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Tuesday, 28th August 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Scott Brown


What challenges do unique content and "big content" create for us as information professionals? We take a look at a review of Thomson Innovation, a patent research tool, and rumours of a Dun & Bradstreet sale.


This issue of the Information Content newsletter has me thinking about the value and challenges of unique content. In an age of our end users continuing to insist that “everything’s on Google or Bing (or insert search engine name here)”, combined with information oversharing via social tools and web news, I find myself occasionally going to the Dark Side. I find myself thinking that maybe everything IS (or soon will be) available for free via Google.

Then I read something like David Whelan’s review of Thomson Innovation, and I snap out of it. At least for a bit.

David’s review illustrates the power and uniqueness of sources like Thomson Innovation, and renews my faith in what we do as information professionals. As he states, patent searching continues to be an art, and patent search artists are getting better tools with which to execute their art. While David points out potential browser compatibility issues, and the ever-present complexity of pricing models with larger sources, the unique value of the product is “an unmatched content set”, incorporating patent information from more than 80 countries and a wide spectrum of content sources. The review is worth reading, whether you are a patent researcher or not. The potential applications to competitive intelligence and business research are intriguing.

But what happens when unique content gets too big? Penny Crossland explores the rumours that Dun & Bradstreet may be exploring a sale again. Dun & Bradstreet, of course, provides access to unique credit information (among other business information), and continues to expand its offerings by purchasing regional business information sources and businesses. At the same time, Penny reports that the company has run into complications in China – in the midst of a market that is at the same time driving the company’s growth.

Unique content, innovative access, complex subscription models, and regulatory issues – I think we’ll continue to deal with these issues, and hopefully only get better tools with which to create our information art.

Enjoy this issue, and I welcome your feedback and suggestions.


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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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