GPS device + data feeds + social = awesome service

One of the most interesting market directions in recent months in my mind is the way the concept of a location service is evolving. People are using location as a vector to bring information that matters directly to them. A great example of this is Dash.net.

Dash is a GPS device that leverages the activity of its user base and the wider local data pools on the Internet to create a more personalized driving experience. Ricky Montalvo and I interviewed them for the latest Developer Spotlight on YDN Theater:Of particular note are the ways that Dash pulls in external data sources from places like Yahoo! Pipes. Any geoRSS feed can be used to identify relevant locations near you or near where you’re going directly from the device. They give the example of using a Surfline.com feed built with Pipes to identify surfing hot spots at any given moment. You can drive to Santa Cruz and then decide which beach to hit once you get there.

There are other neat ways to use the collaborative user data such as the traffic feedback loop so that you can choose the fastest route to a destination in real time. And the integration with the Yahoo! Local and the Upcoming APIs make for great discoveries while you’re out and about.

You can also see an early demo of their product which they showed at Web 2.0 Summit in the fall:

The way they’ve opened up a hardware device to take advantage of both the information on the Internet and the behaviors of its customers is really innovative, not to mention very useful, too. I think Dash is going to be one to watch.

Building community is hard

Jay Rosen has an interesting post on the failure of AssignmentZero, an effort to build a publicly funded crowdsourced news organization.

Among the many lessons, he keeps coming back to motivation and incentive.

“A well managed project correctly estimates what motivates people to join in, what the various rewards are for participants, and where the practical limits of their involvement lie.

…amateur production will never replace the system of paid correspondents. It only springs to life when people are motivated enough to self-assign and follow through.”

The idea wasn’t fundamentally broken, in my mind. Crowdsourced news is very powerful. As Derek Powazek said,

“At its best, crowdsourcing is about expanding the walls of the newsroom to the internet, giving an opportunity to people with real experience to share their expertise. This is a point that’s often lost on people who are just looking to make a quick buck on Web 2.0.”

More than anything else, I suspect that AssignmentZero failed because there weren’t any readers. Motivation wouldn’t have been a problem with a NYTimes-sized audience.

To date, I’ve never seen a better explanation of the motivations in collaborative online experiences than Yochai Benkler’s paper called Coase’s Penguin. One of my favorite excerpts from that is where he warns against paying for contributions from the community:

“An act of love drastically changes meaning when one person offers the other money at its end, and a dinner party guest who will take out a checkbook at the end of dinner instead of bringing flowers or a bottle of wine at the beginning will likely never be invited again.”

There are as many motivations as there are contributors in a shared media project. What holds them together is more art than science. Some of that art includes good timing and luck. But it also requires a unique kind of commitment and salesmanship from the leaders of the project.

I’ve begun to wonder if the tipping point happens when the confluence of the community size, the ROI to the contributors and the depth of the trust relationship with the company or the brand creates more value than the sum of the parts. Maybe the science of collaboration services can be found by quantifying the meaning of the relationships between those elements: size, cost, benefit and trust.

Or it could also be that the secret sauce inside the Craig Newmarks, Stewart Butterfields and Jimmy Waleses of the world is much more complicated and nuanced than anyone realizes.

Announcing baby with Twitter

I get Twitter now.

Announcing baby with TwitterUntil last week it seemed a bit silly to me, perhaps overhyped. But after using it to share updates of my son’s birth with friends and family members distributed across several time zones in near real-time, I’ve become a new fan of this fantastic tool.

Whereas I may have used email to announce his arrival before Twitter (something I also did after the fact), I was able to Twitter the experience of my son’s arrival throughout the day using my phone to simply send a little bit of info at a time via SMS.

Email would have been way too cumbersome for nearly live storytelling like this. Plus, the self-selective nature of it allowed some people to follow my posts who I probably wouldn’t have thought to email.

