Monthly Archives: January 2008

MySpace Developer Platform – Live on 2/5!

Now here’s the news I’ve been waiting for since the Great OpenSocial Hypestorm of ’07.  A Facebook-like developer platform for MySpace?  Sounds good to me.  It’ll be interesting to see if they only use the OpenSocial APIs or if they also include a Facebook API close (similar to what Bebo did).  So why does this matter if MySpace is dead and Facebook is the #1 social network on the block?  Check this out – pretty surprising, no?

Anyway, I signed up and will let y’all know how it looks.  One of my (too) many side projects is a little football-meets-Pokeman social app, MySpace would definitely be an interesting platform to get some early traction on… 

Startup #115 – D4D : Designer Tutorials for Devs

pantoneOnly four more days until the season premiere of Lost.  My predictions?  Kate is pregnant with Sawyer’s baby, Mikhail isn’t really dead, and after ever episode people are going to rush online to cleverly complain that “this is the episode that Lost has finally jumped the shark“.  I, for one, cannot wait.

Today’s idea is based on the simple fact that the role of designer and developer is becoming more and more blurred as designers move online and developers finally get Steve Job’s memo on the importance of good design.  My idea is a dual website called “D4D”.  One side is a set of tutorials about learning design that is geared towards developers (Design 4 Devs).  The other side is a set of tutorials about learning web development that is geared towards designers (Dev 4 Designers). 

If you think about it, if you’re writing a book about development techniques, who is your target audience?  Developers, of course.  So you target your writing style towards technical readers with a development or engineering background.  However, designers have such a different background and mindset than developers, so it seems like there’s an opportunity to instead target the design community with a series of artfully-designed development tutorials.  And conversely, the design articles could explore the mathematical side of design (color theory, for example) and focus on the technical aspects of aesthetics that would appeal to your everyday developer.  Along with building out the website and generating advertising revenue, this could also become a solid brand that could expand offline into a series of instructional books.

Look who’s back!  Steve was the original inspiration for this blog back in the day, great to have him back in the game.

Big Carrot

So I have a little list of draft ideas that I eventually write up into real posts.  One was a crowd-sourced version of the X Prize.  However, today I got a mail from the creators of a new site called asking me to write up a little post about them.  And ironically enough, it’s a crowd-sourced version of the X Prize.  🙂  I usually decline requests like this (I might as well sign up for PayPerPost and make a little beer money), but since I was going to write about this idea anyway, I figure this saves me the hassle of writing up the post. 

It’s an interesting idea – best of luck, I’d really like to see this one take off.

Seattle Startup Weekend – A Startup In 3 Days

So the StartupWeekend team blew into Seattle this weekend, and despite the fact that the event was going on not more than 5 minutes away from my house, I didn’t go.  Why?  I’d like to give some intelligent diatribe about the philosophy of the event that includes phrases like “mythical man-month” or “consensus-driven decision making”, but the fact of the matter is that I just plain forgot to sign up and the darn thing sold out.  Oh well, I was able to follow all the action and drama here.  Best of luck to the team, looking forward to seeing what you are able to crank out.

Startup #114 – Life Improvement Tool

Before I get to today’s idea, there was a little blip on the blogosphere Friday that I think is going to turn out to be much bigger than anyone realizes.  Facebook apps that can run outside of Facebook?  I love it.

On a completely unrelated note, my idea today is a site where you can enter a percentage breakdown of all of your daily activities (mundane or otherwise), and get a personalized list of ways to make improvements.  This one is a little hard to explain, but I’ll give it a shot.  Here’s a sample breakdown of an average day for me:

  • 8 hours – Sleeping
  • 1 hour – Hygene stuff (shower, brush teeth, etc..)
  • 1.5 hours – Commute time
  • 8 hours – Working at office
  • 1 hour – Eating
  • 30 minutes – Cleaning, chores
  • 30 minutes – Cooking
  • 4 hours – Relaxing with the wife

I’m probably missing a few hours in there, but that’s the main idea.  I could go to the site, tag activities and times, and I would get back a prioritized list of things I can do to help improve my life.  For example, since I spend the most time sleeping, I would get several user-submitted and ranked articles on how to get a better night’s sleep, a few top-rated products that can be used to enhance sleep (pillows, herbal supplements, etc..), and some tips by several community members who have high authority rankings.  I could also compare how much time I spend sleeping to the average of the community or for my demographic (18-35 males from the US) and see my percentile rank.  Over time I could also submit my own articles, give my own tips, or vote on other user-generated content.

My little life improvement tip for the day?  Spend $7 on a Crest Spinbrush – freakin’ sweet.

Startup #113 – MyBlogLinks


All right, all right – guess I’ll have to do this one on my own.

Many bloggers today are using Amazon affiliate links to monetize their blogs. When MyBlogLog releases their API in the upcoming months, this will be a unique opportunity to provide incremental benefit to the hundreds of thousands of bloggers who are already using the standard affiliate link widget. The pitch to bloggers is “keep the exact same widget interface and account information that you are using today, but take advantage of newly-available demographic information to maximize your potential profits.”

