Saturday, 28 November 2015


All posts from: April 2011

What James did next

Thu, 28 Apr 2011

Arik Hesseldahl, over at the All Things Digital blog, has an exclusive on what former Omniture CEO Josh James has been up to since pocketing $80m-plus from the $1.8bn sale of the web analytics company to Adobe in late 2009.

Hesseldahl reports that James has bought out Corda Technologies, the developer of business data dashboard software, as a platform on which to build a new venture, though details are vague.

Seed funding of more than $5m is incoming, apparently. Read the full story here.

Meanwhile, over in Israel, a social media monitoring and analysis firm called Buzzilla has secured an initial $1m investment to help it expand internationally. The business, now independent, was previously part of TBWA Digital Israel.

Business website Globes has all the details.

A question of free speech

Wed, 27 Apr 2011

The US Supreme Court this week heard arguments for and against attempts by the state of Vermont to block the use of physician prescribing data for marketing purposes – with some justices apparently leaning towards the view that to do so would restrict free speech.

Vermont’s law was overturned on a challenge by IMS Health, SDI and Source Healthcare Analytics – three companies who collect and sell prescribing data, but who supported Vermont’s request for a Supreme Court review of the decision.

The companies said at the time: “We believe the justices will agree with the Court of Appeals that laws like this one violate the First Amendment right of free speech.”

And it seems some do, according to a New York Times report. Vermont believes that by hampering drug companies’ marketing efforts it can lower healthcare costs through more effective promotion of cheaper generic alternatives.

But this runs up against a basic First Amendment problem, the Times says, quoting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “You can’t lower the decibel level of one speaker,” she said, “so that another speaker, in this case the generics, can be heard better.”

A ruling is expected by June.

Update: A full transcript of the Supreme Court hearing can be found online here.

Media owner's grave error

Thu, 14 Apr 2011

This morning we have a lesson on the importance of carefully planning your media placements, courtesy of Clear Channel, which hung a giant poster for hit TV show The Walking Dead – set in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse – on the wall of a funeral parlour in Country Durham.

Clear Channel has since apologised and taken the poster down, but you can see it online here.

The wrong type of happiness?

Wed, 13 Apr 2011

An American psychologist whose work inspired David Cameron’s plan to measure national wellbeing has warned that the UK Prime Minister might be trying to measure the wrong thing.

Professor Martin Seligman – quoted in The Guardian – said that the focus on measuring people’s happiness, as an alternative to cold economic measures of progress like GDP growth, may be misguided. Instead, a better measure of a successful society might be the ability of its citizens to “flourish”.

“What humans want is not just happiness,” he said. “They want justice, they want meaning. An interesting example is that there is quite a bit of evidence that says people’s mood isn’t as good once they have children. If [happiness] were all people were interested in, we should have been extinguished a long time ago.”

Questions on wellbeing started appearing on the Integrated Household Survey this month.

Meanwhile, Seligman has a new book – called Flourish – out next month.

How would you measure wellbeing?

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Telling stories

Tue, 5 Apr 2011

In his Guardian column on Saturday, Ben Goldacre reminds readers how easy it is to manipulate statistics to make a point.

In coverage of the recent protests over government spending cuts, a number of media outlets managed to conflate the fact that there was some violence with the fact that 149 people were arrested, running with headlines like “Cuts protest violence: 149 people charged”.

In fact, only a dozen of those 149 arrests were for violent offences – the rest were people who took part in the non-violent protest at Fortnum & Mason (and whose arrest has been highly controversial).

Furthermore, all this needs to be seen in the context of the hundreds of thousands of people who took part peacefully in the march.

This sort of misrepresentation of numbers often hides a political agenda, but sometimes all it takes is a journalist looking for a story.

Researchers are encouraged to tell good stories, too, and should be cautious of building them on facts that look like they support them, but actually don’t.

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