Sunday, December 23, 2012

Worst Submissions of the Year

Sometimes our users really make us laugh.  Because while they do a phenomenal job up updating and adding new pages to our fast-growing database, we certainly can't publish just anything they offer up.  All year long we monitor user editing to ensure accuracy and objectivity, however as a byproduct, we filter out some unexpected and often hilarious edits.  And for your amusement, we've compiled some of the best of the worst to share with you!

To protect the innocent (or rather, the guilty,) we don't record the names of the authors.  And so in no particular order, here are the Top 10 Worst Submissions attempted in 2012!
  1. User Complaint:  "I found pieces of glass in 2 bags of your Frozen Corn."
  2. Job Title:  "Straight-up Witch Doctor"
  3. Job Title:  "Chief Butt Designer"
  4. Summary:  "Strange, Apelike Man"
  5. Summary:  "Professional Swindler for over 40 years"
  6. Summary:  "He has all the class of a deranged baboon"
  7. Job Title:  "Big Power Hungry Manager"
  8. Summary:  "Anything good ever been written about him .... is a misprint"
  9. Person Tag:  "SWAGGED OUT"
  10. Job title:  "Avid Witch Hunter"

While we certainly can't condone this type of submission, we assume that everyone was just trying to help us improve our SPAM filters!  So thanks for keeping us on our toes.  And thanks again for what is rounding out to be a monumental 2012!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Votes Are In: Technology and Finance will be our Next Rounds of Topics!

As our readers may know, we've set an ambitious goal to build over 100,000 new topics pages on the new!  And as we continue to build our database (having just added thousands in Healthcare and Cleantech!) we want to focus on those industry topics that matter most to you.  We recently asked you to take a quick survey to let us know what industries you work in and care about..
The top industry vote getters were:
  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Finance
  • Consulting
  • Business Services
  • Manufacturing

You Really Came Through!  It was the largest turnout we've had to date for our User Surveys, and you provided us with more than 50 unique industries that are important to you.  Over the coming months we're going to roll out new sets of topics pages within these industries, and just like those currently on the site, you can own them as Spoke contributors to grow your professional reputation (we'll publish your name and picture all over the pages, and you will be found in Google Searches by these topics and industries.)  It's as easy as adding and curating content to pages we generate, or by creating new topics for anything not yet in our system.
We'll let you know as new topics are released!  Thanks so much for supporting our vision.
Click Here to answer our 1-Question Advocate Survey!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Boost Your Reputation with External Content

Whether you're more interested in Managing your Reputation or displaying your Subject Matter Expertise, the way you leverage links and external content is paramount to your success. It seems like a simple concept, but it is an extremely powerful way to tell your story beyond a simple bio and resume. If you don't take advantage, you're leaving money on the table!

This is where Spoke can be Extremely Valuable

Because Spoke pages allow you to Change the Title for any link/video you post, you can describe any piece of content on your own terms. You truly need to try this for yourself to understand its impact on your web presence.

Go Try it Now: Here's a video that shows you how.

And Show us what you come up with!   we will share it with others!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Regaining Control of Your Online Identity

This is a guest post by Rebecca Haden, college teacher and founder of Haden Interactive, a content-focused web services firm.  She’s an expert in building a quality web presence for companies and individuals, which starts by understanding the risk of fragmentation.

New clients often come to me with a misconception:  that they have a strong handle on their online identity. They may have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, some press releases, a couple videos on YouTube and one on Vimeo, an interview posted on someone’s blog and 2 news article mentions. And my first task is often to help them understand that this is not a strong web presence, but a scattered one--definitely not the best way to leverage their marketing and time investment.  3 Critical Points:
  1. When information is all over the web, it’s hard for customers to find it, and thus not nearly as valuable to you and your business as it could be.
  2. Even when your content ranks with search engines, each item often turns up with keywords that aren't what your customers are looking for, or out of context.
  3. By not aggregating, companies miss opportunities to leverage unique content to create a unique point of view of their brand, and develop multiple story lines about who they truly are from a content and value standpoint.  
What would be really valuable to you, is if people could find every relevant online reference to you and your company in one place, understand who you are by looking at storylines and your breadth of assembled content, and then explore the references that best fit their purpose!  By doing so, you combine all of the value you have created elsewhere onto one page that you can optimize for keywords, ultimately optimizing your chances for success.

That’s where Spoke comes in, to centralize and organize your online presence.


