XKCD has long been home to one of the most vocal and loyal followings on the Internet, a webcomic for the sensitive nerd. This description of course does not begin to do the webcomic justice, as its subject matter is diverse and its fan-base well deserved. Occasionally, XKCD embarks upon projects well beyond the normal purview of standard webcomicing and they have done so recently with the Holistic Browser. The premise: type in where you want to go and users will send you where they think you should be. It’s all very Wild West and unfiltered. So yes, browsing is absolutely not safe for work.
Luckily, I work from home so a-browsing I did go. Here’s how my test drive went.
First, I tried The Huffington Post.
I was sent to Pandora. Fair enough. A relatively good choice. If I favored an aggregate which many feel has passed its prime, why not an Internet radio website that faces similar scrutiny?
Next, I tried last.fm, to stay on the Internet radio theme. I was sent to Fail Blog. Fair enough — I like music, I probably like classic Internet lulz.
Next up, College Humor (I stay on theme again). I got Wikipedia. Okay. Maybe I’m in college and could use some study time.
Let’s kick the research up a notch and try Wolfram Alpha. I got The Brick Testament. Incredible! The creator of all the wonderful Biblical Lego creations on that site was an early Internet hero of mine (mostly for Brad: The Game). Not sure how it fits, but I am happy to be reminded of that guy. We’ve had some rewarding serendipity now. This thing may really serve a purpose!
Let’s go back to other websites I liked in high school. Livejournal – ESPN. I can dig it, I guess. Keeping things mainstream.
Hoops Hype. That got me to Dubstep.net. Now we finally have the first instance of a website I have not been to before. And … fifteen minutes of streaming dubstep later, I can report I am happy to have gone there.
Let’s stay with music. Pitchfork — the BBC? Interesting choice.
Let’s try The Guardian – Major League Gaming: the home of professional videogaming. So, pretty much everything has been pretty mainstream and focused on front pages so far, with the exception of The Brick Testament. Let’s go on the nerd theme and see if we can get some weirder responses.
The battle rap archives from rapmusic.com — this should give us something interesting. It did! A weird Danish website (right).
Okay, now the only question I had left to answer was … how long will it take before I get sent to porn. It’s the Internet after all, all paths end with porn sooner or later. Let the quest begin.
The Danish Parliament — Photography blog
Lenscratch – Let Me Google That For You (love this website)
Milk and Cookies — Anime blog
Pokemon.com – Cool 3D art
Zouch Magazine – Surviving the World (a webcomic by a friend of mine!)
SMBC Comics — Meaty Yogurt (a webcomic)
Garfield — Rambler (Russian news)
Okay … at this point I was beginning to relinquish hope in finding the eXXXit to this maze of websites. Perhaps I was showing too little faith in humanity. Maybe people could use this site without finding the need to direct users to porn. I would try one more website and it was the big one.
Facebook. Surely this would be the one. Whoa! Okay. Apparently AdolfHitler.biz is a website and the front page is a warning about “inflammatory or illegal statements” within. No thank you and there goes that whole “faith in humanity” kick I just had. Internet, you have thrilled, amazed, inspired and ultimately disgusted me again. The Holistic Browser is legit.
“The body is the last piece of information to go digital. Most of your life is already digital – your friends, your music, your bank account – all accessible on-line, but your body is not. Bodymetrics together with PrimeSense is enabling consumers to store and access all their body information online and link this to retailers. Now, body scanning becomes a powerful platform for many retailers to provide the personalized fit and service their customers have always wanted.” - Suran Goonatilake, CEO, Bodymetrics.
In an example of technology that is only beginning to realize its incredible potential, Bodymetrics, a London-based company providing a ‘Body Mapping’ platform, today announced the launch of the world’s first full 3D body scanner developed in collaboration with PrimeSense, the leader in sensing and recognition technologies.
While there are certainly many potential uses for the technology (some of which have been explored by PrimeSense in the gaming market), the new 3D body scanner is designed to revolutionize the way consumers buy clothes. Costumers can use the booth to virtually try on outfits both at retail stores and through online clothing retailers, enabling customers to gauge a more realistic fit before purchase.
The new 3D body scanner with the PrimeSense technology launched at New Look, the UK’s largest high-street jeans retailer, and was used to provide advice by Bodymetrics ‘Fit Stylists’ for the best fitting jeans for female customers (the scanner quickly and accurately calculates 100 measurements, and body-shape analytics are then used to find garments that best suit the customer’s unique shape and size).
So, it seems that for now, digitizing your own body can afford you access to more convenient “fitting” sessions from home as you shop for clothes. But let’s look ahead. What are the other potential benefits of digitizing all things corporal much like we have digitized most things social and cultural? How far does this put us from actual personal hologram messaging (apologies to CNN)? And from there, how close are we to technology that will enable us to essentially inhabit multiple spaces simultaneously? Perhaps existence it just a matter of housed cognition, in which case the house could just as easily be inorganic as organic.
