  Unlike traditional search, BI or information management vendors, Endeca combines true consumer ease-of-use with agile delivery, thereby allowing IT to empower a broader range of users to quickly explore and analyze information ... "

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Academics Move Closer to Wikipedia

I have been surprised that a large portion of academia was not sympathetic to the Wikipedia, perhaps seeing too much competition there.  But once many people start gathering in one place for knowledge, you cannot help  but participate.  More indication of the trend.

Gamifying Your Startup

Rajat Paharia of Bunchball  on  ways to gamify your  startup. This takes you beyond just slapping some badge measures on your site, which I agree will not work  Some good thoughts on how games can support core experience and can be based on knowing your business and users 

Jesse Schell

The site of author,entrepreneur and game designer Jesse Schell.   A number of useful threads there.  I have just received his book: The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, which so far is  a good introduction to the topic.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Turing Award Winner Talks Technology

From the CACM: Turing Award winner Leslie Valiant discusses machine learning, parallel computing, and computational neuroscience. Machine learning is a favorite topic of mine, have experimented with many forms of it.  Turning data into rules was one thing we used many times in the enterprise. 

Thinking about Neuromarketing

Excellent thoughtful post about Neuromarketing and it's criticism and potential value.

Trends in Knowledge Work

Very good piece on what is happening in this space.  I think that the continues overflow of information that is occuring makes just-in-time an essential element:  " ... A company that could speed up critical knowledge worker decision processes would have a killer advantage over its competitors. So what is needed to make this a reality? ... "

Reverse Engineering Public Criticism

Good piece in the Harvard Blogs.   In particular with a useful retail example: Wal-Mart.  Which also includes criticism of how the company has handled things,.   "... Good companies always strive to be better and a potentially useful way to catalyze such improvement is to consider how analyst and public criticism might be used to institute corporate change. By parallel, managers themselves might similarly benefit from "reverse-engineering" the criticism of not only outsiders but of their own colleagues: considering both parties as their benefactors on the road to greater performance. In both cases, however, constructive use of criticism only requires a dose of humility and an honest desire to make things better ... "

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Making 3D Models from Photos

From Technology Review: Making 3D Models from multiple 2D photos: video. Features free Autodesk software. Worth a look. Done previously only using a laser scanner.

Chore Wars: An Alternate Reality Game

I am doing some research in the area of 'gamification' and the use of games to improve serious work processes. That and some emerging project work has led me to start reading: Reality Is Broken: What Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World:
by Jane McGonigal. 

One of the areas I am interested in is how to use games to promote the performance of relatively tedious tasks that are still important, such as recording learnings for knowledge management.  McGonigal gives a good example, the use of an alternate reality game called Chore Wars.  This to promote performance of simple, but often painful household tasks.  Nicely described in her book pp120-   More about it here.

Without experience with it I would think that this is kind of game would work best with people that already have a positive experience with multiplayer games that use avatars.  Still a useful example of what can be done with games to address less than fun tasks.

See also Jane McGonigal's blog.

Ford Moves into Mobile Healthcare

An interview this is an increasing trend as we carry more of our information and sensors with us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ads Used to Change Memories

In Wired: interesting examples. Is this ethical? At what point would it not be considered ethical? Human memory is a very fragile phenomena.

Google Correlate

Google Correlate let's you see how your data relates to search queries. We experimented with trends in searches for epidemic inference:

" ... A while back, Google showed how Influenza outbreaks correlated to searches for flu-related terms with Google Flu Trends. It helped researchers and policy-makers estimate flu activity much sooner than with previous methods. Google Correlate is the evolution of Flu Trends in that now you can correlate search trends with not just flu cases, but with your own data or other search queries ... "

Nielsen to Acquire Neurofocus

Nielsen to acquire the part of Neurofocus it does not yet have. A another step forward in the commercial application of Neuromarketing. Will it end up as a typical marketing tool?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More Digital Directions with QR Codes

More QR code use. I am seeing more every day. I have asked several non technical friends about them, and they understand their use. Once smart phone based scanners are ubiquitous they will be a powerful tool.

On the Gamification of Education

Some thoughts by Zynga on the Gamification of education. What are the barriers?

Using Neuroscience to Understand Shopper Decisions

The work described in this piece will also use the technologies developed by Sands Research for mobile brain scanning. Another step forward for the retailing use of neuroscience.

" ... Retail marketing association Popai is using neuroscience and eye-tracking in a new study of how shoppers make decisions in retail environments ...

The study will use portable EEG equipment to monitor brain activity in combination with eye-tracking and shopper interviews. The aim is to understand how purchase decisions are made and the extent to which they are influenced by in-store marketing.
Popai said findings from the study would help brands and retailers understand whether particular product categories are driven by planned or impulse buying, choose the most effective types of displays and understand how different shopper segments behave ... "

IPad Usability

A very detailed study with many case examples by Jakob Nielsen. His work is always useful for designers of online experience. Points out how variable the iPad experience can be.Full article.

