Testing Highbeam Links

As part of the ongoing discussion between Highbeam and Factiva on the relative strengths of each service, I received some feedback from Highbeam on my earlier recommendation that they integrate into Office 2003’s “research” function so I can search from within Microsoft OneNote.

Highbeam points out that they are integrated, but under an old name, “E-Library”.

I tested a search via Highbeam into the Forbes archives to pull out an old story I wrote in the early 90s about the impact of Internet-based search tools such as WAIS and GOPHER on the professional search market. The search failed, pointing me to an InformationToday article. So I needed to go directly into Highbeam, declare I only wanted to search Forbes, and voila, I hit the piece.

Highbeam gives me an option to link to the article. So, this is a test of that function to see if I can direct readers deep into their archive.

We’ll see if it works.

1. Hmm, it seems to have befuckticated my WordPress style sheet.
2. Removing the link cleared up the problem — a strikethrough of all text on the blog.
3. Let’s see what happens when the link code is restored. Nope it’s messing me up. The link works, but it trashes the CSS template.
4. Okay, time to email Highbeam and ask what’s up.

Here’s the problem

Here’s the code that’s killing me:

Good-bye, Dewey decimals. (Internet and Wide Area Information Servers)

Hmm. Now it works. Ghost in the code of something. The problem probably lies in WordPress then. It’s been flaky recently. Maybe time to upgrade.

Anyway, interested in whether a user other than myself can deep link into Highbeam’s archive and see the fulltext or if they get a come-on. I’ll test from a different, uncookied PC

The Times Buys About.com for About $400 million+

The New York Times Company Investor Relations

Tip of the hat to Rafat — I found this news at paidcontent.org.

Whoa. Active M&A season in the world o’content. First Dow pays a big price for Marketwatch, now the Times snatches up About (nee’ The Mining Company).

I’m not, and never have been, a big fan of About.com. (the guides don’t add that much value and the click-throughs are irritatingly framed) But there’s no fighting the reality that guides have always been a big draw for the masses. They made Scott Kurnit wealthy, and About.com was Tom Rogers big Hail Mary acquisition when he was helming Primedia. How this integrates with the NYT.com and Boston.com hasn’t penetrated my thick skull yet. In any case, it is a big step up to the plate for NYT Digital and signals aspirations far beyond making a buck off of their morgue and ad impressions.

It’s all beginning to feel very 1996 all over again. The interesting thing, Google IPO fever aside, is the action is in the acquisitions, not the offerings. With About.com done, what’s next on the M&A radar?

Forrester Magazine Launches

Forrester Magazine
A tip of the hat to Jimmy Guterman and the staff at Forrester Magazine for their launch this month. I’m proud to be a contributor to the first issue with a piece on Innovation Networks, along with former-Forbes colleague Adam Penenberg and Inside.com co-founder Richard Siklos.

Jimmy and I go back to PC Week in the 80s (when I used Norton Utilities to forge higher scores than his on our shared copy of Tetris), then Forbes.com where he helped us get off the ground with some excellent writing.

Jimmy is a great rock writer, the man who made The Industry Standard’s Media Grok a must-read, and an excellent editor as evidenced by the quality of Forrester Magazine. The debut is an auspicious one and sure to be a hit with its audience. It’s tough to break out of the tech magazine cliche, but this one manages to.

You can follow the link above to request an issue. No ads. Not a party organ for Forrester, just really good technology coverage that breaks out of the tired pack (aside from the obligatory Larry and Sergey photos on the covers).

Daily dump

Assorted mind junk

Some good stuff:

First: John Battelle pointed to O’Reilly’s Make, a new quarterly magazine for the DIY crowd that likes to do things like aerial photography with kites, replace Ipod batteries, and build desktop Gauss rifles. At the sample table of contents I found a series of links to nice stuff like:

Gmail hacks
, a collection of add-ons and plug-ins which make Gmail even better to use. My new favorite gets ride of the annoying systray notifier and puts an icon into the menu of Firefox which shows how many unread messages are waiting in the account.

My second link o’ the day is courtesy of Jerry Michalski, who, in a discussion of Wikipedia, linked to a very cool “screencast” demo of how a Wikipedia entry evolved. It was built using Camtasia by Jon Udell at Infoworld. Definitely something I want to check out myself. Camtasia was developed by Techsmith, the same people who developed my favorite screen scraper — SnagIt — and is available for a free trial download. Otherwise it costs $300.

Finally, this winter’s personal obsession has been fixed-gear bicycles. Bikes that have one gear and don’t coast. These are essentially track racing bikes — some don’t even have brakes — and are favored by urban bike messengers. They’re also great winter training tools for racers who use them to build length strength and smooth out their pedalling stroke. Basically you never, ever stop pedalling. Try to stop and it’s like being on a rolling ejector seat.

I built mine out of an old frame and some spare parts and a few new parts ordered from Harris Cyclery in Newton, Mass. The guru there is Sheldon Brown, the man of all things bicycling.

Anyway, fixed-gear is one of those subcultures within a subculture which appeals to my current zen bent towards minimalistic technology. No gears. No brakes. No fancy materials. I like things stripped down to their essence and fixed-gear bikes represent the ne plus ultra of human powered transportation in my opinion.

