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Time for an Update

A blog that's been going for more than 11 years has a backlog, so I put together a highlights page to collect some of the more interesting posts. I've just updated it for the first time since 2014.

Whiteboard Series
I'm having more conversations about methodology lately, which means more opportunities to talk about the three models I'm working on. The Analyst's Canvas (First Look, 2017) is the big one at the moment, because I'm actively looking for people to try it while it's still in development. Attention (What Happens After Your System Notices Something Important?, 2012) is the other one that explores things we're not doing yet. The third is Omniscience, which has evolved quite a bit since I wrote about it (Driving Intelligence and Analytics with Omniscience, 2011).

I'm looking for more opportunities to work with people who find this kind of thinking interesting. Getting stuff from the white board to a blog post is just the first step.

Drilling down
Some of the more evergreen posts have been explorations of the details and implications of the questions around social media intelligence. What do we mean by language support (2012) and location (2012), or what professional services (2009) go with your SMA product. I like the exercise of going past the obvious analysis to discover what we're missing, because opportunity hides there.

The map of the social media data market (Mapping the Social Data Ecosystem, 2013) predates the changes from Twitter's entry, but I think it's still conceptually correct. Update the labels and explore the details, and you have a current view of the market.

Privacy, surveillance and social media
There's been some turmoil as the big social networks (Twitter, in particular) try to balance the values of their network with the value ($) of their network. Where we draw the boundaries between "privacy" and "surveillance" is an open question, and one I've written about a few times over the years (The Ethics of Listening, 2007; Ethics, Open Sources and CI, 2007; Ethical Standards for Listening Vendors, 2010; The Limits to Personal Data Use and Abuse, 2014).

Yes, quote marks around privacy and surveillance, because the way those words are used seems to vary by speaker. I looked into organizing a summit on the topic last year, but it's just too hot for an open discussion.

Jag förstår lite svenska nu
We have to have some fun, and lately the fun post that people are reading is the one about language (My Language-Learning Toolbox, 2016). Reading company blogs in a global business requires language skills or and a heavy reliance on machine translation. Thanks for the push to add to my skills.

All the highlights

Updating the Highlights Reel

In 2007—has it really been so long?—I posted a list of older posts that I thought were worth remembering. The relentless updating of the reverse-chronological blog format was hiding some good stuff, and I wanted people to find it. Over time, some of those old posts became truly outdated, and I've gotten into some new themes. It was time for an update, and in the process, I was reminded of where we've been—and where we're going.

The complete list: Highlights from the Archive

History of social media
The updated list goes all the way back to 2006, when I first sketched out the role of the social media manager. It's not quite what I would write today, but I think it holds up reasonably well, especially given that the perceived need at the time was "blogger relations." Somewhat more recently, the posts on influence and the meaning of "Like" aren't exactly what everyone else had to say on those topics.

Social media analysis
From "listening" to the latest emerging tech for analytics, I've been watching and writing about SMA for years. A 2008 post on the building blocks of social media analysis set the stage for later lists of companies offering the various pieces. I still like the three buckets of social media data framework as a way of sorting out the many tools in the market, too.

I particularly enjoyed rereading Language Support in Social Media Analysis, a detailed look at all the different ways that a vendor might check the language box. In my public speaking, I tend to go high-level and generalize a lot, and this example shows why. When you get into the specifics, they get very specific, and heavily dependent on a client's situation.

Expanding horizons
For several years, there's been some tension between the blog that started with a strong emphasis on social media and the topics I find interesting more recently. I've hinted at some of the topics with the summer reading posts and some others, and now it's time to put more emphasis on the new stuff.

The whiteboard series of posts was a step toward sharing some of the speculation that develops on the literal whiteboards in my office. The Omniscience, computer attention, and learning ecosystem ideas from that series are themes that I need to revisit, and there are others in the drafts folder.

Expect more connecting of dots from diverse sources, such as last year's Simulations, Customer Journeys, and the Link Between What Could Happen and What Did Happen. I'm not sure why I'm still surprised to find connections between the seemingly unrelated topics I dig into. The latest example crosses long-term policy analysis, simulations, wargames, the mechanics of human insight, network science, and associative memory—my sources keep citing each other. There's no social media angle, just fascinating stuff.