Flickr served a similar role for my daughter’s birth nearly 3 years ago, and it was invaluable to me again this time now that my mother and mother-in-law are both Flickr users finally. The photo-hungry grandparent is insatiable when it comes to newborns.

But Twitter adds a really nice new dimension to the way we share bits of our daily experience.

It was great knowing that my little brother in London and my older brother in Los Angeles were getting text messages on their phones as this major life event unfolded for me. Twitter made it feel like they were part of the experience, like bystanders, even if the details were as boring as where we ate dinner or what was on the TV in the hospital waiting room (Fresh Choice and Maury Povich, in case you’re interested).

Big sis checks out her new baby brotherSomehow I think the inability to share those inane details with the people we care about is exactly what makes people feel isolated in this modern distributed world. Well, maybe the world doesn’t need more meaningless data out there, but it certainly needs better ways to get the right data to the right people at the right time.

Twitter does just that.

The Industry Standard’s next chapter

I see things are unfolding for The Industry Standard’s rebirth at IDG. I’ve heard that their plans may include an interesting twist on how we grok what matters. I’m really pleased this is happening and hope they can pull it off.


Here’s some early commentary:

And more… http://technorati.com/search/http%3A//thestandard.com

Freebase.com is hot

I don’t get a chance to review products often enough these days. But when I heard about Freebase I knew I needed to dive into that one as soon as I was able.


Fortunately, I was invited only yesterday to take a peak. And I’m officially joining the hype wagon on this one.

Someone once described it as Wikipedia for structured data. I think that’s a good way to think about it.

That image leaves out one of the most powerful aspect of the tool, though. The pivot points that are created when a piece of data can be interlinked automatically and dynamically with other pieces of data creates a network of information that is more powerful than an edited page.

The Freebase screencast uses the movie database example to show this. You can dive in and out from actor to film which if you wanted could then carry on to topic to location to government to politician to gossip and on and on and on. And everything is editable.

Now, they didn’t stop at making the ultimate community-driven relational database. They exposed all the data in conveniently shareable formats like JSON. This means that I could build a web site that leverages that data and makes it available to my site visitors. I only need to link back to Freebase.com.

But that’s not all. In combination with the conveniently accessible data, they allow people to submit data to Freebase programmatically through their APIs. They will need to create some licensing controls for this to really work for data owners (NBA stats data and NYSE stock data, for example). But that’s getting easier to solve, and you can see that they are moving in that direction already.

Here’s a brief clip of the screencast which shows some other interesting concepts in action, too:

Suddenly, you can imagine that Freebase becomes a data clearinghouse, a place where people post information perhaps even indirectly through 3rd parties and make money or attract customers as others redistribute your data from the Freebase distribution point. They have a self-contained but infinitely scaleable data ecosystem.

I can imagine people wanting to manage their personal profile in this model and creating friends lists much like the typical social network except that it’s reusable everywhere on the Internet. I can imagine consumer goods producers weaving coupons and deals data with local retailer data and reaching buyers in highly relevant ways we haven’t seen yet.

Freebase feels very disruptive to me. I’m pretty sure that this is one to watch. And I’m not alone…

Michael Arrington: “Freebase looks to be what Google Base is not: open and useful.”

Jon Udell: “Freebase is aptly named, I am drawn like a moth to its flame.”

Tim O’Reilly: “Unlike the W3C approach to the semantic web, which starts with controlled ontologies, Metaweb adopts a folksonomy approach, in which people can add new categories (much like tags), in a messy sprawl of potentially overlapping assertions.”

John Markoff: “On the Web, there are few rules governing how information should be organized. But in the Metaweb database, to be named Freebase, information will be structured to make it possible for software programs to discern relationships and even meaning”

In some ways, it seems like the whole Web 2.0 era was merely an incubation period for breakthroughs like Freebase. Judging by the amount of data already submitted in the alpha phase, I suspect this is going to explode when it officially launches.