It’s fun to go full science fiction geek-out with the conjecture, but philosophical extravagances aside, Bodymetrics and PrimeSense are at the vanguard of our body’s relationship to the digital universe and it will be fascinating to see the other uses they and others find for this technology.
Michael Rheaume worked at a marketing firm in Boston until it went the way of many businesses at the beginning of the Great Recession. Now, he is applying his marketing acumen elsewhere, as co-founder of the wedding photography directory, SnapKnot, where he is showing that marketing savvy and a willingness to bootstrap can take you a long way.
In February 2010, Rheaume and co-founder Reid Warner launched the site, the idea for which came form Warner’s own experience planning his wedding and the particular difficulty he had finding a good wedding photographer.
Warner posited that the problem with other, larger wedding sites is that they are overwhelming, lack focus, have too much advertising, and leave a lot to be desired in their photography section. Shockingly, many sites don’t offer anything more than thumbnails from which to choose. So, Warner and Rheaume set out to provide the wedding photography resource that was so clearly missing, and SnapKnot was born.
SnapKnot endeavors to simplify the search for a wedding photographer by literally simplifying the search. Search by location and price range and get accurate results—easy. Then, browse high definition pictures to find photographers you like and go through the provided links to their website, social media, contact info, etc.—easy.
People like easy, and so, thanks in large part to a strong social media push, SnapKnot is doing quite well. At this point, Warner and Rheaume still have not taken any money, but are in the process of scaling up. The usership and roster of photographers are growing exponentially, they are working on a few potential industry partnerships and have just released a new iPhone app. SnapKnot is proving once again that clean design, a smart, simple idea and intelligent use of social media can be a recipe for success.
Posted by Tattletech on Mar 15, 2009 in Conferences
, Cool stuff
, Good things
, Intelligent Search
, New things
, Sexy tech guys
, Social Networking
, Start ups
, Web 2.0 stuff
, Women entrepreneurs
Tattletech was at Plugg last week in Brussels (that Robin Wauters puts on a good show) and it was one of the best events we have been to in a while. The agenda was superb, the speakers were excellent and the food was outstanding. The start up rally was fun with our audience participation paddles, but the majority of the start ups were not that compelling, with the exception of three that stood out WAY above the others. We are planning on having all three of them do a Tattletech Hot Seat in the coming weeks.
Here are the three companies we think you should keep your eyes on. (Plus one extra)
Jinni – Everything is changing so why not how we search for TV shows and movies. Long time IPTV industry veteran and former Oracle guy, Yosi Glick thinks its about time we re think how we search for movies. So enter Jinni. Tattltech saw a super secret demo of Jinni last fall at IBC and now the train is on the track as Jinni has brought its new search technology to the forefront. Blending both a social networking element with a more logical way to search for what you want to watch (a social search and recommendation engine), Jinni will change the way you think about searching for content. They will. Sign up for the beta online. Watch them, get on board now, this would be like missing the Skype train. Yes, I said that. A fantastic management team makes all the difference and Jinni has that.
Myngle - Learn a language online. Okay, so at first glance that may not sound innovative, but it is. It is because it connects you to the global marketplace where you are talking with folks that know that native language. Its interacting with them in a way you would normally if you knew a language, not the “phrases” that you normally go through in an old school language class. It’s e learning mixed with educational social networking and we think that this is one of the best ideas for applying elements of social networking today. Imagine the possibilities this could have on developing nations.
Global classroom, cultural exchange takes on a whole new meaning. Founder by Marina Togenetti and based in the Netherlands, this woman gives entrepreneur a whole new name. Winner of the Plugg Audience Choice awards and more than 20,000 users in seven months.
Softatutor – It is unfortunate that their site is only in German, but trust me when I say to you this CEO has his eye on the big picture. And like Myngle, Sofatutor is focusing on applying the elements of social networking to education. Sofatutor blends video with social interaction to create an online “tutor”. And the CEO, Stephan Bayer at Plugg 09 says that he wants tutors to get paid for their work – educational advocate. Nice. Not to mention the fact that if we did a Top 10 list of sexy tech guys at Plugg, he would be on it.
Now, also on our list is Nimbuzz who has won all sorts of awards and plans to become the gobal communications platform for IP-based communication between mobile devices and social media platforms. Watch for their upcoming Tattletech Hot Seat interview with Tobias Kemper. And rounding out the trip was the excellent conversation spent with two fantastic “personalities” we had the great pleasure of spending our breaks with – Nicolas Mertens (picture a young David Spade with the same sense of humor), The Next Web and Jeroen Mirck.
