Human Genome “Infinitely More Complex” Than Expected

first_imgTen years after the Human Genome Project was completed, now we know: biology is “orders of magnitude” more complicated than scientists expected.  So wrote Erika Check Hayden in Nature News March 31 and in the April 1 issue of Nature.1    An air of daunting complexity haunts the article.  The Human Genome Project was one of the great scientific investigations of the end of the 20th century.  Some compared it to the Manhattan Project or the Apollo program.  It used to be tedious, painstaking work to read the sequence of DNA letters.  Now, deciphering genomes is a matter of course.  But with the rush of data coming from genomes of everything from yeast to Neanderthals, one thing has become clear: “as sequencing and other new technologies spew forth data, the complexity of biology has seemed to grow by orders of magnitude,” Hayden wrote.    A few things were surprisingly simple.  Geneticists expected to find 100,000 genes in the human genome; the count is more like 21,000.  But with them came a huge surprise in the accessory molecules – transcription factors, small RNAs, regulators – all arranged in dynamic interacting networks that boggle the mind.  Hayden compared them to the Mandelbrot set in fractal geometry that unveils deeper levels of complexity the closer you look. “When we started out, the idea was that signalling pathways were fairly simple and linear,” says Tony Pawson, a cell biologist at the University of Toronto in Ontario.  “Now, we appreciate that the signalling information in cells is organized through networks of information rather than simple discrete pathways.  It’s infinitely more complex.”Hayden acknowledged that the “junk DNA” paradigm has been blown to smithereens.  “Just one decade of post-genome biology has exploded that view,” she said, speaking of the notion that gene regulation was a straightforward, linear process – genes coding for regulator proteins that control transcription.  “Biology’s new glimpse at a universe of non-coding DNA – what used to be called ‘junk’ DNA – has been fascinating and befuddling.”  If it’s junk, why would the human body decode 74% to 93% of it?  The plethora of small RNAs produced by these non-coding regions, and how they interact with each other and with DNA, was completely unexpected when the project began.    These realizations are dissipating some of the early na�vet� of the Human Genome Project.  Planners predicted we would “unravel the mysteries behind everything from evolution to disease origins.”  Cures for cancer were envisioned.  We would trace the path of evolution through the genetic code.  That was so 1990s.  Joshua Plotkin, a mathematical biologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said, “Just the sheer existence of these exotic regulators suggests that our understanding about the most basic things – such as how a cell turns on and off – is incredibly na�ve.”  Leonid Kruglyak, a geneticist at Princeton University in New Jersey, commented on the premature feeling that the data would speak for itself: “There is a certain amount of naivety to the idea that for any process – be it biology or weather prediction or anything else – you can simply take very large amounts of data and run a data-mining program and understand what is going on in a generic way.”    Some are still looking for simple patterns in the complexity.  Top-down approaches try to build models where the data points fall into place:A new discipline – systems biology – was supposed to help scientists make sense of the complexity.  The hope was that by cataloguing all the interactions in the p53 network, or in a cell, or between a group of cells, then plugging them into a computational model, biologists would glean insights about how biological systems behaved.    In the heady post-genome years, systems biologists started a long list of projects built on this strategy, attempting to model pieces of biology such as the yeast cell, E. coli, the liver and even the ‘virtual human’.  So far, all these attempts have run up against the same roadblock: there is no way to gather all the relevant data about each interaction included in the model.The p53 network she spoke of is a good example of unexpected complexity.  Discovered in 1979, the p53 protein was first thought to be a cancer promoter, then a cancer suppressor.  “Few proteins have been studied more than p53,” she said.  “…Yet the p53 story has turned out to be immensely more complex than it seemed at first.”  She gave some details:Researchers now know that p53 binds to thousands of sites in DNA, and some of these sites are thousands of base pairs away from any genes.  It influences cell growth, death and structure and DNA repair.  It also binds to numerous other proteins, which can modify its activity, and these protein�protein interactions can be tuned by the addition of chemical modifiers, such as phosphates and methyl groups.  