Using Google Analytics

Excellent introductory piece on how to use it and interpret the resulting measures. Full Mashable post

Monday, May 23, 2011

Innovation and Invention Not the Same

Good Techdirt piece on the exploration of innovation.  We met with PARC and had a lunch with Engelbart and discussed how the mouse eventually emerged, hoping to apply come of the ideas to internal innovation promotion and transmission.  Aim to read the whole thing, with some caution given the author ...

" ... In his latest piece, Gladwell goes a step further in his exploration of innovation, in writing about the difference between invention and innovation, picking apart the classic story of Steve Jobs seeing the GUI/mouse combo at Xerox PARC and "copying" it for the Macintosh. Gladwell points out that the lessons that some take from the story aren't really correct. Specifically, one of the standard lessons is the idea that Xerox had the personal computer revolution in its hands and let it slip away. But Gladwell points out that this isn't really true. While PARC showed Jobs that idea (much of which was copied itself from Doug Engelbart and his famous work at SRI), it really was the implementation that mattered, and Jobs and Apple (along with Ideo) had to work quite hard to take the idea of the mouse -- which cost hundreds of dollars and was fragile in the Xerox version -- and make it cheap, reliable and easy to use ... "

Law and Big Data

Fascinating piece on the legal implications of big data and visualization. An area that I had not considered fully before.    In particular: " .. Predicting the outcome of disputes, given the increased granularity and accuracy of data ... ".  Also mentioned the implications of how the visualization of this data will change insight into its use.  I would imagine that better or even just different models could also influence legal liability.  We did think about this during out AI explorations and the Legal department was concerned.   IBM may have to consider how the interpretations of a Watson, using big data, which is just another kind of model ... may be liable for its decisions.

Storytelling at the Heart of Product Development

Why we need storytelling

There's an interesting question on Quora right now:
If you had to pick between an amazing product designer or an amazing engineer to build a new company around, which would you pick and why?
This question reflects a painful problem that is common at both small startups and large corporate organizations. Far too often, teams focus on execution before defining the product opportunity and unique value proposition. The result is a familiar set of symptoms including scope creep, missed deadlines, overspent budgets, frustrated teams and, ultimately, confused users. The root cause of these symptoms is the fact that execution focuses on the how and what of a product. But in a world where consumers are inundated with choices, products that want to be noticed and adopted must be rooted in the why......"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mobile Usability Testing with Eye Tracking

A stand and process developed by Tobii to test mobile devices using eye tracking.  Explanatory video.  Looks to be well thought out for examples like shelf interaction.

Self Control

Dan Ariely looks at self control and its link to capitalism. Useful perspective. " ... The scientific community is increasingly coming to realize how central self-control is to many important life outcomes. We have always known about the impact of socioeconomic status and IQ, but these are factors that are highly resistant to interventions. In contrast, self-control may be something that we can tap into to make sweeping improvements life outcomes ... "

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Walmart Gathers in Kosmix, Goes Silent with Walmart Labs

Around May 3 Wal-Mart acquired Kosmix, social networking player.   I wrote about it then.  At the same time the folks at Kosmix started to talk about a transition to what they called WalMart Labs.  Very Intriguing to me.  They set up a twitter space with that name,  which still exists and has over 450 followers, but only follows other Wal-Mart properties.   The last blog post about this was on the same day. Have they been silenced for good?  Or is all in transition?   I like the idea of a Wal-Mart lab.  If they need some help in establishing one, have them give me a call.  I will continue to follow the transition, if I can detect one.

A Statistician Reads Blink

An excellent two part (read them both) view of the analytical shortcomings of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.  Blink got the attention of many managers, and they brought Gladwell in to give talks the enterprise to show it could all be done so easily. The talks were broadcast via satellite to the entire enterprise with nary a critical comment.    It seemed it could replace all of the complex analytics and computational methods and we could blink our problems away.  Practitioner's like myself had to explain: 'Well not exactly".  I wish I had this when it first came out.  It should be handed out before reading Blink so you can read it with a critical eye. 

Web vs Native Mobile App

Thoughts on Native vs Web Apps in Readwriteweb:
" What is the future of the mobile Internet? Are native applications going to be the dominant form of digital interaction? Will new and developing browser technologies like HTML5 make the mobile Web preferable to apps? Developers, engineers, product strategists and brands large and small want to know what the future will look like in order to make spending decisions.... "

Friday, May 20, 2011

MindBox Studios

Recently chatted with Mindbox Studios.  Impressive so far.   " .... Mindbox Studios is a web design and development company located in Cincinnati, Ohio. We specialize in social web applications, rapid prototyping, web-based software, mobile and user experience design. We love working with web entrepreneurs and other creative agencies. Mindbox Studios is owned by Be Creative Group, a collective of creative professionals who are passionate about digital communication, entertainment, and developing creative and startup communities. If you're a web entrepreneur, check out Continuous Web in Cincinnati, Portland, and at Miami University .... "

Building Animations in HTML5 With Hype

Nice potential alternative to using Flash for animations, given the problem with delivering Flash on some popular phones and Pads.  Investigating further.

