November 2008 Archives

links for 2008-11-24

  • The curse of Cassandra was that she was right, but nobody would believe. Dow 16,000? Uh huh. Watch the talking heads laugh at the prospect of a market downturn, housing bust, recession--all of today's headlines. Then ask yourself why anyone would believe anyone who talks about markets and the economy on television.
    (tags: economy)

The Limits of Metaphor

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This is a bit off-topic for me, but as it's not possible to have your eyes open for five minutes without seeing another reference to the economy, I have to say it. We have officially reached the point where metaphor is hampering, not aiding, our understanding of events. Especially as commentators speculate about what may be next, the language they're using to simplify—or to avoid concrete predictions?—is adding to the fear without adding to understanding.

Analysis Hits the Wall
I lose track of which talking head on TV ended his comments with "or things will really go over a cliff." What does that mean, really? It's the analytical equivalent of shouting "boo" in a crowded bank. If you're going to predict, make a prediction.

Let's not even get into the many variations on "worst [fill in the blank] since the Great Depression." True, but is it helpful or just inflammatory?

"But I was taking the metaphor literally"
Howard Lindzon—one of several in-depth finance sources I've started reading—advised readers this morning to "keep your powder dry." I think I know what he means in context, but it's a troubling choice when some people are applying that advice literally.

Yes, It's Hard
Just by reading about current events, we're all becoming finance experts and macroeconomists (maybe just a little). Complicated and opaque transactions are a big part of why we're in this mess, and the consequences are playing out on a global scale, so of course it's hard to figure out. A lot of people will never understand what's happening (which won't stop them from forming opinions, of course).

People who traffic in news and opinion are going to look for metaphors to simplify, but I'd like to see them exercise more care in avoiding the choices that incite fear while failing to explain. The colorful descriptions of what might happen, in particular, need to be toned down. Specific, literal descriptions (and predictions, if you insist) are scary enough.

If you want to come up with a dozen creative ways to say the same thing, stick to covering sports.

links for 2008-11-22

links for 2008-11-20

News from the companies of social media analysis. Quiet this week.

New research and papers

  • Networked Insights released their second "Measuring the Social" report, focusing this time on popular music (PDF). NI developed a top ten songs list and compared them with the same week's Billboard Hot 100 chart.


Sorry, no punch line. I'm sharing the news of Jim Tobin's new book, Social Media is a Cocktail Party (Why You Already Know the Rules of Social Media Marketing). It's a good effort to condense much of the current wisdom into a quick, readable introduction for those who need a quick ride up the learning curve. (If I were a copywriter, I'd probably say something here about reading on for a special offer.)

Cocktail Party is Social Media 101 for marketers. It lacks the depth of other recent books on my pile, but it serves up most of the big ideas with a casual, readable tone. At 178 pages, it's about right for a flight, in both length and weight.

Jim's a friend, so of course I'm plugging his book. But this looks like an introduction that will help a lot of people who are just getting started.

Step right up
To kick things off, Jim is making a donation to Make-A-Wish Foundation for every copy of Cocktail Party sold today (20 November).

But wait, there's more! :-) Yesterday, Jim gave me three copies to give away. To ensure fairness (and because it'll be fun), I'm going to let my 8-year-old Junior Associate pick the winners. Just tell him that you'd like a free copy in the comments below, and I'll announce the winners tomorrow.

links for 2008-11-19

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 30 October - Hapax launched Amplify, an ad targeting and site screening platform built on the company's natural language processing technology. press release (PDF)

  • 10 November - MediaMiser released version 2.0 of MediaMiser Enterprise. press release

  • 14 November - Leximancer announced LexBox, a customer feedback widget that reports through the Customer Insight Portal.
Call for papers

links for 2008-11-11

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links for 2008-11-10

links for 2008-11-06

  • Follow stock-related comments and trends on Twitter. Dashbards for individual stocks combine price charts and current tweets (marked by $ticker).

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 31 October - Trackur announced a cobranded version of its dashboard for agency use.

  • 3 November - Blogmeter launched an Italian blog monitoring service, delivering custom reports on posts that mention the company, brand or competitors.

  • 5 November - Synthesio launched Consumer, an analytical dashboard focused on French social media (see comment).

  • 5 November - ethority announced a syndicated report on brand presence in German social media.

  • 5 November - Onalytica announced its first outside investment, £5 million from a group of individuals.

  • 6 November - The Bivings Groups announced EnergyWatch, a new demo of its ImpactWatch media analysis platform. The demo tracks coverage of new energy sources, such as biofuel and wind power.
  • I'm starting to hear about a few layoffs. At the same time, I know that other social media analysis companies are hiring. To help connect both sides of the market, I'm offering an 80% discount on job board listings through the end of the year. Use the discount code 4QSMAV for $10 listings that also appear in the news digest as long as they are active. Post a job.
New research and papers

About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
  • Principal, Social Target
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