Job Function: What ideas are some of the Internet's most prolific bloggers sharing with the world? Who's hot and who's not? Natalie Glance, a research scientist at Intelliseek Applied Research Center, knows. "There's both a stream of data and a social network with blogs," says Glance, "so we're excited about using them for trend analysis." Together with five other researchers, Glance works on Intelliseek's BlogPulse, an automated trend discovery system and portal for blogs.
"We use machine learning, natural language processing, and sophisticated algorithms to look at what interesting turns of phrases are happening over time," Glance says. "We cluster phrases together into blogbites to give us a sense of the most talked about words and phrases. So we learn not just what the news of the day is but, through blogs, what's most interesting to the people reading the news."
In A Day's Work: "My main love is algorithms within collaborative systems," Glance says. Her passion developed early in her career; when she was doing her Ph.D. in physics, she doubled as a researcher at Xerox PARC, studying the dynamics of cooperation in social groups. Glance's research interests landed her at the intersection of collaborative information systems, information extraction, and discovering global behavior through local actions. "Looking back on it," she says, "some of my early work was kind of like a precursor to blogs. Blogs are my passion because they're a collaborative tool."
"I also get involved with client projects sometimes when they need our particular expertise," Glance says. "Our group delivers a package called Analyst Workbench which is used by the company to serve clients." According to Glance, blog content is an increasingly important component of market research. "For example, we might analyze what's being said about iPods," she says. "We find out what's the most popular and then drill down from there."
Oddest Encounter: "We received BlogPulse feedback accusing us of spreading Republican propaganda, because—supposedly—so many of the top links reflected conservative opinions."
View From The Desk: "We have a big sunny room for the six of us. But we still IM each other."
Outside Interest: "My main interest outside work is my family; I have two small children."
If Not Econtent, Then What?: "I'd be doing research in another area."