How Shopping is Changing

My colleague Walter Riker writes in his blog about how the nature of shopping is changing.  Including a number of useful links.  He follows trends and tech in retail, like I do.

Google Abandons Newspaper Scans

Google has apparently abandoned their very ambitious plan to scan,  and interpret the worlds past and present newspapers, and make them available via search.  Having done some newspaper based research I could see that this would be very useful. The overall process, both the scanning and analysis, is much more difficult that for books. Remains to be seen if this will be picked up by others.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Think Insights With Google on Consumer Behavior

New Google site that appears to be quite useful.  " .... Welcome to Think Insights with Google           

At Google we believe data beats opinion. So we work hard to study the worlds of consumer behavior, digital and media, and we’re pleased to share what we’ve learned with you. Our first feature is all about mobile trends. But be sure to browse around - the site already includes hundreds of other studies, videos and webinars, and we'll be updating it regularly. Sign up for the newsletter, so you'll always be among the first to be in the know. I hope you enjoy exploring these resources, and that the knowledge you gain helps you do great things in your own corner of the online world. - Lisa Gevelber, Director of Google Marketing, America ....  "

Right up my interest alley, will cover upcoming posts and add my own insight. 

Amazon Sells more Kindle Books than Print Books

Time marches on ... Print books are sagging,  I never expected this quite so soon.  and I did not expect that there would be enough penetration of reading devices yet to make this possible.


At Walter Riker's recommendation I have just started to use Evernote to manage notetaking for multiple clients.  Overall this is very nicely done and allows you to sync notes between multiple locations.  I am now using it to sync between Phone, Pad and Laptop.  In particular I can quickly lift a web location for later review. Learned the basics in a half hour.  See their blog for more information.

Apple Causes Spiritual Reaction In Brains

Another post on spiritual/religious reactions seen in brain scans.  The subject of a recent BBC documentary.   This reminds me of work mentioned in Martin Lindstrom's provocative book on religion and branding in his book: Buyology: Truth and Lies About What We Buy.  I had a conversation with him on the supporting work that he used for his conclusions.  And you only have to look at a brand like Apple, and read some of the comments about them online, to understand that there is something spiritual going on there.  More about Lindstrom and the brain.

Empathy as Brand Equity in Retail

In my own experience in the retail world I saw several examples of this. Empathy, un linked to a profit motive has a very powerful effect.  HBS article.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Free Shipping

Many more orders online are now including 'free shipping'.  Of course this is driven by the magic econometric term 'free', which takes something that used to be up front and is now hidden in the background of the cost of something.  Net, the transaction is less transparent.   More statistics in TechCrunch.

First Commercial Quantum Computer

A claim for the first commercial quantum computer.  From D-Wave.  I spoke to this Canadian company some time ago suggesting applications, such as in supply chain simulation, where such computers might be useful.  Some controversy around the implementation brewed up, but now there is finally a commercial example that can be tested.  Good luck.

Intel Shifts to Mobile

A very good sign for mobile devices:
CEO Paul Otellini said today that Intel is embarking on a big shift in focus, moving its center of gravity to the most power-efficient devices.  Otellini said that Intel, long the heavyweight in processors for PCs, will move its "center" from the power range--measured in wattage--of mainstream laptops to small mobile devices like ultraportable laptops, smartphones and tablets, as well as devices such as smart TVs ... "

Khan Academy

I was reminded recently of the The Kahn Academy,  which is an excellent example what can be done with good enough technology and the perseverance to teach knowledge.   Exemplary. 

Watch. Practice. Learn almost anything—for free.

What started out as Sal making a few algebra videos for his cousins has grown to over 2,100 videos and 100 self-paced exercises and assessments covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history ...

Help us change education

Our small team is on a mission to deliver a world-class education to anyone anywhere, and you can help. Take a second to get the word out, or read about how teachers, translators, donors, and everyone else can contribute ... "

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Story of Alan Turing

An interesting multi part history post on Alan Turing.  His work in cryptology and artificial intelligence were inspirational to me when I worked on AI in the enterprise.

Simple Games for E-Learning

I have been looking at the process of adding simple games to E-learning to promote engagement.  At the recent Lectora conference I saw a presentation by Benjamin Pitman on adding visual interaction to Lectora.  These are only in the simplest sense 'games', but it is a good place to start.  You can get more information, and slides and related materials at his site.   He has also just written a book: Designing Effective ELearning, which I have yet to look at.

Cray and Sandia Institute for Knowledge Systems

Cray and Sandia have established a Supercomputing Institute for Learning and Knowledge Systems .  Press Release.  From Mark Montgomery of KYield.  " ... Located at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, SILKS will leverage the strengths of both organizations by bringing together hardware resources, software assets and researchers that are proficient in knowledge discovery, data management and informatics computing at large scale ... "

Design Lessons from the Bottom of the Pyramid

From the Harvard Blogs: Design Lessons from the Bottom of the Consumer Pyramid. " ... At the BOP, affordability is necessary but not sufficient. Tastes and aspirations change rapidly. This is precisely what can make the BOP such an important learning platform for designers. Independent of any altruistic motives, engaging with the BOP can help designers and innovators gain insight into the following three key issues .... ". 

