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IBM Uses Watson Analytics Freebie Academic Program to Lure in Student Data Scientists

May 6, 2016

The article on eWeek titled IBM Expands Watson Analytics Program, Creates Citizen Data Scientists zooms in on the expansion of the IBM  Watson Analytics academic program, which was begun last year at 400 global universities. The next phase, according to Watson Analytics public sector manager Randy Messina, is to get Watson Analytics into the hands of students beyond computer science or technical courses. The article explains,

“Other examples of universities using Watson Analytics include the University of Connecticut, which is incorporating Watson Analytics into several of its MBA courses. Northwestern University is building Watson Analytics into the curriculum of its Predictive Analytics, Marketing Mix Models and Entertainment Marketing classes. And at the University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics, undergraduate students are using Watson Analytics as part of their initial introduction to business analytics.”

Urban planning, marketing, and health care disciplines have also ushered in Watson Analytics for classroom use. Great, so students and professors get to use and learn through this advanced and intuitive platform. But that is where it gets a little shady. IBM is also interested in winning over these students and leading them into the data analytics field. Nothing wrong with that given the shortage of data scientists, but considering the free program and the creepy language IBM uses like “capturing mindshare among young people,” one gets the urge to warn these students to run away from the strange Watson guy, or at least proceed with caution into his lair.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 6, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Old Pals Chatting: IDC Expert Chums Up Cognitive Marketing

May 4, 2016

I recall a fellow named Dave Schubmehl. You may recall that name. He was the IDC wizard who ingested my research about open source outfits and then marketed it via Amazon without my permission. Since that go round with my information used without a written agreement with me, I have taken a skeptical view of IDC and its “experts.” I won’t comment on its business practices, administrative acumen, and general ineptitude with regard to publishing a bit of my research as an eight page, $3,500 “analysis.” Yikes. Eight pages at $3,500 for work pumped out on Amazon, the WalMart of the digital world.

I read, therefore, with considerable skepticism “Interview with Rich Vancil: Group VP, Executive Advisory of IDC.” I was not disappointed. Perhaps I should say, my already low expectations were just about met.

The interviewer, according to the interview text, has been an acquaintance of the IDC wizard for decades. Furthermore, the interviewer (obviously an objective type of person) will “meet up to catch up on life outside business.” The article is “old pals chatting.”

What a chat?

I learned that:

The IDC 3rd Platform is a broad term for our present IT industry and economy. It is where 100% of WW IT revenue growth is coming from and it includes the product categories of Mobile; Social; Cloud, and Big Data. The 3rd Platform is eclipsing the 2nd Platform – described broadly as the “last 30 years” of IT, and this has been mainly enterprise computing: Lan / Internet; Client / Server; and premised based infrastructure such as servers, storage, and licensed software.

A third platform. “Platform” is an interesting word. I get the idea of a Palantir platform. I suppose I can get in sync with the Windows 10 platform. But an IDC platform? Well, that’s an idea which would never have floated from the pond filled with mine drainage here in Harrod’s Creek.

A consulting firm is in the business of selling information. A platform exists at outfits like Booz, Allen, McKinsey, and Bain. But the notion that a mid tier outfit has had three platforms intrigues me. When I looked at some of the 1917-1918 reports at Booz, Allen when Ellen Shedlarz ran the information center, the format, the tone, the approach, and the word choice was incorporated in the charm school into which new hires were herded. I could, in a moment of weakness, call Booz, Allen’s systems and methods a platform. But are the words “systems” and “methods” more appropriate?

The other interesting point in the write up was a nifty new diagram which purports to make clear the third platform confection. I know you won’t be able to read the diagram. Buy the report which hopefully is less than the $3,500 slapped on eight pages of my research.

image

Source: IDC 2016 at this link. If you find the link dead, just buzz up IDC and order document 01517018. The reports based on my research were 236511, 236514, 236086, and 237410. Buy them all for a mere $14,000.

Notice the blobs. Like another mid tier outfit, blobs are better than numbers. The reason fuzziness is a convenient graphic device is that addled geese like me ask questions; for example:

  • What data are behind the blobs
  • What was the sample size
  • Where did the categories come from like “cognitive marketing”?

