Government Executive Introduces Live Web Channels For Federal Agencies

September 9th, 2009 by Nikos

We are delighted to announce that Government Executive, the premier media resource for federal decision makers, has launched News by Agency, a suite of over 40 web channels customized for individual federal agencies.

Powered by Lingospot’s topic portals technology, the channels provide federal executives with a dashboard, where they can monitor a broad range of real-time news and information about their agency, including articles from Government Executive and its sister publications, news form external sources, such as the New York Times and CNN, videos, tweets, quotes and other content. “This tool provides federal executives with a window into how the public views and perceives their agency – important information for gauging progress in meeting their mission,” commented Matt Dunie, president of Government Executive Media Group.

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Gannett Launches “Cash for Clunkers” Topic Portals

August 17th, 2009 by Nikos

Earlier this month, we launched our services across the 100+ online properties of Gannett in collaboration with ContentOne, . ContentOne is a division of Gannett, whose mission is to make the company “smarter, better and more efficient in delivering news and information to its customers, while allowing its community of journalists to focus on news and information and avoid duplication.”

The Lingospot service launch was centered around the recently adopted “Cash for Clunkers” program. As a rapidly developing story with national importance and high commercial value, it was the right opportunity for ContentOne to exemplify its online media strategy and an excellent launching pad for the Lingospot service across the Gannett properties.

Lingospot aggregates and dynamically organizes Gannett’s content by topic, while providing editors with tools to easily create and maintain topic portals. Our platform allowed ContentOne to quickly launch special coverage portals with breaking news and developing stories about the Clunkers program (example). These portals were created by aggregating Gannett’s assets (stories, photos, videos, and pooling editorial resources to hand-pick content and/or select the best content sources. The portals use Lingospot’s algorithms to automatically compile and collate a vast repository of content, while human editors add touches of domain knowledge to structure and organize the portals to best serve their audience. Once created, these pages became fully autonomous, as Lingospot’s engine continuously collates the most compelling content to engage the target audience. Editors can, at any point, improve the usefulness of these pages by fine-tuning the parameters and adding deeper domain knowledge.

The Gannett Clunkers portals are composed of three types of content (see screenshot):

  1. Reference Modules (green) provide in depth articles about the program, information on new car models eligible for the program and tools to research and buy new cars. For example, visitors can start by reading an introduction to the program and can then find out whether their clunkers qualify. If so, they can do research for a new car by visiting the portal of each manufacturer, such as the Toyota portal, where they will find the eligible Toyota models and links to research for where to buy the car on, a Gannett property.
  2. News Modules (blue) allow visitors to read the latest Clunker program news from Gannett’s properties, as well as from news sources outside of Gannett to round out the coverage. The universe of external news sources that is searched is fully controlled by the editors at ContentOne, so they can pick the sources that they deem most appropriate and valuable to their visitors. Lingospot then tracks the hundreds or thousands of sources and finds the most relevant and recent content, all with zero editorial effort.
  3. Multimedia Modules (yellow) tap into Lingospot’s ability to aggregate the relevant photographs across Gannett’s properties, as well as videos from their local TV stations, to make the overall visitor experience more engaging. A secondary video offering provides additional national coverage from AP and Bloomberg.

The result of the above combination is a highly engaging, feature-rich, and up-to-date resource for readers to find out all about the Clunkers program.

The Lingospot service was made available to 83 Gannett newspaper sites and 21 TV station sites. These websites simply linked to a portal, which was then dynamically customized to the branding and design of the referring newspaper or TV station. Furthermore, local sites could sell ads and sponsorships on each portal (such as to a local Dodge dealer), as well as tap into Gannett’s sales team for national campaigns across all properties (such as from Ford or Toyota).

Without the Lingospot platform, Gannett’s editors would have to manually create these portals by assembling each component, such as the latest stories, TV clips, relevant photos, links to sister properties and the Web at large. Once created, the editors would then have to maintain these pages to keep the content fresh and relevant. Done manually, this would have been very time consuming and expensive. Moreover, given the fast moving nature of the Clunkers program, ContentOne could not afford to wait for the portal to be manually compiled, nor could they afford to commit editorial resources to keep the portal updated indefinitely. They needed to quickly launch the Clunkers portal across their properties, capture the audience interested in this topic, keep them engaged with compelling content, and get their sales team to hit the pavement selling sponsorships before consumer interest faded or the program was terminated. From conception to launch, it took ContentOne and Lingospot less than 36 hours to go live with a full offering across 104 Gannett sites, allowing the national and local sales teams to take full advantage of this highly targeted sales opportunity.

The Gannett Clunkers launch is a textbook example of the core value that Lingospot is creating: making it easy to engage topically-focused visitors. By enabling publishers to automatically create vertical topic-focused content portals, we are allowing visitors to self-segment based on their topical interests, making them prime targets for high-margin topic-focused ads and sponsorships.


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Topic Quotes Launched

June 12th, 2009 by Nikos

We recently launched a new module on our Topic Portals called Topic Quotes.

Here’s how it works: We use our natural language processing to scan through your article pages and look for quotes. When we find a quote, we determine the topics that the quote refers to, as well as who is being quoted. We add all this information in our Topic Quotes index for the specific publisher’s site. When we display a topic page, we search for the specific topic mentioned in the quote. If the topic happens to be a person, we will look for quotes by this person, as well as quotes about this person. For example, if the topic page is about Barack Obama, we will search for quotes both by Obama as well as quotes mentioning Obama. Here is an example from the on Barack Obama:

Clicking on a quote takes the reader to the article where the quote was found.

Topic Quotes has been made available as a standard module of our Topic Portals service, allowing any publisher subscribing to the service to enhance their topic pages with quotes.


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Lingospot at Google I/O Developer Sandbox

June 4th, 2009 by Nikos

Our tech team took a trip up north last week to participate in the Developer Sandbox at the Google I/O conference. Here’s a video of Gerald Chao, our CTO talking about how we are using Google App Engine at Lingospot.

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The Lingospot Family Continues to Grow!

May 20th, 2009 by Nikos

Following the example of our CTO, our CEO also became a father recently:

Welcome Theo to the extended Lingospot family!


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Work-Life balance

April 9th, 2009 by Nikos

At Lingospot, we’re all about work-life balance. Our flexible hours and freedom of employees to work remotely, when possible, all contribute to a more efficient organization. Our team is comfortable blending work and life together, as this recent picture of our CTO clearly indicates:

Notice the multitasking: three screens, a cup of coffee and, of course, his daughter. I guess that’s why he’s the CTO and I’m the guy updating this blog!


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The effect of design on newspaper circulation

April 9th, 2009 by Nikos

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.

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Happy first birthday App Engine!

April 8th, 2009 by Nikos

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.

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How we will use Twitter

March 19th, 2009 by Nikos

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.


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

March 16th, 2009 by Nikos

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?


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