Archive for the ‘Industry News’ Category

The Bee Connects Sacramento

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

After several months of preparation, The Sacramento Bee launched the Sacramento Connect network on Monday March 29th. The network and its associated services take a fresh new approach to content aggregation and interlinking and use several web technologies and tools to bring together the best content from around Sacramento.

Linking to outside blogs and publications was unheard of for a newspaper like The Bee, just a couple of years ago. In fact, the idea for Sacramento Connect was met with some “initial resistance,” according to Sean McMahon, The Bee’s digital product development manager. But the timing was right. “We have a trusted position in the area, ” said McMahon, “and we thought it was time to embrace all these independent voices and bring them in and try to promote them.”

In the short time since its launch, Sacramento Connect has attracted much attention from both publications flocking to join the network as well as readers interested in exploring local Sacramento news. One of the reason for this early success might be the focus of the network on being about content first and foremost, unlike other publisher networks whose main driver is aggregation of ad space inventory.  This focus is evident through Sacramento Connect’s four main user-facing services:

The Sacramento Connect Toolbar
The most noticeable element of the Sacramento Connect network is the toolbar at the bottom of the browser, which shows up when you first visit a Sacramento Connect page and follows you on all sites that are part of the network:

The toolbar includes several useful features and allows quick access to a number of Sacramento Connect network services. For example, a visitor can easily find related stories from across the network, search for any topic, or visit a topic page that is related to the current article that is being read.

Sacramento Connect Home Page
The control panel of the Sacramento Connect network is the Sacramento Connect home page.  This is the first stop for readers who are interested in customizing their experience by selecting the sources of network articles (SacBee, netowrk partners, featured or all) and the category of articles (Business, Entertainment, Politics, etc.) which should be used to filter the desired content. The network home page also serves as a starting point for readers to discover articles that are being written on the network about the subjects that they are most interested in.

Sacramento Connect Related Articles Widget
With the launch of the network, The Bee has also included a widget on each of its article pages, showing related content from across Sacramento Connect. This article, for example, shows the Sacramento Connect widget on the rightmost column of the page. This is yet another way for The Bee to provide their readers with access to interesting, relevant articles from across the network.

Sacramento Connect on Lingospot Topic Portals
Content from the Sacramento Connect network can also be found on The Bee’s topic portals, such as the one on Medical Marijuana. Readers who visit such a topic-specific page will now have the opportunity to not only read The Bee’s coverage of the topic, but also to see coverage from other sources in the network. In the above example, a reader would be able to get the viewpoint of YubaNet, North Sac Beat, Jeff Peline’s Sierra Foothills Report and other local publishers.

The above four services create the main framework of content aggregation and interlinking within Sacramento Connect and have already been embraced by readers as a convenient access to the best content from Sacramento.

We are proud to have been a part of the launch of Sacramento Connect and wish our friends at The Bee best of luck in growing and strengthening the network.

The effect of design on newspaper circulation

Thursday, 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!

Wednesday, 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.

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

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Sunday, 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

Thursday, 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.