Libraries: A Good Thing

December 31, 2013

When you cannot locate information on Google, what does one do? Some people just guess? Others use spreadsheets and make up data? Quite a few people go to the library. Well, “quite a few” may be one of those unsupported factoids about modern life.

Navigate to Pew Research and check out the outfit’s most recent report How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities. You can find it at http://bit.ly/1bLMEOt for now.

The report contains good news and bad news. Here’s a positive finding:

91% of Americans who have ever used a public library say it is not difficult to find what they’re looking for, including 35% who say it is “very easy.”

On the other hand, the Pew Report says:

“54% of Americans have used a public library in the past 12 months, and 72% live in a “library house hold.”

If accurate, this statement identifies a Pew sampling issue and underscores the need to reach the 46 percent of folks who don’t use the library more than once in a blue moon.

Since my team started Marketing Library Services in the late 1980s, library marketing has remained an important job. I sold this publication to Information Today and the MLS information service, like library marketing itself, remains mostly unchanged over the last 20 years. That in itself makes clear one aspect of the library market: It is slow moving.

I noticed the last time I used our local library that useful online resources were no longer available to patrons. The budget pressures on libraries are significant. The vendors of commercial databases have priced their commercial reference products so that  only a few institutions can afford them.

The Pew Report does little to lessen my concern that easily distorted free Internet information is creating a false sense of “research security.” Libraries are an asset. I want to see them become more important, offer more commercial database access, and communicate that there is more to research than letting Google’s personalized research provide information automatically.

Here’s hoping for a more vital role for libraries in 2014.

Stephen E Arnold, December 31, 2013

Optimizing SharePoint Environments

December 31, 2013

Optimizing SharePoint environments is a hot conversation topic. Organizations that spend a good deal of time and money on a SharePoint implementation want to know that they are making a wise investment, and will reap the benefits of that investment. Christian Buckley digs into this topic for CMS Wire in his article, “Insights into SharePoint Replication.”

Buckley begins:

“One of the most common issues that customers raise is around optimizing their SharePoint environments. People want to get the most out of the investments they’ve already made, and while many organizations are slowly making plans to move their data assets into the cloud as a way to reduce infrastructure costs, the reality is that the cloud is not yet a viable option for most of their intellectual property — and so they’re looking for ways to improve performance, reduce storage costs and implement stronger disaster recovery and high-availability solutions with existing on premises infrastructure.”

Stephen E. Arnold of ArnoldIT.com is a longtime leader in search and a frequent participant in the ongoing SharePoint debate and discussion. He often finds that organizations know that they need to be making more out of their SharePoint implementation, but they are overwhelmed and maxed out on what they can do internally, so outsourcing is a good option for most.

Emily Rae Aldridge, December 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Cleantech Investment Caused Shake Up of Kleiner Perkins

December 31, 2013

The article titled The Shakeup of Kleiner Perkins Exposes the Shortcomings of Venture Capital on GIGAOM discusses the controversial bet the firm made on cleantech under the reigns of John Doerr, who has seen Kleiner through the good times in the nineties internet investing phase and the bad times. The article suggests that Kleiner Perkins’ is not alone, especially if you accept the premise that venture capitalism is not a good fit for the energy sector.

The article explains:

“traditional VC hasn’t proven to be a good model for funding many of the sectors in cleantech, such as making solar panels, producing electric cars, and developing biofuels. It’s not good at funding basic scientific research, like driving breakthroughs in battery chemistry. Many of these technologies have needed more money and taken longer to scale up from lab to commercial product than afforded by the traditional venture capital time frame.”

If a VC firm doesn’t get a return on an investment for a long enough time, they will have trouble raising capital and moving on, explaining Kleiner Perkins’ current difficulties. (For a comprehensive history of the firm’s, and Doerr’s rise and fall, read John Doerr’s Last Stand). Ultimately, the article suggests that the onus is on corporations to stir and fund innovation through research and development.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

More Changes to Google Search Results

December 31, 2013

We learn about a couple of new changes Google is making to their search-result pages in “Google SERPs Updates: In-Depth Articles & Knowledge Graph Results for Car Shoppers” at Search Engine Watch. The car-shopping feature makes sense; Google has added vehicles to its Knowledge Graph in a way that allows users to do their comparison shopping right in the search results. That’s handy, and places Google in competition with auto comparison and shopping sites.

The in-depth article part is a little more complex. The company is positioning this change as helpful to those 10 percent of users Google says are after more than just a quick answer. While they do promise to include “up to” three in-depth articles and a link to pre-load “up to” ten more, these results are now pushed to the bottom of the page.

Writer Jennifer Slegg tells us:

“In-depth articles previously appeared in the middle of the search results. This update should help appease those webmasters who are concerned about organic search results being pushed lower and lower on the page, while still giving the searchers the information they want….

This change is currently available in English on Google.com, however they plan to expand the feature to more countries and languages in the future. Not all search results will have in-depth articles, but the program is expanding with more topics, particularly things that are related to current events. Google promises that alongside reputable and established news sources like the Washington Post and The Guardian, readers will also find in-depth content from smaller blogs and publications.”

