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FreePint BlogDigging into the information mine

Tuesday, 21st August 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Scott Brown


Scott Brown looks at the themes of information mining. The featured articles look at the reality of working with big data; mining competitive information in social tools; information "scent"; and plagiarism.


Over the last week or so, the Information Practice articles seem to be about mining information in one way or another. It’s almost enough to make me put on a miner’s helmet.

In the last issue of the Information Practice Newsletter, Robin Neidorf touched on Dale Moore's discussion of a recent report on "Big Data". Over the past week, Sarah Hinton takes the plunge into the reality of working with “Big Data”. She considers the broad spectrum of big data projects, from capturing everyone’s heartbeat, to building a “smart city” based on energy usage data. After looking at several examples of data mining, she recommends focusing on your organisation’s needs to keep up on this rapidly evolving trend, rather than getting swept away by the overall concept of Big Data.

Similarly, Aileen Marshall takes us through a typical day – if there is one in research – of mining competitive intelligence information in social tools. She highlights some tools that help make sense of the sheer amount of information available in Twitter and other social sites. One of my favourite examples of hers is using Wordle to get a “visual aggregation” of a particular chunk of text – whether a speech, a Twitter stream, or a blog.

James Mullan’s piece on information scent, to me, helps the user navigate the information mine. By providing information clues and “scents”, we can help leave a breadcrumb trail for our users to get to the information they expect to find. Finally, to stretch this metaphor to the absolute limit, Arthur Weiss looks at plagiarism – the false gems of information. Arthur shares a couple of tools that can help identify plagiarism in both text and images.

So come into the mine of information in this week’s Information Practice Newsletter and see if you emerge with some gems.


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Scott Brown is the owner of Social Information Group (, an independent information practice that focuses on the effective use of social networking tools for sharing and finding information. His forthcoming book, "Social Information: Gaining Competitive and Business Information Using Social Media Tools" will be published in late 2012. He has worked with libraries, Fortune 500 companies, startups, government organisations and individuals to help them understand and effectively use these tools for their clients, and to drive increased visibility and return on information resources. He has over 20 years of experience in library and information organisations, in public, academic and corporate settings. Scott is a regular speaker nationally on many areas of information work. He is also a professional coach.

You can follow him on Twitter at @socialinfo.

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