Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - YouTube for PowerPoint presentations

Last week I spoke at a conference called Computers In Libraries, otherwise known as CIL, produced by Jane Dysart and Information Today (

A number of people asked for a link to my slides, which Lou Rosenfeld and I prepared for a talk we presented a month ago for the Information Architecture Summit (IA Summit) in Las Vegas. Lou and I are writing a book on Web search analytics.

Lou introduced me, literally and figuratively, to a site called, organized by a friend of his, Rashmi Sinha.

I predict that is going to be a Big Deal. I've already looked at a number of slide shows they host, and learned quite a bit from some presentations. Edward Tufte will spin in his grave -- and he is not even dead yet -- but a lot of important ideas are imparted in PowerPoint (et al) presentations.

Slideshare will have its own Zipf curve, more popularly understood as the Billboard Top 100 chart. A small number of important, useful, or clever presentations will command the attention of the masses. So it is, and so shall it always be. And we'll learn from these presentations -- style as well as content.

My slides from Computers in Libraries are at

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Those crazy domains they create

Ever since 1995 or so, major corporations have aligned in odd ways and created silly domain names. MSNBC is probably the most famous conflation, but ABC / Disney still does goofy things with

It's not just domain names. Corporate America also makes up stupid URLs, obviously drawn by committee. Consider:


So let's parse this. NBC of course is the famous TV network. It could've been worse; they could've created a meaningless domain under the corporate parent, e.g.

Anyhow, they're advertising something that they want to place under their TV show "Heroes" (which I've never seen, and do not expect to see).

So we go to, fair enough, makes sense. And we go to a folder named "heroes" which seems to make sense, if millions of people know that show.

And now we go to a subfolder named "cisco"? All of us rely on Cisco routers, but what does Cisco have to do with Heroes, or NBC, or GE, or anything else a consumer might care about?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Has Rewind on your PVR spoiled you too?

We've had TiVo-like rewind functionality in our house for a year or so. If you miss something, you hit Rewind, becase the set-top cable box is constantly recording.

This has spoiled me horribly. Now I find that when I'm listening to radio in car or office, I want to be able to hit Rewind and listen again.

When I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago during March Madness, I wanted the TV in my hotel room to rewind so I could see a play I wasn't paying attention to. Of course, the Sahara hotel had TV technology not much advanced since the Rat Pack. (OK, OK, I exaggerate.)

In the Hard Rock Cafe in Vegas, while watching NCAA hoops, I mentioned this impulse to some young guys also watching the game, and they said they'd also had the same feeling.

It's got to be only a matter of time before every device that streams content also caches it for replay. I expect even the lowliest devices -- your cell phone, the clock radio in your hotel room, whatever -- will have a Rewind button.

Do you also feel the need?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

There is no news in Detroit

Next Monday I'm going to do an interview with WDET, the major NPR station in Detroit. I was checking to see if they archive their interviews, so I went to the News section of their Web site and clicked on "Interviews." This is what I saw:

Click for full-size image

Yup, "Currently there is no news." I assume that this really means that WDET hasn't done any interviews lately (or today) but I had to laugh seeing that message from a major news organization for a major city.

Friday, April 06, 2007

CNN broadcasts compelling content but misses the BBC Best Bets idea

In the early days of the Web I attended a computer conference in Atlanta. I met a young CNN producer and talked about the Web to him. I ended up at CNN headquarters showing color prints of screen shots explaining the nascent Web, including images of the MSU weather pages, brainchild of Charles Henrich.

This morning CNN leads with video of a tearful five year old lad racing to hug his dad, back from war in the Middle East:

This is very compelling video. Whether you are a parent or not, if you watch this footage, it will tear at your heart strings. Now observe how CNN fails to promote its own content:

Amazingly you can't find CNN's own compelling footage on Search for it under "tearful reunion" -- CNN's own on-screen label -- and you get a lot of irrelevant fluff totally unrelated to the story.

CNN should implement a Best Bets regime. Period. Full stop. If someone at CNN sees this post, contact me. CNN doesn't "get" the notion of "Best Bets". Guest what, CNN -- the BBC, and the Financial Times, do get it. Is it CNN's plan to cede territory to them as you have to Fox News?

If a site visitor searches for a phrase that CNN shows on the TV screen, then it should match the user to that story on the Web.

Circa 1994 I visited CNN headquarters in Atlanta and showed producers and reporters this new thing called the World-Wide Web. It was pretty clear that only one guy, the producer giving me the tour, "got it" at the time. I sincerely doubt that in 2007 anyone at CNN understands that they can link search keywords and phrases to CNN content with incredible impact.

Here is a screen shot of CNN's home page at the time they featured the reunion:

Click for full-size screen shot

Memo to CNN: what your TV techs type into the Chyron also belongs in your Best Bets database. If it's worth telling a story to millions of people on cable TV, it's worth helping your Web site visitors follow the same story online.