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How do You use Your Email?

April 28, 2015

Email is still a relatively new concept in the grander scheme of technology, having only been around since the 1990s.  As with any human activity, people want to learn more about the trends and habits people have with email.  Popular Science has an article called “Here’s What Scientists Learned In The Largest Systematic Study Of Email Habits” with a self-explanatory title.  Even though email has been around for over twenty years, no one is quite sure how people use it.

So someone decided to study email usage:

“…researchers from Yahoo Labs looked at emails of two million participants who sent more than 16 billion messages over the course of several months–by far the largest email study ever conducted. They tracked the identities of the senders and the recipients, the subject lines, when the emails were sent, the lengths of the emails, and the number of attachments. They also looked at the ages of the participants and the devices from which the emails were sent or checked.”

The results were said to be so predictable that an algorithm could have predicted them. Usage has a strong correlation to age groups and gender. The young write short, quick responses, while men are also brief in their emails.  People also responded more quickly during work hours and the more emails they receive the less likely they are to write a reply.  People might already be familiar with these trends, but the data is brand new to data scientists.  The article predicts that developers will take the data and design better email platforms.

How about creating an email platform that merges a to-do list with emails, so people don’t form their schedules and tasks from the inbox.

Whitney Grace, April 28, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Digital Economy Growth Engines Lose RPMs

April 24, 2015

Short honk: I read several articles about the financial reports of Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. I enjoyed the explanations about the revenues and profits. Here are the write ups open on my desktop monitor at this moment:

Is there a message to be decrypted from these data? Yep.

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2015

Is Yahoo Is Like a 10 Year Old Rescued Boxer?

April 23, 2015

Yahoo is a tired old girl much like my 10 year old boxer. Some days Tess chases a butterfly or bird. She takes five or six steps and then flops down to catch her breath. Other days, Tess just naps and lets the hectic high tech world of Harrod’s Creek drift past her.

Yahoo is like Tess.

I read “Yahoo’s Mayer Buys Herself More Time.” Hiring a Xoogler to run a giant company is not a sure fire management move destined to deliver success. Some Xooglers do okay for themselves away from the quirky, attention deficit disorder, and entitlement charged world of Google. Others struggle.

This Bloomberg story seems to highlight a candidate for a business school case study. I can visualize the opening sentence now: “Marissa Mayer looked up from her tidy pile of Yahoo home page redesigns to learn from her new assistant to the assistant to the assistant vice president that she was one hour late for her 9 am meeting with the heads of ABC, CBS, and NBC…”

Back to the real world of hard hitting journalism. The article reported:

Mayer has proven she has the skill to get what she wants from adversaries, allies and partners. But her negotiation with Wall Street is her riskiest yet. She’s painting herself into a corner if her turnaround strategy fails. If it does, she will have shrunk Yahoo down to a size that attracts an aggressive buyer.

Perhaps the Xoogler at AOL will buy Yahoo? One plus one equals three for some Xoogler fans. I don’t care. I am more interested in the great new world of Yahoo search. Yikes, I have to take Tess for a short walk. She is a tired girl and needs special consideration. Just like Yahoo.

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2015

Yahoo News Off the Rails

April 21, 2015

The article titled Purple Reign on The Baffler tells the story of the derailment of Yahoo News. The author, Chris Lehmann, exerts all of his rhetorical powers to convey his own autobiography of having served as a Yahoo News editor after being downsized from a more reputable publication, along with any number of journalists and editors. The main draw was that Yahoo News was one of the few news organizations that were not bankrupt. In spite of being able to produce some high-caliber news, writers and editors at Yahoo were up against a massive bureaucracy that at its best didn’t understand the news and at its worst didn’t trust the news. For example, the author relays the story of one piece he posted on militia tactics of ambushing police by breaking the law,

“Before the post went live, I fielded an anxious phone call from a senior manager in Santa Monica. He was alarmed… for a simple reason: “I haven’t heard of this before.” I struggled to find a diplomatic way to explain that publishing things that readers hadn’t heard before was something that a news organization should be doing a whole lot more of: it was, in fact, the definition of “news.”

