Use of Weblogs for Competitive Intelligence | First International Business, Technology CI Conference, Tokyo Oct 2005

April 26, 2006 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

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Abstract:
Over the past fifty years, the inspiration of hypertext systems has been the challenge of dealing with an ever-increasing volume of information. With the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) as a near universal platform for commercial and scientific information, it is now possible to use the WWW as a platform for collecting, analyzing, disseminating and receiving feedback on competitive intelligence and other valuable business information. This paper will use examples of weblog deployment for competitive intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry to examine broader challenge of enabling enterprises to more effectively deal with the ever increasing volume of critical business information in general.

Use of Weblogs for Competitive Intelligence (full paper 853K .pdf)
by Greg Lloyd
The First International Conference/Workshop on Business, Technology and Competitive Intelligence
Nihon University, Tokyo 25 Oct 2005

Introduction

Weblogs (or “blogs”) are best known as personal daybooks on the web written by an individual consisting of a “collection of clippings, musings and other things like journal entries that strike one's fancy or titillate one's curiosity. What makes this online daybook different from the commonplace book is that this form of personal noodling or diary-writing is on the Internet, with links that take the reader around the world in pursuit of more about a topic” Safire, (2002).

Weblogs gained mass media attention as personally published websites written by amateur reporters, pundits – or teenagers. For example, anyone can sign up for a free personal or low cost personal weblog from LiveJournal.com. As of August 2005 LiveJournal.com hosted over 2,600,000 active weblogs, 85% written persons by persons 20 years old or younger, see LiveJournal (2005). As of the end of July 2005, Technorati.com reported that it was tracking over 14.2 million weblogs, about double the number tracked in March 2005, see Sifry (2005). Weblogs are part of an emerging infrastructure that uses the global Internet as a massively scalable platform to disseminate information in a form that can be easily written, read, correlated, and commented on by anyone with the skills necessary to use a web browser.

This paper presents the following thesis:

1) The World Wide Web’s shift to medium that is generally writable as well as readable represents a return to the original vision of the WWW and hypertext systems that pre-date the Web.

2) Weblog technology will not be limited to personal use, but holds the potential to profoundly change the way that commercial and government enterprises handle internally facing and externally facing working communication.

3) Collection, analysis, and dissemination are classic parts of the Competitive Intelligence (CI) process, and particularly well suited to the strengths of weblog technology.

4) Weblog technology can deliver a higher volume of CI alerts and analysis to a wider audience more effectively than email or any known alternative.

By creating easily authored content and commentary within the weblog and linking to any Web addressable content, weblogs create an open and scalable resource that can be used for notification and reference, as well as mined for historical insight across the largest enterprise. ...

Weblog - the NLS Journal Revisited

The central thesis of this paper is that the weblog format provides a stable, open journal, which links and comments on the intelligence, dialog, and work product contained within the weblog, while connecting to all sources addressable on the public or a private Web.

Because the weblog is itself part of the public (or private) Web it can preserve a stable, addressable set of references, which can be linked to by any other Web source, or analyzed by any application that has permission to address that weblog’s content. This interoperability addresses Engelbart’s primary concern about proprietary and opaque representations (the norm prior to the Web) creating silos of information that would make universal linking and interchange difficult or impossible.

The time ordered and uniquely identifiable articles (or posts) within the weblog correspond directly to individual documents with the NLS Journal. Like documents in the Journal, articles with the weblog should either be read-only, or include revision history.

Any link to content external to the weblog is subject to the same uncertainty as any other link in Berners-Lee’s web – content can change or abruptly disappear at the whim of the publisher, by accident, or if the publisher goes out of business. This limitation does not generally apply to Web addressable resources that have lasting commercial value, or Web addressable resources created and maintained in stable repositories such as Enterprise Content Management or line of business systems managed by businesses for their public or private use.

It is also possible to deploy weblog products that can clip and retain an independent record of valuable but potentially transitory facts or documents (used subject to copyright law), or post a brief independent summary to a weblog.

The last point is worth analyzing. Any information posted to the public Web can be discovered and commented on by any person with an interest and a free weblog. The fact that a person or organization posted an item mentioning any phrase or URL in one of over 14 million weblogs monitored by Technorati.com (or one of their competitors) can be reported to anyone with a (free) Technorati.com account in near real time via an RSS subscription. See Sifry (2005).

Millions of human eyes and their agents constantly scan and evaluate items posted to the public Web using Web search, notification, and social tagging engines to focus on a particular topic. When a person finds a “momentarily important item” [Bush (1945, p. 1)] by directed search or serendipity, it is simple to post a note and link to that item on their weblog. If the item is of genuine interest, the weblog post will be discovered and discussed by others, a social process that amplifies a weak signal and can add collaborative information.

A note and link from a weblog also adds a measure of statistical redundancy to the unreliable Web. Although the content of an arbitrary Web resource referenced by the weblog post could be changed or disappear at any time, if the original content is noticed, linked to and commented on by one or more persons, a secondary record of the original content may remain in a form that is difficult to eliminate (for legal content) and easy to find.

Like Berners-Lee’s original concept of the Web, use of weblogs and wikis as easily deployed and relatively stable authored indices to arbitrary Web content is a pragmatic compromise. The Web’s naturally evolving infrastructure provides complementary Web search, RSS/ATOM syndication, notification and search, augmenting the loose but massively scaleable architecture of the Word Wide Web. ...

Copyright © 2005 Gregory R. Lloyd
Some rights reserved, distributed under terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Full Paper (853KB .pdf)
Abstract and Reference sections
Powerpoint slides and additional references (6.8MB .ppt)