Here’s a link to a picture of my ride — “The Snotrocket” — at the wonderful Fixed Gear Gallery collection of bike porn.

For a very cool video of a messenger race down 7th Ave. in Manhattan, check out Lucas Brunelle’s 50 mb flick. It is worth the download and receives my vote for best use of a Guns n’ Roses soundtrack.

Michael Wolff – WSJ.com ceased to be relevant when it charged

Michael Wolff – I Want Media

Michael Wolff — not he of McKinsey’s Media Practice, but the one who wrote Burnrate — spoke at the SIIA summit in NYC at the beginning of the month.

He weighs in on subscription vs. free models:

I think the fact that the Journal felt that it was powerful enough to charge, and for a long time everyone regarded the Journal’s activities online as the ultimate. They had unlocked the puzzle. In fact, I don’t think they did. I think they locked themselves into a puzzle.

While the New York Times on the other hand became this ubiquitous information brand. It became finally the national information brand. And it did this, I think, because it was free. So free is the word. And free is what I want to talk about — free information, which in the media industry is now the topic, the theme. This is the thing that is unavoidable, that everyone has to deal with.

In the mid-90s, Neil Budde (now running Yahoo News) was THE man for subscription models and posed a massive challenge to overcome within Forbes and other publications that were wrestling with the inclination to lock their words down behind a subscription model. “Well the Journal is kicking butt by charging!” was thrown in my face every time I tried to argue that the game was about reach, not subs. I was banging the give-it-away-and-get-massive model and lo and behold Jim Cramer tries to nuke the plan with this 1997 screed.

Dark days indeed when we trying to argue the point that even simple registration was enough of deterrent to cause users to shift to friendlier destinations.

Anyway, now comes Wolff saying that the Journal trashed itself by charging and the Times (which is rumored to be mulling a paid model) went global by being free.

I’m a little surprised the paid vs free debate even lingers in this day and age. My read on the Marketwatch acquisition was it was Dow throwing in the towel and admitting they were leaving a lot of money on the ground by choking their pageview inventory behind the subscription wall at the Journal (which I pay for and have paid for since it launched).

Check out Jack Shafer’s “Unbundle-Rebundle” at Slate to see how the winds of give-it-away are blowing through the newspaper industry.

Bill Gates and other communists | Perspectives | CNET News.com

Bill Gates and other communists | Perspectives | CNET News.com
Richard Stallman responds at Cnet to BillG’s comparison between opensource and commies: “The IETF rejected Microsoft’s protocol, but Microsoft said it would try to convince major ISPs to use it anyway. Thanks to Mr. Gates, we now know that an open Internet with protocols anyone can implement is communism; it was set up by that famous communist agent, the U.S. Department of Defense.”

Factiva customer service just called …

I guess my earlier comparison with Highbeam struck a nerve, because a nice guy from Factiva just phoned to tell me I wasn’t looking at Factiva the right way.

The “individual” account, which whales the subscriber to the tune of $2.95 an article is not for me, said the Factiva rep. I need to ignore the individual account and take the corporate flat-fee model. Okay. I’m game. I’ll check the pricing structure and report back. First glance doesn’t tell me much, but I’ll keep digging in the interest of fairness.

Kind of weird getting a call from a blog post. Struck a nerve I guess.

Little mammals in the bushes eating the dinosaur eggs …

I’ve been flirting with the technology research world for the past year, consulting for two of the biggest names in the business on a few editorial projects and discussing a full-time position with one of the big players.

Today’s (2.14.05) NYT has a piece in the business section by Eric Pfanner on the disruptions in the market for paid IT research, pointing to the wide availability of information through trade pubs (who I also have been consulting and considering a full-time position with) and good old Blogs.

The kickers in Pfanner’s piece are:

“”The costs of entry in this field are very small,” said Mark Newman, chief research officer at Informa. “A bunch of guys with good contacts in the industry can do an awful lot with very little.” That dynamic could threaten research companies and trade publications alike, particularly as the open-source ethos spreads on the Internet.”

The furry rodents in the new world of IT information are the Glen Fleishman’s and Om Malik’s of the blogging world, who are not only faster than their big counterparts at Forrester, Gartner, Meta, etc., but a heck of a lot cheaper. The trade press is already getting kicked around by printless players like TechTarget, but it’s further down the food chain, at the niche tech news blogs, that the first cracks in the information monolith are beginning to show. Team up a few strong tech bloggers with a conference program, a print newsletter for the browser-challenged, and the fun could really begin.

To continue with Pfanner’s piece in the Times:

“After all, a free blog is cheaper than a magazine subscription … [out of sequence] Analysts say corporate executives increasingly turn to technology publications, which sometimes offer similar information at a small fraction of the price. Particularly on the Internet, the distinction between an expensive research report and a low-cost piece of journalism is less apparent.”

The fix is in. Crack the economics of supporting smart tech information bloggers by banding them together to present a unified sponsorship model, put them on stage at their own conferences, and continue to undersell, undersell, undersell the big boys and the dinosaurs will be wondering what happened to their eggs.

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