A magazine I would love to read

There’s a magazine that I’d love to read if someone published it (yes, the print kind). Of course, it’s about the Internet. It’s about the stack that makes up the Internet, the platform or, as many people are calling it, the Internet Operating System. It’s mostly technology. But it’s a little bit business. And it’s definitely artful.

It’s not Business 2.0 or Red Herring. It’s not The Industry Standard, though I’d be happy to read that again, too. Those were/are too business-focused and often misunderstand the wider impact of many breakthroughs.

It challenges the people in positions to change things to make changes that matter. It exposes the advances in the market that have negative repurcussions to the Internet as a platform for good.

It’s critical and hard-hitting. It’s accurate. And it is therefore trusted and respected.

It isn’t first to report on anything. It might even be last, but it gets the story right.

It dives into services like Pipes, EC2, and Google Apps. It analyzes algorithms, data formats, developer tools, and interactive design. It studies human behaviors, market trends, new business models, leadership strategies and processes.

It’s not about startups, but it may be about why VCs like certain startups. I love the fact that Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures disclosed the broader motivations for investing in AdaptiveBlue:

“We are particularly excited about the prospect of AdaptiveBlue developing tools that allow users to build the semantic web from the bottom-up to fill in the gaps and correct the top-down approach when necessary.”

This magzine should be printed monthly with lots of possibilities online that may actually be more successful in the long term. (I can imagine the print magazine turning into a sort of marketing vehicle for the web site. )

It includes longer deep-dive articles that have been throughly researched and copyedited. The editors are paid very well because they are experienced and talented. It also includes samples from the blogosphere and insights from contributors and participants who care deeply about the subject. There are intelligent interviews of people who are innovating and actually doing important things. There are insightful case studies of both the methods and results of certain technology breakthroughs. And there are columns that remind us to keep it real.

What I want from a new magazine about the Internet Operating System is to understand the technology breakthroughs and their meaning in the conext of the history of the Internet. I want to know what we can learn from art and innovation online to understand what lies ahead. The business model breakthroughs matter hugely, but I think they often matter as a result of an innovative technology rather than serve as a driver.

How is the Internet as a platform, operating system, network — whatever you want to call it — evolving? Who and what is influencing change? What are the trends that indicate this progression? How do new online developments impact communication, governments and social organizing principles?

Of course, a lot of this is out on the web in bits and pieces. But I’m too lazy to go through my entire feedreader and follow all the links to all the interesting stories out there. Maybe someone could invent a personalized and distributed Digg that surfaced what mattered to me more efficiently. But even then, I’d still pay a subscription fee and happily browse through endemic advertising for someone to assemble something thoroughly thought through, designed nicely and printed on my favorite portable reading medium — paper (recycled, of course).

And I’d read it in part because I would know everyone in the business would be reading it, too. At least, I suspect I’m not alone in wanting this…?

Membership has its privileges

Mark Glaser asks his readers this week to submit the answer to the following question:

“What would motivate you to contribute to a citizen media site?”

I can’t imagine that anyone is going to be able to answer that question in an interesting way. It’s the wrong question. It’s kind of like asking why do people sing at church? Or why do people meet their friends at the pub?


Photo: -bartimaeus-

If the church asks you to sing, you sing. If your friends tell you to meet at the pub, you go to the pub. The community and purpose of doing things together is already implied, so you do whatever everyone else in that community does if you want to be a part of it.

Jon Udell starts to dig into the critical mass hurdles for social networks in a recent post where he quotes Gary McGraw saying:

“People keep asking me to join the LinkedIn network, but I’m already part of a network. It’s called the Internet.”

The real question is not about getting people to do things. There are too many things to do and too many people to socialize with in a day already.

The question is about forming meaningful communities and the kinds of things that will help a community flourish. Meaning comes in millions of different shapes and sizes, but there are lots of precedents in terms of ideologies, aesthetics, and methods.