Through a process known as alternative splicing, p53 can take nine different forms, each of which has its own activities and chemical modifiers.  Biologists are now realizing that p53 is also involved in processes beyond cancer, such as fertility and very early embryonic development.  In fact, it seems wilfully [sic] ignorant to try to understand p53 on its own.  Instead, biologists have shifted to studying the p53 network, as depicted in cartoons containing boxes, circles and arrows meant to symbolize its maze of interactions.Network theory is now a new paradigm that has replaced the one-way linear diagram of gene to RNA to protein.  That used to be called the “Central Dogma” of genetics.  Now, everything is seen to be dynamic, with promoters and blockers and interactomes, feedback loops, feed-forward processes, and “bafflingly complex signal-transduction pathways.”  “The p53 story is just one example of how biologists’ understanding has been reshaped, thanks to genomic-era technologies,” Hayden said.  “….That has expanded the universe of known protein interactions – and has dismantled old ideas about signalling ‘pathways’, in which proteins such as p53 would trigger a defined set of downstream consequences.”    Biologists made a common mistake of assuming that more data would bring more understanding.  Some continue to work from the bottom up, believing that there is an underlying simplicity that will come to light eventually.  “It’s people who complicate things,” remarked one Berkeley researcher.  But one scientist who predicted the yeast genome and its interactions would be solved by 2007 has had to put off his target date for a few decades.  It’s clear that our understanding remains very rudimentary.  Hayden said in conclusion, “the beautiful patterns of biology’s Mandelbrot-like intricacy show few signs of resolving.”    There’s a bright side to the unfolding complexity.  Mina Bissell, a cancer researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, confesses she was “driven to despair by predictions that all the mysteries would be solved” by the Human Genome Project.  “Famous people would get up and say, ‘We will understand everything after this’,” Hayden quoted her saying.  But it turned out for good, in a way: “Biology is complex, and that is part of its beauty.”1.  Erika Check Hayden, “Human genome at ten: Life is complicated,” Nature 464, 664-667 (April 1, 2010) | doi:10.1038/464664a.Who predicted the complexity: the Darwinians or the intelligent design proponents?  You already know the answer.  The Darwinians have been wrong on this matter time and time again.  The origin of life would be simple (the Warm Little Pond of Darwin’s dreams).  Protoplasm would be simple.  Proteins would be simple.  Genetics would be simple (remember Darwin’s pangenes?).  The carrier of genetic information would be simple.  DNA transcription would be simple (the Central Dogma).  The origin of the genetic code would be simple (the RNA World, or Crick’s “frozen accident.”).  Comparative genomics would be simple, and we would be able to trace the evolution of life in the genes.  Life would be littered with the trash of mutations and natural selection (vestigial organs, junk DNA).  Simple, simple, simple.Simple-minded.(Visited 52 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Frugal Happy: Epic House Update

first_imgEditor’s Note: This post is one of a series by Chris Stratton and Wen Lee, a husband-and-wife team living in the Los Angeles area who are turning their 1963 suburban house into an all-electric, zero-net-energy home. They chronicle their attempts at a low-carbon, low-cost, and joyful lifestyle on their blog Frugal Happy. This post was written by Wen. All photos courtesy of the authors. Okay everyone, it’s been seven months since our last post, and we were already months behind then. Now our blog is woefully, embarrassingly out of date. Our apologies! So, here’s our attempt at a massive catch up to bring our posts up to the present. While each of these topics deserves its own detailed post, we unfortunately don’t have time to do them all justice right now. We are happy to answer detailed questions so feel free to leave a comment or send us a message about anything you see here. You can learn about our skylight installation and wiring at our website.RELATED ARTICLESBuilding an Unvented CrawlspaceDetails for a Closed CrawlspaceA New Encyclopedia Article on Ductless MinisplitsDuctless Minisplits for DIYersInstalling a Ductless Minisplit System Crawlspace retrofit is one nasty job This was probably the dirtiest work of the whole renovation project. Where we live in southern California, crawlspaces are very common. They are typically nasty, dirty, drafty, and neglected. Our crawlspace was uninsulated and vented to the outside, which meant that outdoor air could leak into our house through the floors. It was also unprotected from moisture that may seep in from external sources like rain, which in turn might result in mold and unhealthy air leaking into the house through the floor. The former was a particularly