Internet Research

What’s the Semantic Web? Watch Jeopardy!

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Marketing, Media, Online Search, Semantic Web, TV, Web 3.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Over the past couple of years I’ve attended several presentations on Web 3.0 – aka the Semantic Web – which has been touted as the next great thing online. Unfortunately, the presenters were all tech people who were unable to really explain, “What is it?”

Last night I got a really good idea when I watched IBM’s latest challenge to human intelligence, the computers collectively known as ‘Watson’, play ‘Jeopardy!’ against two of the show’s all-time top winners – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The result of the first of three nights of competition was a tie between Watson and Rutter. A stunned Jennings came in a very distant third. (In honor of Watson’s ‘maiden voyage’, today’s tune is Herbie Hancock’s tune of that name played by the composer and a stellar quintet. You’ll finish reading before it’s over, but stick around and listen if you’d like.)

Until last night I had the general sense that the Semantic Web had to do with contextual responses to search queries. In other words, currently search engines simply find keywords in text on web sites and blogs that seem to match a query. Applications on the semantic web would determine the meaning of the query, text or other data and then create connections for the user. Still not so clear.

I did a Google search for ‘example of semantic web search’ and it yielded a mess of results – none of which really answered my curiosity. However, the Wikipedia result offered at least a true vision of the Semantic Web as described in 1999 by Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium and coiner of the phrase. In an online parallel to Martin Luther King’s famous speech, he said:

“I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.” (Interesting note: If you click on this ‘intelligent agents’ anchor text it will take you to another Wikipedia page that will confuse the hell out of you. ;-})

Anyhow, last night I watched in amazement as Watson properly interpreted most of the questions, ‘pushed his response button’ and weighed in first with correct answers (actually questions in Jeopardy! terms) in an appealing non-computer-y voice. And I got it! This is what the Semantic Web will mean. Actually it reminded me a bit of Oz behind the curtain.

And an article in today’s Boston Globe described the game show experiment in more specific terms, “IBM scientists launched the Watson project to test whether a computing system could rival a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed and accuracy. The “Jeopardy!’’ format was chosen because the game’s clues require analyzing meaning, humor, riddles, and other subtleties that humans can process, but are difficult for computers.” Difficult until now it looks like!

I’m looking forward to tonight’s continuation of the man-machine contest and its denouement tomorrow evening. Even though Watson appears to offer an exciting peek into the future, I can’t help but root for Ken and Brad. May the best – er – intelligent agent win!

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Inbound Marketing Summit 2010: Reflections on the Past Year and Where We Are Now

Posted on October 26, 2010. Filed under: Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This post reflects on the past year, on the anniversary of this blog. It also looks ahead to how we can each do something new to positively influence our businesses and our lives. A fitting musical post for the topic is Cole Porter’s “From This Moment On” swung by the late, great and gorgeous Lena Horne.

It’s taken me two weeks to finally put down a post about the Inbound Marketing Summit 2010 (IMS10). I’ve already written about the highlights for my upcoming “Working the Web” column in the Fairfield and Westchester County Business Journals. And a video interview I did at IMS10 with Chris Brogan will be posted on the Journals’ website — www.westfaironline.com.

But what I reserve for you, my blog readers, is always a more personal take on things. And I must admit that my reflection on IMS10 is as much a reflection on my past year in business.

Brian Halligan of Hubspot & David Meerman Scott

Top speakers at IMS10

When I attended IMS09 – exactly one year ago — I was an enormous sponge trying to suck up enough knowledge to offer clients credible advice about how to build a web presence and put it to work in support of their business goals. This year I can point to a bunch of success stories – with others in the works.

This year I’m no longer a ‘newbie’. Back in June I wrote in “Working the Web” about what I perceived as the need to connect the dots between the online and offline worlds, as well as our global and local presences. Turns out this was a major theme offered by a number of presenters at IMS10. In one short year, I’ve gone from apprentice to trend setter. This is by no means a self congratulatory statement. Rather it points up the fact that we’re in a new world and everyone’s figuring it out together. No one’s more expert than me. Or you.

There’s only one thing I can say with solid certainty about the new age of marketing and PR: There’s opportunity in them thar hills, my friends. It’s worth taking a deep breath and jumping in. It’s really worth ditching your Yellow Pages ad (finally, please!!) and investing that budget in a website that incorporates the option for a two-way conversation.

Figure out how to find your stakeholders online. It’s so easy you won’t believe it! Then offer them your talents, experience, advice and the passion you have for your business. Do you think they’ll be attracted to that? You can lay a sure bet on it. Once you attract them, talk to them. Listen to them. You’ll build a relationship that leads to business. This stuff works. Here’s a case in point.

