justSignal Upgrades, or My Lame Attempt to Explain Ignoring My Blog

I’ve gone through another one of those spells where I just didn’t write anything here – and to say I’ve been busy isn’t enough – hell I’m always busy.

I also can’t claim lack of interesting content – I could write six really compelling pieces on ASU Startup Weekend alone.

So we’ll just agree that my energy for writing posts took a bit of a vacation… but now I’m back.

Before I get back to my regular banality I need to get a bunch of housekeeping taken care of, so this post will catch you up on the justSignal updates, upgrades and new features.

Details after the jump…

Supported Services:

We’ve added Flickr support to our stable of Social Media services we collect from (Twitter, Google Blog Search and Backtype). I’m particularly excited about this addition because it allows you to add a visual element to your Signal. As always there is an accompanying widget which can be fully customized to meet the needs of your site.

Widget:

http://justsignal.com/widgets/brianroyblog/embed-flickr.js

To get an idea of how all the Widgets can be deployed to create a compelling and interactive fan experience check out The UnOfficial Dbacks Tracker.

We plan to keep adding services as we go… so if you have any particular service you think would be particularly valuable drop me a note in the comments below.

Filtering:

Let’s be honest, the “filtering” provided by the services is ok… but not nearly as robust as it needs to be to really get Signal. More often than not you get a “rough tuning” which still contains considerable noise. I recognize that, and because of that we’ve added our Exclusion Engine.

The Exclusion Engine allows you to exclude items returned from the underlying services. In practical terms, you can create an overly broad filter for your Tracker, and then use the Exclusion Engine to “throw out” items that you don’t want.

For Example: You want to find information about Cobras (you know, snakes), but when you create a filter using the word “cobra” you get back everything – COBRA (health care), cobra (GI Joe), Shelby Cobra (car), Cobra Starship. To get down to just the Signal, you use the Exclusion Engine to define two sets of rules, Must Includes and Must NOT Includes.

Must Includes are words that tell you that you want this content – in our example, “snake”.

Must NOT Includes are words that tell you that you do not want this content – in our example, “ford, starship, GI Joe, health care, …”.

Each of these rules can contain a large number of keywords/phrases – allowing you to really fine tune your Signal.

Content Control:

Social Media gives people a megaphone – and they get to use that megaphone however they want. That does not mean you want to put everything they say on your site – after all, what you allow (and don’t) says a lot about you.

We’ve also all learned the lesson from Skittles and other brands who’ve hacked together some solution which puts social media on their site, only to see the usual school-yard pranks involving every offensive word possible.

We can do better – and we are. We’ve implemented a Dirty Word Filter which you can enable or disable at your discretion. This filter does not suppress the content, it simply replaces a list of offensive terms with (censor).

The content is saved in it’s raw (pun intended) form, we just allow you to not display offensive language. Here is a screen shot:

dwf

As always you can click through to see the original content on the service un-censored.

Twitter Widget

I kind of gave it away in the screenshot above, but we’ve also updated the Twitter Widget display photos from TwitPic and YFrog in the widget. User’s no longer have to click through to see the picture – it is displayed directly in your widget.

twitpic

The Portal

We’ve also implemented (at long last) the Tracker Admin Portal. The portal contains all the tools you need to modify your filter, add or change Exclusion Engine terms, and enable or disable the Dirty Word Filter.

Additionally, it provides you control of each of the underlying services – which you can activate or deactivate.

portal

This is probably my favorite upgrade we’ve done. It – along with our customization mechanisms – gives you complete control over your Tracker from day one. You can see your embed source, provide custom CSS for the iPhone page, and change your hash tag.

Signalytics

This will get a whole post to itself very soon. Signalytics.org will be the site for our Open Source project providing Analytics Tools based on the justSignal Tracker Data. As you know, I believe the data should be free (free as in liberty not beer). You pay us for the Tracker service – so you should be able to get the data we collect and do with it what you like.

Already have a Business Intelligence Vendor/Team? Great – take the data and find what interests you.

We realize we could charge you for custom reports, or Professional Services to extract what you want to know from the data we collect – but that isn’t the business I want to be in. There are hundreds of thousands of Analytics contractors, consultants, and vendors out there who are experts in Analytics. Use them.

I know some “Social Media Experts” will tell you that your analitics vendor has to “understand social media” (whatever that means) as if Social Media were somehow so special that you have to be one of US to derive any value from it. I’m calling bullshit. But that is the topic for the Signalytics post you’ll see shortly.

Until then…

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