Tattletech always finds itself in good company – always around start ups that seem to have their finger on technology that will pull the current market forward and with entrepreneurs that do more than focus on the technology but how to apply it to our lives. When we met Dragos, we knew immediately this compay was onto something. We caught up with uberVU’s Co-Founder, Dragos Ilinca and here is what he had to say. (uberVU was also a 2008 Seedcamp winner!)
Tattletech: So… let’s start with the question you are probably asked over and over again, what DOES uberVU mean?
Dragos Ilinca: uber is a German word that means “more, better, super”, just like in ubergeek or uberblogger. “VU” is just a misspelled “view”. we weren’t trying to be cute, but uberview.com <http://uberview.com> was taken. So in its essence uberVU refers to having a “superview” of the conversation on the Web.
TT: Will aggregating all of the conversation threads into one place make the online world a smaller one, in the positive sense of the word?
DI: Quite possibly. All the people that comment on a story are part of the same community, they’re interacting around the same social object. So the online world around a story will be bigger, as you’ll be aware of people you did not know commented on a story. It might be smaller in the sense of more intimate, as in time, there will be many more familiar faces around each story or blog or content source. The point is that people should care about who is commenting and what they are saying and not have to worry about the underlying platform.
TT: At the end of almost each article or blog post we see an unending list of icons and link backs – will Ubervu end all of that clutter?
DI: Some of those icons have their purpose, such as sharing the article on different services. The purpose is not necessarily to end that clutter, but be able to interact with people on the services that the icons represent without paying much attention to the service itself. This means getting comments from people everywhere in one place and also allowing you to reply to those people from one place. It’s about freeing the conversations from closed silos and exposing people to each other.
TT: What is the main differentiator between what you do and others? Do you trace the conversation and not the user profile?
DI: Yes, that’s the main difference. We get comments around a story, not around a person, user profile or keyword. Whether those will be included I don’t know at this point. One more difference is the ability to reply from within uberVU, in the sense that they reply gets sent back to the site/service where it should belong. From this point of view, we seem to be a great complement to a lot of existing services that people are already avid users of.
TT: Do you think users will quickly adopt using uberVU?
DI: Hopefully, although that’s not the goal in the short term. Our main goal is to understand how people are using uberVU, what they need and don’t need from it and how to transform those demands into usable features so that they do start to use uberVU regularly. I think we still have some way to go until uberVU hits the bullseye and becomes just right for people. That’s why we’re experimenting with different things right now, such as being integrated by Disqus through our API. Maybe we’ll be a great destination site, or maybe we’ll serve as an infrastructure service that will only be used by way of API.
– SM and JLH
Last Friday, Tattletech went to the office opening of Kimengi where the CEO Lucien Burm was hosting an informal chat and cocktails on what Kimengi will bring to the blog sphere.
Tattletech: What does recommendation technology mean?
Lucien Burm: In our view, recommendation technology must deliver a technically working virtual model for how people give and receive recommendations, how they handle them and try to improve that proces by using the internet.
The ‘engine’ we are developing creates something of a dynamic blueprint for how masses of people share and interact on suggestions with people they know or encounter. The big advantage of the virtual world is, that we will be able to also leverage on suggestions, opinions and interests of people you don’t know, and there are many of them. So people’s virtual components (avatars) can create far more interactions with each other (and not limited by time) than our real-life parts can. We are going to use this fact to create better recommendations.
In short, recommendation technology needs to become much more personal, more realtime with more detail for more content. These factors are still a bit opposed to each other, due to the current state of technology. It is a real challenge to combine all four factors.
At Kimengi we have defined 5 requirements for a next-gen recommendation service. It takes little to much blog space to handle in full here, but in short they are: automation, adaption, induction, inspiration and transparency. We will say at least something about the last one in the answer to your last question.
All our ideas and models for recommendation technology are based on the following question: If your brain could handle all the information now available online in single moment, what would you want to do next? We basically try to help you get as close as possible to that level.
TT: Would you consider this technology a step towards semantic web?
LB: It is more like the other way around. The semantic web could help us a step further. We are not trying to build the semantic web, but better understanding of content and context will help greatly to determine people’s real interests. And that is the business we are in. We use semantic web technologies as an input to recommendation engines, but its the core of that engine that we are interested in. The semantic web gives us a better understanding of content and a better response to requests, which is a true step forward in the web. But the flood of information does not diminish because of it. We need a different kind of technology to help us with that. We hope our technology provides a shift the growing need for information filtering.
TT: What are, in your eyes, the most compelling features blogs can implement in order to attract more readers and followers?
LB: Well, it is all in the content of course. If you write something interesting, you’ll become interesting and people will visit your blog. The speed of your content travelling through on- and offline networks determine how many people you reach and how fast. We believe there are basically two types of networks: One type is more social driven and the other type more content driven. With more social driven we mean working with emails, social bookmarking, social networking and microblogging. Of these networks email may be the slowest and microblogging the fastest to spread your content. With more content driven networks we mean search engines, trackbacks, comments, syndication, referrals, etc.