A recent client insisted that he didn’t need his company’s new website optimized for search engines because that’s just not how they get their business. It’s all through referrals. That’s great, but I couldn’t believe that there weren’t other opportunities they could tap into using their site.

The client humored me when I told him I couldn’t in all good conscience create a new website without some keyword research and at least basic meta data optimization. PS…Several months later the site is coming up on page one of Google results for important keywords. For certain terms they’re number one and two on page one.

Guess what? They’re getting business from their website!! One reason – beyond my fabulous optimization prowess ;-} – is that few in their industry are doing anything to come up on searches. We’re at a moment where you can still be among the first and the few. All you have to do is do something.

Look, we’re still in a fear-based business climate. But as someone who totally evolved and rebuilt her business in the midst of one of the worst economic climates in our lives, please believe me when I say, “Do something new.” Invest a little in your business marketing – especially online. Do it with some real strategy in mind. Go out to an event or two and listen to what’s going on. Do a Twitter search on a hash tag subject of interest to your business. (Don’t worry. I’ll discuss hash tags next post and some interesting new developments around them.)

Check progress. Connect with some like-minded people. Get energized. That’s what IMS10 did for me.

What’s happened in your business in the last year and how are you re-energizing for the year to come?

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Back on the Content Wagon

Posted on July 31, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, Content, Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Jeff, the love of my life, was practicing his drums this morning to this killer big band tune from George Benson’s Big Boss Band album – “Without a Song.” It struck a chord because content is the ‘song’ of a blog. Enjoy listening and read on for the relevance.

You may notice that it’s the last day of July and this is my first blog post of the month. My days have been full creating content for others and working on a couple of exciting new ecommerce sites that we’ll promote via a content marketing strategy. I, who am thoroughly convinced of the role consistent online content creation plays in business success, fell off the content wagon.

I only created one other piece of content under my own banner this month. It was ‘Working the Web’, the column I co-author for the Fairfield and Westchester County Business Journals with my web development/graphic design partner Bernadette Nelson of Studio B Visual Communication. Ironically the topic was “6 Tips for Getting Over the Content Hurdle.”

What resulted from the column has provided a huge reminder that for my business, content is job one. I’ll share the story, because it’s critical for your business, too.

The first tip in the column is that to begin creating useful content, it’s first necessary to buy in to the fact that this is an important business objective. To support that statement to the Business Journals’ small business audience, I went searching for some recent study data.

Thanks to Google, I found the stats I wanted in the Small Business Success Index, a study created by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. I quoted the study in the column.

Working the Web runs in the two Journals’ print editions and also on www.westfaironline.com. Yesterday, it posted online. Within hours, I received an email from Shashib Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami for Network Solutions."Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions"

Remember that the reason this content making for the web works so well is that it’s searchable and findable by people with an interest in certain search terms. Obviously Shashi monitors the web to see where Network Solutions’ content is being disseminated. He found, read – and liked — the column that mentioned the NetSol study.

Shashi emailed to say ‘thanks’ for the mention – and to invite Bernadette and me to write a guest post for Network Solution’s www.growsmartbusiness.com blog. He also tweeted the url to the column to his almost 11,000 followers on Twitter – and is now following my tweets.

The takeaway: Well-made content created for a relatively local audience, once put online, can yield much farther-reaching connections and additional credibility for our businesses.

Given that blog posts are highly searchable and that I’m going to tag this one with his name and the study, Shashi will surely see it. So, thanks Shashi, for helping me get back onto the ‘content wagon’ and for a good idea for this post. Looking forward to writing one for you!!

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What’s Your Online Marketing Plan? A 4-step outline for success.

Posted on April 13, 2010. Filed under: Content, Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Today’s musical post has nothing to do with the marketing post. It has to do with the most beautiful week of the year – and an admitted bout of Spring fever. Everything’s bursting out in bloom. This April is particularly enjoyable as signs of economic recovery are in the air. Enjoy Sarah Vaughan’s upbeat take on I’ll Remember April. You might have to listen and read separately. I’m having trouble multi-tasking on this one!

Lately I’ve been speaking with a number of companies who have jumped into the online marketing world. They have a website, a blog, a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account. Only one problem. They don’t have a plan.

Here’s a typical scenario. The website hasn’t been updated for a Web 2.0 world. It hasn’t been optimized for search engines, there’s no clear call to action or data capture point, there’s no shareable information and the site doesn’t necessarily reflect the personality of the business or the interests of its audiences.