This being a Search Engine Watch article, it does pass on Google’s advice for webmasters hoping to reach these users who are after comprehensive content. If you belong that slice of inquisitive searchers, just remember to scroll down and click through for the good stuff. Of course, it would make things easier for the search giant if that pesky ten percent would just get with the program and take what Google offers. Maybe someday.

Cynthia Murrell, December 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Fake Papers: Blame the Education System

December 30, 2013

I sure don’t want to blame a person. I am delighted that SMRITIweb.com provided some information about where the blame for misinformation, reformation, and disinformation should be placed. I will be able to enter 2014 with that problem shifted to the “education system.”

You can work through the explanation in “How I Published a Fake Paper, and Why It Is the Fault of Our Education System.” The write makes clear that Navin Kabra was not trying to become an expert in fabrication. The purpose was nobler.

There are a number of memorable statements in the article. May I highlight and comment on three. The Navin Kabra writing is in bold and my personal comment is in italic. Here we go:

  1. We submitted to two fake papers to this conference – one was complete gibberish auto-generated by using the online fake paper generator at SCIGen, while the other was auto-generated gibberish interspersed with completely ridiculous statements, movie dialogues, and other random things. Both these papers where accepted by this conference. 

    Are the conference organizers off the hook? What about the people who created the papers? What about the indexing systems and their “smart” software that filters certain content? I think the education system is a good target, but are there others?

  2. One section of the paper consists entirely of dialogues from the movie “My Cousin Vinny.”

    What about the super sophisticated duplication detection algorithms that some large Web indexing outfits perform? What about the plagiarism services? I find it interesting that in this era of smart software, a simple copying is just fine. Fascinating.
  3. The conference organizers allegedly said: “All the papers were reviewed by panelists from a panel of international experts using a double-blind review methodology. Only high quality papers were accepted All accepted papers were sent reviews from at least 3 reviewers each and the authors were then asked to update the papers based on the review comments. (No such thing happened with the 2 papers we submitted to the conference.)Imagine that. Conference organizers not doing what they said. I find that quite hard to believe. The conferences I have attended have been first class operations. No PR pitches. No fouled sessions. No glitches in putting Tab A in Tab B.

I find the education system performing at a level that I find acceptable. I don’t have any first  hand experience with schools any longer. I assume that the standards of excellence remain lofty. Articles about teaching assistants who give A’s because it is the path of least resistance are obviously minority views. The rumor that McKinsey is unhappy with the quality of new MBAs is similarly fallacious. The failure of the kid at Walgreen’s to know how to make change is also a once in a million fluke.

Yep, 2014 is shaping up to be a banner year for pinning problems on systems, not individuals. Notice that the author is not putting the responsibility on the individuals who generate false information:

The root of all evil is this stupid rule that mandates that all M.E./M.Tech. students must have two publications. Until that is changed, this sort of a thing will continue to thrive. (Note: I don’t really know for sure whether there is indeed such a rule, and whether it is applicable to all colleges in India – I’m just repeating what I heard from the students and the organizers of that conference.

Yep, the root of all evil.

And what about search?

Well, if the content is filtered and not findable, researchers won’t find correct or incorrect information. Is there an app for that? If you want tips for finding useful information online, check out the librarian-centric DeeoerQI.com.

Stephen E Arnold, December 30, 2013

SharePoint Consulting Rankings Available

December 30, 2013

SharePoint consulting is always in demand, because as anyone who has attempted to implement or use SharePoint knows, it is not a simple platform. There are lots of options for customization and lots of ways that individual organizations can make it their own. But all of those decisions take time and expertise, so many organizations turn to SharePoint consultants. Check out the latest list of top ranking SharePoint consultants in the article, “Best SharePoint Consulting Consultants Rankings Declared by bestwebdesignagencies.com for December 2013.”

The article begins:

“The ten best SharePoint consulting consultants have been announced by bestwebdesignagencies.com for the month of December 2013. Consultants are showcased based on their achievement in a meticulous analysis of their principal services.”

The article then goes on to list the top performing firms. If your organization is looking for some SharePoint assistance, you may find a good recommendation on the list. And you would not be alone in needing some help. Stephen E. Arnold, a longtime leader in search and brains behind ArnoldIT.com, covers the latest in SharePoint news. He finds that as SharePoint functionality increases, organizations are more frequently outsourcing their customization in an effort to save time and sanity.

Emily Rae Aldridge, December 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Thomson Reuters Appoints New President of Legal Division

December 30, 2013

We see from a post at the Dewey B Strategic blog, “Thomson Reuters Legal Names First Female President, Susan Taylor Martin,” that the game of musical chairs continues over at one of the world’s largest media and information outfits. Writer Jean P. O’Grady is particularly pleased to see a female executive appear on the legal publishing scene, the lack of which she has written about before.

Taylor Martin, who has been with the company since 1993, has been serving as managing director of Thomson Reuters Legal in the U.K. and Ireland. Like us, O’Grady is full of questions.