News, for example, is inherently about being first to report on an event. Successful community-based news sites enable people who care enough about a topic to either be the first to report on it or be clued in before less speedy outlets pick up on something. It feeds into a competitive and sometimes gossipy human nature. Just ask your best reporters why they became reporters. Digg appeals to the reporter in all of us.

I used to attend a charity event called Rebuilding Together where groups of people would assemble and fix up houses and schools around the city of San Francisco. There was a core team who selected applications for fix-it team deployments. Then there was a leader who would drive the work to be done by each team at each site. On the chosen date, people would jump on a project and invite their friends to join. It was impressive to see what a focused group could accomplish in a day, fixing plumbing, painting, cleaning, rebuilding fences, etc.

Why did people do it?

There was a purpose. We were helping people truly in need. The commitment was lightweight. It was 1 day a year. It was well organized. I didn’t have to debate with people about how things should be done. The result was impactful, a total overhaul of a building. It was fun. I had a laugh with my friends and met new people.

Often when people start asking how you get to critical mass, they’re losing the plot. Sure, it would be great to worry about scaling a site rather than fighting for a Digg. But if you and your community are doing something unique and valuable, then size really shouldn’t matter. And in many cases, it makes sense to make the community exclusive and smaller rather than bigger and diluted, anyhow.

The question then becomes, “Are you offering a service that a lot of people find unique and valuable?”

I think a lot of publishers fail to understand the size of a potential market, what’s unique about an offering, and the value of that offering to the people who do actually care about it.

Then there’s also the issue of recognizing what you can actually deliver. You have to play to your strengths.

Yahoo! Answers is a good example of that. The idea of getting immediate answers to any question you can think of from real humans is outrageously ambitious. There are lots of ways to get answers to questions out there. But Yahoo! played to its strengths to get it off the ground, then it just took off. It’s easy. It’s fun. It works. And, therefore, it’s meaningful. And now there’s nothing like it out there anywhere.

Of course, not everybody can point a firehose of traffic at a domain, but there are plenty of cases where Yahoo! failed to create a community by pointing a firehose of traffic at it.

So, what makes a meaningful community that has a definitive purpose? Yeah, well, that’s an answer you can get from Cameron Marlow, danah boyd, and a lot of people a lot smarter than me.

Though perhaps this is all just echo blogging and the real question gets to something people already understand. Maybe the question is simply: “How do you make membership in your community desirable?”

Wikipedia defines “privilege” as follows:

A privilege—etymologically “private law” or law relating to a specific individual—is an honour, or permissive activity granted by another person or a government. A privilege is not a right and in some cases can be revoked.

I think the answer is in there somewhere for everyone who is struggling to get their community to do stuff.


Photo:Manne

The breakthrough that is MyBlogLog

There’s something very uncomfortable about seeing your face appear on another web site while you’re visiting it. That’s exactly why I think MyBlogLog is going to be a really big deal. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens now that it’s part of Yahoo!.

The quotable Paul Saffo visited Yahoo! last week and said this about technological breakthroughs: “It takes 20 years to have an overnight success.” That’s spot on in this case, too.

First there was email, and then we got instant messaging. The next online communication breakthrough was the social networking app. Now there’s distributed identity, another variation on personal expression and communication.

It’s a more explicit expression of implicit behavior, if that makes any sense.

And just like each predecessor in the social software space, resistence to the new paradigm will widen generational gaps for a time until the concept is adopted widely enough. Change like this is an ongoing theme in the evolution of the Internet.

I remember a time when it was uncomfortable to discover that marketers had my email address and sent things directly to my inbox. It was uncomfortable to know that friends and colleagues could see when I was online via IM and be able to ping me any time they wanted. It was uncomfortable to know that people were looking at, assessing, and deciding whether or not to mark me as a connection on social networking sites.

MyBlogLog now exposes access to another channel that was previously known only to me…my browsing history.