My idea is a blog widget that allows you to monetize traffic by selling Amazon products targeted directly to your blog’s demographics. The widget would be a mashup of two web services. The first is Amazon’s affiliate program that allows you to list specific items on your web site. If a user clicks through your link and purchases an item, you earn a percentage of that sale. The second web service is the MyBlogLog API that provides demographic information about your blog readers (age, location, gender, etc..).

The mashup service would track the sales of items across all blogs that have the widget installed and compile a list of the top-selling books, movies, products, etc.. for various demographics. The service could then automatically update your blog’s widget to provide products that are most likely to appeal to the readers of your blog.

So how would this make money?  There are a few options – the obvious one is to take a percentage of all the affiliate sales, but there’s also a lot of value in providing reporting and data mining across all of this information.  The bloggers are actually doing the marketing and providing the data that could potentially feed a very valuable database of retail purchasing trends that is very accurately targeted to specific demographics.

Any designers out there want a free trip to Vegas, including 3  nights at the Venetian?  I was there last year – it was pretty frickin’ sweet.

Startup #112 – Printable Pocket Translator

eifeltowerWe’re going to Europe in August.  It’s my first time there (besides a short trip to Greece) and should definitely be a good time.  The other day we were looking for translation books so I could attempt to amuse the locals with my Midwestern-twanged French, Italian, Czech, German, etc..

The problem is, nothing really met our needs.  Even the smaller books were too bulky to carry around in my pocket all day, and the pocket-sized 3-4 pagers were pretty expensive. I figured I could save money and just print something from the Internet, but there didn’t seem to be any existing sites that offered a single-page printable guide for multiple languages. Which for me = one more day I can keep this blog alive.  🙂

My idea is a site that allows users to display and print out pocket-sized translations of the most useful words and phrases travelers need to get by in foreign countries. The site would rely on users to create the translations, and users could earn a portion of the advertising revenues that the site would generate. Over time, the site could expand a bit to feature single-page pocket guides to restaurants, hotels, popular sights, etc..

The site would generate revenues through advertising and affiliate links to traveler-related items (guide books, travel accessories, etc..). Also, local companies could pay to have their ads printed out next to the translations, or for a small fee, users could choose to purchase ad-free versions of the translations.

Brainstorming the MyBlogLog API Possibilities

For today’s post, I’m going to try something a little different.  Instead of boring you guys with another one of my ideas, I’d like to get some comments from all of you ridiculously smart readers out there to see if we can brainstorm around an interesting new API. 

The basic premise is that the MyBlogLog team is working on an API that will allow users to pull information from users who have signed up for MyBlogLog (the same algorithms and cookies that is powering the cool MyBlogLog widget you see on this page).  Marshall Kirkpatrick over at Read Write Web has a great article exploring some of the possibilities, but what specifically would you use it for?  Let’s start posting comments below and see if together we can brainstorm something cool.  And if anything comes out of it, I’ll piece together the thread into a real post at a later date. 

Seattle Tech Startup Meeting Tonight

If you are reading this blog and you live in the Seattle area, you need to cancel your plans for this evening and attend the Seattle Tech Startup monthly meeting.  More details are here:  Tonight’s topic is “From Startup to Steady Revenue” – but of course, the after-meeting drinks and networking is always the best part.

Startup #111 – 99 Bottles of Beer


College.  Now those were the days.  I can remember it like it was yesterday.  Napster was legal, the graphics in N64’s Goldeneye were unbelievably realistic, and interior design was more likely to have been influenced by Anheuser Busch than Martha Stewart.  As a freshman, I still remember walking into an upperclassman’s apartment and marveling at two of the most impressive things my youthful eyes had ever seen. 

In the corner, they had not one, not two, but FOUR TVs stacked on top of each other, which were constantly running any imaginable sporting event that was being broadcast across the 64 basic cable channels at one time.  And framing the far side of the room was a trophy-like shelf that displayed row after row of the empty beer bottles.  

Of course these weren’t just your average Rolling Rock’s or Labatt Blue’s, they were unique little glass statues of all shapes and sizes, beers that I’d never even heard of, with glorious labels from far-off lands, all painstakingly ordered by scarcity, size, and hop-worthiness.  Each time someone would come home with a new beer, they would all pass it around and debate the worthiness of the beer, and if the stars aligned and the hops were bitter enough, one of the lesser beers would be removed from the shelf and the new beer would take its place, forever basking in the glory of its achievement (or until the semester ended and they cashed in the bottles for the 10 cent deposits).  

Which leads us (finally) to today’s idea: a Facebook application where beer-drinkers could select and display all the different types of beer that they’ve tasted before. Once the user has selected a beer, a picture of the bottle would then be shown on the “canvas page” of the application. On the user’s main profile page, they could select up to 3 of their favorite beers to display to their friends. Of course, as users added beers to their pages, a notice would be broadcast to the user’s friends, which would help to virally spread the application throughout the social graph.

Money?  Ads.  Man, do I ever love Web 2.0.  🙂