We addressed this in part with a custom designed center that brought the consumer in to work directly with designers.

Stop Typing, Start Shouting

ShoutOMatic.  A kind of audio twitter.  " ... Think of each shout as an audible status update.  In between some of your regular 'text'  tweets and status updates, use ShoutOMatic to allow your followers to hear your actual voice in your Twitter and and Facebook Feeds ... "

Open Source Tag Generation

A number of solutions to the problem, imperfect, but useful.  The methods I have tried in the past have not worked well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sharing Data Corrupts Wisdom of Crowd

Some experiments are showing that sharing information makes a knowledge pool less diverse and leads to worse results.  In a test we saw something similar, but we were looking for the influence of  management or other known expert opinion on the wisdom of the crowd.

Reading: Reality is Broken

I am doing some research in the area of 'gamification' and the use of games to improve serious work processes.  That and some emerging project work has led me to start reading: Reality Is Broken: What Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World:
by Jane McGonigal.
 I am a long time practitioner of industrial simulation, where it is common to ask the question 'what if'?  Always thought there was a competition dynamic that could bring together simulation and gaming, and we experimented with the idea.

There you could see executives in the enterprise  have their eyes light up when they tested an idea they had for a long time but was just too risky to test in the real world.  They were having fun! They also expressed an interest in exposing the idea to other creatives to see what they could do with their idea as a starting point. 

So far the book does an excellent job of providing the motivation for using games in this space.   Also provides lots of real world examples.  Further she mentions to ability to scale up games to let many experts, employees and even consumers participate.  Why not crowd source a simulation?  Our own in enterprise experiments with serious games were only partly successful, but the interest was there.

 I have a problem with the title of the book.  I do not think reality is broken.  It is ultimately what we must deal with.   It can be motivated, assisted, augmented and extended, and that is what we seek.   There are many opportunities here. 

See also McGonigal's Ted video.  (Thanks Dave)

There are many vendors, but take a look at Bunchball as an excellent example.

Great read so far, look forward to making some of this happen.  I will experiment with revealing some more details in this space, confidentiality allowing, as I progress.  I would appreciate any guidance from others out there.

Marginalia in the Digital World

It is not as easy as it once once.  Yet is still exists.  Good thoughts and software that can help.  And in one sense isn't all of the Web and hyperlinks a form of marginalia? 

 "...  People are already using the margin of a book to add personal notes to the original text. With ebooks, it's possible to make this margin into an open margin, an open space where the readers of the same books share their notes with each other.... "  

See also Openmargin.  A way to create and share in e-books.

A Look at Edward Tufte

In the Washington Monthly, a good article on visualization guru Edward Tufte.

  " ... Edward Tufte occupies a revered and solitary place in the world of graphic design. Over the last three decades, he has become a kind of oracle in the growing field of data visualization—the practice of taking the sprawling, messy universe of information that makes up the quantitative backbone of everyday life and turning it into an understandable story. His four books on the subject have sold almost two million copies, and in his crusade against euphemism and gloss, he casts a shadow over the world of graphs and charts similar to the specter of George Orwell over essay and argument ... "

I have attended his seminars, have most of his books.  Quite inspirational.  But at the same time the use of the word 'oracle' is limiting.   He is a designer and not a deep expert in the data and computing methods now essential to deal with big data.

Flying Robots Form Emergency Network

From IEEE Computer.Org a kind of mobile computer sourcing. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Zoomable Sky Survey

A very impressive zoomable sky survey.  Will this mean that ultimately we will not care if the sky is hopelessly washed out by light?  I hope not. " ... What do you see? This was the anthropic question of a year-long photographic project dubbed the Photopic Sky Survey, meant to reveal the entire night sky as if it rivalled the brightness of day. In it we see tens of millions of stars, the glowing factories of newborn ones, and a rich tapestry of dust all floating on a stage of unimaginable proportions. I hope you enjoy this new view of our place in the universe as much as I have enjoyed making it ... "    Nick Risinger

McKinsey on Big Data and Analytics

Mark  Montgomery of KYield sends this along, Yes,   lots of interesting statistics. He writes:

This needed to be done by someone and they did a good job -- comprehensive overview of big data and analytics by Mckinsey -- long, but something for everyone and quite good ...

E-Textbooks Flunk a Test?

