Welcome to Online Insider ...
... the editorial blog by Marydee Ojala, Editor of ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals. ONLINE Insider intends to extend the reach of the print publication, presenting a more timely commentary on the products, people, and events that shape today's online world. It explores new technologies as they impact the working lives of information professionals, explains resources for specific topic areas, and expounds on information management tools and techniques.

Google Invented WorldCat?

Marydee Ojala @ 6:24 am

I just love it when journalists get it wrong. IT Director, a publication of Bloor, in an article about next generation search, claims that Google invented WorldCat. Wonder what OCLC’s going to think about that!


Marydee Ojala @ 2:41 pm

All this week people attending one of the five InfoX conferences in New York City have been asking me if I’m blogging the conferences. The short answer is “no.” I couldn’t get high speed Internet access in my room and the Hilton was charging $2.95 for 15 minutes in the conference rooms. Plus, I was really busy with the conference itself. The first day I moderated all the sessions in the Business Intelligence Conference . Even if I’d been willing to spend the money for 15 minutes here and there, it seems rude to be sitting in front of a roomful of people typing away on a computer. In the audience is one thing, hosting the conference is quite different.

Here’s a brief recap of the first day of BizInt: I was trying for a blend of talks on business intelligence and competitive intelligence. The conference hoped to find some synchronicities between the two and to clarify definitions of the terms. KMWorld publisher Andy Moore’s keynote talked about how we’ve moved from some of his early concerns in publishing for the content world, which included considerations of stapler removals and the footprint of file cabinets. Yes, that actually made sense when he said it. He also told us we should think more about BI’s value proposition and less about ROI. That turned out to be a theme during other people’s presentations, although there was no consensus. Some people stressed value, others ROI, which I found very interesting.

He was followed by Knowledge inForm’s Cynthia Cheng Correia, who gave some very practical advice about choosing CI software. I loved it when she talked about “crack searchers,” by which she meant really good ones, not ones looking for drugs, and intimated that ONLINE would be their first choice of reading material. Thanks, Cynthia!

The afternoon saw joint presentations from Andrew Bernstein (CEO, Cymfony) and Edward O’Meara (CEO, MediaHound), talking about how to value the BI function. Reputation is all about conversations, but you have to listen to them, said Bernstein. O’Meara gave a case study on uncovering and analyzing B2B marketing intelligence, noting it’s a complex, lengthy process. I liked his comment about smaller companies’ struggle with data collection and analysis. Their answer: Make it up.

Then we went into BI analytics with Michael Schroek from IBM and Ian Scott from Angoss Software. From the perspectives of their companies, they discussed predictive analytics, how data, if properly analyzed, can provide some roadmaps to guide business strategy. Both ended up talking about the insurance industry’s use of predictive analysis to reduce risk, but agreed that some things, such as government actions, cannot be predicted because there’s no real data to analyze before the fact.

David Carpe, principal of Clew LLC took the audience back to the competitive intelligence viewpoint, talking about non-technological information/intelligence gathering techniques, particularly interviewing knowledgeable individuals, and gave some hints about where to look for information outside the U.S.

Finishing up the day was Manya Mayes from SAS and David Bean from Attensity discussing data and text mining. Manya gave some anecdotes about misunderstanding data, some from her present job, some from prior ones. She mentioned the marketing person at 7-Eleven who was so proud of her campaign that raised sales of Slurpies, until someone pointed out that Slurpie sale always go up in the summer. Mayes also had a lovely slide illustrating the dangers of textual misunderstandings when trying to effect text mining. Some of her points were: UPPERCASE, Miss-spelings, A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.S, Shrt-hnd, Prof@nity, and *Punctuation*. Brilliant! Bean subtitled his, “Elephants, the Electrical Powergrid and your 8th grade English Teacher.” His major point was that you can extract facts from unstructured text if you can “diagram” sentences as you were taught in the 8th grade and transform text to rows and columns. Some of his examples were quite striking, including analysis of government data on automobile failures. I don’t think I’ll be buying a Ford anytime soon.

The second day, ably moderated by my colleague at CRM magazine David Myron, started with a topic dear to my heart: Quality. Knowledge Integrity’s Richard Ordowich made a great case for the importance of high quality data. He echoed Mayes’ comments on what can be wrong with the data you’re using. He also talked about the importance of information compliance and how critical compliance and quality are to intelligence success. Another SAS speaker, Anne Milley, distinguished between insight and hindsight. Through a series of case studies, she showed that getting an answer is not enough, you need to operationalize analytical models and use analytics in multiple functional areas.

Anna Kotsalo-Mustonen came all the way from Fountain Park Ltd. in Helsinki, Finland, to convince us that we should learn to see beyond our comfort zone, and “brain mine,” not just text mine. We must understand the mental model of customers and partners for proactive decision-making.

Mike Brooks, Theoris Software and Temi Grafstein BetaWatch, Inc. covered merging internal and external data, while Richard Brath, Oculus Info showed some live demos of using visualization for business intelligence. Mark Anderson, TechSource Group, Inc., gave the final formal presentation on managing aging data. He suggested we not keep everything, much as we’re tempted.

Throughout the two days, there were also product presentations and demos from the six sponsoring companies of the BizInt conference: Autonomy, ClearForest , CoEmergence, Inc. , Fast Search & Transfer, Hoover’s Inc. , and ZoomInfo .

We ended the Business Intelligence conference with a panel discussion among Dave Myron, Andy Moore, and me, and took questions from the audience. If anyone wants my concluding slides, let me know and I’m e-mail them to you. Yes, I’ll include the picture of the Red Swingline Stapler and the detailed diagram of a staple remover, not to mention the stapler haiku I put up on the screen. All in all, a very valuable two days, which would have been better with more available high speed Internet access.

