May 04, 2005

Lascivious Biddies

While listening to an old Trade Secrets podcast, I head of a band, The Lascivious Biddies. They are an interesting all female group, with some beautiful singing voices and very funky lyrics. The voices are front and center, with occasional harmonies, as the instrumental part of the songs are often pretty minimalist. I'm not sure they are exactly to my taste, but they were interesting enough for me to pass along. Check out there audio clips here.
Posted by georgegmacdonald at 08:31 PM

A fascinating article

A fascinating article by Matthew Syrett,  Exploring Blogs for Brand Insights, explores how to use weblogs to gather marketing data. First he says why weblog data might be better than survey data:

The problem with surveys lies in the contrived way they take place. A survey does not observe consumers in their natural setting, where they would behave completely normally.

Instead, it places consumers in an artificial situation and proceeds to ask questions that the consumer may or may not answer correctly. In a way, survey insights are like those about animal behavior observed in a zoo—such insights are not fully reflective of how the animal behaves in the wild.

Then Syrett talks about gathering data about consumer feelings by looking for connections between a brand name and consumer ideas connected to the brand name, using a natural language processing method called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).

Accordingly, LSI can be readily repurposed to explore conceptual connections between words identifying brand (i.e., brand names) and the words marking their brand equities.


The key to applying LSI to branding analysis is having access to a large consumer-authored text repository upon which to run the analysis. Blogs are such a repository.

The recent surge in blogging by consumers offers an ideal environment for LSI analysis for brand health. Consumer-written blogs reveal largely unedited consumer attitudes in numerous diary-like documents that can be readily harvested for text mining through their RSS or ATOM feeds. Furthermore, the existence of date stamps within these feeds offers better temporal control of data than normal scraping of text content from standard Web sites.

Then he shows how to use Google to gather the data:

To assess the viability of the LSI blog-mining for brand health work, I created a test-bed project exploring the brand equities of the two leading carbonated soft drinks: Coke and Pepsi. I began by harvesting all the post I could from the Live Journal ( blog site authored in October and November 2004 that contained the terms Coke, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or soda in them, via a custom Google query (" coke OR coca-cola OR pepsi OR soda").

There is a lot more in the article. The exact mechanics of generating LSI scores, and the scripts for pulling the posts from Google are not presented. But the basic tactic of pulling user data from weblogs via a search engine and using that data to get a snapshot of the market makes a great deal of sense.

You don't even have do a semantic analysis of the data to get value from it. You could get a useful snapshot of consumer opinion by spending an evening reading a couple of hundred weblog posts that mention a company's name. I'll bet most people would be surprised what consumers are saying about their companies and their competitors.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 04:10 PM

Personal fabricators and the future of making things

I just listened to a fascinating talk by Neil Gershenfeld, the Director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms. He covers a lot of ground, but focuses on what he calls the coming digital revolution in fabrication. Personal fabricators include 3D scanners and printers, along with other automated manufacturing devices.

Gershenfeld compares the state of personal fabricators to the mini-computer era. He expects that we will end up having desktop fabs the way we now have desktop computers.

It is an upbeat discussion, with interesting examples of real world uses of his current Fab Labs. It also includes discussions about molecular assemblers, open source learning, and other fascinating concepts.

Check it out.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 01:52 PM

May 02, 2005

X-Play and Judgement Day Reviewed

The Something Awful weblog reviewed the video game related shows on the G4 cable channel. Our family watches both X-Play and Judgment Day.

I agree with the review of X-Play (I like the show, and the co-hosts: Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb). The skits have become more dumb and less funny since the show moved from SF to LA, but the host banter and the reviews are still fun to watch.

I disagree with his review of Judgment Day. I enjoy the interplay between Victor Lucas and Tommy Tallarico. The skits are much shorter and the reviews are more straight laced than on X-Play.

Also the Judgment Day review scores are needlessly granular, 0-10 in .5 increments. With that much granularity, it is nearly impossible for the scores to be consistent from game to game. X-Play uses a simple score of 1-5 starts, with 1's and 5's being exceptionally rare. This compressed scale makes it much easier to keep the ratings consistent across many reviews.

If I had to watch just one of these shows, I'd watch X-Play. Their high points are higher, thought their cringe-worthy points are lower. If X-Play continues its trend of having too many dumb skits, I might opt for Judgment Day instead.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 12:29 PM