The numbers I’ve seen internally tell an amazing story, the classic hockey stick. But an even bigger indicator is the number of requests for connections that I’ve received since becoming a member. Many are people that have likely seen my face on web pages as I traverse across the Internet, not people who found me through a search or via another friend.

MyBlogLog makes the Internet feel like a huge party where you bump into random people that might be interesting and see friends that you didn’t know were in the same place as you. It’s weird. It’s awkward. It’s fantastic.

What do these connections mean? I can’t say, yet. But intuitively I know that MyBlogLog is going to matter in lots of different contexts. The potential here is just massive.

More on the Yahoo!/MyBlogLog deal:

UPDATE: There’s been an explosion of coverage this morning on this announcement. TechMeme is doing a great job of capturing the links out there. Here’s a sample:


Yahoo! Snaps Up Mybloglog.com  —  Yahoo! is making notoriety a mouse click away.  —  The Internet portal has purchased Mybloglog.com, an Orlando, Fla.-based website that enables readers of web pages to leave information about themselves, building a social network among fans of such things
Webware.com
Mathew Ingram
Rex Hammock’s weblog
Elatable
Squash
Blogging Stocks
Business Filter
Zoli’s Blog
Bloggers Blog
FactoryCity
Between the Lines
Digital Inspiration
The Social Web
10e20
duncanriley.com
CenterNetworks
Clickety Clack
Susan Mernit’s Blog
Caroline McCarthy / Webware.com: YAHOO BUYS MYBLOGLOG. SO WHAT?
Mathew Ingram / mathewingram.com/work: Yahoo buys MyBlogLog — but why?
Rex Hammock / Rex Hammock’s weblog: Yahoo! buys MyBlogLog (deja vu all over again)
Elatable: MyBlogLog and Yahoo light up the blogosphere
Phil Sim / Squash: MyBlogLog will fizzle  —  10 million kudos to the guys behind MyBlogLog.
Melly Alazraki / Blogging Stocks: Yahoo! makes a (small) move — buys MyBlogLog
Mwelch / Business Filter: Yahoo! Snaps Up MyBlogLog
Zoli Erdos / Zoli’s Blog: Let’s Not Spam MyBlogLog
Bloggers Blog: Yahoo Buys MyBlogLog For Real This Time
Chris Messina / FactoryCity: Sticking eyeballs with toothpicks; or Yahoo buys MyBlogLog
Larry Dignan / Between the Lines: Yahoo’s MyBlogLog purchase by the numbers
Amit Agarwal / Digital Inspiration: MyBlogLog: Now Playing At the Yahoo! Theatre
Steve O’Hear / The Social Web: Yahoo buys MyBlogLog
Chris Winfield / 10e20: Yahoo Acquires MyBlogLog.com – For Real This Time
Duncan / duncanriley.com: Yahoo! buys MyBlogLog
Allen Stern / CenterNetworks: Yahoo! buys MyBlogLog – Yep, it’s confirmed
Junior Hines / Clickety Clack: Yahoo Buys MyBlogLog
Susan Mernit / Susan Mernit’s Blog: Weekend news: Myblog log acquired; Rafer joining Yahoo!
Om Malik / GigaOM: Yahoo buys MyBlogLog… for real!
  —  Updated: 8.58 pm: A few minutes after we had ordered our dinner at Mehfil Restaurant in San Francisco’s SOMA district, Scott Rafer, chairman of Orlando, Florida-based MyBlogLog, checked his Blackberry Pearl, and broke into a smile.