The blog is a bunch of commercials or just offers links to other people’s industry information – and it isn’t connected to the website. The last post was six months ago. The Facebook page has exactly the same information as the homepage of the website. The Twitter account tweets occasionally about god knows what to who knows whom.

Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” So these businesses are definitely on the right track. They just need to figure out the other 20% – the basics. Here’s an outline to start you thinking.

  1. Marketing communications basics still count. First, ask and answer these questions:
    • Who are your audiences?
    • What are your key messages?
    • How are you positioned relative to the competition and the marketplace as a whole?
    • Do you have a recognizable brand identity/personality and do you employ it consistently throughout your communications?
    • Do you have clear marketing objectives?
  2. Start with your website and make it a functional hub for all of your online marketing communications.
    • Redesign to reflect your company’s character and meet defined objectives.
    • Identify the keywords/search terms for which you can realistically hope to rank with search engines.
    • Optimize your site and the content.
    • Make sure your content is updated regularly and includes your key messages, keywords and search terms.
    • Use a variety of content platforms – text, video, audio, PowerPoint, etc. 
    • Add analytics.
    • Make your site interactive.
    • Add a blog or connect the one you already have.
    • Add info-sharing capabilities.
  3. Select social media that make sense for your business by making sure that your key audiences are there.
  4. Integrate and leverage everything.

In future posts we’ll flesh these topics out. In the meantime — Smell the flowers!!!

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‘Getting’ Twitter – An Aha! Moment

Posted on January 12, 2010. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Click the audio player!

Last week I was speaking with my longtime friend and colleague Keith Reynolds — a career-long technology guy who is now in the radiation security business. We were discussing a presentation I’m giving to the Stamford Cell of the Connecticut Technology Council Innovation Group with my graphic/web design partner Bernadette Nelson of Studio B/Visual Communication.

Not surprisingly, she and I had proposed the topic Re-Thinking Your Website: Tips for Making it a Business Magnet Using Web 2.0 Tools. Keith, who chairs the group, asked if it would be better to make it a talk about using Twitter, something he was particularly interested in and had made a New Year’s resolution to learn more about and implement.

I explained that Twitter is just one of many inbound marketing tools for engaging with audiences online and that it would be interesting for the group to hear about the bigger picture. Everyone’s talking about Social Media and Twitter, but it’s important to understand the context into which they may or may not fit – depending upon individual company goals.

 Keith persisted, saying that he didn’t really ‘get’ Twitter. How does it work? Why is it important? What does it do for you? He had opened an account but hadn’t yet jumped in.

 I decided to be a good friend and take the opportunity to offer Keith a little demonstration of Twitter’s powerful searchability and the access it gives to online communities that are already interested in what you’re offering – and who can share their helpful information and experience in return.

 After a few minutes of playing with keywords in Twitter Search, we typed in ‘Radiation Safety’ and were rewarded with a rich Twitter stream being produced by people discussing the topic. There were a number, to be sure, who were worrying about radiation danger from new airport screening machines. But there were also radiation security professionals and people from companies that put their employees through radiation safety courses and are concerned with security for a variety of reasons.

 Aha! There they were. A community of people who can benefit from Keith’s expertise and services.  But how, he asked, could he get involved with this group?

We noted the hashtags – for the uninitiated, a keyword phrase preceded by a # sign that helps track specific topics – in some of the community’s tweets. Keith is now keeping up on comments among the group and following certain leaders he’s identifying. When he attends an industry conference later in the month, he’s going to live tweet gems of information and include the hashtags we identified so they’ll find their way to his Twitter community, providing value to the group. He’s also deciding what free app he’ll use to manage his Twitter streams – TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop.

At the end of the presentation next week, we’re going to share Keith’s Twitter Aha Moment and begin an experiment to see if and how his activity on Twitter contributes to business success. Will keep you posted!

I remember my Twitter Aha Moment – when a Friday afternoon tweet about enjoying the weekend fall weather on a Harley got me found by several Harley Davidson enthusiasts and organizations within a few hours. Do you remember yours?

 In honor of Bernadette’s and my collaboration and the Innovation Cell, enjoy the tune “What’s New?” from the Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets live album. Hope B and I are a fraction as entertaining together as these two!! See you soon!!