One of the saddest aspects of the corporate-controlled news outreach was the attempt to harness the power of the traffic on Yahoo’s site by making all internet users reporters. Obvious to anyone who has ever read a comment section online, web users range from the rational to the bizarrely enraged to the racist/sexist/horrifying. Not long after this Ask America initiative tanked, Lehmann’s job description was “overhauled” and he resigned.
Chelsea Kerwin, April 21, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Quote to Note: Search and Its Infancy

April 19, 2015

Navigate to “Moving Search Forward.” Here’s the Marissa Mayer quote which I highlighted:

We firmly believe that search is still in its infancy – and this partnership marks the next chapter in our exploration of how to make search truly great.

Like Penelope’s suitors, vendors are pretty convincing until Ulysses turns up. By the way, search has been a thing for more than 50 years, and I am getting tired of the “baby” metaphor. Search has plateaued, and it will take more than a former Googler’s rah rahs to make a difference.

Stephen E Arnold, April 19, 2015

Yahoo: A Portion of Its Fantastical Search History

April 15, 2015

I have a view of Yahoo. Sure, it was formed when I was part of the team that developed The Point (Top 5% of the Internet). Yahoo had a directory. We had a content processing system. We spoke with Yahoo’s David Filo. Yahoo had a vision, he said. We said, No problem.

The Point became part of Lycos, embracing Fuzzy and his round ball chair. Yahoo, well, Yahoo just got bigger and generally went the way of general purpose portals. CEOs came and went. Stakeholders howled and then sulked.

I read or rather looked at “Yahoo. Semantic Search From Document Retrieval to Virtual Assistants.” You can find the PowerPoint “essay” or “revisionist report” on SlideShare. The deck was assembled by the director of research at Yahoo Labs. I don’t think this outfit is into balloons, self driving automobiles, and dealing with complainers at the European Commission. Here’s the link. Keep in mind you may have to sign up with the LinkedIn service in order to do anything nifty with the content.

The premise of the slide deck is that Yahoo is into semantic search. After some stumbles, semantic search started to become a big deal with Google and rich snippets, Bing and its tiles, and Facebook with its Like button and the magical Open Graph Protocol. The OGP has some fascinating uses. My book CyberOSINT can illuminate some of these uses.

And where is Yahoo in the 2008 to 2010 interval when semantic search was abloom? Patience, grasshopper.

Yahoo was chugging along with its Knowledge Graph. If this does not ring a bell, here’s the illustration used in the deck:


The date is 2013, so Yahoo has been busy since Facebook, Google, and Microsoft were semanticizing their worlds. Yahoo has a process in place. Again from the slide deck:


I was reminded of the diagrams created by other search vendors. These particular diagrams echo the descriptions of the now defunct Siderean Software server’s set up. But most content processing systems are more alike than different.

Read more

Contextual Search Recommended for Sales Pros

April 14, 2015

Sales-productivity pro Doug Winter penned “Traditional Search is Dying as Sales Organizations Make Way for “Context” for Entrepreneur. He explains how companies like Google, Apple, and Yahoo have long been developing “contextual” search, which simply means using data it has gathered about the user to deliver more relevant answers to queries, instead of relying on keywords alone. Consumers have been benefiting from this approach online for years now, and Winter says it’s time for salespeople to apply contextual search to their internal content. He writes:

“The key to how contextual search delivers on its magic is the fact that the most advanced ECM systems are, like Google’s search algorithms, much more knowledgeable about the person searching than we care to admit. What you as a sales rep see is tailored to you because when you sign in, the system knows what types of products you sell and in what geographic areas.”

“Tie in customer data from your customer relationship management (CRM) system and now the ECM knows what buying stage and industry your prospect is in. Leveraging that data, you as a rep shouldn’t then see a universe of content you have to manually sort through. Instead, according to Ring DNA, you should see just a handful of useful pieces you otherwise would have spent 30 hours a month searching for on your own.”

