Friday rants: Data silos; Facebook hype; Dow Jones angst

A few points to ponder ahead of the weekend...Why is my information always in the other database?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

A few points to ponder ahead of the weekend...

Why is my information always in the other database? When folks call customer service, some see incompetence. Others see red. I see data silos.

This week I've called Verizon and Comcast about billing errors and been transferred repeatedly and also realized Yahoo thinks I live at my old address on some parts of the network.

The common thread: Data silos.

At Verizon I had a question about my FiOS bill, which naturally resides in a database that many customer services reps don't have. So I get transferred. Ultimately, I got the right person, but I was on hold so long I was startled when someone answered--I forgot I was on hold.

Why all the transferring? My information is always in another system. Why can't the data from these systems be readily available to everyone. It's almost as if the concept of a data warehouse was just created.

At Comcast I get billed for not returning my set-top box. Of course, I did return the box and even have a receipt. Why doesn't Comcast billing know that?

Because of a different, unconnected database of course.

But why pick on Comcast and Verizon. You can find a data silo every hour. Yahoo still thinks I live in Hoboken--that was so four years ago. At some ecommerce sites I've changed my information dozens of times only to see things revert back to the old data. After 10 times or so I usually hit all the databases.

What's annoying about all of this is data silos are one of those things we always here about in IT. Everyone is allegedly "flattening the company" by sharing data. Everyone is lying.

Facebook: Enough already.

Facebook is swell--aside from that outage the other day. Traffic is up. Now if we can do away with all the folks that won't shut up about it.

I like Facebook. Do I get some ridiculous pleasure out of it? No. It's handy. It's a communication tool. But overall I get more joy out of TMZ.com.

But reading the various reports from bloggers you'd think Facebook was cold fusion, the cure for cancer or the thing that ended global poverty.

If someone (Jason Calacanis) is overwhelmed with how many friends he has we hear about it. Fair enough. But do 200 people have to comment about how tough it is to be popular?

Facebook gets a new widget to join a legion of thousands. Straight to the top of Techmeme.

The yarn that's most comical about Facebook is the one where the social site is the next Web platform to be everything to everyone. Facebook is made out to be a Web operating system. This riff is the kiss of death. I remember when Netscape was going to be an OS-super Web platform sort of thing.

And we know how that turned out.

New York Times' faux angst over Rupert Murdoch.

The New York Times coverage of News Corp.'s takeover of Dow Jones should carry a disclosure.

The Rupe angst at the Times over the Dow Jones purchase captures some grain of truth. But really is News Corp. going to destroy journalism and the Wall Street Journal? I doubt it. Here were the choices facing the Journal:

  • Go with Rupe and have funding.
  • Lay off at least a third of the newsroom because print stinks.

I'll take door number 1 thank you.

Here's why the Times coverage of the whole Wall Street Journal saga should have a disclosure.

  1. The Times is scared to death since it is family controlled and could be taken over too.
  2. The Times has a business interest in spreading FUD about the Journal.
  3. The Times probably wouldn't complain if it could scare a few Journal reporters into joining its team.

The disclosure would sound something like this: The New York Times competes with the Wall Street Journal as one of the two national newspapers in the U.S. (we don't count USA Today). Therefore, we have a business interest in worrying about Rupert Murdoch's control of the Journal. We're also scared that some wacky hedge fund (or worse something like Gannett) could take us over despite the super shares owned by the Sulzberger family. Oh yeah, and we're also not thrilled with that Murdoch right wing thing. Not that we're on the left or anything.

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