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Spanning the Online World: From Exaflood to the Digital Divide to Public Policy

Posted on November 16, 2009. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

https://newprwordsandmusic.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/01-waters-of-march-aguas-de-marco-2.mp3

Late last week I attended a seminar that blew my mind on several levels. It was titled Connecticut and the Future of Broadband: What to think about Net Neutrality, Bridging the Digital Divide and are we really ready for the “Exaflood”. The event was conceived and presented by the Connecticut Technology Council, a high-powered group that is firmly in the lead when it comes to supporting technology innovation in my state.

 I’m going to blog about this seminar more than once, starting with an overview now and an introduction of the three panelists. They were:

  •  Bret Swanson, Senior Fellow & Director, Center for Global Innovation; President Entropy Economics, LLC. Bret blogs at www.bretswanson.com and I encourage anyone interested in the future of the web to make a beeline.
  • Curtis Hill, Director, Concepts for Adaptive Learning. Curtis retired as a Hewlett Packard exec to start a non-profit engaged in bridging the digital divide, one teacher at a time, one parent at a time, one child at a time. Learn more at www.eachchildlearns.org.
  • Jeff Blodgett, Vice President of Research, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center. Go to www.cerc.com.

 Ironically, the meeting room turned out to be the only one in the conference center not equipped with Internet access. And one of the moderators who was to dial in from a hotel on the West Coast was unable to attend due to a power outage. These glitches reminded us that technology isn’t perfect and that we’re all still human – a happy consequence. We all flexed, and the morning powerfully engaged us nonetheless.

 Mindblow #1 came with Bret Swanson’s presentation that compared a 2008 visionary study he was involved in with a recent two-year study of global Internet traffic and usage by Arbor Networks and the University of Michigan. The latter pretty much confirmed the predictions of Swanson’s study. Just to highlight…Internet traffic has grown 45% in the study period. The Arbor study analyzed 264 exabytes of global Internet traffic to reach conclusions on everything from which ISP’s have gained enormous ground (Google and Comcast) to what traffic will look like in 2015 – wow!

 Before the seminar I didn’t even have a handle on what an exabyte is. Consider that a kilobyte is 103, an Exabyte is 1018. In other words, if the Library of Congress contains 20 million books – which it does – an exabyte is what it would take to store 50,000 Libraries of Congress. Driven by video and rich media, it’s likely that Internet traffic will continue to grow at a 50-60% annual rate – a phenomenon dubbed the “exaflood” way back in ancient 2001. We’re at an advanced – and at the same time infantile — state of the Web. Future opportunity abounds!!

 Next, Curtis Hill brought everyone from the 50,000-foot view to the sidewalks of Connecticut’s cities, where thousands of disadvantaged families live without computers, let alone connection to the web and the world of information, knowledge and opportunity that it offers. Hill’s organization is attacking this digital divide on several levels. It trains teachers to use technology in education. It places computers in the homes of poor families in partnership with corporations like ComCast and A.T. & T. whose foundation is supporting free annual Internet access to go with the computers. It trains parents to use the computers so that they can help their children use them for research, homework and other educational pursuits. In a wonderful off-shoot of the endeavor, the parents – many of whom are jobless when the computer arrives – are using their new technology to search for and connect with jobs!!

 Jeff Blodgett had the task of sharing how public policy is bridging the vision of a world connected by unimaginable technological advances and the realities of society’s economic gaps. Unfortunately, public policy doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with either the need for enormous investments in technology infrastructure to maintain growth – or the far more modest investment in bringing the Internet to the small percentage of as-yet-unconnected citizens. That’s not only sad, but potentially tragic in terms of lost opportunity and impeded forward progress. But with enough foresight and will – and agreement that our future growth is tied to the online world — we can hopefully overcome any challenges.

 As hot a topic as it is, Net Neutrality, was an appendix at this event, addressed in the Q&A session in the interest of time and in the face of three compelling presentations. It’s probable that it will become a topic of its own at a future seminar. 

 To end on an upbeat note – which you can pretty much always count on from me -the idea of exaflood made me think of the iconic Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim’s song Aguas de Marco – Waters of March – his impression of Brazil’s annual rains and consequent floods. As nature is random, the music, though it sounds somewhat repetitive, never repeats a phrase exactly. The sheet music goes on for about ten pages. The recording you’re listening to is by Brazilian-born jazz pianist Eliane Elias. She couples Waters of March with another Jobim tune – Agua de Beber, Water to Drink — a song about nurturing — in this post a tribute to Curtis Hill and his excellent nonprofit. If you visited last week, you’ll know that I’m on a big Brazilian kick! I’ll try to diversify next time, but oh do I love the music of Brazil!!!

Enjoy! Hope to see you soon!!

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