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David Loshin

Welcome to my BeyeNETWORK Blog. This is going to be the place for us to exchange thoughts, ideas and opinions on all aspects of the information quality and data integration world. I intend this to be a forum for discussing changes in the industry, as well as how external forces influence the way we treat our information asset. The value of the blog will be greatly enhanced by your participation! I intend to introduce controversial topics here, and I fully expect that reader input will "spice it up." Here we will share ideas, vendor and client updates, problems, questions and, most importantly, your reactions. So keep coming back each week to see what is new on our Blog!

About the author >

David is the President of Knowledge Integrity, Inc., a consulting and development company focusing on customized information management solutions including information quality solutions consulting, information quality training and business rules solutions. Loshin is the author of The Practitioner's Guide to Data Quality Improvement, Master Data Management, Enterprise Knowledge Management: The Data Quality Approachand Business Intelligence: The Savvy Manager's Guide. He is a frequent speaker on maximizing the value of information. David can be reached at loshin@knowledge-integrity.com or at (301) 754-6350.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in David's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

March 2007 Archives

Certain kinds of technologies are interesting in the way that their existence motivates changes in the way people behave. Good examples include the fax machine or mobile telephones, both of which modified the way that people work.

Search is one of these technologies, but curious in the ways that different people (do or don't) engage web searching as part of their daily routines. In one instance, a person I know was tasked with developing documentation on a particular subject, but the first draft of that material showed a lack of understanding of the concept. However, a simple google search of the topic provided numerous resources from which to draw. My reaction was to assume that this person didn't even attempt to employ search as part of the process.

Yet in conversation with others, I am beginning to see dividing lines in the way that people employ the availability of indexed or searchable information. For some, the effort is apparently too much - the web search returns too many hits, there is difficulty in distinguishing relevance, the choices are either too complex or too simplistic - to the point where the person is overwhelmed. Others embrace these issues by modifying the way they search. And that is where web searching changes the way that (some) people behave.

The simplicity of a web search embodies its beauty for adaptability. Conceptually, presume that all words and terms in all web sites have been parsed, analyzed, and indexed and are ready for your review. All you need to do is to use your knowledge of what you are looking for to pinpoint the desired content. So you start with a gross level, say a single term, multiple words. Many hits come back, but you can screen the top level result summaries to see if there are other relevant terms that are of greater (or lesser) interest, then incorporate those into your next search iteration. Each iteration provides some more information that can be used for the next iteration until you have narrowed the focus enough to find what you are looking for.

This has worked for me, and goes back to my original comment, since web searching really has changed a lot of the way that I do things, escpeially when trying to attack problems and find solutions. I expect that someone out there has had similar experiences and is willing to share them. Whether I am diagnosing network issues, trying to learn more about my kids' viruses, looking for a software solution, or research personnel background, track down a lead, etc., I use my web search tool as my guide.

Sounds obvious, right? You might think so, but having observed the way that people ignore or misuse search tools, it makes me curious as to whether there are specific search strategies that people use, don't use, or ignore when tackling problem-solving.

Posted March 23, 2007 6:58 AM
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At the recent DAMA International/Meta-Data conference in Boston, one of the keynote speakers, Don Tapscott, spoke about the concept (and topic of his new book) of "Wikinomics," focusing on the value of mass collaboration through the electronic medium to develop more effective and value-added economics to worldwide businesses (ok, I am simplifying a bit, but it was a long talk). One of the points he raised was the value of self-organization, especially when it came to oversight, such as the kind provided when numerous consumers are able to post their opinions of products, services, etc. The upshot was that businesses would be forced to improve their {products, services, support, etc.} because the masses would be able to expose deficiencies to the public, putting competitiveness at risk. (Actually, he said a lot of things, and I am actually paraphrasing, but that's one thing I got out of it.)

Interestingly (and I guess coincidentally), on March 16, the Washington Post presented an article about what appears to be a planned "system gaming" of ebay. A large part of the framework is based on trust, characterized in terms of positive experiences (either in buying or selling). of course, the implication is that the better your ratings, the more trustworthy you are, and therefore the more reliable you can be predicted to be in terms of fulfilling the transaction.

According to the the article, though, what some sellers do is create an image of trustworthiness over time and then transition into fraudsters. The way they do it is by picking a relatively small-scale item to sell - in the article the profiled seller marketed digital camera memory cards. After a time of successful transactions and corresponding positive reports, the seller has created a sterling reputation. At that point, the seller switches to a high-ticket item (e.g., digital video cameras). The high ratings attract many buyers, who purchase the item, only to receive empty camera bags or nothing at all. The seller then disappears - no response to emails or phone calls.

So, going back to Don Tapscott's premise, one might consider the dark side of mass interaction - that the collaborative environment might also be exploited to create the illusion of value, when in fact it delivers the exact opposite. Any reactions?

Posted March 19, 2007 7:13 AM
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Today I sat in one of the sessions at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit on Emerging Trends and Technologies for Business Intelligence. One apparent recurring theme is the importance of metadata as an underlying key factor in the evolution of business intelligence activities. While both services-oriented approaches and search are of growing interest in the BI universe, apparently metadata is the key to collaboration, gaining consensus, and embedding predictive analytics. One nice aspect of hearing this from the Gartner analysts is that it is encouraging to see that the same message we columnists have been advocating here at B-eye is finally making it into the mainstream!

Posted March 13, 2007 3:49 PM
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