Sure, you could put all your content onto your website, but that’s usually not the best solution. Why?  Because your website is intended to generate more revenue from customers and prospects--who are looking explicitly for answers to specific questions about their needs, and don't want to scroll through dozens of external links.  As a result, all of your external content doesn't have a good place on your website, and usually gets demoted onto a "press page." They’re called press pages for a reason:  they're intended for the press, as a collection of your links and podcasts.  Moreover, press pages, even "about pages" for that matter, are not designed to work with different types of content (videos, articles, etc,) so you can easily end up with a sort of "scrapbook" effect. 

So how do you deal with all those articles, videos, slide presentations, and social profiles?


Spoke has become a great starting place to understand your presence across the web. It is designed to aggregate your social media, company or personal timeline, videos, pictures, news, links, and all the other content you have roaming around the web. You can organize it all onto one Spoke page and keep the integrity and purpose of each part of your web presence (facebook for your community, linkedin for your recruiting, and website for your customers and prospects.)

Now that you have all this information on one Spoke page, you can start tuning it and expanding on it to make it relevant to the story that you want to tell.  That story could contain the history of a company, major milestones, major active projects, etc.  You can even start creating pages (topics, companies, people) within Spoke to further elaborate on  specific elements of your story, such as your competitive positioning, your partners, major market developments, important people--and link them all together inside of Spoke.  And one tidy link from your website to your Spoke page makes it all available to visitors without compromising your design and the core goals of your website.

And all along the way, Spoke will help you with resources, content, and reminders to keep your body of information current for your audience.  And there’s more.  Spoke will also provide you with additional search-engine visibility to complement your website.  So make sure to add the links to your web presence to your Spoke page to send interested traffic to the relevant destinations.

As of today you have a lot of content spread among disconnected places that you're not taking full advantage of to tell interesting stories.  Spoke enables you to take control, and define your identity by letting you tell your own stories.  In doing so, not only will you create very unique experiences for your customers, prospects, and potential employees, but also very rich content for search engines to crawl and show--generating additional traffic for your web presence.

Want More? 

Rebecca Haden is a leader in the reputation management space and can help you understand, and subsequently optimize, your online presence.  Feel free to email her with questions or inquiries at; or to see a live example, compare her website with her company Spoke page!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Spoke releases automatically generated profiles

Today is another historic day for Spoke and for the Business Intelligence Community at large. 

After having provided unique capabilities last week to aggregate and navigate through content, we are releasing our first set of automatically created topic pages--about 5,000 of them, bringing the count to over 100 times more topics than we had yesterday; and those 5,000 topics only cover alternative energy and sustainability, a small sliver of the world of business information as a whole. Our goal before the end of 2013 is to create more than 450,000 Business topics on Spoke, two thirds automatically-created and one third user-generated. The initial topics are all created the same: you will find a summary, a cloud of tags and a list of links in the notable links section.  Here are few examples of pages that has been created:

We would not have been able to come up with that many topics without Wikipedia. For this first series of topics, we have automatically identified which pages within Wikipedia are related to the subjects of Energy and Sustainability. We have extracted the summary and provided a link to the Wikipedia page for content attribution. We then matched this content with content coming from VentureBeat, Cleantechnica, TechCrunch,…. and created links on those topic pages to the most relevant content we found on each of those sites. Last but not least, we then created a cloud of tags for each topic by matching the topics together and identifying which ones are more similar to each other. If a topic is similar to a topic source, then the name of the topic is assigned as a tag in the topic source page.

There is still a lot of information to be added to the page to make them complete. As a matter of fact, we estimate those pages to be only 35% complete. So we need your help to make those pages as useful as possible.  Particularly, if you know of any topic experts whether Industry Expert, Customers, Partners, please make sure to add them to the page.

If you contribute, we will recognize you and as one of our community members recently wrote on a blog post about Spoke and the huge benefit users can gain by curating topics within their areas of subject matter expertise, and being recognized for it in Google searches.  And given we are so early, he stated about  Spoke that "it's a land grab right now!" 

So come to the site and start exploring our new topics pages and let us know what you think about them. We will also be building more batches of topics in the coming weeks, and would be very interested to know which business segments you would like to see being developed next.

Philippe Cases

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our New Panel is live, makes adding text, links and videos ultra simple

This is a big one.  When we talk about ease of use, it is the one feature that we are the most proud of. Matt would say that it is our flagship feature so far. We have more coming up and even more differentiated than this one but this one new feature is special just for the amount of time it frees me up to focus on deep research rather than data entry.

It starts with a WebSearch Panel which makes it dead simple for you to add more content to our pages. From now on when you navigate across Spoke, each company, person, and topic page will now have a drop-down window in the upper-right corner containing articles and links that relate directly to the page you are looking at.  You can click on any item's title to explore it, and use its green "+" button to instantly add the item to the Spoke page. And Spoke does this very smartly by just offering you choices to add the piece of content where it would fit better.

