Do you spend your mornings looking at IT News stories? If you do, you may have experienced a “snapping” point – where a title all-of-a-sudden becomes hysterically funny. It’s not really funny, but you can’t seem to stop chuckling under your breath… and your coworkers are starting to wonder about you. Well, that’s exactly how I felt today after reading this particular story: “IBM to analyze digital scuttlebutt.” 

I think it’s the word “scuttlebutt” that threw me over the edge, that and the chocolate chip cookies I had for lunch. When I think “scuttlebutt,” I imagine a bunch of people hurrying across a busy intersection during lunch hour – or worse yet, a dog dragging his bottom across the floor. No, it’s not a pretty image.

Being the critical thinker that I am, I looked up “scuttlebutt” in the dictionary. According to, “scuttlebutt” is slang for “gossip; rumor.” That’s not near as interesting as my interpretation, but it did help me put the title in a more appropriate context.  

What does it mean that IBM is analyzing digital scuttlebutt? IBM is developing an application, called the Public Image Monitoring Solution, to analyze how discussions on blogs and Web sites are affecting a given corporation’s image. This solution searches through reams of blogs, news stories, and other material to gauge consumer feelings. “The Web-based program could cull results on the topic of fuel efficiency from various sources and generate reports by categorizing the information. If many consumers or news stories are making negative comments about a product, for example, a marketing person would know and could react.”

This actually sounds like a fairly useful service. But for some reason, thinking about a Public Image Monitoring Solution makes me feel very self-conscious. I better scuttle my butt back to business!