I have a supposition about the “cognitive” thing. The IDC wizard Dave Schubmehl pumped out lots of tweets about IBM cognitive computing. One IDC executive, prior to seeking a future elsewhere, wrote a book about “cognitive” processes. Both of these IDC experts guzzled the IBM Watson lattes somewhere along the cafeteria line.

Back to the interview among two friends. I learned:

MarTech is a big deal. IDC is doing a very careful accounting of this area and we now account for 78 separate product / service categories and literally thousands of vendors. Like any other emerging and fast growth IT category, consolidation will be inevitable. But in the meantime, it makes for a daunting set of choices for the CMO and team.

I like the word daunting. There is nothing like a list of items which are not grouped in a useful manner to set IDC neural pathways abuzz. But the IDC mavens have cracked the problem. The company has produced a remarkable 2015 technology map. Check this out:

image

Source: Expert Interview, 2016

I moved forward in the write up. The daunting problem has contributed to what the interviewer describes as “an awesome conference.” I like that “awesome” thing. How does the write up conclude? There is a reference to golf, the IDC professional’s medical history, and this statement:

The best analysts can simplify, simplify. Analysts who try to impress by using big words and complex frameworks…end up confusing their audience and so they become ineffective.

Remarkable content marketing.

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2016

Out of the Shadows and into the OpenBazaar

May 2, 2016

If you believe the Dark Web was destroyed when Silk Road went offline, think again!  The Dark Web has roots like a surface weed, when one root remains there are dozens (or in this case millions) more to keep the weed growing.  Tech Insider reports that OpenBazaar now occupies the space Silk Road vacated, “A Lawless And Shadowy New Corner Of The Internet Is About TO Go Online.”

OpenBazaar is described as a decentralized and uncensored online marketplace where people can sell anything without the fuzz breathing down their necks. Brian Hoffman and his crew had worked on it since 2014 when Amir Taaki thought it up.  It works similar to eBay and Etsy as a peer-to-peer market, but instead of hard currency it uses bitcoin.  Since it is decentralized, it will be near impossible to take offline, unlike Silk Road.  Hoffman took over the project from Taaki and after $1 million from tech venture capital firms the testnet is live.

“There’s now a functioning version of OpenBazaar running on the “testnet.” This is a kind of open beta that anyone can download and run, but it uses “testnet bitcoin” — a “fake” version of the digital currency for running tests that doesn’t have any real value. It means the developer team can test out the software with a larger audience and iron out the bugs without any real risk.” If people lose their money it’s just a horrible idea,” Hoffman told Business Insider.”

A new user signs up for the OpenBazaar testnet every two minutes and Hoffman hopes to find all the bugs before the public launch.  Hoffman once wanted to run the next generation digital black market, but now he is advertising it as a new Etsy.  The lack of central authority means lower take rates or the fees sellers incur for selling on the site.  Hoffman says it will be good competition for online marketplaces because it will force peer-to-peer services like eBay and Etsy find new ways to add value-added services instead of raising fees on customers.

 

Whitney Grace, May 2, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

A Partnership or a Sale for Gartner

May 1, 2016

I read an article that confused me. Its title is “Mirum Partners with Forrester to Help Brands Compete with Disruptors like Airbnb and Alibaba.” Forrester is a mid tier consulting firm. The outfit lights up my radar with the lightning over waves and the confusion of blobs in its analyses.

Mirum, on the other hand, is a “global digital agency.” This evokes images in my mind of ad professionals on the beach in Half Moon Bay watching videographers shoot footage of people riding horses through the surf in an inspired attempt to sell a consumer product. Mirum tells me “never to lose my sense of wonder.” Okay. Noted.

Now back to the write up.

Both Forrester and Mirum provide services to other organizations. That means both are consultants moving information around for money. That’s a noble pursuit, but the question is, “Who is paying whom?” Did Forrester sell consulting to Mirum? Did Mirum sell consulting to Forrester? Are both just teaming up in order to pump up their revenues with the idea that a small B&B in Camden, Maine, can compete with Airbnb?

