Archive for the ‘Globalization’ Category

Nativity sets from around the world (and Happy Holidays!)

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Today is the last day that I’ll be working until after the holiday, so I’ve spent the day exchanging gifts and listening to Christmas music as I’ve worked. I also did some decorating this weekend, and wrapped a ton of presents, which means that things are very festive here at Pure Incubation. (Of course the decorating was minimal, because when your apartment is your office and you live in your office, well, there isn’t much room for too many decorations!)

One item that I did pull out was an awesome nativity set that I got from my friend Maria a couple of years back. I have looked for this set online multiple times because I have gotten so many compliments on it, but have never found it anywhere. You can’t really tell from the picture, but the characters are tiny, only about an inch tall each.

Awesome nativity set

Cara also sent me a link to some really cool nativity sets from around the world, and I thought I would share some of my favorites here.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday season. I’ll be back at the end of December!

From Mexico

Mexico nativity

Peru Nativity

Peru nativity

From Haiti

Haiti Coconut nativity

Nativity from Honduras

Honduras nativity set

Babel Fish, Google Translate and human go head-to-head

Friday, December 5th, 2008

A fun side benefit of publishing a blog and writing stories for international publications is that I occasionally come across an article I wrote that has been translated into another language. Today I discovered this article, published in Spanish, which came from my original article “10 reasons entrepreneurs should take more vacations.”

Exite sign

This led me to check out some online translation services to compare how they work head to head. I also asked someone who has a rough understanding of Spanish, but isn’t necessarily fluent in the language, to do a translation. The tools: Babel Fish, Google Translate and Free Translation Online (from Smartlink Corporation). Human translator: jack-of-all-trades co-worker, Cara Smith.

(One caveat – since I’m translating the Spanish translation back to English with this effort, it assumes that the Spanish translation was correct in the first place.)

Excerpt 1:

Original - It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

Spanish Translation – Hace tiempo que no te tomas unas vacaciones. Probablemente haga más de 6 meses desde tus últimas vacaciones (los viajes por trabajo no cuentan). Si hace más de 10 meses que no sales de vacaciones… estás en problemas!

Babel FishFor a long time you have not been taking vacations. Probably it does more than 6 months from your last vacations (the trips by work do not count). If it does more than 10 months that go out on vacations… you are not in problems!

Google TranslateNot long ago that you take a vacation. Probably make more than 6 months from your last vacation (travel for work do not count). If more than 10 months that sales did not leave … you’re in trouble!

Free Online TranslationSome time ago that you do not take a few vacation. Probably do more than 6 months from your last vacation (the trips for work do not count). If more than 10 months you do not go out of vacation … you are in problems!

HumanIt’s been a long time since you took a vacation. Probably it’s been 6 months since your last vacation (the work trips don’t count). If it’s been more than 10 months since your last vacation…that’s a problem.

Excerpt 2:

Original - It’s helpful to remind yourself why you’re working so hard. Most of us aren’t working our butts off for nothing. There is usually a dream, a goal, a vision to come at the end of it. For me, I want to be able to travel. So taking periodic vacations reminds me why I’m doing all of this.

Spanish translation - Te ayudará a recordar porque trabajas tan duro. Todos luchamos por uno o varios objetivos y unas vacaciones es el mejor método para recordarte ese porqué.

Babel Fish – It will help you to remember because you work so hard. All we fought by one or several objectives and vacations are the best method for recordarte that because.

Google Translate - Will help you remember because you work so hard. All are fighting for one or more goals and a vacation is the best method for this remind you why.

Free Online Translation - He will help you to remember because you work so hardly. We all fight for one or several targets and the best method is a few vacation to remind to you this porqué.

Human – It helps you remember why you work so hard. Everyone fights for one or various objectives and a vacation is the best method to remember that because (missing a reason here…)

Excerpt 3:

Original - Vacations are fun. At least, they should be. And if a vacation isn’t fun to you, do something that is. The point is, you need to lighten up sometimes, have a little fun, laugh, joke around, remember that everything isn’t serious and at the point of imminent collapse (which is how entrepreneurs usually feel).