Valleywag
A View from the Isle
Mark Evans
Screenwerk
Web Worker Daily
Search Marketing Gurus
hyku | blog
HipMojo.com and Marketing Blog Bent …
Tris Hussey / A View from the Isle: MyBlogLog joins Yahoo, is this good?
Mark Evans: Yahoo Finally Acquires…MyBlogLog
Greg Sterling / Screenwerk: Getting Y!’s Mojo Back: A Release a Week
Chris Gilmer / Web Worker Daily: MYBLOGLOG, A VIRTUAL COMPANY, SOLD TO YAHOO
Li Evans / Search Marketing Gurus: MyBlogLog Acquired By Yahoo! or Not?
Josh Hallett / hyku | blog: Congrats to the MyBlogLog Gang
Froosh / HipMojo.com: Linked In: More Than Spam?
Jason Dowdell / Marketing Blog Bent …: Yahoo Aquires MyBlogLog for 12 Million
Chad Dickerson / Yodel Anecdotal: Bloggers unite!  Yahoo! joins forces with MyBlogLog
  —  There once was a time when bloggers basically lived in silos of independent existence.  Hunched over your keyboard, you checked your ego feeds every day, looked for inbound links, followed the various meme-tracking sites, and read who you thought was interesting.

Search Engine Land
CyberNet Technology News
10e20
Search Engine Watch Blog
Yahoo! Developer Network blog
Marketing Blog Bent …
Danny Sullivan / Search Engine Land: Yahoo Acquires MyBlogLog & More On How It Works
Ashley / CyberNet Technology News: Yahoo! Acquires MyBlogLog (along with their statistics program too!)
Chris Winfield / 10e20: How Long Until Spam Becomes a Huge Problem for MyBlogLog?
Kevin Newcomb / Search Engine Watch Blog: Yahoo Acquires MyBlogLog
Jeremy Zawodny / Yahoo! Developer Network blog: MyBlogLog Joins YDN!
Evan Roberts / Marketing Blog Bent …: Something Smells Funny in this Shoe
Yahoo Buys MyBlogLog.  No, They Didn’t.  Wait, Yes.
  —  Ok so it’s official and confirmed from Yahoo: They bought MyBlogLog.  This was first rumored to be happening in November, but was never confirmed and we updated our post to reflect that.  This morning the news broke again but was pulled immediately afterwards.

Conversion Rater
Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim and Webomatica
Pat McCarthy / Conversion Rater: MyBlogLog Gets Yahoo’d
Andy Beal / Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim: Yahoo Acquires MyBlogLog
Webomatica: Yahoo! Buys MyBlogLog
Eric / The MyBlogLog Blog: The Jig is Up — MyBlogLog joins Yahoo!
  —  Todd, John, Steve, Scott and I are pleased to announce that Yahoo! has brought MyBlogLog into the fold.  I’ve been drafting a post about this for the better part of a week and it’s just not happening.  No matter how hard I try, there’s just too much here that I can’t yet put into words.

Read/WriteWeb and Scott Rafer at WINKsite
Richard MacManus / Read/WriteWeb: MyBlogLog Acquired by Yahoo – Grist To The Distributed Network Mill
Rafer / Scott Rafer at WINKsite: Yup, Yahoo! Bought MyBlogLog.
Pete Cashmore / Mashable!: Confirmed: Yahoo Acquires MyBlogLog for $10 Million
  —  Valleywag started a rumor in November that Yahoo had bought MyBlogLog – Yahoo then denied it and everybody backtracked.  Another story popped up on MarketingShift early today, adding a $10 million price tag – that post was quickly pulled
Don Dodge on The Next …
Valleywag and digg
Don Dodge / Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing: Yahoo acquires MyBlogLog for $10M – Has anyone done the math?
Valleywag: SELF-REFERENTIAL: Valleywag, your premature news source
digg: Confirmed: Yahoo Acquires MyBlogLog for $10 Million
Jeremy Zawodny / Jeremy Zawodny’s blog: Welcome MyBlogLog to Yahoo!
  —  It seems like only yesterday that TechCrunch posted a premature story about Yahoo! buying MyBlogLog.  —  Well, now it’s official and I’d like to publicly welcome the MyBlogLog team to Yahoo.  In the last month or so, I’ve had the chance to meet and get to know the team
Owen Thomas / Business 2.0 Beta: Yahoo Spends Millions on Social Startup MyBlogLog
Rafat Ali / PaidContent: Yahoo Buys Distributed Social Network MyBlogLog; Reportedly Around $10 Million
Profy.Com
TechAddress
Message
MediaVidea and The Blogging Times
Paul Glazowski / Profy.Com: Post Analysis: The MyBlogLog Buyout
TechAddress: Yahoo Snaps Up Mybloglog.com – By Forbes.com CES Blog
Stowe Boyd / Message: Yahoo At The Center Of The Social Universe: But Where’s The Integration?
Pramit Singh / MediaVidea: Mybloglog: a better model for blog networks?
Minic Rivera / The Blogging Times: This time it’s for real: Yahoo buys MyBlogLog