I've been involved in working through the meaning and implications of new technologies for a long time, and there's less for me to do once a technology reaches mass adoption and people understand it. With the social media market maturing into something that holds fewer mysteries, I plan to write more about those new topics.


Thinking Aloud in 2012

Around the end of the year—or the beginning—I look at the numbers to see which blog posts people have looked at the most, and it's always the old posts that dominate the list. It's the same for 2012: only one of the top 10 posts in 2012 was something I wrote in 2012. Since the stats favor the old posts, here's a recap of some of the stuff I'd hope you didn't miss.

  • Three Buckets of Social Media Data
    I've tried categorizing social media before, but this one is turning out to be more helpful than my previous attempts. When working around monitoring and analysis, think of social media as three types of data sources: about content, activity, and people. If you haven't considered all three, you have more work to do.

  • Why Government Monitoring Is Creepy
    The meaningful distinction between private and public spaces is changing faster than our sense of privacy, both online and in the real world. The rise in drone activity around the world will make this an increasingly important topic.

  • What Happens After Your System Notices Something Important?
    No matter how much intelligence we try to engineer into our analytics systems, most are still working toward putting data in front of a person. What if the system helped with the next steps?

  • Can You Trust Social Media Sources?
    Finding meaningful insights in social media data is challenging enough, but there's more. Some of the sources you're finding may have been put there by people who intend to deceive you.

  • The Four Locations of Social Media
    Putting social media data on a map is helpful, but remember that location might not mean what you want it to mean.

Previous years' lists
2011: Top 10 Posts, Revisiting 2011
2010: Top 10 posts, Thinking through 2010
2009: Top 10 posts

The Most-Read Posts of 2012

As the year winds down, it's time to see what people found on the blog this year, and once again, the most-read posts are generally older ones. Clearly, search-engine traffic favors older posts, and the visits add up through the year. But look at it this way: these are the posts on topics people searched for this year. Does that say something useful?

  1. What Does Salesforce-Radian6 Deal Mean for Everyone Else? - March 2011 (#3 in 2011)
  2. Applying Social Network Analysis to Social Media - September 2010
  3. Human vs. machine analysis - April 2007 (#5 in 2011)
  4. Visual text analysis - April 2007 (#6 in 2011)
  5. Visualizing networks based on communication - February 2008
  6. Global Social Media Usage Patterns - January 2011 (#4 in 2011)
  7. Professional-Strength Social Media Aggregators - June 2010 (#8 in 2011)
  8. Monitoring Social Media Before You Have a Budget - May 2008 (#2 in 2011)
  9. Why You Can't Measure Influence - January 2012
  10. Five Modes of Listening - September 2009
In keeping with tradition, I'll highlight some of this year's new posts that I think should get more attention in a separate recap.

Previous years' lists
2011: Top 10 Posts, Revisiting 2011
2010: Top 10 posts, Thinking through 2010
2009: Top 10 posts

Revisiting 2011

When I started looking at the year's most-read posts a couple of years ago, I noticed that the list always includes a lot of older posts. So, I started a new post last year: a list of the past year's posts that didn't make the 2011 Top 10, but that I think are worth another look.

Previous years' lists
2010: Top 10 posts, Thinking through 2010
2009: Top 10 posts

Top Posts of 2011

I don't really do predictions—at least, not publicly. I do, however, find it interesting to look back and see which posts have drawn the most attention in the past year. As in previous years' lists (2010, 2009), some of the most-read posts are old ones—going all the way back to 2006 (!).

Remember these?

  1. New Dashboards Blend Analytics Sources - September 2010 (#9 in 2010)

  2. Monitoring Social Media Before You Have a Budget - May 2008 (#1 in 2009 & 2010)

  3. What Does Salesforce-Radian6 Deal Mean for Everyone Else? - March 2011

  4. Global Social Media Usage Patterns - January 2011

  5. Human vs. machine analysis - April 2007 (#4 in 2010)

  6. Visual text analysis - April 2007 (#2 in 2010)

  7. The Specialization of Social Media Analysis - March 2011

  8. Professional-Strength Social Media Aggregators - June 2010 (#8 in 2010)

  9. Text Analytics in the Cloud - February 2011

  10. Defining social media relations - November 2006
With only four of the top ten from 2011, this view always misses what I think of as the more interesting posts, which is why I choose my own list for revisiting 2011. All of which sets the stage for what's breaking out of the drafts folder next.