Spanish translation - Las vacaciones son divertidas…. ¿Acaso la vida no está para disfrutarla?

Babel Fish - The vacations are funny…. Perhaps the life is not for enjoying it?

Google Translate – Holidays are fun …. Does life is not to enjoy?

Free Online Translation - The vacation is entertained …. Perhaps is not the life to enjoy it?

Human - Vacations are fun. Isn’t life for enjoyment?

To me, it looks like the human with moderate Spanish skills won, hands down. But if you aren’t lucky enough to sit 3 feet away from someone who is willing to indulge your translation needs, I would go with Google Translate. At least in Spanish-to-English translation, with these examples, it had a slight advantage.

Since I’m already this deep into the experiment, here’s one more test. This time, I entered the original text into the English-to-Spanish translation tool, then entered the Spanish result into the Spanish-to-English translation tool to see what would happen.

Yahoo Babel Fish logo

Original: It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

Spanish translation: Ha sido un rato largo puesto que usted ha estado en vacaciones. ¿Admítalo – cuándo la vez última que usted tardó vacaciones? Verdadero. Un viaje del trabajo no cuenta. Si ha sido más largo de 6 meses, es tiempo.

Back to English: He has been awhile long since you have been in vacations. Admítalo – when the last time that you took vacations? True. A trip of the work does not count. If he has been longer of 6 months, is time.

Google Translate

Original: It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

Spanish translation: Ha sido un largo tiempo desde que ha sido en unas vacaciones. Admítelo – cuando es la última vez que se tomó unas vacaciones? Un verdadero uno. Un viaje de trabajo no cuenta. Si han pasado más de 6 meses, es el momento.

Back to English: It has been a long time since I had been in a vacation. Admit it – when was the last time you took a vacation? A real one. A journey is not working. If it’s been more than 6 months, it’s time.

Free Online Translation logo

Original: It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

Spanish translation: Esto ha sido mucho tiempo ya que usted ha sido durante unas vacaciones. ¿Admítalo – cuándo es la vez pasada que usted tomó unas vacaciones? Verdadero uno. Un viaje de trabajo no cuenta. Si ha sido más largo que 6 meses, esto es el tiempo.

Back to English: This has been a lot of time since you have been during a few vacation. It admit – when it is the past time that you took a few vacation? Real one. A trip of work does not count. If it has been longer than 6 months, this is the time.

The results of this second experiment are too close to call. But since I’m not strong in languages (ask me sometime about my experience taking Japanese in college), I’m thankful for each of these online translation tools. And of course, for Cara.

Photo by twinkletoez

Putting poverty in perspective

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Today is Blog Action day, a day when thousands of bloggers all across the world team up to write about one topic in order to bring awareness to that issue. Last year, we wrote about the environment. This year, the topic is poverty.

In all honesty, poverty is a topic that’s tough for me to really grasp. Unlike many of my friends, I haven’t traveled extensively to Third World countries, so I haven’t had to look poverty in the face very often. And when I do, it’s removed – on the TV screen, or via a story that someone is telling me.

I don’t think that many people who live in the United States truly understand poverty the way people in other countries experience it. I am not trying to say that people who live below the poverty line in the U.S. have it easy – that certainly is not the case. But the definition of poverty in other countries is vastly different than what we think of when we consider being poor.

These are two examples that really put things in perspective. Don’t worry – neither one is scary or filled with manipulative images. They are both just meant to give you an idea of where you fall in the midst of the world population.

Global Rich List – this site will show you how rich you really are when compared to everyone else in the world. Just type in your income, and you’ll find out if you’re richer than you think.

The video embedded below is short – just one minute – but will give you another good look at where you would fit in if there was an island that was cross-section of the world divided by income level.

After checking out these resources, you might feel like you have a little bit more to give. If so, I would like to ask you to join me today in making a donation to your favorite charity that fights poverty. If you don’t have a charity in mind already, World Vision is an excellent organization that makes good use of every dollar donated.

And, if you have a blog, it’s still not too late to sign up to be part of Blog Action Day.