big concern, because Chris put in a ton of effort installing superinsulation in our walls and roof. What was the point of all that effort if the floor was completely uninsulated? Chris decided to encapsulate the crawlspace. This entailed installing a vapor barrier on the crawlspace floor that wraps up the walls and the piers, and then installing insulation around the perimeter. But first, he had to clean out the crawl space. Turns out there was a lot of crap down there, like huge chunks of old concrete from when we redid the footings to vault the ceiling. To seal the crawlspace, we used a 15-mil Stego Wrap vapor barrier, Stego tape, and cans of spray polyurethane spray foam. First, Chris wrapped up all the footings under the house. Wrapping up the footings was the first job. The roll of Stego Wrap was big. My brother Bin and our friend Johnny helped lay it out on our driveway and cut long strips that they could manage to pull into the crawl space. We unrolled the plastic in the driveway and cut strips to be taken below. Below you can see Chris taping together a seam to ensure that it’s completely sealed. Doesn’t he look like he’s having fun? The crawlspace has 8 inches to 13 inches of clearance and is full of ancient dirt and decomposing spiders, so you know he’s got to be extremely comfortable, dragging his stomach along the ground in dusty darkness for hours. (On the plus side, he says it’s an excellent ab workout.) Stego Tape helps make a good seal. Installing rigid foam insulation is tedious enough above ground, but try doing it in a cramped, nasty crawl space. Chris installed 2 inches of rigid polyisocyanurate foam on the stem walls, and 3 inches at the rim joists. He then air-sealed the perimeter of the rigid foam using canned spray foam. This effectively brought the entire crawlspace into the conditioned space of our house (insulating it from outside temperatures). Below is a photo of the nearly-complete encapsulated crawlspace. Now the crawlspace is no longer vented to the outside, and it’s protected from outside temperatures (which means our house is fully insulated in all directions) and also protected from external moisture issues (which means minimizing the potential for mold and rot). The nearly completed project. We live in a very dry climate, so this is fine as is. In a more humid climate, though, it might be necessary to install a dehumidifier or exhaust fan in the crawlspace to make sure that moisture does not build up. What a nasty, difficult process and not recommended for claustrophobic people. Luckily, Chris had lots of help from Bin, Johnny, and Lac, who all courageously entered the abyss of the crawlspace with him. A new heating and cooling system We used to heat and cool our house with an old gas furnace and a loud, inefficient central air conditioner. Chris tore these things out and replaced them with a single system: a minisplit heat pump. Minisplits provide both heating and cooling, and they are much more energy efficient than our old equipment. Specifically, we installed a two-zone minisplit heat pump made by Mitsubishi. The system consists of an outdoor unit (which you can see below) and two indoor units (zones)—one ductless wall unit for the common area, and one ducted ceiling unit for the bedrooms. Each indoor unit has its own thermostat that can be controlled separately. Chris, Bin, and Johnny with the new outdoor unit. Our neighbor Albert is a HVAC specialist and helped Chris install and test the new system (e.g. making sure there were no refrigerant leaks). Chris and Johnny installed the ducted unit in the hallway ceiling between the bedrooms. Since we have three bedrooms, we needed three ducts to come out of this unit. Instead of ordering special parts (custom work is expensive), Chris decided to make his own branch transition. He bought three boots from an HVAC store and fit them into his creation. Instead of paying for expensive ductwork, Chris built his own splitter. It fits the unit that’s installed in the ceiling. Each duct will serve a separate room. Below is the wall unit, which is ductless and way less complicated. It conditions the common area which includes our living room, dining room, and kitchen. This ductless fan unit serves an open common area. Chris ran the refrigerant lines and electrical wiring from the wall unit to the outdoor unit along the outside of the house. It’s not the prettiest arrangement, but it allows us to avoid the risk of moisture (from condensation) inside our walls. Unfortunately, we had a bit of an electrical snafu with the outdoor unit. Somehow, while pulling the electrical wires through the wall, some wire insulation got stripped. So when Chris tried to turn on the outdoor unit for the first time, there was a short circuit and we heard a small pop inside the outdoor unit. The unit refused to turn on. Chris spent many hours attempting to troubleshoot and fix the problem. Our friend Gavin, who has a degree in electrical engineering, even came over to try to help. But