We have also implemented a bookmark bar called Spokeit. Spokeit enables you to harvest, wherever located on the internet, text, URL, Video… You just have to spokeit the link and it is automatically and immediately brought back into your 'Bookmarks' collection right into the Panel, which you can access next time you're on Spoke. For those who are familiar, this looks like an Instapaper/Read it later functionality.

One last thing:  you can even select a block of text from any page, and then hit SpokeIt. And the same way, you can add links to a page, you will be able to add block of text while keeping the attribution of where the text is coming from.

I remind you of one of our guidelines. When you add a notable link or a milestone, just make sure to extract the key salient facts of the news you want to highlight and include it in the headline so that the headline gives the right level of information to somebody who is busy and  want to skim through the content very fast while enabling him to click on the link if he wants more information.

By going one step beyond simply reading a great article, or watching a great video, and adding them to a Spoke page with a single click and the right words to express what the content says, you not only curate it for later recall, share this information with your colleagues who follow the page you are interested in but you get credit for doing so, and the entire Spoke community gets better access to information. And you are doing it by abiding with the best standard of the Industry by attributing content to the right source.

Philippe Cases

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Job Seekers Need More Than A Resume, They Need Spoke

This is a guest article by Phil Rosenberg, who runs one of the largest LinkedIn groups for job seekers (Career Central group) and has one of the 20 largest networks on Linkedin globally.  Phil is President, and hosts free webinars to help job seekers in the new digital job market.

It's critical to display your subject matter expertise when searching for a job. 

Most job seekers would gladly do this, if they just knew how ... and where. So the way most of you display your subject matter expertise ends up being where few people will see it - your resume and social media profile. The biggest reason why nobody sees your subject matter expertise from your online resume and social media profiles ... is because, for most people, these end up at the bottom of Google searches.

If you can't be found by subject matter expertise, you're missing out on some of the best opportunities out there. Employers and recruiters search first by subject matter expertise, even for generalist positions - Employers with generalist jobs look first for subject matter expertise and determine generalist skills during interviews. When employers can micro-target skill sets through Applicant Tracking Systems, they can find many candidates who have already solved their priority problems - and then choose the candidate that's most adaptable to new and different problems for generalist positions.

The typical response I hear is "This can't apply to me - I'm looking for ___ type of job!" The odds are just as bad for executives using this approach as they are for rookies ... just as terrible for senior-level employees as they are for admins.

So how can you be found by subject matter expertise?

Spoke provides a great vehicle to promote your subject matter expertise, plus it's indexed and searchable by Google.  The website provides a number of tools that can help job seekers develop, promote and be found by subject matter expertise.  Best of all, it's free for job seekers.

For example, Spoke allows registered users to create Topic pages.  According to Matt Maurer, Spoke's Product Manager:

"Creating a topic is a great way to highlight your domain knowledge. There's zero technical skill required, and the end result is a page that thoroughly explains a specific topic, full of what you think are the most important articles, videos, sources, people, companies, events, and social media threads that relate to your topic. Ultimately, you show that you know a topic like the back of your hand because you have curated the entire internet to bring readers the essential information.”

Oh yeah, Google loves Topic pages ...

Spoke puts your name and picture at the very top of the topic ("Created by Jane Doe") and links your name right back to your personal Spoke page (as long as you’ve ‘claimed’ it.) Then Spoke puts your topic into search engines for people to find when they Google things related to your topic.
Once you've filled out the basic information about your Topic page, it's time to start curating.  It's simple ... when you read an article that you find important, it's easy to add it to your topic page, company pages or people pages, even topic pages.  Spoke displays "Created by ____" next to the link, so that other users (like employers and recruiters) can see who found it and can click your name to find out more about you.

You'll want to make sure your own personal page clearly brands you as an expert in your field and include  links to your resume, other social media profiles.  In addition, it's a great place to list awards, research, white papers, slide presentations, multimedia, YouTube videos, where you've been quoted, articles or blogposts you've written.  If you're using your spoke page Spoke to it's fullest extent, it provides a platform for an online portfolio ... linked to expertise, companies, key people and searchable by Google.

Want to see an example?  Check out my Spoke Topic page (I created a few.)

Then register and go create your own Topic page, so you can be found by subject matter expertise. Spoke recently launched this capability so most topics are unclaimed.

It's a land grab right now.

Want More? 