Facts and figures about International Domain Names

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

My latest article is now up on The Industry Standard – “Chinese, Arabic and Hindi domain names to go up for sale – finally!” The post discusses the recent domain name news from ICANN, specifically, the announcement that International Domain Names (IDNs) will soon be available in non-Roman languages.

To this point in history, domain names have all been in Roman characters. The reasons for this are explained in the article, so I won’t go into them again here, but I just can’t emphasize enough the impact that this new resolution is going to have on the Internet. Let’s put it this way – if you don’t speak Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Hindi or Arabic, you might want to start learning. English is on the decline, and although it is still the primary language of business, this recent announcement is just continuing to solidify the importance of the rest of the global community on the future of the Internet.

The following are some interesting facts & figures that I came across during my research:

- “The German ccTLD (.de) remains the largest ccTLD in terms of the total base of domain name registrations, with .cn and .uk as the next largest ccTLDs. Quarter over quarter, .de grew 2%, .uk grew 4% and .cn grew 23%. When viewed year over year, .cn’s growth at 199% outpaced both .de (11%) and .uk (16%).” From VeriSign’s Domain Name Industry Brief (pdf)

 Countrywise domain names
Chart from Webhosting.info

- In China, over 80% of the population cannot speak English. – ICANN

- 92% of the world’s population does not speak English. -ICANN 

- By 2050, more people will speak Chinese, Hindi (and its close relative, Urdu) or Arabic as a first language than English. -EurekAlert

- The languages growing the most rapidly are Bengali, Tamil and Malay, which are spoken in various countries in South and Southeast Asia. -EurekAlert

Changing of world's population
Source: EurekAlert

- The IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) is currently testing the new ccTLDs – here is what some of them will look like:

 International Domain Names
From IANA site

I can’t help but get the feeling that the United States’ days are numbered in terms of its dominance of all things Internet.

.anydomainnameyouwant soon to be available for purchase

Friday, June 27th, 2008

This week, ICANN voted to expand gTLDs (generic top level domains) so that there are no longer restrictions on the gTLDs that can be registered and used online. A gTLD refers to the letters that come after the last dot Dotcomin a URL string, such as .com, .gov or .org. Previously, there were a limited number of generic top level domains, but this resolution by ICANN, the body that controls and governs the domain name industry, will open every gTLD as a possible domain name extension going forward. These new gTLDs are likely to start hitting the market in the fourth quarter of 2009.

A companion resolution was also pushed through, which will allow domain names to use non-Roman characters. This means that Chinese, Arabic and Cyrillic characters, for example, will all be able to be used in domain names.

These are historic decisions by ICANN, although there is a lot of debate about what kind of actual impact they will have on the industry. For more details on the specifics of what was announced, check out the announcement here.

Here are some of my initial thoughts:

This decision is important and will have an impact. Since this announcement, I have heard a lot of people making the case that the only domain name that really matters is .com. Although I agree that the .com domain name will stay the strongest for the foreseeable future, this thinking is really short-sighted. Although technology is advancing quickly, the Internet is still in its infancy. It’s hard to predict what will happen in two years, let alone in 20 years. I think that there is a very good chance that other gTLDs will become important. I’ve seen evidence of this in other countries, and honestly, it’s even possible that the gTLD system could eventually go away entirely.

It will take awhile for any new gTLD to become popular. People are comfortable with their current domain names and will likely stay with them in the short term. But this decision opens the door for a new site with a new domain name to come in and make a splash. And if that happens, it could popularize a new gTLD quickly.

This decision does nothing to hurt domain name speculators, it only helps them. The decision does not lessen the value of their current domain names, and it opens the possibility that they might be able to add a whole batch more to their already-valuable portfolios. They’ll be able to use the techniques, tactics and strategies (not to mention automated scripts and money!) that they created in the first round of domain name speculation to continue to round out their portfolios.

A new energy is going to be injected into the domain name industry that hasn’t been seen in awhile. I expect a lot of creativity, and I think that we’ll be pleasantly surprised by the fun and interesting ways that people think up of capitalizing on this opportunity.

There are significant trademark ramifications. Here is a good story if you’re interested in that.

The average man on the street is going to be confused when new gTLDs are introduced. There will have to be some serious marketing and explaining done to help translate this to the millions who are just now using .com comfortably.