I learned:

J. Walter Thompson digital agency Mirum in APAC has announced that it’s bringing on board Forrester’s Digital Maturity Assessment Tool. The agency believes using the tool will help support its work in trying to help more traditional brands modernize and digitize their businesses, in order to better compete against the new breed of disruptors like Airbnb and Uber.

Ah, ha. A tool. And for which prospects? The answer is Asian markets. Too bad for the B&B in Camden.

My hunch is that Forrester has a service and Mirum is going to try to sell it. I further assume that if and when Mirum makes some sales, both Mirum and Forrester will chop off some of the prime rib.

Why doesn’t Forrester market its own products? Why does Forrester use blobs instead of hard analytics in its gentle waves? From Harrod’s Creek, it appears that making sales directly might be too hard for the mid tier folks. Hence, a partnership.

Stephen E Arnold, May 1, 2016

Research Outlines Overview of Dark Web Landscape

April 27, 2016

The Dark Web continues to be a subject of study. Coin Desk published an article, Bitcoin Remains Most Popular Digital Currency on Dark Web, reporting on a study from two professors in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Their research found that Dark Web sites offered illegal goods and services in 12 categories, such as arms, drugs, and finance. As may be expected, the results revealed bitcoin to be the preferred digital currency of hidden-services commerce. We learned,

“The report, “Cryptopolitik and the Darknet,” which appeared in the February-March edition of Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, analyzed about 300,000 web addresses, identifying 5,205 live websites, out of which 2,723 were classified as illicit with a “high degree of confidence.” Of those, each was placed in one of twelve categories, including drugs, arms, and finance. The drugs category was the most frequently identified, with 423 websites, followed by finance with 327 websites. 1,021 websites were categorized as “other” by the research team. Among the financial websites identified as illicit, there were three categories: bitcoin-based methods for money-laundering, stolen credit card numbers and trade in counterfeit currency.”

In addition to this overview of the Dark Web landscape, the article also points out previous research which pokes holes in the conceptualization of the Dark Web as completely anonymous. An attack costing $2,500 is the price of busting a bitcoin user. Playing defense, a coin-mixing service called CleanCoin, helps bitcoin users remain traceless. What will be the next move?

 

Megan Feil, April 27, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Content Marketers at Risk

April 19, 2016

I read “Goldman Sachs Leads a $30 million Round for Persado’s AI-Based, Automated Copywriting Service.” My first reactions:

  1. Search engine optimization wizards will have a tool to increase the flow of baloney search and content marketing to people who write blogs
  2. Journalists, who have been subject to reduction in force actions, may face fierce competition from a smart software
  3. Teachers of college composition will have a tough time figuring out if the student essays are coming from fraternity and sorority reference files or from a cloud based writing service.

According to the write up, the service is a “cognitive one.” Poor IBM. The company wants Watson to be the cognitive champion. Now an outfit which uses software to create articles has embraced the concept. I noted:

The company [Persado] has cataloged 1 million words and phrases that marketers use in their copy, and scored those words based on sentiment analysis and the structure of marketing pitches defined by a message’s format, linguistic structure, description, emotional language, and its actual call to action. The software can create a message, optimize its language, and then translate that message into any of 23 language…

There is a bright side. IBM could purchase Persado and then use the system to flog its confection of Lucene, acquired technology, and home brew code into a system which tirelessly promotes IBM.

Stephen E Arnold, April 19, 2016

The Marketing Case for Value from Dark Web

April 19, 2016

For marketers crying for more user data, the Dark Web may present a challenge — or not. A longread article, Bitcoin Remains Most Popular Digital Currency on Dark Web from Coin Desk reiterates the landscape of the Dark Web is more nuanced than the headlines screaming cybercrime suggest. Despite the inability to know users’ locations, identities and interests, which may worry marketers, several points are raised asking marketers if there is possibility for value in the Dark Web. Explaining more about the potential benefits to marketing and sales, cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs is quoted,

“‘Plenty of would-be, legitimate consumers come from regions of the world where perhaps governments don’t want their consumers visiting certain places or buying certain items. And for those consumers, [the Dark Web] can be a boon, and potential positive for retailers and marketers,’ Krebs writes in an e-mail. Krebs goes on to say that much of the supposed danger posed by the Dark Web is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to cybersecurity.”

