ARCHIVE: January, 2006

Mining the Two Types of User-Supplied Content

Sitting in my chiropractor’s office the other day I read a fascinating article in the offline version of Businessweek: Math will Rock Your World.

In addition to finding out that using a laptop 12-14 hours a day can affect my spine, I also found out about the amazing rise of math in business, from analyzing clickstreams to tracking blog conversations. It seems Google and Yahoo already have next year’s math grads lined up for jobs. They simply cannot get enough brain power to do what they want to do.

Continue Reading: Mining the Two Types of User-Supplied Content

On Moving Forward

Brady Forrest, organizer of Microsoft Search Champs, the event I just returned from where Microsoft asked a bunch of bloggers/technologists (including quite a few Mac users like me) what we thought of future MS products:

“We don’t want to waste our time getting pats on the back.”

On Attention Problems

Alex Barnett:

“The idea that only geeks – and not the ‘average’ people – want to have a more effecient way of finding content that matches their interests seems way off to me.”

Help…My Attention is Dead!

I had a great conversation with Merlin Mann, Thomas Vander Wal, and Fred Oliviera today about our collective lack of attention. Most of us had relatively sophisticated ways of dealing with it, from outright getting on the wagon and shutting off the feed firehose completely to tweaking our software to only allow access at certain times. Interestingly, one of the things that we all did was to set our email readers to only fetch mail about once per hour.

Most discussions I’ve had lately are about this lack of attention. It’s getting to the point where people are going on “content diets” to lose the drinking-from-a-firehose feeling, just like they go on food diets to lose weight.

My problem is not email, not spam, not chat. It’s reading feeds. I’m simply overwhelmed. I’ve gotten to the point where I skim for only those things that meet the following criteria:

  • Big, new idea
  • An idea that immediately builds on one I’m already comfortable with

If an idea doesn’t meet these criteria, then I filter it out. I simply can’t read those longer, thoughtful posts by people I’m not familiar with. And even those people who I know and are familiar with get filtered out if I can’t see value in the headline or first sentence. The downside to this is that I have less time for thoughtful repose, and less time to really consider some of the more subtle points someone is making. I went on vacation recently and I read two whole books (books are a paper medium on which words are printed in pages and bound by cloth covered cardboard), and loved every minute of it.

So I’m interested in hearing about your attention problems? Got any good or interesting tips for dealing with it?

Potential Game-Changer: TV Recommendations on

In what can be described as a potential game-changing piece of software, the team at Microsoft has demoed a new widget gadget that allows users to get personalized TV show recommendations and then record them remotely with the click of a button…on their home PC Media Center. The demo occurred at the annual Search Champs Conference held in Redmond.

Here’s a screenshot…

Continue Reading: Potential Game-Changer: TV Recommendations on

Microsoft Didn’t Give User Data to DOJ in Privacy Case (podcast)

First, the podcast: Microsoft, Google, and the DOJ Privacy Case (7.21 MB mp3 )

During a meeting today at the Microsoft Search Champs Conference in Redmond, WA, Yusuf Mehdi, Senior VP of MSN Information Services, discussed the recent blowup involving the U.S. Government’s subpoena of personal information from major Search Engines including MSN, Yahoo, Google, and AOL. This was not the first time that the U.S. Government has requested information from corporations in this manner. It was, however, one of the most talked about, spurred on by a press release from Google, who announced that they had turned down the request. Soon after, it was revealed that both Yahoo and MSN has complied with it, casting an instant shadow over those companies. In response, Ken Moss, general manager of MSN web search, provided a few relevant details of the case on the MSN Search Blog.

Continue Reading: Microsoft Didn’t Give User Data to DOJ in Privacy Case (podcast)

In the Blogging World You Don’t Have Sex on the First Date

Scott Karp is having trouble getting linked. The other day the proprietor of Publishing 2.0 and managing director of research and strategy for Atlantic Media admitted that despite emailing influential bloggers (Dave Winer, Jeff Jarvis, and Steve Rubel), he’s been unable to get them to link to his site.

Continue Reading: In the Blogging World You Don’t Have Sex on the First Date

On Time Spent Thinking

Matt McAlister:

“In Old Media, you have a whole team of people thinking about things like the table of contents all day long. If those same people spent all that time thinking about how to engage with the audience online instead, I’m certain you’d see a more dynamic response to your brand in short order.”

On Personal Level

Noah Brier:

“On a personal level attention data seems to have the most potential as a way to power some kind of recommendation engine. If you could plug in all my RSS feeds, attention data, bookmarks, etc. into some kind of system and then compare it all to the same data from friends, I could probably get some good recommendations.”

On Organization

Doug Marttila:

“What you really want on the web is a taxonomy that you understand.”

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