alas, it was not fixable. Below you can see the burn marks in the circuit board of the outdoor unit. It was totally fried. We had to order a new circuit board. Once we put in the new one, though, everything worked like a charm. A scorched area on the circuit board tells the story. Below is a photo showing the repaired outdoor unit, which powers the two indoor units: And here again is the wall unit, which heats/cools the common area of the house: We now have a functional minisplit heating and cooling system. Due to the improved insulation in our house and the greater efficiency of the minisplit, we are consuming way less energy to heat and cool our home than before. For example, the house’s AC system dropped from a capacity of 3.5 tons of cooling to just 1.75 tons of cooling. That means our AC electricity use has been cut in half. And it’s much quieter. We no longer burn fossil fuels for heating, and we can also adjust the temperatures for different rooms. It’s pretty sweet. Use these links to read more posts by Chris Stratton and Wen Lee: An Introduction A Car-Free Experiment Demolition Our House Becomes a Giant Foam Box, Part 1 Giant Foam Box, Part 2 Let’s Kill the Lawn Vaulting the Ceiling Our First Year With Solar Panels Introducing the Share Shed We Have a Floor on Our Ceilinglast_img read more

Ex-tennis star Jelena Dokic: Father beat and spit at her

first_imgDon’t miss out on the latest news and information. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:28Ex-President Noynoy Aquino admits contracting pneumonia00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games He was suspended at times from other tournaments. Among them was the U.S. Open, where he was banned in 2000 for abusing staff over the price of a salmon lunch, and at Wimbledon, where he smashed a journalist’s phone.Jelena Dokic started playing tennis at 8 years old. Her family emigrated in 1994 from Europe to Australia, where Jelena trained in Sydney under her father. In 1998, she won the U.S. Open junior title and played Fed Cup for Australia. In 1989, she upset Martina Hingis in the opening round of Wimbledon, becoming the lowest-ranked player in the Open era to beat a top seed at a Grand Slam.She switched allegiances at her father’s insistence to represent Serbia in 2001, following allegations by her father that the draw for the 2001 Australian Open was rigged against her. But she returned to represent Australia from 2006.After reaching a No. 4 ranking in 2002, Dokic’s ranking slipped into the 600s as she struggled with injuries and depression. But in 2009, she made a surprising run to the Australian Open quarterfinals as a wild card and said she’d been estranged from her father for several years. She retired in 2012 with five titles in the top tier of women’s tennis, but having never surpassed her 2000 success in a major.Dokic has been quoted as saying that her father’s emotional abuse was more damaging than the physical violence.“That was the one what hurt me the most,” she said. “When you are 11, 12 years old and hear all those nasty things … that was more difficult for me.” QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort View comments CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC MOST READ Read Next Colin Kaepernick named GQ magazine’s citizen of the year Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 INDIAN WELLS, CA – MARCH 08: Jelena Dokic of Australia cools down between games while playing Gesela Dulko of Argentina during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 8, 2012 in Indian Wells, California. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFPSYDNEY — Former tennis star Jelena Dokic says from a young age her father regularly beat and kicked her. He would pull her hair, spit in her face and belittle her with vile insults.Dokic, once ranked No. 4 in the world and a Wimbledon semifinalist, writes of her ordeal with Damir Dokic, also her coach, in an autobiography to be released this week.ADVERTISEMENT Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion Tennis Australia praised Dokic’s courage in exposing the abuse. The governing body responded to media questions about why it didn’t intervene by saying an official had taken the matter to the authorities.“There were many in tennis at the time who were concerned for Jelena’s welfare, and many who tried to assist with what was a difficult family situation,” Tennis Australia said in a statement. “Some officials even went as far as lodging police complaints, which without cooperation from those directly involved, unfortunately could not be fully investigated.”Tennis Australia said over the past 10 years the sport has strengthened steps to protect young players.At the time Dokic was playing at her peak the WTA had a rule banning disruptive family members or coaches from attending tournaments.Damir Dokic was eventually banned indefinitely from all WTA Tour events after a series of public indiscretions, including accusing Australian Open organizers of fixing the 2001 