Monthly Archives: March 2011

Don’t write off this “check into TV” startup, the tech is too cool

When I hear that someone has “the Foursquare of anything” my eyes usually glaze over. I almost wrote off this startup, IntoNow, because of that.

I’m very happy I didn’t.

What does it do?

Well, you should watch the video. In it you’ll see how it works: you hold your iPhone up while watching TV. It “senses” what show you are watching and checks you into it. Which lets your friends see what show you are watching. But that’s only the beginning.

What else can happen with a system that knows what show you are watching? Well, a whole lot.

This is definitely a company to watch.

Now, excuse me, I’ve gotta go watch some TV. Will you join me and if you do you’ll see what I’m watching? You should be able to find me and the shows I’m watching.

Historical video: the early days of Twitter (the two who got me on it)

Eddie Codel and Irina Slutsky played a big role in my life: they got me on Twitter. How did that happen? Well, for one, they were my employees back when we worked together at PodTech.

Eddie and Irina were the ones who first showed me Dodgeball, too (which was started by Dennis Crowley, who later started Foursquare, another important service in my life too).

I remember being proud that they got an interview with Twitter’s original team back then. I had no clue that would become a historical video.

You really should watch how they talk about Twitter. Remember, back when this video was shot there was fewer than 15,000 people on the service and there was ONLY 122,000 updates TOTAL on the service. They get millions per day now. Heck, I alone have done 50,000 tweets now.

By the way, back at Podtech (and, actually, at every job I’ve had) we had HUGE arguments about video length. Back then everyone thought that videos should be two minutes long to get best viewership. I said “hogwash.”

I’m glad I held my ground and protected long videos like this. Otherwise we wouldn’t have had such a historic video to look back on.

So, Eddie and Irina, got anything else we should check out?

Ask.com tries to get into the location/mobile game

One of the companies that launched a new app at SXSW was Ask.com. I found it interesting since Ask.com has a huge audience and used to be considered as a contender in the search wars (before Google took over the world).

Here is a blog post and video that we ran over on Building43 and I thought it was useful to run here too.

So far in using this app (and others, like Local Mind, which I also liked at SXSW) I’ve found just how hard it is to get people to use these apps, which is important. If there aren’t any users on these kinds of systems they aren’t very cool and right now I’m not seeing many users near my house in Half Moon Bay.

Ask faces a real problem: how do they get “enough” users to make these things interesting. If I could answer that question I’d be starting a company, but would love to know your feedback. Does this app have a chance on your iPhone?

I do like that Ask is trying to do something useful with location and mobile. Worth checking out.

+++++++++++++

This blog is reprinted from Rackspace’s Building43:

Ask.com is one of the oldest companies on the web, predating even Google, and Q&A has been a focus since the beginning. Now they are adding a human element to their existing, algorithmic Q&A model while expanding into mobile and chat.

In July, they launched a user community in beta, which answers questions that haven’t already been answered on the web. The group is a subset of the 90 million people who visit the site every month. Ask.com finds experts among this community and routes questions to them. You get your question answered in minutes, as opposed to immediately, but you get a real answer rather than a list of links that might not actually be useful. This service is not yet available on the web, but it can be accessed via the Ask.com iPhone app.

“Our big challenge is combining the human element that happens in minutes with the search algorithmic portion of our service which happens in milliseconds and getting people to understand that sometimes you’ll get an answer right away and sometimes you’ll get an answer in a couple of minutes,” explains Doug Leeds, CEO of Ask.com. “The nice thing about the mobile device is it changes expectations in that way too. It’s okay to ask a question, put your phone in your pocket, wait for it to buzz with an answer. On a PC, it’s less okay.”

Interestingly, as the company started to review the comments where users were asking questions of real people, they began to realize that location was becoming an organizing, contextual principal for the questions and answers being posted. This realization led to the development of the AskAround app, which was introduced just in time for SXSW.

“The idea behind the app is wherever you are, there is a conversation about what’s going on around you…and [that conversation] is going to happen on this app,” says Leeds. “What’s really powerful about this thing is that the conversations that are happening are happening amongst the people who are sharing the same location.”

Users login through Facebook and use a slider to determine the geographic radius of conversations they want to see. The radius can be as large as 15 miles. Once users establish the radius, they see and can participate in whatever conversations are taking place within that chosen radius—from what’s going on at a particular bar or concert to the hot topics being discussed throughout an entire city.

More info:

Ask.com web site: http://www.ask.com
Ask.com on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AskDotCom

First look at future of work: Yammer and Salesforce Chatter have new competition: Convofy

At Rackspace we’ve been trying to decide between Yammer and Salesforce Chatter. These systems are like Facebook or Twitter for working with your coworkers.

Just when we thought we figured out the new “social enterprise” market along comes Convofy. I tried to be skeptical, but the collaborative features of it are impressive. You’ve gotta watch the video to see what’s different about it. Much more collaborative if you are really trying to do work and not just chit chat about work.

This is the future of work and I appreciate getting a first look at it. Friday John Leckrone, Director of Venture Development at Adobe Systems and Faizan Buzdar of Convofy came to my house to give me this first look.

In the demo, if you only watch a few minutes, watch about 10 minutes into the video where you get a sense of the real-time collaboration features.

Thank you Twitter!

Yesterday I wrote my 50,000th Tweet.

I have seen hundreds of new companies in the five years since Twitter came out (its birthday is today). None has affected my life as much as Twitter has.

Thank you Jack Dorsey. Thank you Ev Williams. Thank you Biz Stone. Thank you to the team of hundreds of Twitter employees.

We’ve had a rocky relationship, yes, but that’s the way it is when I spend so much time with one service.

Thank you for bringing me the world and changing my life.

I’m @scobleizer on Twitter and if you are a geek I want to follow you. Leave a comment here and explain how you are into tech.

UPDATE: I’m very honored that BBC says that I tweeted one of its favorite tweets and that FT says I’m one of the top five most influential Twitterers.

Social + shopping = Wantlet, will you use it?

Back in the 1980s when I worked in retail I noticed that people were influenced by other people in their purchasing decisions. Many times people would change their decisions simply because the person next to them decided on a different camera. We are, even as adults, influenced by what others near us buy.

So that’s why I was interested in Wantlet, which mixes social influence into shopping decisions. You ask your friends whether you should buy a Nikon or Canon camera, or if you are a woman, whether this dress or that dress is better.

Wantlet helps out by providing a way to get feedback from other people. Here Kristian Luoma, head of product, shows it to me. Will you use a system like this? Or, will you wait for your friends to tell you to get on it first?