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July 2007

Ambient Devices Umbrella

Umrella Cambridge-based Ambient Devices develops products that integrate data from the Internet (e.g., weather forecasts, stock market activity, sports scores), without need for a PC or other traditional Internet connection. The company was founded in 2001 to commercialize technologies coming out of the MIT Media Lab.

Their latest announcement is for a product that would come in handy around these parts: the Ambient Umbrella. Leveraging a proprietary wireless network, the umbrella pulls in weather data from Accuweather.com and the handle glows accordingly: lights indicate rain, drizzle, snow, and thunderstorms. Pretty handy. And more portable than the Weather Fridge.


Adotas and TechCrunch point to the latest offering from the founders of Bolt.com: WikiYou.

"The unauthorized biography of every person on Earth."

WikiYou is a social network and wiki, complete with user profiles that may be edited by site visitors. Eek!

I imagine they will have some sort of security protocols in place to avoid slander and/or general embarrassment (e.g., only approved friends can edit/contribute, or the profile owner may approve changes before they go live), but that remains to be seen.

I also imagine the folks over at ReputationDefender are enjoying this online personal profile boom.

Social Bookmarking Chiclets

When I logged into my Netvibes home page last week to read the news, I was surprised to see a new set of social bookmarking chiclets within each feed (click to enlarge):


Chiclets are the all-too-familiar icons that appear below most online articles: Digg It, Add to del.icio.us, etc. They allow readers to bookmark, share, and syndicate the original article, thereby increasing its readership (which is why they have become the darlings of the online publishing world - it's called social media optimization).

But the Netvibes folks (or is it Reuters, originator of the feed? I'm not certain) elected to forgo the most common chiclets and replace them with the Netscape/Facebook/Outside.In/StumbleUpon collection you see above.

Now, Facebook is wildly popular, and StumbleUpon is becoming more so; I get the addition of those two. And Outside.In is more evidence of interest in the convergence of the virtual and physical worlds. But Netscape? I'm not sure what promped that add.

But it looks like Netvibes is just experimenting with which chiclets get more action. When I logged in today, it had returned to the familiar/popular set (below), but again showed the new set upon page refresh. I'd be curious see their findings - especially a breakdown of usage across services.

Chiclets_4 I included the AddThis button on my own site (top left, under "Subscribe") since it aggregates multiple (34 at last count) social bookmarking services in one place, rather than listing all of them individually. 

Another Look at Viral Marketing

I've written before about my thoughts on viral marketing - in particular, my belief that you can't plan for a viral event with confidence, but that you can architect your campaigns in a manner that makes it easier for them to go viral.

So I was interested to read the article What's Plaguing Viral Marketing in AdAge this morning, in which Columbia University professor Duncan Watts remarks,

"Virality is an outcome, not a channel to be planned."

His research has more to do with how you architect the campaign - whether it makes sense to target just the Influentials or a broader swath - but the sentiment is the same.

Related posts:


Summer Farmstands

Produce_2 I love visiting farm stands in the summer time - especially since I've been on a fresh fruits and vegetables kick. The fresh produce and baked goods are so much better than what you find at the local grocery.

I've mentioned Goudreault Farm before, but I now have a new option for healthy food shopping. Read on...Farmstand_2

Continue reading "Summer Farmstands" »

Yahoo! IM: Easter Egg or Hack?

While instant messaging with my mom yesterday I noticed a funny thing in the chat window: where it normally says "[Mom] is typing..." it said "[Mom] has been struck by the muse..."

Weird, right? I Googled it but found nothing. Wasn't sure if (a) Yahoo was playing tricks - like its random subject line generator, (b) Mom's machine had a virus, or (c) I simply imagined it.

Well, today I was IM'ing with my friend Tom and got three of these mysterious messages:

  • "1000 monkeys just landed on [Tom's] keyboard..."
  • "I hope you're sitting down because [Tom] is typing..."

I was able to get a screengrab of one (below; click to enlarge) but it's still a mystery as to whether this is Yahoo! playing games, or a hacker playing games on Yahoo! Anyone else seen it?


UPDATE: apparently other folks  have witnessed these bizarre messages as well, judging from the Google search in my referring URLs.   


I learned a new word today: narcotecture.

It is used to describe the ornate mansions being built by Afghani businessmen who've made a fortune selling heroin.

Apparently, Afghanistan is the leading supplier of opium (heroin) in the world and the drug trade makes up one third of the Afghan economy. Far from the Taliban war that grabs headlines is a city called Herat that is quickly becoming the rich man's residence of choice. While not all of the city's economy is based on opium, construction has proven to be a good way to "invest" money born from drugs and guns, and thus the building trade is booming.

Monocle has the full story and accompanying slideshow.


Social Proprioception: Where You At?

I've been thinking a lot about the convergence of the virtual and physical worlds lately, and the concept of presence. The geographic anonymity of the Web is going away as more and more people elect to share where they are and what they're doing at every waking moment.


Continue reading "Social Proprioception: Where You At?" »