tournament draw. He also spent time in jail for threatening the life of the Australian ambassador to Belgrade and illegally possessing weapons.ADVERTISEMENT “He beat me really badly,” Dokic, now 34, told Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph. “It basically started Day One of me playing tennis. It continued on from there. It spiraled out of control.”After losing to Lindsay Davenport in the Wimbledon semifinals in 2000 at age 17, Dokic said her father refused to acknowledge her following the match and when she finally reached him on the telephone. He told her not to return to the hotel where the family was staying. She was so distressed she attempted to sleep in the players’ area at Wimbledon before officials contacted her agents and arranged for her stay with them.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutDamir Dokic is living in Serbia and had no comment for Australian media.Excerpts from the book and a video interview published in Australian newspapers generated wide debate about how the situation was allowed to continue throughout Dokic’s teenage years. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding LATEST STORIESlast_img read more

Prasad Proud Of Team’s First Effort

first_imgSeven of Australia’s nine debutants took to the field in the first match against New Zealand, with the side proving too strong for the Kiwis, claiming a four touchdown win. Speaking to following the game, Prasad said that to make the start that his side did and get that first win on the board was an ‘unreal feeling’. “The team was a bit nervous heading into it, it was unreal, it was good to get a good start,” Prasad said. “We’ve got nine debutants in the team, for them to go out like they did today was awesome.”Prasad knows what it’s like to be the debutant, having only made his first national team last year when he represented Australia in the Mixed Open division at the 2011 World Cup. To be now named co-captain with Kylie Hilder is something that is special to both players. “Lambo and I were both in the room when Mick announced it and getting it (the captaincy) off Ryan Pollock, that means a lot because he led us all through World Cup and getting it after he led us the way he did at World Cup was just unreal, I’m just so proud.”The new look team has had a short lead in time for the series, and despite so many new people in the team has bonded well. “We were a bit slow to begin with but Trent Touma is a bit of a clown, so he’s doing really well to get the team vibe together but we hang out in Lambo’s (Kylie Hilder’s) room most of the time and the team clown comes in.”The Australian Mixed Open team will aim to take out the division tomorrow afternoon when it meets New Zealand at the Glen Willow Regional Sporting Complex at 4.00pm. There are plenty of ways to keep in touch with the 2012 Trans Tasman Series, which will be held at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Regional Sporting Complex from Thursday, 26 April to Saturday, 28 April 2012, including in the following ways: Websites: Facebook – Twitter – (be sure to use the hashtag #transtasman2012 in your tweets) YouTube – read more

Womens lacrosse falls to Big Ten foe

The No. 19 Ohio State women’s lacrosse team faced the No. 18 Penn State Nittany Lions Sunday afternoon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes fell to American Lacrosse Conference rivals Penn State, 18-12. But for the Buckeyes it was a tale of two halves. The Buckeyes jumped out to an early start in the first half as they were 9-6 with less than two minutes to go, with five unanswered goals. But the Nittany Lions also came out firing and over-shot OSU 17-15. But this did not overwhelm OSU goalie Annie Carruthers who had 11 saves in the game. “To prepare for a team like Penn State, we look at patterns they have when shooting and put more pressure on them,” Carruthers said. “I know I look a lot at where they shoot, and if they’ve been going for one spot, I overemphasize that.”  Carruthers leads the ALC in saves per game with 12.2. Although PSU overshot the Buckeyes, OSU lead 9-7 at the half. Alayna Markwordt, Brittney Zerhusen and Gabby Capuzzi, went into halftime with two goals apiece.   In the second half, the Nittany Lions came back with a purpose, as they took their first lead since early in the game, 13-10 with more than 19 minutes to play. OSU’s Jayme Beard’s goal at 17:38 was one of only three goals for the Buckeyes in the second half.  Zerhusen had three goals in the game but still felt OSU didn’t get to the ball as often as it should have. “I think every year with Penn State it’s a tough battle, no matter how each of our seasons are going,” Zerhusen said. “When it comes down to it, you have to have possession of the ball. We just couldn’t get the possession off the draw. That was a definite game-changer that we’re going to have to work on.” At the end of the game, PSU overshot OSU 38-23, while OSU had 13 turnovers to PSU’s 11. “It was hard to come back when we didn’t have the ball on our sticks. It was frustrating because we did it in the first half,” Coach Sue Stimmel said. Ohio State will face Notre Dame Thursday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at 5 p.m. read more

