The effect of design on newspaper circulation

April 9th, 2009

During the last year, through our partnership with the NAA and through our discussions and cooperation with Gannett and McClatchy, we have learned much about the newspaper industry. Of course, we’ve primarily been focusing on online newspapers and assumed, as most, that the print newspaper’s future is questionable, at best.

So, it was very refreshing to watch this presentation on TED (our favorite source for inspirational speeches) that shows some examples of what a redesign can do to a newspaper’s circulation.

Happy first birthday App Engine!

April 8th, 2009

How a year flies by! As Python developers, we started playing around with the Google App Engine shortly after its launch. Being able to run our services on Google’s infrastructure for a fraction of our costs was a very attractive deal. In fact, Lingospot was one of the first companies to test the Google App Engine billing system (and the folks at Google were nice enough to reward us with a gift certificate - unnecessary, but welcome).

We’ve been very happy with the capabilities and flexibility of the App Engine. Of course, there were some hiccups along the way, but, overall, our experience has been very positive and we look forward to celebrating many happy years with the Google App Engine.

How we will use Twitter

March 19th, 2009

Over the last year, Twitter has grown from having less than one million unique visitors per month to almost eight million, according to Compete. In fact, only in the last couple of months, the number of unique visitors has doubled.

Much has been written recently about the realtime search uses of Twitter, as well as some of the ways that companies are using Twitter for marketing purposes.

Lingospot recently signed up for a company Twitter account. As many of our team members have their own Twitter accounts, we wanted to let you know how we plan to use the company account. We will:

  • Update followers on new interesting blog posts on the Lingospot blog
  • Link to interesting articles, photos and videos
  • Answer questions about the Lingospot services
  • Post information about Lingospot events, conferences we attend, etc.

The Lingospot account will not be used for personal updates of the CEO the way that, for example, the Zappos account is used, but you can follow the CEO’s personal account for such updates.

We are still experimenting with Twitter and would welcome your feedback on how we can best use it to communicate with clients, partners and friends of Lingospot.

Tim Berners-Lee: The next Web of open, linked data.

March 16th, 2009

Twenty years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Lingospot (and thousands of other companies) would not have existed, if it weren’t for his basic protocols of document presentation and interlinking.

At Lingospot, we have been doing our part in helping materialize Berners-Lee’s vision for the evolution of the Web, namely the Semantic Web. Loosely, the Semantic Web goes beyond the basic interlinking of documents and information to the understanding of the meaning of such documents and information. For us, the focus has been on using natural language processing to analyze pages and add a layer of semantic understanding to such pages. Specifically, we have been innovating in: (a) identifying the key topics that a page is about, (b) understanding what each of these topics represents (a person, animal, place, disease, human emotion, etc.) and (c) determining what other topics each topic is related to.

In this TED talk, Tim Berners-Lee, in simple and straightforward terms, presents the concept of linked data, in a similar fashion that twenty years ago he presented the concept of linked documents that led to the evolution of the Web.

To make linked data as ubiquitous as linked documents, the proper incentives need to be in place for companies to provide open access to their data. What do you think? What are some ways to incentivize companies to bring down the walls that keep their data inaccessible?

Self-Serve Topic Pages for NAA Members

March 11th, 2009

Today we announced the launch of a two-part partnership with the Newspaper Association of America:

  • The NAA website has integrated the Lingospot Topic Portals service, which highlights specific topics on the pages of the NAA Web site, allowing users to click on such topics to discover more. Clicking a linked topic will navigate to a topics page, displaying related content, such as more NAA articles and NAA Community content, as well as books, videos, photos and articles from other areas of the Web.
  • We are offering a self-serve version of our Topic Portals service to NAA member newspapers and are doing so using a performance based pricing model. This means newspapers can launch the Topic Portals service with no upfront setup fees and no monthly licensing fees. Pricing is based on click-throughs to topic pages, yielding a positive ROI for newspapers from day one. The Sacramento Bee is the first newspaper to take advantage of this offering. An example of a topics page can be found by clicking on one of the highlighted links on a Sacramento Bee article. NAA member newspapers can sign up for the Lingospot Topic Portal program by visiting and signing up with their company email address.

We are excited to be working with the NAA and to be helping their members extract new value from their investment in online content and we look forward to improving our product to better meet the needs of this industry.

Lingospot at mediaXchange

March 8th, 2009

We will be in Las Vegas over the next three days at the Newspaper Association of America’s first annual mediaXchange, a new conference “for industry professionals to share audience and revenue development strategies that have generated growth in print and online.”

This event replaces the NAA’s Marketing and NEXPO and, not surprisingly, includes a number of sessions about how newspapers can survive in the current challenging environment. The agenda also has a heavy focus on online, mobile and search.

We’ll be making some interesting announcements at the conference - stay tuned.

Our Loss of Wisdom

February 19th, 2009

The TED conferences have been a fantastic source of thought-provoking presentations. Happily, this content is now freely available to all through the TED website. At Lingospot we frequently draw inspiration from these talks. One in particular, struck us as worth sharing on this blog.

Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.

Life in California

February 12th, 2009

Lingospot is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, but many of our clients are in New York and Washington DC, so we are often asked whether we would consider moving our headquarters to the east coast. Although we are happy to live the bi-coastal lifestyle, we prefer having our home base here. That being said, life in California is not all fun and games, as this video clearly shows.


Lingospot Patent Granted

January 6th, 2009

After a long wait, our first of five patent applications has finally made it through the lengthy approval process of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It took exactly 4 years, 4 months and 4 days (strange) for our communication with the USPTO to bear fruit.

Hat’s off to Gerald (our CTO) for not only handling the initial write-up and multiple changes to the document, but, most importantly, for inventing something worth patenting! So there you have it:

An Adaptive and Scalable Method for Resolving Natural Language Ambiguities.

The Death of Holiday Cards

January 6th, 2009

This year, when it came time to mail out the traditional holiday greeting cards, we made a decision not to do so. Although it’s a tradition that has been with our culture for as long as most of us have been around, we decided to kill the holiday cards for what we feel are pretty good reasons:

  • With the deteriorating state of the environment, we thought we’d try to save some trees.
  • In this economy, we felt there were better ways to spread the holiday spirit.

So, what did we do with the money we saved? Well, in all honesty, it wasn’t all that much, as last year we spent less than $500 on holiday cards (hey, we’re a startup!). This year, we took that $500 and donated it to to the World Food Programme - the world’s front line organization fighting world hunger. Going forward, our goal is to double that amount each year. So, when we are celebrating the ten year anniversary of the death of Lingospot holiday cards, we will do so by donating upwards of a quarter of a million.

Best wishes for 2009!