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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23 posts categorized "Weblogs"

March 12, 2012

#SXSW Trip Report Part 2: Being There

(See here for Part 1)

Here's one summary of the experience that's making the rounds:


Missing sxsw


I wasn't able to be there all that long, but my impression was different.  Men of all colors (especially if you count tattoos), and lots more women (many tattooed also, and extensively).   I had a chance to talk with Doc Searls (I'm a huge Cluetrain fan) briefly at the Digital Harvard reception at The Parish; he suggested (my words) the increased ratio of women is a good barometer for the evolution of the festival from narcissistic nerdiness toward more sensible substance.  Nonetheless, on the surface, it does remain a sweaty mosh pit of digital love and frenzied networking.  Picture Dumbo on spring break on 6th and San Jacinto.  With light sabers:


SXSW light sabers


Sight that will haunt my dreams for a while: VC-looking guy, blazer and dress shirt, in a pedicab piloted by skinny grungy student (?) Dude, learn Linux, and your next tip from The Man at SXSW might just be a term sheet.

So whom did I meet, and what did I learn:

I had a great time listening to PRX.org's John Barth.  The Public Radio Exchange aggregates independent content suitable for radio (think The Moth), adds valuable services like consistent content metadata and rights management, and then acts as a distribution hub for stations that want to use it.  We talked about how they're planning to analyze listenership patterns with that metadata and other stuff (maybe gleaning audience demographics via Quantcast) for shaping content and targeting listeners.  He related for example that stations seem to prefer either 1 hour programs they can use to fill standard-sized holes, or two- to seven- minute segments they can weave into pre-existing programs.  Documentary-style shows that weave music and informed commentary together are especially popular.  We explored whether production templates ("structured collaboration": think "Mad Libs" for digital media) might make sense.  Maybe later.

Paul Payack explained his Global Language Monitor service to me, and we explored its potential application as a complement if not a replacement for episodic brand trackers.  Think of it as a more sophisticated and source-ecumenical version of Google Insights for Search.

Kara Oehler's presentation on her Mapping Main Street project was great, and it made me want to try her Zeega.org service (a Harvard metaLAB project) as soon as it's available, to see how close I can get to replicating The Yellow Submarine for my son, with other family members spliced in for The Beatles.  Add it to my list of other cool projects I like, such as mrpicassohead.

Peter Boyce and Zach Hamed from Hack Harvard, nice to meet you. Here's a book that grew out of the class at MIT I mentioned -- maybe you guys could cobble together an O'Reilly deal out of your work!

Finally,  congrats to Perry Hewitt (here with Anne Cushing) and all her Harvard colleagues on a great evening!


Perry hewitt anne cushing



February 02, 2012

Please Help Me Get Listed On The #Google #Currents Catalog. And Please ReTweet!

Hi folks, I need a favor.  I need 200 subscribers to this blog via Google Currents to get Octavianworld listed in the Currents catalog.  If you're reading this on an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, follow this link:


If you are looking at this on a PC, just snap this QR code with your iPhone or Android phone after getting the Currents app.




Here's what I look like on Currents:





What is Currents?  If you've used Flipboard or Zite, this is Google's entry. If you've used an RSS reader, but haven't used any of these yet, you're probably a nerdy holdout (it takes one to know one).  If you've used none of these, and have no idea what I'm talking about, apps like these help folks like me (and big media firms too) publish online magazines that make screen-scrollable content page-flippable and still-clickable.  Yet another distribution channel to help reach new audiences.  

Thank you!

October 18, 2010

Analytics Commons Post in Google Analytics Blog Today @analyticscommns @linchen @perryhewitt #analytics

Our Analytics Commons project (which I previously wrote about here) got written up in a post on the Google Analytics blog today. ( Thanks to Nick Mihailovski at Google, and to Perry Hewitt at Harvard!  And of course to my partners Lin and Kehan at New Circle Consulting!)