In Nicholas Carr's Roughtype blog, a look at early experiments with e-textbooks. Does not look good, but again, with many adjustments, likely inevitable:

" ... But schools may want to pause before jumping on the e-textbook bandwagon. This morning, at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Vancouver, a team of researchers from the University of Washington, led by doctoral student Alex Thayer, is presenting the results of a year-long study of student reading, and the findings suggest that e-readers may be deeply flawed as replacements for traditional textbooks. Students find the devices cumbersome to use, ill-suited to their study routines, and generally underwhelming. Paper textbooks, it seems, may not be quite as obsolete as they appear.... "

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Smartphone Shopping

I thought these numbers were high, and it is pointed out that those doing the survey have a vested interest in high results ... yet I still think this is where we are going.

Two thirds of Moms shop with their smartphones.   " ...  In a survey of 239 mothers, whom Greystripe recruited using mobile banner ads in its network, 66% acknowledged that their smartphones play a role in their shopping trips.  Around 45% said they use their phones to locate the nearest store. The next most common use of smartphones was to compare prices. Only 15% of the women surveyed said they actually made purchases using their phones ... ".  

Brands and Startups

Former colleague Dave Knox posts about how brands can work with startups" ... I see startups as the canary in the marketing coal mine … [developing the] types of things marketers need to be versed in today in order to connect with [the] consumers [of] tomorrow. I think that’s the big reason for brands to work with them.... "

Google Outage Implications

In ZDNet:   The Google outage makes a case against a cloud only strategy.  The outages, though rare, can be devastating to business.  There has to be a clear strategy to get things started up again.  This indicator shows that the failure of cloud resources are like Y2K, they have to be carefully considered.

Simulating the Brain

In the SCiAm:  Is simulating the brain too hard for science? Research from the Santa Fe Institute: " ... Supercomputers may soon approach the brain's power, but much is unknown about how it works ... " 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Predictive Analytics for Research Organizations

Good overview, here primarily dealing with material sciences, but useful for any organization .... such as those dealing with retail environments.

Mapping the Cities of the Mind

Thoughts about how network connections create cities of the mind.  Via Stan Dyck.  Looking at an enterprise project that could feed from this concept as well. Physical cities like  physical organizations with responsibilities.

" ... In December, the now-infamous map of Facebook friendships revealed an uncanny cartography of the world depicted purely through social relationships data. Now, a project by Christian Marc Schmidt and Liangjie Xia is taking the concept ambitiously further: Invisible Cities is a transmedia mapping project, displaying geocoded activity from social networks like Twitter and Flickr within the context of an actual urban map — a visceral, literal embodiment of something VURB‘s Ben Cerveny has called “the city as a platform,” the idea that cities are informational media and living computational systems for urban society..... "

Profitability by Category

Intriguing writeup about profitability by product category.  Oil and gas makes about 6 percent, far down the list, 114th out of 215.

Blogger Hiccups

Blogger has been down for over 24 hours.  Google is working on it and I can post again, but it seems posts from yesterday have still not been restored.  Please stand by.  Makes you wonder about the reliability of the cloud in general, and Google's specifically.

Update:  Was more like Google gagging rather than a hiccup.  As of now all of my posts from the last few days have now been restored.  Thanks.

ARF Releases Neuromarketing Review

Have been looking forward to this:

ARF Reveals Results from Neuromarketing Review
US— Neuroscience is best used alongside traditional research methods, and with the advice of experts, the ARF said today as it unveiled findings from its review of neuromarketing techniques.

At its annual Re:think convention in New York, The ARF said it is now working on a second phase of the NeuroStandards project, with a view to coming up with standards for neuromarketing services. It is also establishing an ongoing ‘forum’ on the subject, and a network of dozens of independent experts to advise users of neuroscience-based research.... "

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ads Moving to Online Video

In Clickz: Consumer package goods dollars are continuing to move to online video from TV.  " ... Brand advertisers are continuing to divert ad spend away from broadcast TV and toward online video, advertising agencies say. Despite that fact, most prefer to acquire inventory direct from publishers and networks rather than exchanges and demand-side platforms ... "

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Snap! by Lectora

Announced today, a $99 package Snap! by Lectora, a rapid development elearning environment that is an add-in to Powerpoint.    I was particularly impressed by the ability to easily record and sync spoken narratives, images and videos in presentations.  Also includes the ability to embed surveys and quizzes into the presentation, which can be uploaded into a web site, or embedded into what they call a Snapchannel or presented in social media. . An hour long demonstration gave me all I needed to get started with the package. More in the press release.

Elliott Masie Speaks

At the Trivantis Lectora 2011 Users conference today learning expert and futurist Elliott Masie spoke about the rapidly changing world of learning. First time I had heard him speak.  Very well done, both future looking and practical.  He touted the value of the 'second screen', iPad like devices to support ideas, and the use of 'good enough' video to tell stories as part of the learning process.   He also suggested that it was time to bring back the simple checklist as part of a regimen of understanding content. See his link above for more information including videos of his talks.

Visa Digital Wallet

Visa Advances a one click digital wallet.

Buck Stopping in Business

In the HBR: Where and when does the buck stop in business?  Scope of responsibility.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Searchable Body Map

In ReadWriteWeb:  Today, Healthline released the first three-dimensional, interactive, online search tool for the entire human body, BodyMaps ...