Yahoo’s New Finance Columnists

Marydee Ojala @ 8:51 am

Yahoo Finance has long been a favorite of mine for information on publicly traded companies. It rivals some fee-based services for accuracy and completeness. Now it’s added columnists, who are well-known book authors. Their columns will be original content, written for Yahoo, not reprinted from somewhere else. Very interesting!

The Fed Goes Electronic

Marydee Ojala @ 10:17 am

A press release from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors says that its Federal Reserve Bulletin will be published on the Fed’s Web site rather than in its present quarterly print format, beginning in 2006. Articles will be published electronically as they become available. There’s more: It will be free. Who knew the Federal Reserve could be so innovative?

WSU, Day 2 afternoon

Marydee Ojala @ 12:50 pm

Tara’s now talking about RSS feeds. Who offers RSS feeds? Everybody. Static or keyword-based feeds. The latter gets you more precise information because it’s targeted. Examples are news discovery (like from Google news or Feedster), resource discovery (del.icio.us or flickr), or Web watching (IceRocket or MSN search). Web watching is particularly useful for academic information, largely because you can build a really exact search. Her example is titanium mining limited to .edu sites. Now she’s limited it further, to sites from South Africa. That takes her down to 3 results.

Now she’s on to doing things with feeds. To manage the feeds, try FeedShake or Feed Digest. Searches from multiple engines mushed together. I’m convinced, Tara. I’ll go play with these last two, neither of which I’ve used.

WebSearch University, Day 2

Marydee Ojala @ 10:21 am

Yesterday was the first day of WSU. It was neatly summarized by Steven Cohen at LibraryStuff.

This morning we heard Mary Ellen Bates on competitive intelligence, Colby Ellis (engineering Information) on Developing Specialized Research Relevance in a Changing Environment, and Chris Sherman on Desktop Search. We’re now on a panel about blogging. Gary is demonstrating how to post to his blog. Genie claims Gary’s the only person who blogs while talking. Now she’s looking at me. Hmmm.

WebSearch University

Marydee Ojala @ 6:01 am

Today is the opening day of WebSearch University, held in Arlington, VA. Yesterday, the WSU pre-conferences went great, or at least mine on delving into the deep web of business resources did and it looked like the other instructors had satisfied students. Thanks to all of you who attended my session. There was lots of discussion and idea-sharing, which makes for a more edifying session than just me rambling on. As always, there was so much more we could have done. I also peeked into Blog University in the afternoon, after my pre-con was over and people seemed to enjoy it as well, but some told me they were a bit overwhelmed by the terminology. Note to self: Make sure the speakers today and tomorrow explain the acronyms and terms if the audience looks baffled.

On another continent, my colleague Dick Kaser is in Geneva covering a Prep-con session for the World Summit on the Information Society, which is being Webcast in both English and French. The full conference will be in Tunis, Tunisia on November 16-18, 2005.


Marydee Ojala @ 1:56 pm

It’s not on the agenda, but Michael’s talking about podcasting. He determined that no one in the room is actually podcasting but a few people know what a podcast is. Most don’t. Podcasts are syndicated via RSS. Librarians can keep up with many topics, help users find your stuff, syndicate AV content about the library. Can reach out to community, users.

Still More Ways to Have Fun at Work

Marydee Ojala @ 1:50 pm

Kerry Green of Plainfield Public Library talked about wireless tablet computers. I guess I don’t see all that much utility. They’re heavy and it sounds like he’s had lots of technical problems with them. Now Jessamyn and Michael are showing how to upload photos using Flickr. “Wouldn’t you love to click and drag in an OPAC,” says Jessamyn. Now she’s explaining tagging. “Flickr operates in blog-like ways.”

After looking at lots of photos, we’ve now moved on the Michael’s piece on RSS.

Hot New Communication Tools for Reference

Marydee Ojala @ 12:01 pm

We’re into the second presentation, called Hot New Communication Tools for Reference. Scott Pfitzinger, Butler University, gave an overview of blogs and wikis. Interesting that so many people were familiar with blogs, even were bloggers themselves, but not so familiar with wikis. Scott said he did a session last May with Michael Stephens, St. Joseph County Public Library, and Michael said he hadn’t seen libraries setting up wikis. So Scott went back to his library and started a reference wiki. Way to go!

Now Michael is discussing instant messaging (IM) and Jybe. What about Google Talk? It’s hot, but not quite there yet. He’s done a straw poll of people’s use of IM. It seems to be growing. More people IM than the last time he did this poll, which was about a year ago (I think that was an IOLUG meeting).

It’s important, says Michael, to have conversations both internally and with library users. Also understand the technology. It’s good for your “away” message not to say “I’m in a mind-numbing meeting.” Just say “I’m in a meeting.” Put your IM name on your business cards. Have meetings on IM so people don’t have to travel.

Video IMing. Puts a face on librarian.

On to Jybe. Web plug in co-browsing. Join Your Browser with Everyone. Replaces huge, bloated virtual reference software. You download it once and invite people to join. Can we ask library patrons to download software? Michael thinks yes. Now he’s talking about Skype. Now he’s on to the new version of Jybe which doesn’t work on a Mac. Jybe is a plugin so it doesn’t capture the conversation. Works well with databases to show off campus students how to search. Can co-browse the databases. What happens with licensing? Michael doesn’t know. Not providing persistent access so maybe it’s OK.

It’s about extending conversations internally and externally. Remain relevant to those “born with a chip.” The tools let you stay within your budget.

Michael’s going to upload this presentation to Tame the Web in a few hours.

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