June 27, 2009

Future Forward "What's Next In Tech": "DARC" Days Ahead

Thursday evening I attended Future Forwards' "What's Next In Tech: Exploring The Growth Opportunities of 2009 and Beyond" at the BU School Of Management.  The second of the evening's two panels (moderated with usual aplomb by Scott Kirsner) included Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan.  Brian described the criteria Hubspot uses as part of its hiring process using the acronym "DARC":

  • Digital natives -- active presences in a number of places on the Web
  • Analytic -- not just comfortable with, but passionate about data and the tools to play with them 
  • Reach -- their digital presences have a large number of friends and followers that potentially help Hubspot's viral marketing efforts 
  • Content creators -- their digital contributions provide signs of intelligent life 
Very useful and memorable.  Also, echoed the "Show, don't tell" philosophy we had at ArsDigita a decade ago.

Brian noted the emergence of Boston as a center of digital marketing thought leadership, citing (among others) local heroes David Meerman Scott, Chris Brogan, and Paul Gillin, and mentioning firms like Communispace and Crimson Hexagon (where my friend Ms. Perry Hewitt was the first CMO before leaving a few weeks ago to lead online communications for Harvard University).

So what did the panelists think would be the opportunities to track going forward (generally, and in Massachusetts in particular)?  My notes (please correct any inaccuracies and ommissions):

  • Tim Healy, (CEO Enernoc and our former landlord in Contact Networks' early days -- thanks Tim!) -- Water
  • Brian -- (seconding Michael Greeley) -- Connected Healthcare
  • Ellen Rubin -- Business Intelligence (naturally, I agree) 
  • Helen Greiner -- Cloud Computing 
  • Mike Dornbrook  -- Smart Grids (After my recent MITX judging experience I think there's lots of possibilities here too!)
  • Neal Sequeira (GC VC who backed video at network Scanscout, another piece of the ArsDigita diaspora) -- The "real-time web" (here's what I think that could mean)
  • Michael Greeley -- robotics specifically, "connected healthcare" via the intersection of robotics and healthcare digitization/ informatics more generally 
  • Bijan Sabet -- Education (specifically mentioned using online games to teach, citing 8D World as an example)
Pet peeve of the evening: student entrepreneurs who complain that VCs don't do enough to reach out to student entrepreneurs.  Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy if they keep at it, no?  "Capture-it-in-a-bottle" moment of the evening: Scott Kirsner disarming said student as "cranky".

June 01, 2009

The Future Of Paid Content

Some are trying to put the "free content" genie back into the bottle and return to a pay model of some sort.  

This will be tough.  One problem is that (most, though not all) publishers have taught us to expect a lot for "free".  Another is that the world is awash in content, so if you're a publisher, hiding yours behind a pay wall just makes room for someone else to try to have his (ad-supported) day in the sun.  Snobs contend, "Water everywhere, but only a few drops (ours) worth drinking."   Maybe, but with production and communication costs low, and lots of people out there, there are enough exceptions to disprove the rule.  Regardless, focusing on these issues misses the point about where the value for the average reader is today.  The future of paid content lies not in the content itself, but in serving two adjacent needs:  filtering what's relevant, and helping audiences to use it productively.

Let's look at filtering first, and let's take Twitter as an example.  At north of 20 million users, and even with a churn rate fluctuating around 50%, you can't ignore it (and recent research suggests business people are paying attention).  The challenge is finding useful tweeters. (Digerati friends please help -- is that what one who tweets is called?  Or, is it "tweeps", or "tweeple", or some such?)  There are some early stage services probing at this: besides Twitter Search (formerly Summize / monetized via... TBD) and its upcoming "Discovery Engine", there's Hashtags (search by / subscribe to... wait for it... hashtags; monetized via tip jar),  Microplaza (tweets from people you follow; monetized via subsidy from parent co, which is an enterprise-focused collaboration platform ASP), Tweetmeme (Digg for Twitter; monetized via sponsorships), Wefollow (like the Yellow Pages of Twitter), plus a half a dozen more I've heard of and tried and doubtless dozens I haven't (see here for more).  (Michael Yoon and I are working on one, stay tuned.)   Is some refined, scalable version of one or more of these systems worth $2-3 bucks a month to some reasonable sub-segment of the Web-using public?  Related memo to Google: it would be worth $2-3 month to me to have Google suggest good posts from my blogroll (I use Google Reader) based on parsing my emails, which it currently does to serve me ads in Gmail.