The current alternate extensions are in trouble. I agree with this analysis that .info, .biz and a few other currently existing gTLDs will probably not do as well going forward.

The biggest impact will be with the companion decision, which is that ICANN is now going to allow non-Roman characters in domain names. This means that countries that don’t use Roman characters in their primary languages (China, India, Russia, etc.) will now be able to register domain names in their native languages. This is the one area that I think that there will be real, meaningful and quick growth. Asian, Arabic, Cyrillic and other scripts will now be able to have domain names – this is huge based on the numbers alone:

“At the moment, there are one-and-a-half billion people online and four-and-a-half billion people for whom the Roman script just means nothing.”  

There will be some shakeout on the specifics of this decision in the coming months, and expect a lot of buzz as the end of 2009 approaches.

Photo by husin.sani

Domain names & widgets in Ireland

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I’m back from my vacation, and it was terrific. Basically, Chris and I spent an entire week having fun and relaxing – and not a bit of work was done by either of us. It was a real vacation!

Of course, I may not have officially been working, but I was on the lookout for business ideas and interesting perspectives on the Internet during my time in Ireland. Only two things stood out:

1) Most ads, billboards and marketing that I saw in the country included a URL, and most of those URLs ended in .ie. I really was surprised at the prevalence of the country-specific domain name usage in Ireland. I can’t be sure if it was just Ireland that uses it’s country code, or if that practice is common across the world, but I definitely expected .com to be more popular in Ireland than it appeared to be, at least in what I was looking at as I drove across the country. This trend (or non-trend) is something that I am going to be watching closely for globalization projects.

2) In Ireland, a widget is related to Guinness, not the Web. In fairness, many people in Ireland probably think of the Web when they hear the word widget. But for us, during this trip, the widget was all about the Guinness.

According to this interesting post by Fred Wilson that I read when I got back from my trip (Why Widgets is the Wrong Word for What We’re Doing), widgets as they relate to the Web may soon be an outdated term (or concept) anyway. But for posterity, a widget is “an object on the computer screen that the user interacts with,” according to Wikipedia. It’s basically a piece of code that can be used on a Web page (or blog) to deliver specific content or functionality to a Web page. (I am not convinced that the widget is going away, although Wilson makes an interesting point.)

In terms of Guinness, the widget is a little plastic ball that is in the canned version of the beer that releases gases to help make the head that Guinness is so famous for. This link provides some very helpful information (and a picture) about the Guinness widget.

I told you I was on vacation and not working, right?

Social networks and international audiences

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

My latest article is up on The Industry Standard, Facebook vs. MySpace: The battle for global social network dominance. It takes a look at MySpace and Facebook, and makes a prediction about which will win in the competition for international audience.

When researching the article, I came across a lot of data about social networks in various countries, and it as interesting to see the various social networks that are winning in countries around the world. According to Comscore, “the number of worldwide visitors to social networking sites has grown 34% in the past year to 530 million, representing approximately 2 out of every 3 Internet users.”

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the social networks that are less familiar to those of us in the U.S., and the countries in which they are popular. The data comes from sources here and here.

Orkut – Brazil
Orkut logo

9158.com – China
9158 logo

hi5.com – Peru, Columbia, Central America, Mongolia, Romania, Tunisia
hi5 logo

bebo.com – Ireland, New Zealand
bebo logo

cyworld – South Korea
Cyworld logo

Live Journal – Russia
Live Journal logo

This is also interesting – a visual look at MySpace (blue) vs. Facebook (red) according to Compete.com.

Compete.com myspace vs. facebook

MySpace vs. iTunes

Friday, April 4th, 2008

My most recent article for The Industry Standard just went up – How MySpace Music could beat iTunes. If you’re interested, please give it a read!

The music industry is something that I’m really thinking about lately with the launch of Fat J Records and signing Cara Austin – so the recent news about iTunes overtaking Wal-Mart and MySpace Music’s launch are both of great interest to me. And there are a lot of things about the MySpace vs. iTunes topic that I didn’t have space to include in my article for The Standard. So I thought I would just list them here, kind-of stream-of-thought.