A National Jukebox

The US Library of Congress has launched a 'national jukebox' from their huge collection of audio recordings. You can listen free, but not download. Nice idea, from ReadWriteWeb.

Wristband Measures Emotional Component

Affectiva is best known for its founding by Rosalind Picard of MIT.  We worked with them to understand the emotional responses of people to products on a shelf.  Their new innovation measures emotions through a wristband,  via skin conductivity, also called Galvanic Skin Response (GSV) presented as primary component of emotions.  But certainly not the only component.  The simplicity and portability of the method is useful.   Commonly also used for such methods as lie detectors.  More on the device, called the Q-Sensor.  Possible simple solution for neuromarketing applications?

Messy Analytics

The conclusion of a three part series on practical aspects of using analytical methods by Frank Buytendijk.   I had missed the first two parts, but now plan to go back and read them.  " ... First, when you do statistical analysis, resist the temptation to remove the outliers. Improbable scores or data are usually filtered out of the dataset because it is noise "messing up" the model. However, the outliers might actually represent the most interesting bits. They could be the early warning signal for a black swan coming or could represent new business opportunities that others – following best practices –neatly filter out. If the model is your lens, you won't see any change coming. You won't get any weird new ideas. What you see is what you've always seen. All the model does is confirm your hypothesis. Outliers deserve extra attention.  ... "

Monday, May 09, 2011

Getting Something from Nothing but from Someone

A post about my colleague Norm Levy, who I worked with in some particularly innovative projects at the big soap company (Procter & Gamble).  Norm was a pioneer in the advertising world, and has a particularly interesting artistic bent.  Both in timely poetry and the use of twitter. See Rhymes for Our Times.   Most recently he has told us of his use of packing materials to produce some remarkable art.  So is this pack-art, or folk-art?  Or dunnage-art?  He won an award for it and participated in a show.  In the post it is interestingly described as anti-matter. My background is partly in Physics ... so I am not sure I agree with that.  But I do concur on the art part. I have no art training, but I like it. 

FourSquare Testing NFC

In an interesting development, the game and checkin environment FourSquare has started to test the popular close-range RFID standard NFC with Google. It will be curious to see what this will mean with regard to their direction.  Recently FS seems to have lost some of its momentum with more people checking out of using it.

Use and Impact of Neuromarketing

Ron Wright  of Sands Research sends along a note on Oxford doing a study on the use and impact of neuromarketing. " ... Researchers at the University of Oxford are putting neuromarketing under the spotlight in a study of how it is changing market research and what this means for society. As interest in neuromarketing grows, Professor Steve Woolgar and Dr Tanja Schneider are to carry out a three-year project to better understand how these techniques are being applied to marketing and research, and how they will affect our understanding of how consumers make decisions.... "

Marketing on Facebook

Facebook publishes a Guide to Marketing with Facebook.  A set of best practices.  Fourteen pdf pages that are worth reading.   Includes a good set of resources.

Customer Lifetime Value

In SASCom Voices.  A talk on a definition of lifetime customer value. " ... Are we oversimplifying customer segmentation and treatment strategies? SAS Marketing Director Jonathan Hornby thinks so. He also believes customer lifetime value should include an understanding of sentiment, influence and the value of collaboration with your customers. In fact, if you're not factoring these items into your customer segmentations, you're probably mis-segmenting your customers.... "

Vendors Mature in Predictive Modeling

Business Intelligence vendors are maturing, a report.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Jobs at Wal-Mart

Harder to get a job at Wal-Mart than be admitted to an Ivy League school.

Facebook Killing the HS Reunion

Is Facebook killing the school reunion?  In Tech Review. Would like to see fuller stats, but my own observation is that they connect many more people that might be likely to reunite in person.

Smarty QR Tags

A good example of local QR tag usage:

" ... Three local entrepreneurs are taking QR code capabilities to the next level, allowing businesses to compile valuable information about how their customers are using the barcode-like squares full of tiny black lines and dots. QR codes – the QR stands for quick response – provide unique information to go along with an experience or a purchase. During a recent trip to Findlay Market, for example, I scanned a QR code on a sign for squash at Daisy Mae’s Market using my iPhone. That pulled up a short instructional YouTube video, “How to make Spaghetti Squash, Mediterranean-style.” ... "

Amazons Lending Library

Librarians react to Amazon's lending library. " ... The stakes are incredibly high for public libraries right now. Federal, state, and local budgets are tight. Libraries are closing or cutting back on services. Alongside these fiscal trends are digital trends: the explosive growth in e-books, something that is radically changing the face of book publishing, book distribution, and yes, book lending.... "

Riding the Wave of E-Books

Though I was an early examiner of e-Book readers for possible training applications I an still not an every day user of the idea.  Some interactions with colleagues lately have re-alerted me to how e-Books can be useful not only for solitary reading, but for communicating and collaborating between people.  Also useful for linking to the broader resources in the Web at the same time.  In this GigaOm article, Kobo is examining the social implications.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Digital Legacy

What does it mean to be online forever?  A digital legacy.