Second, and perhaps potentially far more lucrative, are services to help audiences do stuff with content.  Be an affiliate for schools that sell courses related to the content, for example.  Last time I checked, the market for education, particularly online / just-in-time education, was growing at a healthy clip.  More simply, offer lectures by content authors / editors and sell tickets to these events, or be an affiliate for others who do that with your content. 

My favorite creative approach to segmenting audience needs and monetizing accordingly comes from the musician Jill Sobule, whose http://jillsnextrecord.com/ (scroll down to "A Message From Jill") does a nice job of unpacking all the reasons why folks engage with her music, and then pricing related offers accordingly.  Folks wonder about Myspace's future, what with the Google deal expiring soon and all.  I wonder:  does Jill's approach suggest one path might be to leapfrog Eventful and function as an uber-agent for the bands making their homes on Myspace?  

February 16, 2009

Facebook's New TOS: What About Syndicated Content?

Al Essa wonders how you can retain some control over your Facebook content given its new TOS.  

I license my posts here under the Creative Commons 3.0 license.  I syndicate these posts automatically to my Facebook profile through Facebook Notes.  

Which governs Facebook's rights to my syndicated content, CC3 or Facebook's TOS?

June 23, 2008

Qik+Twitter+Summize+(Spinvision): We Have Met Big Brother, And He Is Us

Imagine if you could sit above the world, at whatever altitude you wish,  and see anything through anyone and everyone's eyes, in real time, filtering these streams to let through only those things you're actually interested in. 

Today, we have real-time video streaming (now -- though not always practically -- in 3G) via folks with Nokia N95's and Qik.  Qik lets people know you are streaming via Twitter, and you can filter these "tweets" with Summize (which I wrote about yesterday)  You can also get your Qik streams onto YouTube automaticallySpinvision, a brother to Twittervision and Flickrvision, lets you see videos as they are uploaded to YouTube -- superimposed on a map of the Earth.

Now let's roll ahead 12-18 months.  N95's won't be the only devices with high quality camera/ video capture and GPS capabilities -- so, many more people will have this capability.  3G will be more widely available and adopted.  Twitter and Summize will be features of much larger players' services, so they too will move from the fringe to the mainstream as more people inevitable discover the utility of microblogging for different purposes, and the utility of filtering all that microblogging (and microvlogging).   Presumably, you'll be able to stream simultaneously on Qik and YouTube.   Google's just announced the availability of Google Earth running in a browser (though strangely, they didn't keep in sync with the release of Firefox 3.0), so we'll be able to  make our mashups even more dynamic and accessible.  Throw in a little facial recognition to boot, while you're at it.

What does all this add up to? A crowd-sourced, global/hyper-local, digital video, roll-your-own-channel, keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-closer news network. 

What does that make you?


Imagine if rather than turning over a videotape to the authorities, she had streamed this.  Or if Zimbabwe, Darfur, Afghanistan, Iraq, or New Orleans for that matter, were live and unedited, 24/7, from a thousand sources each.   How will that change us?

June 22, 2008

Summize: Making Twitter More Useful

A friend pointed me to Summize today.  Summize allows you to search Twitter's feed by keyword.  Even better, it allows you the option of subscribing to a feed for your search.  In principle, "microblogging" via services like Twitter provide more immediate news coverage than publishing to blogs or traditional news outlets.  What I don't know is how long the lag time between an item's appearance on Twitter and its appearance in your feed reader would be.  But I suspect it's a lot shorter than the alternatives.   So, I suspect what Summize has done will be very good for both of them, and that other media will rush to aggregate or copy Summize's service.  Hope their server hamsters are well fed, or that they're renting Amazon's. (BTW, it appears Summize has narrowed the scope of its service.)

April 22, 2008

Picked Up On MITX Exchange

Octavianworld is now a featured blog on MITX Exchange.  (Thanks to MITX for the privilege, and especially to Dean Whitney for all his hard work building that site.)  I'm honored to be there, in good company, and hope to put back even a little of the lots I've learned through MITX people and events.

Upcoming Enterprise 2.0 Panel: "What Blogging Brings To Business"

I'm joining Jessica Lipnack, Bill Ives, Patti Anklam, and Doug Cornelius on the "What Blogging Brings To Business" Panel at Enterprise 2.0 in Boston on June 10.