If you don’t know, my friend Hugh Macleod draws these cute little cartoons on the backs of business cards. He’s gotten a bit of attention from the bloggers (I used his drawings in my PowerPoints when I give presentations).
Anyway, he’s been raving and ranting about Stormhoek. Anyway, they sponsored the geek dinner on Saturday so I got to try a bit of their product (some might say a bit too much, but we’ll keep that among friends). Heheh.
I also got to meet the folks from Stormhoek and found them to be a friendly bunch but we ended up talking about wines we’ve had and wineries we remember. The number, for most folks, are very small. Funny enough the name Bonny Doon came up a great deal. This is a small winery near Santa Cruz, CA (not connected with Stormhoek in any way). But what Bonny Doon does well is give people lots of stories to remember and talk about. Have you ever had “Big House Red?” Why is it called “Big House?” Because the grapes were grown near San Quentin, the famous California prison. Their site says “wine should be as much fun as government regulations allow.” Humor. It goes a long way.
Anyway, what they are doing with Stormhoek is giving us stories to tell other people. Does it matter if the wine is good? Of course! But, quick, name more than five wineries. It’s really hard, isn’t it?
Now, quick, name more than five Web 2.0 sites you use. It’s just as hard, isn’t it?
In my predictions for 2006 I think we’ll see consolidation in the Web space. Why? There are too many ideas chasing too few customers — I have hundreds of emails and blogs asking for attention, it really is amazing how many companies are springing up lately. I remember the last time this happened. It was 1999.
Want to improve the world? I’m getting attuned to that more and more, especially since listening in on last weekend’s Global Voices conference. So, I’m keeping my eye out for how people and organizations are using technology to improve the world. I’m talking with Mark Liu and Marnie Webb of NetSquared right now on the phone. They are keeping track of non-profits and how they are using social media.
GhostCycle, for instance, is Marnie’s favorite. It collects stories and other information about Seattle-area cyclists who’ve had accidents and puts them on Google maps, which lets people see patterns they might not otherwise see. You can read more about GhostCycle on NetSquared’s site.
She’s wondering what kind of tools that non-profits need to succeed? Is there a way they can work with developers and volunteers to help out non-profits? She’s also wondering what they could do to hook up big companies like Microsoft with non-profits?
Another site I saw at Global Voices that was inspiring is PledgeBank. Here you can make a pledge and get people to join in (or you can join an already made pledge). At Global Voices last weekend I got a demo of this and it’s really making a difference already by letting people know about needs in their communities and giving them a way to join in.
How are you improving the world?
I was just talking with Alex Bard, CEO of Goowy Media. Hey, it’s been a busy morning and he was showing me through the new Goowy Desktop. At first glance this looks like Konfabulator, but on second glance this rocks.
First you can use these gadgets in a Web page, or you can download their desktop client (hint: it uses Flash, so is pretty robust).
I checked out their Flickr, Del.icio.us, Technorati, and RSS gadgets. Really nice, clean. I’ll keep this up and see if it survives a week of use too.
Which of these kinds of desktop systems do you like the best? (We’re building something like this for Windows Live as well, but this is way ahead of where we are right now).
I just got off the phone with Julian Steinberg of Inform.com. They just released the first version of their news portal. Think Google News on steroids. Shows news from around the Internet, and lets you build your own channels, add your own sources, and remix the news in a number of different ways. The only weakness I saw is that they don’t yet have many blogs (only the top 100 are in there so far) and adding your own sources isn’t straightforward (I’d like to import my OPML file with my own news sources).
But, it earns a place on my favorites. I’ll watch it for a few days to see how it compares to MSN, Google, and Yahoo’s news pages.
I just asked someone why they only provide partial-text feeds. Here’s the answer I got back:
Currently our sites only provide excerpt feeds because we feel it is really important to get customers to our sites. We will be looking into full text feeds to see if this is something that is feasible for our sites. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
OK, let me get this straight? You’re asking me to send people to your Web site, but you treat me like a slave? Got it. Unsubscribed! No link for you. You just lost my 18 readers. Er, NewsGator says I have 18,000 subscribers. None of them for you. I’m not going to be your slave today. No sirreeeeeeeee.
I’m sitting with Alan Cooper, chairman of the board of Cooper (a company that humanizes technology, he says). He just gave a talk at the PNP Summit (there are two more PNP Summits coming up) about how to avoid “death-march software.” I wasn’t able to record his talk, but recorded most of the conversation that happened afterward. Should be fun to put out there.
I asked him how he can tell if companies are on death-march behaviors. Here’s his answer: “I ask them “who sets the deadline?” You should set your own deadlines. That’s how professional people work. The boss shouldn’t be able to set your deadlines. If the deadline is imposed from the outside, that’s it right there. That’s your smoking gun. It’s stupid not to give your people the resources they need.”
So, are you on a death march?