She writes:

“It is impossible to second-guess the internal decisions of an organization. Yet I find it somewhat hard to fathom why less than a year after outgoing president Mike Suchsland made the bold pronouncement that TR Legal was no longer in the content business, he is well, out! He didn’t just announce a new direction, it was accompanied by two new cloud based and process centric platforms, Concourse for In House Counsel and Firm Central for small law firms.

Will Ms Martin remain in the UK or will she relocate to the TR Legal headquarters in Egan Minnesota? Does her selection suggest a shift away from a US focus? Is the US market regarded as so mature that TR will focus on the development of non-US legal products?”

Though O’Grady asked Thomson Reuters these questions, as of this writing it looks like she still has not heard back. I suppose we will all have to wait and see where these changes will lead. The media conglomerate can trace its history way, way back to the formation of Sweet and Maxwell legal publishing in 1799.

Cynthia Murrell, December 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

DataSift Announces Trainable VEDO Processing Engine

December 30, 2013

The folks over at DataSift dropped us a line announcing the release of their next-generation processing engine, VEDO. The company’s founder and CEO Nick Halstead writes about the product at the company’s blog in, “DataSift VEDO: Programmable Intelligence.” The central idea, they told us, is to apply context and capture value from social data with less manual processing than before. That is a welcome advance. We wonder: can Datasift match Topsy’s spectacular deal with Apple?

Halstead relates:

“So today we are announcing VEDO – an extension of our core platform that brings programmable intelligence to the masses. Building upon our incredibly rich text pre-processing and parsing capabilities, we have added a whole new engine that allows customers to take advantage of advances in machine learning, statistical models, rich taxonomies and much more all through a simple and unified approach. As with the rest of our platform, we want to reduce the cost of developing this kind of functionality for our customers and let them focus on innovation and not on infrastructure.

VEDO brings the power to understand the context and the meaning of the content itself. It can be trained to understand any subject and to contextualize it so that the data can be inherently joined to other structured data within the business.”

Halstead goes on to advise that this connection between social data and other business data is the key to realizing value from investments in social-media data. A DataSift representative explained that three new components, programmable user rules, machine learning, and a library of pre-built classifiers, have been added to the processing engine. These features let users tailor VEDO to automatically categorize, interpret, and deliver social data in the ways most useful to their companies.

DataSift is holding a webinar on VEDO on January 9th; see here for details. True to its roots as an offshoot of the now-defunct TweetMeme, the company envisions a day when all organizations employ social-media data to inform their business decisions. Founded in 2010, DataSift has offices in San Francisco, New York, and Reading, U.K.

Cynthia Murrell, December 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Enterprise Search Market Diversifies and Competition Increases

December 30, 2013

The article Enterprise Search Pie on HadoopSphere makes an interesting analogy between a heating up pie and enterprise search. The article claims to bear witness to the altering landscape of the search market. Some of the trends noted include more in-your-face pricing by conservative software, a rising interest in Solr and Lucene-based offerings, cloud based setups and “key spike in the offerings basket.” Analytics for search and content also play a part in enterprise set up, especially for eDiscovery, e-commerce and decision and content management systems.

The article also explains how Cloudera Search is a part of this change:

“Cloudera Search has Apache Solr integrated with CDH, including Apache Lucene, Apache SolrCloud, Apache Flume, Apache Hadoop MapReduce & HDFS, and Apache Tika. Cloudera Search also includes integrations that make searching more scalable, easy to use, and optimized for both near-real-time and batch-oriented indexing. Cloudera has adapted the SolrCloud project  and leveraged Apache Zookeeper to coordinate distributed processing… From a customer perspective, this is an exciting time as Hadoop distributions venture out in broader territory offering them easier data mining capabilities.”

The article also emphasizes IBM Infosphere Data Explorer, once known as Vivismo, which works with BigInsights Hadoop distribution and LucidWorks Search with MapR, which provides data mining capabilities that ingests data into MapR through LucidWorks Search to make the data searchable. The article only imagines more “feature-rich” offerings in the future as competition and interest grow.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Ovum Review Shows Funnelback Search Company to be Winning

December 29, 2013

For a perfectly balanced and objective review read the summarized report titled Ovum Technology Audit of Funnelback Search on funnelback.com. You can download the report for free in its entirety, but what appears in summary seems to be a good indicator of the sort of information you will receive.

The report explores Funnelback closely, noting that the company:

“offers organisations [sic] rapid time-to-value for a wide range of search functions at a relatively low cost. The variety of deployment options available ensures that the solution can address most organisational IT architecture requirements… Funnelback includes a highly intuitive contextual navigation function, which dynamically creates filters across unstructured and semi-structured content across many information sources… In addition, there is a behavioural learning capability, which automatically monitors the search patterns of users and tunes the algorithms to their requirements to deliver more personalised results.”

The report did fail to mention that the Australian search engine technology company’s name comes from the combining of two Australian spiders, the funnel-web and redback. It is also meant to imply the company’s objective of funneling data and important information back to the customer. Ovum‘s five star “report” interrupts itself to applaud Funnelback’s functionality and SaaS solution several times, so perhaps there simply wasn’t room.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 29, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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