Phil Rosenberg will be hosting a free webinar on Thursday 10/25/12 at 8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT titled “How to Keep Your Resume out of the Black Hole,” and explaining step-by-step how you can beat your competition using better information. Register at

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Release of the Spoke Toolbar

As we are fully implementing the full vision for our business intelligence platform, we are getting a lot of feedback from users, experts from different fields as well pundits from the media industry. The bad news is that we have a long road map ahead of us and the good news is that we are fully energized and ready to tackle the challenge.  The two Davids, Mike and Allen are very excited by the technical challenges ahead of them and Matt and I are energized any time we are meeting new people and are able to explain where we are and where we are going.

One of our core development axes is information context. As of today, even though we are leading the race in this area compared with many other business information sites, we think we are far away from where we should be. We need to make advances in two different areas: keeping the context of the information and providing more ways to link pages with each other.

Today, we are delivering our first foray in trying to tackle the problem. We are introducing a toolbar that maintains the context while you are navigating away from our pages. This toolbar enables you to navigate from one piece of information to another without losing the context of the page.

There are few drawbacks to this approach. First, we are not able to do it for all pieces of information. While there is obvious value in doing so: some sites, such as The New York Times, don’t allow external toolbars on their site; and second, sites such as Facebook make it even more painful, and require you to click on a link to access their sites when you are navigating using an external toolbar. But overall, we all have been using the toolbar for a while now and we have come to rely on it more and more. So we believe that the value of this toolbar far outweighs the drawbacks.

The more astute users will notice this new navigation toolbar is not the same as the one you use when you are navigating within Spoke.  We have a lot of discussions internally and we will find a way to unify our navigation metaphors.

Please give us feedback on all of this. Let us know if you like the concept and how we can adjust the toolbar to make it more useful.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spoke Open Source Projects

At Spoke, our engineering team makes use of a many open source packages and Ruby gems (you can read about our technology stack in our January blog post). In addition to using open source software, we are now contributing back to the community with two open source Ruby gems of our own: aws_cloud_search and zitdunyet.

AWS CloudSearch Gem

On April 9, 2012 we launched our new search engine utilizing AWS CloudSearch, Amazon's search-as-a-service platform. Since we were early adopters and part of the CloudSearch private beta, there were no Ruby gems available to work with the CloudSearch APIs. So we built one. We named it aws_cloud_search, put the source code on Github, and published the gem on
The library implements two of the three APIs that comprise AWS Cloud Search: search and document batching (the API to add documents to the search index). The third API, configuration, is on the roadmap for future development. Being an open source project, we are more than willing to review pull requests that implement the configuration API or any other functionality that would make this library even better.

Zitdunyet Gem

Sometimes you want to know how complete a task or object is. We recently launched two features that make use of this library and both answer the question, "How complete is this thing? Is it done yet?" (hence, zitdunyet). Specifically, we are highlighting how complete a Spoke page is along with the steps you can take to make it more complete. We also want to encourage users to contribute edits, and have a curator program to recognize various levels of participation. Knowing how close you are to the next level may give you the incentive to “get it done.”

This library abstracts this concept of completeness with a DSL (domain specific language) to define the conditions of completeness and their hints. It provides functions to get the percentage complete, a list of items completed and not completed, and a list of hints. On the roadmap, we want to add the ability to express staleness of a record or checkoff item.

At Spoke we have found that this gem works great in the Decorator pattern – wrap a completeness object around a Rails model in the controller and pass that along to the view for rendering.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Our New Email Notification System

We're happy to announce that our Email Notification System is officially live!  It's a new and extremely powerful feature that will make you feel like you have an entire staff that monitors the news for you and sends summaries of everything that's crucial to you as a business professional -- all for free!
Here's what a typical email may look like:

It's a look into our next-gen view of business information, keeping you alerted to important activity on Spoke.  

We'll let you know when:
- Somebody edits your page
- Your edits go live on Spoke
- A page you follow is updated
- Much more

And you can easily modify the frequency by which we send these emails using your "Edit Account" page.  So get excited, look out for our first email, and as always, don't hesitate to give us your (much-appreciated) feedback!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Feature: Upload Images on Spoke

From Day 1 of the new Spoke, we've been putting users at the forefront -- listening to what you think, want, love, and hate; and this attitude paid off big in our latest release!

You've been asking us: Why can't I upload a photos to my pages on Spoke?  
And we're pleased to announce that now, you can! 

Adding an image to your profile is a great way to make your page stand out, so if you haven't done so, find your page on now and click 'Edit' in the General Info section to upload a photo to person, company, and topic pages.  Some of the latest:

You wanted it, you got it, and we know you were serious about it because in the short time since it launched, we've seen about 400% the normal amount of daily new images !!

So keep that feedback coming!  It's more important than ever because we're getting ready to unveil a major design upgrade along with some new features in the weeks ahead.

Thanks for your continued support, it's going to be a big Summer for Spoke!