Unleashing the power of wikipedia

Powerset is a powerful search engine for Wikipedia. Once used I would argue that you will never want to go back to the in-site search on the Wikipedia site again.

This is how Powerset describes itself and what it does:

‘Powerset’s goal is to change the way people interact with technology by enabling computers to understand our language. While this is a difficult challenge, we believe that now is the right time to begin the journey. Powerset is first applying its natural language processing to search, aiming to improve the way we find information by unlocking the meaning encoded in ordinary human language.

Powerset’s first product is a search and discovery experience for Wikipedia, launched in May 2008. Powerset’s technology improves the entire search process. In the search box, you can express yourself in keywords, phrases, or simple questions. On the search results page, Powerset gives more accurate results, often answering questions directly, and aggregates information from across multiple articles. Finally, Powerset’s technology follows you into enhanced Wikipedia articles, giving you a better way to quickly digest and navigate content.’

Great features

Especially useful is the ‘article outline’ that appears when you are within the article and floats down the page as you scroll. Within this you can click links and jump straight to the section you select.

The results are excellent, reacting to your search keywords or question showing you the title together with an extract including highlights of the words that match your search. If there are lots of results you can further drill into the results around particular words, with these results rendering within the same page so there is no need to wait for the page to reload with new results.

As a regular user of Wikipedia for research Powerset has now been added to my Flock search bar.

I have discovered that Powerset has been purchased by microsoft so it will be interesting to see how this technology is incorporated into Live Search.

Google asks are you in the Knol

Google have launched Knol, trumpted as a potential threat to Wikipedia, though for me more another source of information (as part of an information mix) and opportunity for individuals and organisations to demonstrate and share their knowledge and specialities.

For companies, organisations and individuals, Knol offers a huge opportunity. A chance for them to show that they really have expertise in their subject matter. Knol refers to a “unit of knowledge” and people with a vast array of skills and knowledge can demonstrate that they really know what they are talking about through Knoll.

To deal with Knol many organisations policy on contributing to social media, which are often restrictive, needs revising. Where there are fear biased policies prohibiting participation in social media – companies needs to change to a more positive attitude of encouragement, guidance and training. Only then will an organisations people be free to really show off what a talented group of people are.

Many suspect that Knol will be favoured by Google, given it has created it, in search listings. Even if this was not the case the fact is that with the Google brand behind it Knol has all the possibilites of becoming as big if not bigger than Wikipedia and therefore the potential of Knol being somewhere else that you just cannot afford not to be is high.

Is Bebo better than Facebook? Creating a profile network

As part of my research into social networks I recently joined Bebo, a social network popular in the UK and in particular among younger people.

After being an avid Facebook user for some time I wasn’t overwhelmed by the service, however added my profile details and added a link to the page to my homepage at wellbelove.com.

Being a regular egosurfer I was surprised that despite the fact that my Facebook page has been available for much longer my Bebo page was appearing higher in the Google results for a search of Christopher Wellbelove. This has since switched, however it is telling of the importance Google places on Bebo that my Bebo page has appeared on the first page of Google results so quickly.

Whilst I realise it is difficult to maintain profiles on so many sites, the benefits are clear. If Google places a high importance on Bebo then having a profile here that points to your main website, together with your pages on other social networks, by creating a profile on Bebo you will increase their rank and ensure that for users who choose the Bebo network they are still able to access some information about should they search in that network for you.

My Squidoo page, set up at a similar time as my Bebo profile, today appeared above both my Facebook and Bebo profiles in my Google egosurf. You can discover more about services like Squidoo in my article ‘Bringing it all together’.

In short, if you want the widest audience to find you, you need to invest time in placing content where the audience is – on the networks they know and trust. If you want search engines to focus on content you own, you need to invest time in creating these pages, interlinking them so that search engines will trust your profile network as an authority on information about you.

Are you a twit or a twitter?

Many politicians are familiar with being called a twit, as would be some front line staff of many organisations large and small. Not many would be familiar with the term ‘Twitter’.

