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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Discussion Topic - Mashups

What role will mashup apps play in the field of marketing? Any ideas come to mind?

In case you haven't heard of them by this name, a mashup is an application that combines elements from two or more websites or applications. Here is a 5-minute intro video that covers it well:

What is a mashup? - ZDNet

One example that uses a mashup particularly well is a google-map linked to craigslist housing that displays the places for rent on a google map.

The little research I have done suggests that these will be big. It seems that a proper mashup between data-based sites (such as google-maps and craigslist) creates another layer over and above the two input sources. This is much like a music mashup, which combines elements from at least two songs to create a third, original song. In the case of the craigslist/google-maps mashup, the shift is in how we experience the information, just as is the case with a song.

What I want to see: A google-map connected to freecycle and free stuff on craigslist. Perhaps this would need some sort of 'location blurring' for safety's sake, but the resources that would be saved could be enormous! I check craigslist for free-stuff just to kill time, but if I had a map that told me every time something within .5 miles from me was being offered for free I'd check it daily.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Interesting article

Is the Internet Undermining Customer Value?

"The Internet’s dramatic impact on business operations is causing some to conclude that business success may be hard to sustain. In particular, the speed at which information is exchanged and knowledge is gained makes competitive advantage a fleeting proposition - here today, gone tomorrow."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Podcast Reccomendations

At the last meeting we touched on the topic of podcasts. Luckily you don't actually need an iPod or iTunes to get podcasts. You can download/stream them like any other audio file via RSS format, which sounds even more complex, but stands for "Really Simple Syndication."

I'd like to share my all-time favorite podcast EconTalk. It is hosted by Dr. Russ Roberts of George Mason University. Each episode, Roberts interviews an expert from a different field, such as recycling, the internet, style and its relationship to consumer experience, and sports. It is insightful and if you are an econ nerd like myself, quite funny at times. It will get your mental gears turning and is accessible to almost anyone, though is not to be confused with Freakonomics-style garbage.

Here are three episodes I would recommend, followed by a quote from the interview:

Weinberger on Everything is Miscellaneous and the Wonderful World of Digital Information

"Universe has a whole bunch of attributes, and we can sort and organize based on our interests, needs, and culture. Internet is not susceptible to the mistake of thinking that there is only one way of organizing. It's miscellaneous: not simply that it's disorganized but disorganized with so much metadata about the information that it's possible to pull together clusters and clumps on the fly that suit our needs."

Vernon Smith on Markets and Experimental Economics

"Vast, seemingly chaotic but actually ordered events. Variation: Markets as information aggregators. Vernon Smith's Nobel Prize 2002 shared with Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, for behavioral economics, which questions idea that people are rational. Experimental economics interfaces with that, ecological rationality. How does your work interface with behavioral economics? That literature is interested in decision-making under uncertainty, from expected-utility theory: people are not consistently good expected utility maximizers. Missing: how do people adapt to uncertainty not as isolated individuals but together?"

Kevin Kelly on the Future of the Web and Everything Else

"Semantic web, Web3-0. Web is not just pages but databases. Machines can sort out some of what is on pages, replacing some human reading of pages. Web now is flat, not aware of itself. With more structure, tags--assigning categories--as well as links can make the web more intelligent. Improved navigation; communication between machines will happen in the background instead of having to navigate."

Check out the archive of past shows--something is bound to appeal to you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Who wants to be a millionaire?? CMDS team forming now!

It's a PR promotion...but still,... Netflix is prepared to pay out a million dollars to any analytics team that can beat their movie recommendation engine by 10%. I downloaded the data...lots and lots of ratings at the customer id level, in many separate files. Some of the details posted at follow...

We’re quite curious, really. To the tune of one million dollars.

Netflix is all about connecting people to the movies they love. To help customers find those movies, we’ve developed our world-class movie recommendation system: CinematchSM. Its job is to predict whether someone will enjoy a movie based on how much they liked or disliked other movies. We use those predictions to make personal movie recommendations based on each customer’s unique tastes. And while Cinematch is doing pretty well, it can always be made better.

Now there are a lot of interesting alternative approaches to how Cinematch works that we haven’t tried. Some are described in the literature, some aren’t. We’re curious whether any of these can beat Cinematch by making better predictions. Because, frankly, if there is a much better approach it could make a big difference to our customers and our business.

So, we thought we’d make a contest out of finding the answer. It’s "easy" really. We provide you with a lot of anonymous rating data, and a prediction accuracy bar that is 10% better than what Cinematch can do on the same training data set. (Accuracy is a measurement of how closely predicted ratings of movies match subsequent actual ratings.) If you develop a system that we judge most beats that bar on the qualifying test set we provide, you get serious money and the bragging rights. But (and you knew there would be a catch, right?) only if you share your method with us and describe to the world how you did it and why it works.

Serious money demands a serious bar. We suspect the 10% improvement is pretty tough, but we also think there is a good chance it can be achieved. It may take months; it might take years. So to keep things interesting, in addition to the Grand Prize, we’re also offering a $50,000 Progress Prize each year the contest runs....

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Page Views Are Out, Time Spent Hanging Around Is In

Announced yesterday, Nielsen/NetRatings, a major online-measurement service, will start tracking Website usage by tracking how long visitors spend at individual sites. This is in contrast to the industry standard of using page views. This change has come about as many Websites move to dynamic content driven by user interaction on the main page, rather than clicking on links which load new pages. Social Networking sites like and and video sharing site are prominent examples of this trend, along with content aggregators Yahoo, AOL, MSN and Google.

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Plethora of Topics Discussed at meeting #2

Last night's meeting had a wide variety of topics being discussed: predictive markets, Attention Trust, Podcasts, Tesco supermarkets, page views vs. time spent online and the perennial favorite "is Firefox the better browser?"