Hearst Analytics Challenge

Brought to my attention:
This year’s analytics challenge involves predicting a recipient’s response to email solicitations.
Participants will be provided with the following historical information:
• Response behavior of individuals to email campaigns
• Demographics for the individuals
• Details about the nature and timing of the email campaigns

They will be required to use this information to develop model(s) that predict
(a) whether a recipient will open an email and
(b) whether they will opt out of receiving the email.
The models will be evaluated over a hold out sample to determine the winners of the competition ...

Friday, May 06, 2011

New Science of Retailing: Assortment Planning

Today at UC,  Heard Marshall Fisher talk about work in chapter 2 of his book: The New Science of Retailing: How Analytics are Transforming the Supply Chain and Improving Performance which covers assortment planning.

In the book he covers such diverse product assortments as snack cakes and tire sales.   He positions the  technique as using modeling, estimation and optimization. And of course data gathering.  I would emphasize that there is much of that to do in any analytics project, making sure that the data is clean and gathered under similar the same environmental context.  He also covers what kinds of problems can be solved using this approach.  The optimization he uses is a simple greedy algorithm, implemented by sorting.  In the case of the tire sales, the approach yielded a 6 percent revenue increase.  Impressive results for a relatively simple approach. 

He positions this as Mining Sales Data to Discover 'Home Run'  Products You are Missing.

Overall I found this book to be an excellent outline-style introduction to the use of analytics in the supply chain.

I have heard Marshall Fisher talk several times and have been impressed by the well positioned and yet practical analytics approaches he demonstrates. Worth taking a further look at. See also his Wharton site.

Google Talks Location Strategy

In Fast Company, well  worth understanding:  Marissa Mayer Talks Location Strategy:  The longtime VP tells us how a simple call for a pizza delivery influences the company's thinking on local products and searching.

NearBuy Systems

Another example of location based interaction with retail and warehouse:
" ... There are many business situations when you need to know “where”. Nearbuy provides indoor micro-location solutions that increase revenue, enhance the brand experience, and reduce operating expense at a cost that makes business sense. Read More...

Fuzzy Look up In Excel

Something I could have used a long time ago, an add-in that does fuzzy look up in Excel.  Thanks.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Mobile Business Intelligence from Tableau

I continue to be impressed by Tableau's easy to use BI system, now providing mobile solutions, and touch interaction:

" ... Tableau 6.1 provides many new and exciting capabilities to the Tableau products. Tableau 6.1 introduces touch aware support for the iPad. Tableau Server views are now optimized to deliver touch experiences when accessed on devices like the Apple iPad. Controls such as filters, parameters, sliders, scrolling, and zoom & pan, are now specially built to interact with your fingers ... "

Why is Tesco Struggling in the US?

From the BBC:  It is not quite so quick and easy as Tesco struggles in US.  Some details.

SMI Gaze Ware

Another eye-tracking system, here from SMI Vision, brought to my attention that is worth looking at.  Listening to the buzz in the enterprise there is increasing interest in really understanding and leveraging  the efficiency of interaction between consumer and shelf, package and screen. Here another example of doing this kind of tracking outside laboratory conditions.

Licensing Bar Code Scanning

Good piece in ReadWriteWeb on how ShopSavvy is successfully licensing capability to others, making the capability widely available on mobile.  I have mentioned in previous posts that their latest capabilities for rapid retail scanning are impressive.  This kind of simple sensor and image based scanning continues to improve.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Onions and Oil Prices

A colleague and I had a discussion about gasoline and oil pricing,  and then I found this interesting post by M. J. Perry on Onions and Oil Pricing.  What causes the volatility? Read  their comments also.

Five Big Brands Betting on Social Gaming

Good examples in Mashable of the current use of gaming by some big brands:
"... Skeptics of social gaming for business purposes exist, but that’s not stopping some big brands from disproving those critics’ misconceptions.  Big brands are finding ways to leverage the enormous social gaming population (which is expected to reach 68.7 million players by the end of 2012). They’re jumping into the game — so to speak — with branded virtual goods, integrated ads and offers as well as games that combine digital and real-world incentives.... "

Artificial Intelligence Needs a Reboot?

I am inclined to agree, having worked in practical application of its ideas from the  late 70s through the 80s.  It needs to be fundamentally re-thought.  Formal logic and even huge sets of fuzzy rules are not sufficient except for the narrowest kinds of problems.  A panel discussion by some of the founders weighs in.

Cinci Business Intelligence Group Meeting

Sent by Subrata Debnath: of Analysis Express.

