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Archive for April, 2007

Wherever you turn on the web these days you’re constantly hearing about the next social web 2.0 site. Whether it’s twitter, Facebook, or MySpace or the next big site or technology destined to conquer the web, everyone is after the hearts and minds of the individual trying to build the largest social network. What I’m wondering is why someone hasn’t started the MySpace or Facebook equivalent for local businesses.

Despite all of the improvements to the latest search engines, it is still very difficult to receive great results for the local companies you would normally use the phone book to find. The only way Google, Yahoo, etc. can return these results is if these business have a web site which many of them still don’t.

To solve this problem, I’m proposing a simple low cost (or free) alternative to creating a web site and that would be to create a site similar to MySpace for local business. This Local Business site would focus on what local businesses need to promote themselves; address information and maps, contact information, and coupons. It would allow ratings for services, blogging by business owners, and event information. Most importantly it would allow businesses to connect and partner with one another similar to how people connect on Facebook or Linkedin. Think about this for second. How powerful would such a feature be?

Here’s one example, I recently purchased a new gas fireplace insert. The company I purchased the fireplace from also recommend two different plumbers and a mason that I could call for estimates. Recommendations like this can be priceless to local businesses and simplify my search. This information could be readily available on the Local Business site. What if I needed a plumber and didn’t know where to look. If I go to the phone book, I just start calling people based on their ad or their business name. Wouldn’t it be better if you could look up a plumber on the Local Business site and see what other local business have partnered with them?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The potential for such a site would be enormous especially when you factor in advertising, perhaps a Google Adwords type system built into the site. Certainly, like all social software, it’s only as good as the people (or in this case businesses) that join but I think the advantages of joining such a network would be huge for many businesses. It would also save me, and probably thousands of others, from wasting their time randomly choosing people from a phone book.

Now I just need a team, a business plan, and some funding 😉

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This quote comes from Seth Godin’s blog on “The Dip”.

“Reject the idea of being almost good enough to get in to Harvard and embrace the idea of being extraordinarily good at something else.”

People do this a lot but it’s also a problem with many companies. They are so focused on being all things to all people that they lose focus on what they do best. It’s not about having the most features. It’s about having the best features people really want.

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Hopefully my employer doesn’t end up seeing this but it’s time for a job change. Commuting through traffic over 3 hours a day is just too much. This is about 15 hours a week that could be better spent with my family and friends. If you know someone who is looking to hire a web guru (marketing/design/development), preferably northwest of Boston (the Lowell/Burlington/Waltham area) please let me know. My portfolio is available here. I’m looking for the following in no particular order:

  • A company that is still small but looking to grow
  • A company where everyone pulls together for the common good…no “that’s not my job” type culture
  • No more than 30 minutes from my home…ability to work from home once and awhile a plus
  • A company that wants to be great…yes, a lot of companies say this but it’s a rare place where the people in the company actually believe it
  • A company that blogs, uses wikis, or embraces Enterprise 2.0 or at least realizes it needs to use these technologies and wants to start using them now
  • A company where its people are its second greatest asset right behind its customer base which it respects and talks with openly

I know I’m asking for a lot and there’s probably only a handful of companies in the world that fit into this criteria, let alone within 30 minutes of my house, but I’m going to go big and then take it from there. So what would you get from me in return?

  • Someone whose willing to do just about anything to see the company succeed
  • Someone with a broad range of knowledge in web technologies and corporate communication
  • Someone who enjoys change and is always looking for the next “big (or small) thing” that can be leveraged to give a company a competitive edge
  • Someone with 8 years of experience doing all things web who wants the chance to change the world
  • Someone whose tired of all the marketing spam and mass-advertising waste and just wants to “get real” and have real conversations with people about a company’s service or products using the web

Thanks to everyone whose taken the time to read this far. I appreciate your help! Please feel free to comment or email me any related information.

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Engadget has information on their site today about an Intel UMPC device running Linux. If this is an open platform, it has the potential to really change the mobile device game. If Intel embraces and supports the development community and looks the other way like Apple has with the hacker community this device could have huge potential.

Also interesting is how Apple/OS X like the picture of the interface looks on the Engadget site. Hopefully this means good things for the UI.

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If I was to start an open source hardware project these are 2 that I’d would start today.

The Open Source iPod

What could knock Apple off of its pedestal? What about an open source music/video player that looked and performed like the touch-screen video iPod that everyone has been wanting for years. If Microsoft really wanted to take the leadership position in this market they would have opened the platform up to developers. There’s a huge opportunity right now to provide a sexy player with barebones software that the development community can add-on to. Look at how fast people are hacking the appleTV and adding new features. Imagine the possibilities if for mobile device that opened up it’s software to developers.

The Twitter Mobile Device

Twitter is fun an addictive tool for sharing with friends or the world what you are doing at any given moment. Now what if you had a tool to do this wherever you go? If I had any kind of hardware knowledge, I’d create a very thin device that opened like a clam shell phone only sideways. One half would be a thumb keyboard and the other half would be small screen capable of showing a whole twitter entry. The device would communicate with your mobile phone through bluetooth to keep it light weight, basically it leech what it needed from your mobile phone providing only the additional tools to communicate with twitter. You can leave your mobile phone in your pocket while you use your twitter mobile device to make posts from any place at any time. Thin, lightweight, and simple to use.

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Twitter has been receiving a lot of great publicity over the past several months from some of the most prominent bloggers on the web. This has led to them doubling the size of their community every 3 weeks and this is sure to pick up in speed. One of the reason I believe twitter is so successful is because they’ve managed to find a nice niche between being at an event/place live and reading about it on a blog. I’ve put together a quick graphic to illustrate this.

media_timeline.jpg

What I’ve tried to illustrate is how quickly you can receive your news based on the technologies you use. If you continue to rely upon newspapers, you’ll always be way behind the rest of the world. On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s the web which accounts for the top 3 quickest ways to receive your news.

Companies that find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum from the “live event” need to rethink their business model. There are still people who remember when front page headlines on newspapers broke huge news stories nationwide but this group of people is only getting smaller. Perhaps they should look at what small company like Twitter is doing and embrace it. Wouldn’t it be better to read your favorite newspaper personalities thoughts as the event is happening rather than the next day when the story has already been told from every angle?

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