Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On spam, marketing, noise, search, reputation management and the evolution of the blog

Need an Outlook reference?

I was looking for a book on Outlook 2003. I don't need a novice reference, I need a power-user reference. I looked first at O'Reilly (the home of the power user), but they don't have anything current. Google and Amazon weren't helping, though Amazon was somewhat useful.

So I turned to an authority, a blog called Marc's Outlook on Productivity. Marc is not a super-power user, but he concentrates on this domain.

This is new. I could ask a friend, but I already know more about Outlook than anyone else I know. Five to ten years ago I'd have tried Usenet, but it's been done in by spam and blogs. Five years ago Google would have given me a good answer, now Google is overwhelmed by spam and marketing. Amazon usually works, but there aren't enough people interested in this topic to provide me with useful information. This isn't surprising, Amazon is often weak in dealing with multiple editions of computer books with a small readership -- there's too much dilution of a limited number of reviews. Once upon a time I'd have gone to a 'community site', but they have too much noise and are too hard to track.

So I took a new tack - the next best thing to asking an expert colleague for a recommendation. I went to the blog of an expert I trusted. I trusted this expert because I've followed his writing for a year or so. (Note: blog, expert, domain specific, reputation->trust)

The Post Categories in this blog (Note: ontology, terminology, classification, search, metadata) helped me find a relevant post very quickly. I ordered the book from Amazon. Unfortunately the publisher doesn't allow one to view the contents in Amazon (most annoying).

The pace of evolution of the web and of search in general is breathtaking. In ten years we've marched through an astonishing array of solutions, most of which have been destroyed by the twin demons of marketing and spam (arguably spam is a form of marketing!).

I wonder if the idea of personal authority and reputation will be the persistent solution. In all these years it's been a common thread. Attempt to automate (most nobly by Google) have fallen to the corrupting forces of marketing. Sure, people can be corrupted, but I've found that there's a goodly number of people that are surprisingly resistant to such influences. If they demonstrate this resistance over time, they become influential. (Then the corrupting forces can become irresistible, but there are always replacements .. and so it goes ...). Blogs, especially when they are authored by a single person, are the only way I know of in today's net to create an identify, a reputation, and finally, trust in domain recommendations.
am (noise). Interesting to consider what the biological equivalence is.

It's interesting to consider what the biological equivalence is.

PS. Note to marketing folk -- much of my professional life falls in the broad domain of marketing. Marketing is a powerful domain that rules much of modern life -- like all powers it has two faces.

Update 4/25/05: So, what was the book like? Not bad, but of the 1000 or so pages probably 30 are useful for me. People like me are not common enough to base a book on, so I guess I have to make do with a chapter her or there.

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