Subrata Debnath found Cincinnati Business Intelligence Group - Business Social, Sponsored by Endeca  on LinkedIn Events and thought you might be interested in going!
      Cincinnati Business Intelligence Group - Business Social, Sponsored by Endeca
      Thu, May 19,  6-8 PM
Palomino- Cincinnati Downtown, Cincinnati, OH, US
      Keywords: Analytics, Analysis, Data Mining, Data Warehouse, Modeling, Predictive Modeling, Statistical Modeling, Business Intelligence, Oracle, Hyperion, Database, SAP, data mining, business performance management
      The Cincinnati Regional Business Intelligence Networking Group is hosting a networking event- sponsored by Endeca (www.endeca.com).
This event is for business intelligence professionals to come together and network with other business intelligence professionals in a relaxed and casual environment...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ownership of TV Falls in the US

In the NYT, " For the first time in 20 years, the number of homes in the United States with television sets has dropped ... "   I note not the number of TV sets ....

Hello @WalmartLabs

An intriguing development.  As part of my role in the innovation centers I hosted Wal-Mart many times and I hope we inspired them to set up something similar:

Kosmix becomes Walmartlabs  " ... Today also is the first day in the life of @WalmartLabs. As I wrote in my prior post, our mission is to invent the next generation of ecommerce: integrated experiences that leverage the store, the web, and mobile, with social identity being the glue. We are at an inflection point in the point in the development of retailing. Social media will have as profound an effect on the trajectory of retail in the early years of the 21st century as did the development of highways in the early part of the 20th century. @WalmartLabs, which combines Walmart’s scale with Kosmix’s social genome platform, is in a unique position to invent and build this future. ... "

ZuluTime Issued Patent for Location Aware Wireless Networks

We talked to Zulutime's founder about his Digimarc watermarking technology for packaging. Implemented for demonstration in the innovation center.   Recently I talked to their team about their location technology, quite suitable for precise in-retail location for the delivery of location sensitive information to shoppers.  Impressive overall.  This recent article in TechCrunch has considerable detail.  Compares them to other vendor starting to play in this space.  Also note that this location capability has broad applications beyond the Smartphone/Retail space, which will be good for widening Zulutime's market.

Bing to Power Blackberry Search and Maps

In recent months I have been increasingly impressed with the searches and mapping and image search available in Bing.  Now they are providing that software for Blackberry.  Deeply integrated in the OS they say.

Making a Photo Move

Here is a good example of an animated process that can be used to augment a normally still image.  Useful and engaging for online images.  I had seen something similar done in an experimental venue.  Even a slight movement can attract people's attention.  The article includes a number of other examples of Cinemagraphs. Click on the still image at the right to get the motion effect.

Ease of Use and Mobility in BI

Good article in ECommerce Times on trends in Business Intelligence.  I have noticed it as well, mobile applications put you just a few clicks away from always available analysis.  I am starting to see the trend the enterprise, but standards and groomed data must be easy to access.

Monday, May 02, 2011

On the Timing of Bunchball

In GigaOM:   I talked to Bunchball today, quite impressive.  See their Gamification 101 white paper.
" ... In 2005, when the company debuted its software platform for customized social gaming apps, the current industry buzzword “gamification” hadn’t even been coined yet. Nevertheless, Bunchball hit the ground running, with a $2 million series A funding round and one big fish client in NBC ... "

NFC Based Coupons on Your Android Phone

A good example of how promotional consideration is starting to get easier to deliver in a mobile way.

IPhone Tracking Bug to be Fixed

As expected, although the carefully set up, unencrypted storage of tracking locations was quickly declared a 'bug', it is definitely bad privacy publicity.  More here.

Progressive Insurance via Sensors

In Engadget: A description of State Farm's IPhone App which uses phone sensors to determine speed location and acceleration to rate your driving. The point is made that such information could be used to adjust insurance rates based on your behavior.  State Farm claims that no such thing is done, but the possibility is there. How do we control that data?

Genetic Music

The Genetic Music Project was recently launched.  " ... An open source genetic art project combining music and science. Where everyone is art and everyone can be an artist.... "

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Known Myths about the Origin of the Internet

An interesting piece on the background of the Internet.  It states that there was a myth that the Internet originated because its many nodes could survive a nuclear attack.   I was involved in the Arpanet at a relatively early time and it was known from the beginning that the reason for the Net was to be able to access remote computers for accessing and testing software.  It is true that the nuclear survival myth emerged in a number of places, but was always known to be untrue and at best a potential side effect of the Internet's design.

Neuaer and Smartphone Location

In ReadWriteWeb: New potential from Smartphone location sensor ideas:

" ... Imagine if your phone could tell you when your friend walked by so you could call them, or when your ex arrived so you could duck beneath the table. Imagine if you could automatically drop a pin on Google Maps every time you turned off your car. Just think about a phone that could perform all sorts of functions just based on who or what is near you and where you are - that's NeuAer. ... "

BrandFlick: Finding a Company's Aha Stories

A local company that just appeared in the news, Brandflick.   I have been involved with storytelling projects a number of times.  Very useful for sketching out ideas.  Even for a non artistic amateur.  Once you go to using a professional resource it gets expensive, and you are less likely to use it in the early stages, when it can be particularly useful.So I like methods that make it easier and more accessible.  I mentioned another example of this recently: Flypaper.  But can we all be professional looking designers?