MySpace logoMySpace Music can beat iTunes by supporting musicians. This is the premise of the article that I wrote for The Standard. Basically, I think that if MySpace Music provides data about the fans that purchase music, ticket and merchandise to the musicians, it can beat iTunes. Go read the article for the whole argument.

CDBaby is a model of how MySpace Music could work. CDBaby is an unbelievable music retailer that caters only to independent artists. And this is what its privacy policy says (these points are directed at buyers who visit the site):

“Only the musician whose music you buy will know who you are. If you don’t even want the musician to know about you, just say so at the bottom of your order form.”

I use CDBaby to sell CDs for Cara Austin, and so far, NOT ONE person has requested that CDBaby withhold their contact information. This is because people who go so far as to buy a CD are usually fans – and they don’t mind the band or artist being able to contact them again in the future.  According to the company’s Website, CDBaby has sold 4,202,465 CDs to customers resulting in $71,482,212 paid directly to the artists.

iTunes is a store, MySpace is a community. I read this quote from someone involved in the deal, and this is a really important point. While there are millions of people who buy music from iTunes, the MySpace community that uses MySpace to discover new artists and read about what they are up to, will be a powerful environment for making a purchase. With the possibility of revenue coming from MySpace, artists will do even more to make sure that their pages are attractive, interesting and compelling. And the community of music on that site is going to get stronger and stronger. Imagine 5 million musicians adding content, video, new songs and new song versions – this is going to be incredibly powerful and impossible for iTunes to rival.

Facebook’s chance to win in this space is shrinking by the minute. Facebook is gaining on MySpace in the social networking space, but Facebook’s support of music is, well, pathetic. They are going to have one shot to try to release a music platform that users will like (and use) but it’s not looking good. With MySpace’s announcement of the support of three of the four major labels, one possibility is that Facebook already has the support of the fourth (but that is highly unlikely and just speculative on my part).

International will be huge. I read that MySpace Music isn’t going to be able to distribute music internationally yet. What? What is the licensing issue with that? My suggestion – sign up all the indies asap and start selling to Japan, England, Australia, and everywhere else that has an appetite for U.S. music immediately – or else that could be a place that MySpace Music will be vulnerable.

DRM free matters, but won’t be the thing that wins it for MySpace. As part of the announcement, MySpace announced that they music that is sold from its music store will be DRM-free. (DRM=Digital Rights Management, it is the protection that Apple places on its files that prevents people from being able to share them.) This is a big deal, but not the biggest, as this will just (finally) compel Apple to follow suit with iTunes.

There is still a perception issue that could cause MySpace some serious problems. MySpace has kind of a seedy image. The site’s design is fairly unattractive, and it’s hard to navigate the social network without running into something that borders on pornography or spam. The company is going to have to do battle against that perception to win back people who have become disillusioned by previous negative experiences with MySpace.

Can Apple prevent iPods from using this service? Technically, I’m not sure if there is a way for Apple to limit the sites from which the iPod can download music, but if users are unable to load music from MySpace Music to their iPods, that would be a serious setback to MySpace. It also would likely cause a revolt among iPod users against Apple, but it would still be a hiccup in the acceptance of the service.

Webinno Boston #16: My recap

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Last night I attended the Web Innovators Group (Webinno) meeting in Boston. It was the 16th meeting put on by the group (the first that I attended) and it was packed out! Web Innovators Group logo
Honestly, I thought it would be a smaller meeting with fewer people, but there were probably somewhere around 500+ people in attendance. It was definitely standing room only when the presentations were happening. (This picture is just one corner of the room, it looked like this everywhere.)

At Webinno Boston

The way that the meeting worked was that there were three featured companies (called “Main Dish Presentations”) who presented for about 5-10 minutes each and answered two questions after they finished. This was then followed by six highlighted companies (called “Side Dish Presentations”) who each pitched their products for 30 seconds.

The Main Dish presenters were:

Urban Interactive
Urban Interactive Logo“Provides a platform that creates mixed-reality mobile adventures, transforming a cell phone into a modern-day Dick Tracy watch. Users download missions to complete throughout a city, bringing them closer to their surroundings, heritage, local events and neighbors.”