So what is twitter, and should you be twittering?

Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service allowing members to send updates which are text-based posts, which can be up to 140 characters long, to the Twitter website. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

Updates can be added to a twitter by a wide variety of ways including via the Twitter website, short message service (SMS), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific.

Those wanting to keep up-to-date with your twitter can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application. Your twitter alerts can either be open to anyone to subscribe or you can create a closed group of approved subscribers.

You may think that this is pointless, or great fun. The majority of twitters so far are people just wanting to keep up-to-date with what their friends – but does Twitter offer opportunities to politicians or businesses.

For politicians there are several opportunities, twitter could be used to keep voters updated on what they are doing or update supporters on their campaign. Twitter alerts could be used to alert voters to the need to vote, and which party to vote for.

For businesses twitter could be used to alert subscribers to special offers, new products or updates to their website.

For a charity this could alert supporters to new campaigns or updates on fund raising efforts.

For a television company they could remind fans of a particular programme to alert fans to when their favourite programme is going to air.

For music artists they could tell their fans where they are playing or highlight a new release for downloading online.

Twitter could be used to alert members or employees of internal messages, though if you have a closed list you will need processes to identify and remove those who move to another organisation.

As with all subscriber services those setting up twitters for either political or business purposes need to remember that if you spam your audience they can and will unsubscribe. As with email marketing you must ensure that a message goes out soon after your subscribers come on board, if you do not send an update for several months after they joined the subscriber may have forgotten that they subscribed and see the message as spam.

140 characters gives similar challenges that those writing for Google Adwords, especially in German language where the words are typically a lot longer.

So why use Twitter as opposed to an SMS delivery service? Twitter is a social network with, if your updates are open, others able to discover and subscribe to your updates from their Twitter account. Adding a Twitter button on your site will attract your visitors that are already Twitter users to subscribe to your alerts.

You can monitor how many ‘followers’ you have, send direct messages to individual followers and followers can send direct messages to you.

How to create a Twitter account
This is very easy – simply visit the Twitter website and register. Think about your username as this will be associated with the messages on your feed.

Twitter to your Facebook
Often when I advise politicians on how to best use the web to communicate with their constituence they tell me how they have no time to maintain so many sites and to communicate in so many different ways. One of the great developments of Web 2.0 sites is the convergence of features from many different websites as they allow each other to feed into them. With the Twitter Sync application you will not only send out messages to your ‘followers’ but update your Status Profile on Facebook at the same time.

How to add your Twitter to your WordPress page
You can see my twitter on the left hand side of this blog. To do this yourself after setting up a twitter account go to the WordPress dashboard, select presentation, widgets, drag RSS 1, click within RSS 1 to configure, from the bottom of your Twitter page right click on the RSS button and copy shortcut, put this shortcut in the configuration box for RRS 1, you need to save changes and then should see this in your WordPress page. If it doesn’t work check you’ve saved at every stage and that you see the confirmation that your blog has been updated. Other blog services also have widgets that enable this.

Should you really twitter?
Many years ago in the United Kingdom the telecommunications company ran a campaign featuring a character a chatty bird called Buzby. If Buzby was still around today I am sure he would be twittering away – if you don’t other’s will be twittering louder, and reaching those you need to twitter to.

Entering the blogosphere

With over 120,000 new blogs created worldwide everyday why on earth would Wellbelove want to enter the blogosphere?

Partially, given that I am increasingly working within the Web 2.0 environment I could hardly continue to advise others on the pros and cons of blogging without experiencing the creation of a blog first hand.

Additionally, I hope to be able to share some useful insights into how businesses and politicians  can make the most of the opportunities the the new age of the internet offers whilst hopefully avoiding some of the pitfulls.

One of the most common pitfall’s that new bloggers fall into is starting enthusiastically, blogging almost everyday, then slowly but surely their blog grinds to a halt despite proud promises of regular updates (even daily) when they first begin. To avoid this pitfall I make no such promises, only that as I come across new and useful information this will be the place that I will share this with you.