As long as the chosen algorithm succeeds in catching what a salesperson needs in its net, this shift could be a terrific time saver. Sales departments should do their research, however, before investing in any contextual-search tools.

Cynthia Murrell, April 14, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Yahoo Acronym Mania: MaVeNS

January 28, 2015

Short honk: I read “Marissa Mayer Pretends “MaVeNS” Isn’t A Silly Acronym, Says It Represents Yahoo’s Future.” The odd ball acronym is getting less coverage than Yahoo’s Alibaba tax play. I am not sure if MaVeNS will be sticky. According to the write up the acronym is supposed to denote for me mobile, video, native advertising, and social.

My question is, “What happened to search?” I thought Yahoo was going to create a better search system. I would have accepted the bone of the “S” representing search. Oh, well. Xooglers are a breed apart. But the US government does a much better job with acronyms and code names than Yahoo I believe. Oh, Yahoo does a better job with tax surfing than some other companies.

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2015

Inside the Creative Commons Dataset from Yahoo and Flickr

January 5, 2015

These are not our grandparents’ photo albums. With today’s technology, photos and videos are created and shared at a truly astounding pace. Much of that circulation occurs on Flickr, who teamed up with Yahoo to create a cache of nearly 100 million photos and almost 800,000 videos with creative commons licenses for us all to share. gives us the details in “The Ins and Outs of the Yahoo Flickr Creative Commons 100 Million Dataset.” Researchers Bart Thomée and David A. Shamma report:

“To understand more about the visual content of the photos in the dataset, the Flickr Vision team used a deep-learning approach to find the presence of visual concepts, such as people, animals, objects, events, architecture, and scenery across a large sample of the corpus. There’s a diverse collection of visual concepts present in the photos and videos, ranging from indoor to outdoor images, faces to food, nature to automobiles.”

The article goes on to explore the frequency of certain tags, both user-annotated and machine-generated. The machine tags include factors like time, location, and camera used, suggesting rich material for data analysts to play with. The researchers conclude with praise for their team’s project:

“The collection is one of the largest released for academic use, and it’s incredibly varied—not just in terms of the content shown in the photos and videos, but also the locations where they were taken, the photographers who took them, the tags that were applied, the cameras that were used, etc. The best thing about the dataset is that it is completely free to download by anyone, given that all photos and videos have a Creative Commons license. Whether you are a researcher, a developer, a hobbyist or just plain curious about online photography, the dataset is the best way to study and explore a wide sample of Flickr photos and videos.”

See the article for more details on those tags found within the massive dataset. To download the whole assemblage from Yahoo Labs, click here.

Cynthia Murrell, January 05, 2015

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Yahoo: The Ghosts of Christmas Past

January 2, 2015

I read “The Day Marissa Mayer’s Honeymoon at Yahoo Ended.” The write up did not mention Ms. Mayer’s penchant for arriving late. That’s a plus. The article states:

Why was Mayer throwing away all the goodwill she had earned with a series of policies that were, at best, poorly rolled out and badly explained to employees or, at worst, plain mistakes. They wondered, more seriously than at any time since she joined, if Mayer was actually up for the job of saving Yahoo.

What Ms. Mayer did, however, as many in attendance will recall, was read a children’s book. The article points out:

No one understood what Mayer was trying to say.

The article walks through a number of interesting managerial actions, including the variation on Neutron Jack’s winnowing of the troops in GE’s business units. Yep, he actually yelled in the meeting I had the thrill of attending. He also turned red. I know that fear was part of the method. Did not work for me, however.

The article provides a useful list of Googley actions that used to work at the GOOG. At Yahoo, the shadow of Semel created a different ethos. Resignation? Indifference? I am not sure.

If you want more about missteps, you will be interested in the book the article promotes. Why not advertise on Yahoo?

In my opinion, Yahoo is wending its way to the same fate that befell Lycos. Is there a Marley amongst the Yahooligans?

Stephen E Arnold, January 2, 2015

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