Monday, May 12, 2008

Content Supply? Meet Knowledge Demand!

This post tries to shed some light on the often bewildering exchange between your users and the information they use (or uses them as the case may be).

Our discussion adheres to a simple, familiar concept that governs these interactions. Think of the marketplace. Think economic cycles. Think fundamental rules. Now apply the laws of supply and demand to your internal databases and networks:

Supply – The content we’ve already got posted and indexed.

Demand – Why our users are spending time in the systems we build them.

Again it’s that demand side where all the mystery unfolds. What attracts demand to supply on intranets? In retail this is a question answered with every new trip to the checkout counter. But we knowledge intermediaries don’t have the benefit of measuring demand by dollars spent. The only expenditure on our information assets is the attentions paid by our users – a payment rarely shared with us!

Still, for information architects the response might bear some resemblance to the common shopping experience in the form of...

* Freshness – continuous updates of volatile, time-sensitive information – especially where responses to pending changes are required

* Uniqueness – documents with exceptional properties and lacking the redundancy of more generic materials

* Transferability – The ease of getting document text, graphics, and formatting from one project to another

But are these qualities best measured in the algorithms of code or the minds our users? We all know who won that battle in the race to define relevancy on the web and it was Page Rank by a mile. But what about inside the firewall? What could be more organic than a formula based on most popular downloads? What could be more democratic than tracing click-throughs to the ultimate purchase -- not a catalog page, or a banner ad but the buying of an argument, the best-selling item in the shopping cart of any analyst.

Not so fast. What about voting qualifications? Are some elections to the hall of top docs more democratic than others? We all know the only impediment to gaming the world's most popular ranking formula. And it has far more to do with Google's hush-hush policies than the brilliance of its programmers.

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About attentionSpin

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attentionSpin is a consulting practice formed in 1990 to create, automate and apply a universal scoring system (“The Biggest Picture”) to brands, celebrities, events and policy issues in the public eye. In the Biggest Picture, attentionSpin applies the principles of market research to the process of media analytics to score the volume and nature of media coverage. The explanatory power of this research model: 1. Allows practitioners to understand the requirements for managing the quality of attention they receive 2. Shows influencers the level of authority they hold in forums where companies, office-seekers, celebrities and experts sell their visions, opinions and skills 3. Creates meaningful standards for measuring the success and failure of campaigns and their connection to marketable assets.