Top 5 new business ideas

The month of lists has begun, so I decided to rank the business ideas from the last year that could or should be a big deal in the next year. Most of these ideas and companies have actually been around longer than 12 months, but they either reached a certain critical mass or captured my imagination in a new way recently.

1) Scrobbling
All my listening behavior are belong to Last.fm. They figured out how to not only capture what I listen to but also to incentivize me to keep my behavior data with them. Since my listening data is open for other services to use, I am willingly giving Last.fm the power to broker that data with other providers on behalf. That’s a very strong position to be in.

2) Meta ad networks
Feedburner and Right Media figured out that ad networks can be networked into meta networks. Right Media went the extra step and opened up their APIs so that someone can build a white label ad exchange of their own using the Right Media tools. All you need are advertisers and publishers, and you’ve suddenly got a media market of your own. I can’t help but wonder if these guys have stepped into the big leagues with the next really important revenue model.

3) Pay-as-you-go storage, computing, whatever
Amazon impresses me on so many levels even if they don’t know exactly what they’re doing. They are making it happen just by doing smart things with the resources already in their arsenal. Similarly, Flickr understands that the APIs you use to build your web site are the same APIs you want to open up as a service, and it’s paying off handsomely for them. The formula here is one part optimizing resources and two parts confidence that your business won’t crash if you share your core assets with other people. Stir constantly.

4) People-powered knowledge
I really like the Yahoo! Answers experience. I also really like the concept behind MechanicalTurk where knowledge can be distributed as a service. Machines are at their best, in my opinion, when they make humans capable of doing things they couldn’t otherwise do, not least of which is making the universe of human knowledge more accessible.

5) Widget-mania
It wasn’t until I heard about the big revenues GlitterMaker was earning that I realized just how powerful this idea has become the last year or so. Beck’s customizable CD cover reinforced the idea that everything is a tattoo or a tattooable thing if you look at it that way…and many people do. If only I could run AdSense on my forehead.

A human-powered relevance engine for Internet startup news

Here’s a fun experiment in crowdsourcing. I’ve been getting overwhelmed by all the startup news coming out of the many sources tracking the interesting ideas and new companies hunting for Internet gold. Many of these companies are really smart. Many are just, well, gold diggers.


And with so many ways to track new and interesting companies, I’ve lost the ability to identify the difference between companies that are actually attacking a problem that matters and companies that are combining buzzwords in hopes of getting funding or getting acquired or both.

There must be a way to harness the collective insight of people who are close to these companies or the ideas they embody to shed light on what’s what. Maybe there’s a way to do that using Pligg.

While shaking my head in a moment of disappointment and a little bit of jealousy at all the new dotcom millionaires/billionaires, the word “flipbait” crossed my mind. I looked to see if the domain was available, and sure enough it was. So, I grabbed the domain, installed Pligg and there it is.

It should be obvious, but the idea is to let people post news of new Internet startups and let the community decide if something is important or not. If I’m not the only one thinking about this, then I can imagine it becoming a really useful resource for gaining insight into the barage of headlines filling up my feed reader each day.

And if it doesn’t work, I’ll share whatever insight I can glean into why the concept fails. There will hopefully at least be some lessons in this experiment for publishers looking to leverage crowdsourcing in their media mix.