Tiger Woods one shot back at the Memorial Tournament

Tiger Woods is one shot back of the lead after two rounds at the Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin Ohio. Woods followed up his Thursday round of 70, with a 3-under 69 Friday, trailing leader Rory Sabbatini by one stroke. The field was plagued with windy conditions throughout the day after a rain delay that exceeded 90 minutes. “I’m pleased with the wayI played today,” Woods said. “I missed a couple out there, but overall I knew in these conditions to shoot something in the 60s was going to be a pretty good effort.” Former world No. 1 player Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the tournament after shooting a 7-over 79 Friday. It’s his eighth career missed cut as a professional, matching the total from Wood’s career. “I don’t feel like the scores are actually reflecting how I’m hitting the ball,” McIlroy, who’s score of 150 was three shots over the cutline, said.”I was able to string nine good holes together yesterday. I just need to keep working on it and try and string 18 good holes together.” Spencer Levin and Scott Stallings are tied with Woods for second atop the leaderboard. Jim Furyk and Daniel Summerhays are currently two back of the lead at 4-under. Furyk said the dramatic change in weather between Thursday and Friday made the play difficult to adjust to. “It was perfect yesterday, and today was quite tough,” Furyk said. “I think it was good that we missed the rain in the morning, but we also probably got a lot more wind this afternoon.” Woods said the tournament is far from over though. “We’ve got a long way to go,” Woods, who has won the Memorial four times in his career, said. “Obviously, (a win) would be nice. But we’ve still got a half a golf tournament to play.” read more

Students camp out brave the elements to support Ohio States showdown with

While the Ohio State men’s basketball team’s game against No. 2 Michigan didn’t tip off until Sunday, some students started camping out as early as Friday morning. After all, it was the surest way to get the best seats possible, they said. “We got here at 1:30 in the morning to make sure we were here first,” said Marcus Otte, a first-year in exercise science. Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Members of the men’s team paid a visit to the students gathered outside the arena Saturday afternoon, and were given a box of Buckeye Donuts by freshman guard Amedeo Della Valle. The gathered students, who dubbed their tent city with a sign that read, “MATTARITAVILLE,” even took a photo with the men’s team. The team wasn’t the only group of people to take notice of the students, either. “A cop showed up around 10 a.m. (Friday) and asked us what we were here for too,” Otte said. The officer nor the rain showers that passed through campus Friday morning, were not enough cause for the students to pack up and head home, though. “The wind was blowing pretty hard this morning and all the water was going to my side of the tent,” said Benjamin Kleppel, a second-year in business. “I took my second tent out around 5 or 6 a.m. just so I wouldn’t get wet.” In fact, camping out is something that some of the students hope will become a regular occurrence. “My uncle works at Duke so I see those students camping out for every game and want to do it too,” said Jake Johnson, a second-year in business education. “I plan on pretty much doing it the second half of the season and for most of the weekend games.” Otte said employees of the Schottenstein Center were shocked to see students camping out two days prior to the game. “Some guy came out here because he didn’t believe it,” Otte said. “It’s my first game doing this, so I’m staying here the whole time and they better get used to it.” A security guard at the venue opened the building every two hours to let the students in so they could use the bathroom. Otte brought food with him. “I grabbed like five of these subs from campus before I came here today to stock up,” he said. “I know I’ll need it.” The group also set up a series of extension cords to the power outlets on the side of the building in order to charge their electronics and pump up air mattresses inside their tents. “It’s always fun to show support,” Kleppel said. “Even though we are not undefeated this year, we are still good, and it is a big game.” read more

The 2014 BtoB CEO Survey

first_imgDespite the best guesses of b-to-b publishing CEOs, print revenue isn’t going away and digital dollars aren’t stacking up as fast as they thought (or, maybe, hoped) they would.Print advertising still accounted for more than half (52.5 percent) of total revenue last year for
the 100-plus respondents
 to FOLIO:’s 2014 B-to-B CEO Survey. Remarkably, that’s actually higher than it was in 2010 (52.4 percent).