This useful piece not only provides insights into how the marketing industry views Tor, but also serves as a handy layman’s guide to Dark Web (synonymous with darknet and dark net) terminology and a brief history. Additionally, the founder of Adland presents an interesting case for opening a .onion site to complement a site on the Surface Web, or the “regular” internet.

 

Megan Feil, April 19, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Tumblr Tumbles, Marking yet Another Poor Investment Decision by Yahoo

April 14, 2016

The article on VentureBeat titled As Tumblr’s Value Head to Zero, a Look at Where It Ranks Among Yahoo’s 5 Worst Acquisition Deals pokes fun at Yahoo’s tendency to spend huge amounts of cash for companies only to watch them immediately fizzle. In the number one slot is Broadcast.com. Remember that? Me neither. But apparently Yahoo doled out almost $6B in 1999 to wade into the online content streaming game only to shut the company down after a few years. And thusly, we have Mark Cuban. Thanks Yahoo. The article goes on with the ranking,

“2. GeoCities: Yahoo paid $3.6 billion for this dandy that let people who knew nothing about the Web make web pages. Fortunately, this was also mostly shut down, and nearly all of its content vanished, saving most of us from a lot GIF-induced embarrassment. 3. Overture: Yahoo paid $1.63 billion in 2003 for this search engine firm after belatedly realizing that some upstart called Google was eating its lunch. Spoiler alert: Google won.”

The article suggests that Tumblr would slide into fourth place given the $1.1B price tag and two year crash and burn. It also capitulates that there are other ways of measuring this list, such as: levels of hard to watch. By that metric, cheaper deals with more obvious mismanagement like the social sites Flickr or Delicious might take the cake.

 

Chelsea Kerwin, April 14, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Weekly Watson: On the Road to Italy

April 9, 2016

Don’t art history majors flock to Italy? IBM Watson is not going to marvel at David or the Vatican’s collection of Roman statues.

I read “IBM Watson Takes Analytics Prowess Overseas: Supercomputer to Work on Big Data and Genomics in Italy.”

I learned:

Watson, IBM’s supercomputing brainchild, will soon have its own pied-à-terre across the pond. Big Blue announced Thursday it would launch its first Watson Health European Center of Excellence in Milan near the Human Technopole Italy 2040 research campus.

No revenue yet. The write up revealed:

IBM data scientists, engineers and programmers will collaborate with organizations across Europe to create a new class of cloud-based connected solutions to help speed research of new treatments, personalized medicine, and discoveries to boost public health management while advancing sustainable health systems.

How long will it take for Watson to cure IBM’s revenue respiratory problem? Will the Italian climate, food, and get ‘er done attitude do the job? We can, as always, ask Watson.

Stephen E Arnold, April 9, 2016

Potential Corporate Monitoring Concerns Tor Users

April 7, 2016

The Dark Web has been seen as a haven by anyone interested in untraceable internet activity. However, a recent article from Beta News, Tor Project says Google, CloudFlare and others are involved in dark web surveillance and disruption, brings to light the potential issue of Tor traffic being monitored. A CDN and DDoS protection service called CloudFlare has introduced CAPTCHAs and cookies to Tor for monitoring purpose and accusations about Google and Yahoo have also been made. The author writes,

“There are no denials that the Tor network — thanks largely to the anonymity it offers — is used as a platform for launching attacks, hence the need for tools such as CloudFlare. As well as the privacy concerns associated with CloudFlare’s traffic interception, Tor fans and administrators are also disappointed that this fact is being used as a reason for introducing measures that affect all users. Ideas are currently being bounced around about how best to deal with what is happening, and one of the simpler suggestions that has been put forward is adding a warning that reads “Warning this site is under surveillance by CloudFlare” to sites that could compromise privacy.”

Will a simple communications solution appease Tor users? Likely not, as such a move would essentially market Tor as providing the opposite service of what users expect. This will be a fascinating story to see unfold as it could be the beginning of the end of the Dark Web as it is known, or perhaps the concerns over loss of anonymity will fuel further innovation.

 

Megan Feil, April 7, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

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