Social Lending – Empowerment?

Is this an up and comming phenom?zopa screen shot Zopa and Prosper are two two startups offering to bring together borrowers and lenders and offer . The sense of ‘Simness’ (as in simcity/sim this sim that) is an interesting note. … As the author of this survey on these two services note, they even add fun to the act of borrowing and lending…quite an accomplishment.


the Pod Phenomenon Dissected

wired ipon coverThe iPod remains a pervasive example of a viral epidemic adoption. When did it hit the tipping point? I’ve still got my 1G pod although the battery gave up the ghost a long time ago. It certainly wasn’t in 2001. The unit was a luxury item and rather expensive. I think I paid close to $800 for mine in that first month after introduction. A couple iPod’s later, the fascination still remains, but my attitude has moved more towards the utilitarian value. I picked up a Shuffle for use as a USB key with extras. It continues to perform exemplary. As nice as the stainless steel back is from the 1G, the Shuffle makes much more sense and doesn’t mar when treated roughly. It’s there when you need it and holds a charge for ages. My Nano, bought after Apple intro’d the 2G Nano for a song, is the dock that holds my little Nike jogging device. Now, that is a cool use. So I have paid Apple my share to support the trend.

This article from wired is a brief narrative outlining the process at Apple that led to its release in 2001. I recall being aware as many were that the software on the pod was licensed from PortalPlayer, however, this shares some of the other ways in which Apple was able to get a product to market quickly. It wasn’t the first MP3 player, but it certainly was the best. My little 64Mb Sony pencil player (I can’t remember the product name) had the utilitarian value of the Shuffle in 2000. As the author notes, Apple identified as need, a market full of products that demonstrated limited innovation – and offered Apple an opportunity to reach a whole new sector. They did this very well. Licensing where necessary, subjecting the product to an effective refinement strategy and combining it crucially with a desktop software. Has anyone tried the crap Sony stuff. DRM is the debate, but Sony tends to rub your face in it, where Apple has hidden most of it and framed the reminder of its presence in tongue-in-cheek cheekiness – ‘Remember, Don’t Steal Music’.

Mining Social Networks For Profit

Spoke ScreenEveryone knows that the value is in the network. SNA is a wonderful tool for academic and I am using it to map my local webs of commerce. The folks at Spoke however are doing this one step better. They have the typically enormous and touted list of key decision makers and influencers at companies around the world. Nothing short of a big Spam list there. However, on joining the network, you contribute your own contact list. Again nothing revolutionary in that…but here’s where it gets interesting. The little client that harvests your contacts for Spoke also measures how connected (inbetweeness in SNA-speak) you are based on frequency and nature of contact based on your email history. Sure its not flawless, but when you overlay this with all the other participants they are building one mega web and are creating a potentially rich map of influence flows. It raises some serious privacy and trust issues, but it is clearly pushing the envelope one step beyond. Many CRM apps are out there trying to build similar webs in an automated fashion, but generally require huge rejigging and manual creation of hierarchical relationship by thew user. Few actually automate the process, let alone start to weight the results through contactedness (not connectedness) mining. Intriguing.

Media Click Thru and ROI

screen lastkiss I don’t normally click thru for adverts and the like, but after wtching an episode of zeFrank today the producer sof the movie The Last Kiss had cleverly bought some space. Why did I click? Well, lately zeFrank’s been pretty entertaining and I figured why not support the site. I am glad I did. The site for the movie is quite a nice piece of flash. Nicely open page, lots of white space and a very smooth and, in my mind, thoughtful navigation widget. Small popup from the bottom tied to the movie’s theme, but very user-centric. Works for me. Try it yourself. The incentive was to hear the soundtrack and it happens to strike me as appealing and is running as a loop in the background as I write this. All in all I was struck by the value of this click thru and similarly by the path from a podCast I subscribe to to this movie which presumably has some thought given to demographic tastes in just such a clickthru.