As a strategy we think that your content could trickle down from microblogging through social networks and bookmarks to the level of content driven traffic generators. So first, you spread your content out, next you let it register deep. That could create a sustainable stream of traffic for a while. We see some blogs playing that strategy quite well. We don’t think there’s one way or feature, but how you play a combination of instruments.
There are tools available for your blog that use both types of networks. They all work if you put enough effort in it, though sometimes we think blogs are a bit crowded with tools.
With f»dforward we combine these social and content networks into one system, a recommendation network, that should create instant spreading of your content to the right people and blogs. There is no intermediary channel, like portals, search engines or bookmark sites, it works instantly from blog to blog and from reader to reader.
We once said: Content may be king, but users make the democracy. (Tattletech note: we love this philosophy) Blog well, and your readers will bring you forward. With f»dforward, we try to fuel that.
TT: Does recommendation technology offering differ when implemented by bloggers as opposed to using it for corporate blogs?
LB: Yes, it probably will, because the reasons for blogging tend to differ. Though big blogs make money as any other company, the relation to products is quite indirect while at corporate blogs the relation is more direct. Still, sometimes it can be useful to be directed to product blogs. This is where the readers come in. I can imagine that if a product blog is bluntly promoting his product instead of providing some interesting company or product insight, readers will move away from it. A good recommendation service will be able to use that immediately and adjust the recommendation for this subject, whether it be a good product blog or bad personal blog.
Still, we wouldn’t be surprised if we will offer a different kind of widget for company blogs, because they could be interested in different services than personal blogs, e.g. integration with the company website as well or options to provide product information.
TT: We are curious to know, does Kimengi have a special meaning?
LB: Yes it does, though we sometimes joke that it was the only word left which was still available as a domain. We started experimenting on the subject of recommendation more 13 years ago. At that time, people were talking about matching instead of recommendation, but it is basically the same of course. At that time we already found a direction in which we would like to develop and we came up with Kimengi as a name for it. Now that we are finally here as a company, we just thought it cool to keep the name.
All we can say is that the ‘engi’ part is from ‘engine’. You will have to figure out the rest for yourselves. It is our best kept secret. it is our pagerank, our coca-cola recipe Maybe we should release the full name when we release the engine, which by the way is not yet implemented in f»dforward. The current network works on currently available recommendation technologies with some twists to make it ready for our own engine.
After registering we discovered that in fact there are people with Kimengi as a last name too. So, maybe we should us a disclaimer: “Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.”
TT: Following the huge upheaval after Facebook tried to change its terms of service, how does Kimengi handle user privacy, do you collect any data on users or users profiles?
LB: Privacy or rather ‘privacy control and transparency” are at the roots of f»dforward. We serve both blogs and their readers by being glue and a firewall at the same time. We want to provide readers with content they like and blogs readers they can serve their content to. This is why we the use of f»dforward must be anonymous. That starts with never having to register. We don’t have logins or passwords. We use your blog or homepage as an ID that you can use to administer your account on the network.
Next, we never store anything that you don’t want us to. As a standard, f»dforward registers complete anonymous sessions between opening and closing your browser and only in our network of course. If you like, we can user more sessions to provide you with better recommendations, but that is up to you. In the help part of the widget, anyone can change these kind of settings to their wishes. The help page also provides full insight into all the information we registered during your session.
We would like to win the trust of our users, by giving them complete control of their data whether you delete it, change it or enhance it. You know what we know. By gaining that trust we also hope to provide future services in dataportability as a trusted source in social intermediary. Thanks for having us on your blog, Jennifer!
– SM and JLH
Is freaking full! We here at ink Communications, a virtual communications agency (we think PR is now a dirty word) are in full battle armour today because the universe is jam-packed full of information. There is so much out there- expert blogs, news, junk, opinion, news portals, online pubs, online news portal pubs, print media, internet radio, internet tech tv, media portals with blogs and tv – its really quite a jungle out there.
We are here to tell you this. Keep it simple. Know who you need to influence and set your sights on those outlets and focus. Put on your Bose white-out head set if you must, but be the calm in this information storm.
Oh and BTW, why are we so calm? If you want to see what the hell is really going on out there, then go sign up with MarketClusters and get their StrategyEye product. Information-busters – they take all that information that is floating all willy nilly out there in the cold hard Internet space and give it the old “smack” down and your world becomes sane again. We ARE NOT JOKING. Anyone – financial firms, VCs, PR firms, digital media – anyone that wants to know what is going on – who is selling, writing, merging, reviewing anything – will be identified via StrategyEye.