October 10, 2010

Locationary is doing something valuable

Although I may be biased, I think Locationary is doing something valuable. The need for an open database of places was something TechCrunch identified in April 2010 and since then many others (like GigaOm) have  agreed. Although the concept of an open place database is not new, it seems to be gaining momentum lately. No doubt because the need for it has grown. Mobile consumption of local data is taking off and the need for an accurate and comprehensive database of local data is something the industry, app developers, consumers and local businesses desperately need.

What is not clear yet in everyone’s mind is how best to do it.  Current industry players have little incentive to work together, and everyone seems to be building their own database. However, with an estimated 15% of local business data changing in the course of a year’s time, it’s clear that there is real value in maintaining accurate data.

That’s where Locationary seems to be focusing, and why I believe their solution is an essential component in the local data ecosystem. When it all comes down to it, someone (or something?) has to verify that the data is correct. Up until now, companies have tried everything getting 3rd world data entry clerks to copy Yellow Pages books, to call center staff in Omaha dialing up 15 million businesses to verify it’s unchaged. However,  Locationary’s approach is based on crowd-sourcing, and in particular, tapping users for their local knowledge. This is not dissimilar from how Wikipedia works, and that’s likely why others like Mathew Ingram have drawn comparisons between Locationary and Wikipedia. There are many advantages to crowd-sourcing this information, the main ones being lower costs and fresher data. After all, when a business opens or closes, the first ones to know about it are locals on the ground. So, it’s easy to see why they are in the best position to be the local data authorities when it comes to their neighborhood.

Locationary’s unique approach rewards users for contributing data (no doubt one of the factors behind their tremendous growth). While wiki’s and crowd-sourced directories (including Wikipedia) are vulnerable to data vandals and the like, Locationary’s sophisticated system of incentives motivates its community to keep each other honest and ensures that only accurate information prevails.

Here’s an example (from my neighborhood) of the type of data Locationary is collecting:

Craft Burger (Toronto, Canada)

Join Locationary through my user page to see what’s happening on the inside.

June 13, 2007

CaseCamp rocks

Was at casecamp. It was packed. Good job Eli.

April 1, 2007

FON takes friendly wireless neighbourhoold worldwide

fon logo

The concept behind FON is simple: you share your Internet connection at home in exchange for free Wifi from someone else on the service when you’re not a home. Billing itself as the “Largest Wifi Community in the World”, FON translates the principle of the good neighbour to a global scale.

At first, I thought that was it, a friendly community of shared wifi access points. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that FON’s business model sounds reasonably straight-forward. Members who share their home internet connections through FON get to access any FON site for free. However, even those who don’t share internet connection at home (known as “aliens”) can still access FON wifi points by purchasing a $3 day-pass. Those FON members who would rather take a 50% share of the revenue from “aliens” than have free access to the remote wifi community can do so.

A quick search of the FON wifi maps revealed that quite a few places around my neighbourhood are already connected.

Gspace

gspace logo

Gspace allows you to use your gmail account like a remote hard drive. It’s a Firefox extension that you access through your browser’s status bar. Once you’ve configured it to connect with your gmail account (a 10 second setup), you can begin transferring files back and forth. The Gspace interface configures a “virtual” drive, and even allows you to create sub-directories. While I originally surmised that the utility was going to create actual gmail folders, it seems to use a clever subject line naming structure to create and manage folders (and store meta-data from your uploaded files). Brilliantly simple. I was just thinking how much I’d love to see this extended into the Windows shell (so that it can be used beyond Firefox) when I discovered GMail Drive.

Both work very well, although I did run into an issue uploading long filenames using GMail Drive which weren’t experienced using Gspace. Unfortunately Gspace makes a bit of a mess of your inbox, while GMail Drive was configurable to operate out of your less used “Drafts” folder.

March 29, 2007

AdBrite looks to build ad layer into images

TechCrunch is reporting AdBrite’s ambitious plans to reinvent the tag to incorporate advertising. The pitch: rather than embed your images using the standard tag, embed it using BritePic’s remote javascript so that they can layer it with advertising. Of course, BritePic includes features to the layering like a digital Zoom, watermark, and caption that I would say are only nominally interesting to web surfers. I don’t imagine these were anything but afterthoughts to the advertising functionality.

Will it succeed? Not in becoming any type of new image standard, that’s for sure. But they have a good shot at attracting webmasters with an insatiable appetite for advertising inventory and revenue opportunities. The catalyst for growth, like any of the distributed ad systems that embed contextual ads on 3rd party websites, is that each ad slot also becomes an ad for the advertising network. This is also the fuel behind the growth of sites like YouTube that allow their video’s to be “embedded” on 3rd party sites. Each remotely displayed embed essentially further promotes the content distributor through a self-sustaining network effect. Overall, I think it’s an example of a really simple idea that creates value out of nothing.

However, there is also a risk in putting the contextual determination in the hand of the embedder and not the trusted network: Do I want to chance that my company’s advertising will show up on some adult site photos because they were tagged incorrectly?

March 28, 2007

I’m In Like With You

Iminlikewithyou

Om Malik profiled an interesting Dating 2.0 startup, cleverly named “I’m In Like With You”. However, it seems from Om’s review (given that I have yet to score an invite), that the service is less about dating and more about the forgotten art of flirting. Maybe I can trade a invite to Moola.com for an invite to iminlikewithyou.com… Anyone?

March 26, 2007

Y Combinator’s ‘No Strings Attached’ micro-funding model

Y Combinator

I’ve been hearing more lately about a group named “Y Combinator” and especially about some of the entrepreneurs they’ve been funding. I didn’t know anything about them though, so when I stumbled across their site tonight I took the opportunity to see what all the buzz was about. Turns out I like their philosophy. They micro-fund entrepreneurs to the tune of $5000-20,000 to take care of expenses while they work on building something cool. While that’s not a lot of scratch, it’s probably just enough to get something together for a real pitch for more. My favorite part: other than the small equity portion, there are no strings attached.

March 23, 2007

Top Web 2.0 directories

All Things Web 2.0
Everything 2.0 blog

Top Services for Online Traffic Statistics

Alexa.com
Compete.com
Quantcast.com

Cool stuff from Microsoft Research

What will you see?

1. 2:11: VIBE group shows off synchronizing via mobile phone research
2. 10:09: Andy Wilson shows off a cool set of apps that use video cameras in a new way (don’t miss this, it rocks!)
3. 19:50: Daniel Robbins shows off a new “tap UI” for phones.
4. 23:35: Matt Uyttendaele shows off HUGE (4 gigapixel or so) photos with a killer “tiling” system that displays them wicked fast.
5. 29:52: Linking the real world to the Web with pictures (killer camera phone research).
6. 34:04: Speech recognition for podcasts.
7. 36:50: Frank Seide shows video exploration and discovery for Media Center PCs.
8. 45:31: Richard Harper demonstrates a bunch of hardware concepts and trials for home users.
9. 52:00: Vibhore Goyal shows using SMS to blogging and research in India.
10. 54:25: Rajesh Veeraraghavan is doing research with farmers in India to find better education systems for them.

Shot by Robert Scoble: Original Post

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