Stay Free! magazine


Stay Free! Daily: media criticism, consumer culture and Brooklyn curiosities from Stay Free! magazine

Got a blog tip? Contact us

« U.S. Workers Too Uneducated to Build Cars? | Main | McDonald's makes a fashion statement »

"Your blog is important to us"

There's been a lot of talk on the ad-o-sphere lately about various ways corporations are using blogs, not only for promotion but for market research. Blogs are seen as sort of high-tech focus group promising company X insights into its brand. What's funny is how so many marketers want to get the gist of what blogs are saying without actually having to read them. Agencies refer to "natural language algorithms" and "unstructured-data mining" that parse bloggers' words into "actionable" "marketing data." As one robot explains:

"We can parse the speech in these blogs, break it down by nouns, verbs, adjectives and phrases to derive meaning and understanding about the speech and the speaker," David Howlett, Umbria's product management vice president, told United press International. "We use machine-learning algorithms to show who the speaker is and their characteristics."

So if you pepper your posts with OMG ("oh my God!") or POS ("parent over shoulder") the robots will think you're a pre-teen girl; FUBAR means you're a frat boy or an aging hippie. And those demographic cues will determine how marketers weight what you have to say... unless of course you're Boing Boing or Slashdot, which are large enough for the suits to justify reading.

All of this is an effort to manage the blog world and make it more like the mainstream media. As some engineers behind these efforts put it:

The blogosphere as a whole can be exploited for outreach opinion formation, maintaining online communities, supporting knowledge management within large global collaborative environments, monitoring reactions to public events and is seen as the upcoming alternative to the mass media.

All of this makes me wonder how to screw with the data crunchers. I always thought it'd be fun to be in a focus group so I could give bad advice.... not just negative criticism, but misleading opinions. I'm not sure what the equivalent would be on blogs, but maybe randomly namechecking popular brands in posts would help by adding noise... or, I dunno, associating popular brands with negatively valenced words:

unemployed Microsoft Gator adware boycott fatigue depression fetid Burger King hernia skinhead dreary phlegm crucifixion self-mutilation pro-ana Starbucks arrhythmia goiter bloody wound blood-stained urine torture oozing Wal-Mart rape melanoma scourge pestilence noxious discharge end times Coca-Cola anal leakage spastic bottom-feeding crybaby crying babies Nike Scientology torture ejaculate headache fungus etc.

Posted by carrie on 07/05/2005 | Permalink


can the *last* paragraph, w/all them bad words, cause the new york public library to filter & make it unavailable? i occ'ly go to for mindless blather, for inst, but nypl forbids public access to it. if so, that would really teenage enema nurses in bondage.


Posted by: herb | Jul 5, 2005 2:20:14 PM

Best poon-tang Michelin said. I think it's really important that we Gatorade angina all the time Taco Bell moldy underwear.

Posted by: Steve Lambert | Jul 6, 2005 2:08:48 AM

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In