About

I'm a partner in the advanced analytics group at Bain & Company, the global management consulting firm. My primary focus is on marketing analytics (bio). I've been writing here (views my own) about marketing, technology, e-business, and analytics since 2003 (blog name explained).

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16 posts categorized "E-Learning"

October 10, 2007

Carmun.com Re-Launches

via Lori Cohen, this news of the re-launch of Carmun.com, an education-focused "social search" service which I wrote about a while back:

Congratulations Lori and Jonathan!

March 10, 2007

Clouded Vision

My new colleague Steven Forth, who is CTO of eMonitor (the content technology arm of Monitor Group) referred me last night to Many Eyes (http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/home), which is a social data visualization and interpretation service developed by the Collaborative User Experience (CUE) Research Group at IBM's Watson Research Center.   As the intersection of social software and content analysis is currently a high-priority professional interest, I decided to try it out. 

Among other visualization approaches to structured data sets, Many Eyes generates tag clouds from free text files.  Steven noted that in particular, the two-word view seems like a very powerful 80-20 cut at inferring predominant meaning in a body of text. 

I experimented by exporting the contents of this blog as a text file, progressively scrubbing useless Typepad artifact words and html tags that appear frequently (like "title", "breaks", "comments", and my name) out of the source file -- to do this I simply ran "edit/replace/'word', '[]'" in Windows Notepad  -- and then publishing the file on Many Eyes.  Here's the result (click on the image to manipulate the cloud on Many Eyes):


The two-word view does a pretty decent job of communicating the themes I write about, I think.  Unintended side benefit:  highlights recurring cliches and verbal tics I need to purge from my writing, like "drive higher" (argh).

This whole effort took about 30 minutes, from registration to pasting the syndication html into this post.  Two-thirds of that time was spent scrubbing the data iteratively.  This could have gone faster in one of two ways.  First, Many Eyes could provide a custom scrubbing interface where I could register multiple words to be eliminated or replaced from a text file.  Second, and better, they could allow users to share not only comments, but scrubbing filters that would be applicable to data sets coming from common sources with common problems, such as Typepad exports, or government information.

Beyond this, I can imagine a thematic matching capability -- "based on two-word 'keyphrase' frequencies, this data set seems to have lots in common with these other ones..."  Such a capability could be further enhanced by ex-post user rating,  so people could confirm whether, for any given algorithmically-suggested match, the result was actually good, a la "was this useful to you?"  This, like the "Graphic Friendships" idea I wrote about a while back, could help to make the web browsing experience more productive.

Nice job guys! 

February 21, 2007

The "Edutainment" Future Is Now

With the help of several friends, I've written a wiki page on OpenACS.org that explains the "what" and the "why" surrounding the recent announcement that OpenACS/.LRN is the first to support the IMS LD specification for designing open-ended, collaborative learning experiences online.  It may seem arcane, and the examples may not be much to look at today, but this is a very big deal if you think that online games, communities, and learning have any synergistic future at all.

Yet another reminder (among others) about why I continue to believe in this project and the community that contributes to it.

December 10, 2006

Carmun.com: Social Search Goes Vertical

Jeffrey Rayport and I had breakfast last Friday with his former colleague Lori Cohen and Jonathan Edson, a former AOL business development executive who is founder and CEO of Carmun.com.  Carmun is (my words) "social citation search", principally for academics, but also for anyone trying to find (good) books or journal articles on a topic (like school kids and college students).

Carmun helps you find good materials on your subject by crawling the Library of Congress index, and parsing out citations from footnotes and bibliographies into a structured data format (is there an RSS extension that makes sense here?).  Search is "social" in that it relies on ratings by users to help filter results.  Next, Carmun allows you to create folders that contains the citations associated with your projects.  Once you've added all relevant citations to a project, you can download a complete, properly formatted bibliography to include in your scholarly work.  Beyond an individual's project folders, Carmun also supports setting up groups within which people can collaborate around projects with conventional tools like a calendar and a blog, to which members can subscribe via email alerts.

I like this service, which is currently in beta.  It seems to me like a really good example of an application that follows structured collaboration principles: citations are valuable things to share, especially within properly-defined project-oriented groups.  My only suggestion is that to improve usability, it might reorder the major boxes on the home page so that research is leftmost and community is rightmost.  This would help folks like me get the natural flow of using the service a lot better.  Past this point, I found it all pretty intuitive.

Good luck Lori and Jonathan!  (And thanks to J.B. Lyon for introducing me originally.)

November 01, 2006

Appassionata

This morning I went to the OpenACS/ .LRN conference Carl Blesius organized at Harvard Medical School.  Carl recruited Kathy Sierra, author of the Creating Passionate Users blog, as a keynote speaker.  13 pages of notes for a 45-minute presentation suggest she had my attention.  Here are some excerpts of my notes:

Continue reading "Appassionata" »

April 26, 2004

What I saw at the revolution: .LRN/ OpenACS meetings in Heidelberg, Germany

This post originally appeared on my first blog, hosted by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center.

Last week I went to Germany for the OpenACS and .LRN meetings in Heidelberg, hosted by .LRN Executive Board members Michael Hebgen and Carl Robert Blesius of Heidelberg University.

Continue reading "What I saw at the revolution: .LRN/ OpenACS meetings in Heidelberg, Germany" »