 And it’s even more surprising when you look at what’s been expected from print advertising on a year-by-year basis.In each of the last five surveys, respondents have underestimated the following year’s revenue
from print (last year, for example, the
 group thought print advertising would make
up 49.5 percent of total revenue in 2014—3 percentage points less than what it turned out 
to be). The gap between expectation and reality has run anywhere from less than 1 percent to more than 6 percent since 2010, but always lower.Digital media, while growing, has seen the opposite effect. B-to-b media CEOs are consistently overrating its revenue potential-last year, by 3.7 percent. CEOs specified exactly where they see spending headed in the verbatim responses. Not surprisingly (and in line with the numerical responses) digital media and events were popular investment areas.”Investment to meet digital content demands,” “move to digital media,” and “creating new online offerings” were a few specific comments that seemed to echo the feelings of many. “Adding apps,” was also mentioned.”Events have exploded for our company,” one comment read, while another noted that “trade show event start-up expenses” made up a significant portion of their budget. Several said “upgrading events” would be a reason for overall increases in spending.Many also described increased spending in sales departments in order to leverage their growing digital and experiential assets.And despite a lack of investment moving forward, print still does loom as a large cost center. “Higher costs for printing, production, paper and distribution,” as well as “higher postage” were common refrains.A less obvious answer? “Health care.”With a large, stable revenue stream in print, and three small, but promising businesses in digital media, live events and data and market information, there’s reason for optimism.METHODOLOGYThe survey sample of 1,000 was selected in systematic fashion by FOLIO: and Readex Research from all of FOLIO:’s domestic subscribers with executive management job titles who classified their company’s primary focus as either b-to-b publishing or a mix of b-to-b and consumer publishing on the FOLIO: subscription form. The survey closed March 14, 2014 with 125 usable responses—a 13 percent response rate. Eight percent of those surveyed invested $500,000 or more in technology last year, while 44 percent crossed the $25,000-mark—both 5-year highs. How many didn’t make significant investments in tech? Just 9 percent-a 5-year low and half of what it was only a year ago. Some of those investment dollars are going toward non-media infrastructure improvements, but a majority are aimed at bolstering digital media capabilities through upgrades to websites, CMSs, webinars, social media and video.Respondents are investing in human capital around digital products as well. A quarter of the CEOs surveyed say they’re planning to add digital media staff in 2014.It’s a different story with print. Despite the revenue stability, only about one third of respondents’ companies will make anything more than a minimal investment in print products this year. A quarter of them will shift resources away from ink and paper.There are obvious qualifiers—the sample changes slightly from yearto year, and there may be different patterns based on company sizeand market, for example—but the trend of overvaluing digital andundervaluing print is noteworthy given the rhetoric and investment priorities.DIGITAL ISN’T DEAD THOUGHOverrating digital’s growth potential doesn’t mean it’s failing though. In fact, consistently and overwhelmingly, it’s been labeled the fastest growing part of respondents’ businesses since 2010.Digital media has also been the most profitable piece of business over that period, reliably generating margins above 16 percent. (Digital media was actually supplanted by data/market info sales as the most-profitable area in the last 12 months though. More on that later.)Not surprisingly, CEOs are expecting digital media to continue driving growth in 2014—more respondents are expecting increased revenue there than from any other source—but their enthusiasm has been tempered. Revenue forecasts are close to 3 percent lower than they were last year. Why? There’s a significant difference