Happy New Year.

Blogger's Block Should be a Meme


Roadblock rockFred Wilson posted a simple request yesterday and got an amazing response. He wrote that he was experiencing Blogger's Block, and he asked his readers to suggest topics. The response? Over 360 comments (so far), suggesting and discussing more topics than Fred will be able to write about in a year. Obviously, people—a lot of them—are interested in Fred's opinions. I think this is great, and every blog ought to do it.

As I see it, asking the question invites two main risks: you might get no response, or people might suggest topics you don't want to write about. As for the former, I've invited responses that never came. While it's not fun, it doesn't leave a scar. No response means that the post didn't land with your readers, so they're unlikely to remember any of it.

If your audience is interested in something you don't want to write about, that probably tells you something you need to know.

Why are we here?
I sometimes wonder what people really want or expect from this blog. It accomplished its original goal a long time ago, and now it's a blend of what I'm finding around social media analysis and other topics I find interesting. The list posts tend to draw a lot of traffic, while the thought posts (where I think the real value should be) mostly don't.

Increasingly, I'm working on new topics that might surprise you if you think I'm interested primarily in marketing. I haven't yet worked out how much of that I should include.

Now for the scary part
I think every blogger could benefit from hearing what readers want more of. So, what do you want to see from this blog? Don't leave me listening to crickets.

And if you have your own blog? Tag, you're it.

Photo by WSDOT.

Thinking Through 2010

I don't try to post every day. That might be good for building audience numbers, but I'm much more interested in working out new ideas, and so I post when I have something to say. At year-end, it's curious and a little upsetting that so many of the year's most-viewed posts are from the past. So here's a quick list of posts from 2010 that I'd like to see people discover.

And then there's the draft folder, which tells me there's plenty left to do in the new year.

What You Liked in 2010

Another year gone, another post or two in the archive. And now it's time to see which posts got the most attention this year.

  1. Monitoring Social Media Before You Have a Budget - May 2008 (#1 in 2009)

  2. Visual text analysis - April 2007 (#4 in 2009)

  3. Sentiment Analysis is Not a Mood Ring - March 2010

  4. Human vs. machine analysis - April 2007 (#7 in 2009)

  5. Corporate social media specialists - September 2007 (#5 in 2009)

  6. 5 Manly Things - February 2009

  7. Comparing Social Media Analysis Platforms - March 2010

  8. Professional-Strength Social Media Aggregators - June 2010

  9. New Dashboards Blend Analytics Sources - September 2010

  10. Guide to Social Media Analysis - June 2007 (#9 in 2009)
It's interesting to see the year-to-year changes in the list. Four current-year posts appear this year, up from only two last year. Still, half the list is not only old posts, but old posts from the 2009 list. Clearly, a list of free stuff is popular, but some of these are surprising—I guess there's no correlation between the effort required to write a post and its enduring popularity.

Some of the biggest ideas are stuck in draft—or hidden in business plans—but there's another list of my favorite idea posts of 2010.

Ugh. Yahoo is killing off Delicious, the social bookmarking service that I've used since 2005. This is inconvenient. I don't need to spend my time rebuilding stuff that already works.

First priority is saving all the bookmarks. Frank Gruber posted a list of backup options to cover the basics. At least I don't have to worry about losing the bookmarks entirely. The challenge here is to replace what Delicious does in my publishing workflow. Just saving links doesn't meet the requirement.

I don't have the answer for that, yet. So far, I'm collecting names of services that might work. Here's what I've seen mentioned:

Any other suggestions? I use Delicious to support dynamic content on multiple websites. Replacing it kind of matters to me.

I don't suppose anyone thought of offering Delicious Pro accounts. I do pay for some of the other services I'm using. Would revenue make a difference to Yahoo?

Update 12/17: Now Yahoo says they're selling Delicious, not shutting it down. That would be better.

Note to self: Figure out which other Yahoo properties I use. Migrate. Don't look back.

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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  • Highlights from the archive


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