Travel . Movement frees us , engenders adrenalin , encourages speculation , broadens mind and backside in equal measure and only impoverishes the wallet . These departing thoughts as I leave the Hut for a short vacation in Uzbekistan , Turkmenistan and Iran , also drive me back to geolocational issues , the theme of my recent ” Long and Mobile Road ” blog . And never was I more sure of the convergence of local service values on the internet in ways that foreshadow the replacement of local newspapers , directories , radio , television and magazines .

In my last blog on this subject I merely mentioned Foursquare ( and on the strength of that ( perhaps)  founder Dennis Crowley went off in search of series B funding at around $80m . This round had , says the SFGate  Business Insider service , ” every VC and their mother humping ( FourSquare’s) leg ” . Come to think of it , it wasn’t me who encouraged this : we rather frown on the uncontrollable urges of dogs and VCs in this village . Then came the news that the competition between FourSquare and Gowalla was resolving in favour of  the former , though both had a boost at SXSW (don’t ask ) and Foursquare told Bloomberg on Friday that they had moved from 170,000 users in December to 1 million now . Also since I wrote my piece the press has quoted Facebook and Microsoft as potential bidders , and some have even imagined Yahoo buying it for $100 million. Bloomberg quote an analyst called Kip Cassino ( cometh the hour , cometh the man with the name ) as estimating location -based services at an annual ad-spend of $4.1 billion in five years ((23 April) .


The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss has the right idea in her article online on 26 April : this is the three dimensional Nectar card ( think store discount cards in the US ). Local sites in the US have tracked around 2000 businesses signing up in California , and in the UK the first signatory was – the FT .( We award Rob Grimshaw our prize for adroit brand association , and love the alliance with business schools alongside this .

And , no , I am not diverted by Blippy ( ) , the what-I-bought-where site , and the news this week that a third of Craigslist’s income comes from advertising porn and prostitution only gets me excited in the sense that if they are getting $36m from this source , and they are the champions of free listings , then there is a great marketplace in the non-porn sector . Truth to tell , the concentration of service values on the geolocational mobile computer we will still insist on calling a phone is now and will in future become so great that , like Foursuare , new worlds will be created in the made-for-mobile sector which only come down to earth and internet when different types of processing and communications are  needed. For an interesting example , look at Plyce , the French version of all of this (

At a dinner this week I found myself talking to a revered former CEO from the regional press . I mentioned the great press baron(et) of Farnham , Sir Ray Tindle , whose average circulation of his many local titles , was , when I went to see him in the 1990s , around 12,000. Yet there was real profit in his enterprizes and a huge local lock-in for services which , then , people regarded as their own . That ownership is the trick that Facebook has pulled off in the internet , and which Foursquare can do in the geolocational sphere . The Guardian think they will be at 3 million by the end of the summer , but the important matter is that each of those users feel that they are living in a village of their own making , though it is one they can take with them wherever they go . Sir Ray , when I spoke to him , said that he had just bought the local newspaper in Llanwit Major – ” Its my size of town ! ” he said . I think that he would love Foursquare and see the opportunity to define the town , and eventually the newsflow and everything else , in the virtual mind-mapping of the individual , and even create custom print for him one day .

I shall be back here in a few weeks , having missed the UK  election campaign . However , I have cast my postal vote , and if my fellow citizens follow my lead then we shall have a completely new country by mid-May . On reflection , I think that geolocational services may be a better bet !

As so often , the FT story by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson ( April 13)   on Thomson Reuters was story of the week for me . As once in the mighty battles of Lexis and Westlaw , so now in the generational remake of the two financial market giants , there is something of the Great Game in the air . The competitive urges are fired by understandable needs for demonstrable success , yet at the same time the subject matter is the very stuff of which the future of all sectors of the information marketplace will be made.

The Thomson Reuters markets division will become two simplified platforms by the autumn , dealing with enterprize users on the one hand , and individual users and small operators on the other . These platforms will be web-based , and the Thomson Reuters servers will be able to be moved alongside  client servers to ensure lower operational costs . The web -based environments clearly are designed to appeal to a new generation in the industry which joined since trading platforms were in place , as well as providing a contrast with the Bloomberg insistence on its dedicated terminals ( Shades of the dedicated Lexis box ! )

And something else as well . Andrew quotes Devin Wenig, the CEO of Thomson Reuters Markets , as saying ” The industry is a hugely different place from where it was in April 2008 ( when the Thomson Reuters merger took place ) and we think a lot of changes are permanent and structural. Big banks are disapearingbut we’ve created 1000 new accounts in …six months ”

And there is surely the essence . Players in rapidly restructuring networked markets will themselves have to be slimmer , do more on less and enable their clients to do more in the network at least for the same pricing . And that new generation of clients will expect a  greater fluency in customization and personalization  along with better risk management and improved collaboration features ( the launch of Eikon ) as well as interfaces to news and information ( like Insider ) which source video as well as text and allow brokers to offer analysis on video to their clients across the platform .

In short , Thomson Reuters are , with a few exceptions , facing very similar issues to those faced by a Pearson in education , or an Elsevier in STM . And from here on in the parallelism ceases and turns into convergence . Thomson Reuters announced a deal last week to bring Palantir’s QA Studio software to its platforms . This type of quantitative analysis allows data exploration , do pattern identification , test alpha strategies and collaborate . This pushes on with the developments in data mining began with ClearForest three years ago , and again parallels what is alreday happening ( Palantir’s markets are the intelligence , defense and law enforcement communities  ! )

Where does the next push come ? Well , data management is now crucial , and so is compliance and risk management/reduction . And that sounds just like the issues facing diagnostic systems in the medical marketplaces . Often in financial markets there is too much news , and it is insufficiently auto or machine analysed , and human intervention takes too long : this points towards further pressure for automated news tagging so that it can be submitted directly to computerized trading systems . And here another common broad market problem occurs . Users and regulators begin to exert pressure at the lowest levels of data organization for common standards to emerge  ( XBRL would be the case study in the finance field ). This moves the competition zone up a level , but that competitive element must remain because it drives everything forward . Without it , common standards turn into a reason for not changing anything . So play up , lads and play the game ! We still have to tackle workflow and process improvement before the end of this long information industry day !

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