 in mobile strategy between companies generating at least $5 million in revenue and those falling below that threshold though. Mobile adoption is almost universal for large publishers now (only 7 percent say they haven’t opted for a responsive or mobile site yet), while more than 40 percent of smaller publishers have stuck with desktop-only sites to this point.It’s a similar breakdown for tablet publishing. Two-thirds of respondents’ companies are putting out an edition specifically for the devices. But again, larger companies tend to be more aggressive in tablet publishing than their counterparts at smaller b-to-b media firms.THE BIG PICTUREOverall, b-to-b media appears to be on solid ground. Profitability hit a 5-year high, with just 4 percent of respondents’ saying they finished 2013 in the red. More respondents reported margins of above 30 percent than at any point since 2010.Looking ahead, 85 percent of the CEOs surveyed think they’re headed for revenue increases in the next 12 months—another 5-year high—compared with just 12 percent who think earnings will stay flat and 1 percent who believe they’re headed for a downturn. The majority of those increases are expected to be in the 10- to 19-percent range.Companies are looking to spend as well with 69 percent saying they’ll add staffers in 2014—again, a high point compared with previous surveys.center_img In a vacuum, the differences don’t really matter—they’re undershooting digital and overshooting print by similar amounts; the bottom line ends up the same. It could have a bigger impact over time
 though. For better or for worse, respondents are putting their money where their mouths are: into digital platforms. EVENT MOMENTUM CONTINUESThere’s evidence that b-to-b media company CEOs are now turning to a new golden goose: live events.As a percentage of total revenue, event earnings have ticked
up 2 percent in each of the last two years, even though expectations have called for less than half of 
that growth (events made up 12.2 percent of total revenue in 2014). One-third of respondents also claimed live shows as one of their fastest-growing business segments last year, only trailing digital media. Profit margins have been above 17 percent since 2011.Companies are riding the momentum forward with more events on the way. Of changes anticipated for 2014, 46 percent of respondents say they’re planning on launching
a new event-that’s up from just 32 percent last year and almost double the next most-commonly anticipated change, the launch of a digital startup. Additions to event staffs highlight the emphasis even further, with a quarter of the companies surveyed planning to add event professionals in 2014.Perhaps most notably, almost
a third of the respondents called creating live events one of their Top 3 priorities for the year, behind only increasing profitability and growing revenue.Events aren’t anything new for b-to-b media companies, but they are becoming a more critical component. BIG DATA MEANS BIG DOLLARSThe other increasingly important segment in b-to-b media? Data and market information.While still a small piece of the revenue pie—3.9 percent last year and expected to be 4.3 percent in 2014—sales from data and market in- formation are growing steadily while revenue from marketing services and paid subscriptions—6 percent and 5.3 percent of total revenue last year, respectively—have each trended downward recently.Despite the low volume, there’s reason to be optimistic about the segment’s potential. Average profit margins were at 19 percent for data and market services at respondents’ companies-well above it’s 5-year average and the highest of all business units at b-to-b publishers. Close to 20 percent of the CEOs surveyed expect higher revenue from data and market services this year.This could just be an aberration though. Data and market information sales were actually the least profitable business last year with average margins of 13 percent.MORE MOBILEWhile no one’s figured out how to optimize for mobile devices yet, most of the industry’s taking a shot at it, according to a new series of questions aimed at tablet and mobile publishing for the 2014 survey.Two-thirds of respondents’ companies have rolled out a responsive design site, a dedicated mobile site
or both, with the crowd evenly split between the two main option—39 percent have opted for responsive design; 36 percent have developed sites specifically for mobile.last_img read more