My take: I think that Urban Interactive is a really cool idea, and after a quick look at the program, I was most excited to see this presentation. It is obvious that a lot of time has been spent on the interface to make it look very “spy ready” and the technology seemed to function well, at least the part that was demonstrated.

The primary issue that I see with this product is that it seems like it would be hard to set up new adventures. For example, a mission at the Boston Museum of Science was used as the demo adventure. The very first step in the mission was to find the museum, and then go to the front desk and ask for a code. This, in itself, means that every employee at the Museum of Science would need to be trained about this program and how it works, because they’ll get a ton of questions. Or, (and I think that this is how they do it), the adventures would only be able to be “taken” on a schedule, in which case, Urban Interactive employees (or Boston Improv actors) could participate and help the adventurers along. This will severely limit the usage of the product.

To the company’s credit, its next plan is to work on the ability for users to create their own missions, but until they get over this hurdle, I don’t expect that the product will be able to get any kind of critical mass.

Like I said, I really like this idea, so I’m pulling for this one to work. I think for it to succed, they need to scale back a bit on trying to do everything, and focus on one core business (tour operators, museums, schools or corporations, pick one), just until they get things off the ground.

SpotScout
SpotScout logo“We believe that, if given the right tools, individuals and communities can solve their own parking problems by creating virtual markets for parking information. Whether a parking garage, a private space, or a space on the street, our software enables space seekers to acquire timely information on space availability before arriving at their destinations.”

My take: The presenter described this company as “kind of an eBay for parking spaces,” and I think that SpotScout is a great concept and will be useful in cities where it can be tough to find parking (New York, San Francisco, Boston). It appears that the service hasn’t yet launched, so it’s tough to see how many people will use it and how it will work when it goes live. But I’m betting that this product will be a success. I have had to look for parking in Boston and driven around and around and around…looking at many empty parking lots that businesses don’t use at night but have “No Parking, Tow Zone” signs posted on them. Just think of the utility for drivers -and the extra cash for businesses – that could result from this product. Also, I would definitely use SpotScout if I could make a reservation in a parking garage for a Red Sox game, for example. I would be able to lock in my price and my spot, and I wouldn’t have to get to the game three hours early to park.

As long as SpotScout is able to figure out how to get the local garages involved so that they know what SpotScout is and how to use it, and as long as they are able to sign up enough users so that there are people both providing spots and telling each other when they’re coming and going, I think that this will be a huge hit. If it is a success, I can imagine someone driving around the city all day, parking at meters when they find an open one, and then posting to SpotScout their departure information, to make some extra cash. This was the best of the Main Dish presentations.

MakeMeSustainable
MakeMeSustainable logo“The Facebook application provides creative ways to fight global warming. It engages users with tools to reduce their carbon footprint and ties in competition and community components that enable them to visualize their larger impact.”

My take: I should start up by saying that I’m not a huge Facebook user. I have an account, I check it occassionally, and I use it to talk to my friends, but I am by no means a super-user. Perhaps because of that, MakeMeSustainable just doesn’t thrill me. I appreciate the concept behind it – getting users to reduce their carbon footprint -and the execution of the product is actually great (very well-designed, charts, graphs, etc.), but I just don’t see this being a tool that would get someone to take long-term action. It might be cool for awhile, but will it really make a difference?

I think that the company’s smartest move is the partnership that they’re making with various musicians – and if they can tap into that type of super-star fan base, as well as associate their brand with people like Dave Matthews, they might have a shot.

Next came the Side Dish Presenters, and I was much more impressed with many of these products and concepts. Remember, they only presented for 30 seconds, so I only got limited information.

Survol
Survol logo“Mobile platform for fast effortless use of Web sites, feeds, search results and widgets”

My take: The presenter said that this was “a better way to access the Web on any mobile phone,” but I have to be honest, after listening for 30 seconds I have no idea what Survol is and what it does. Their Web site was not much help.

Glassbooth
Glassbooth logo“Do you know where the candidates stand on the issues? Glassbooth is an innovative website that pairs a massive database of information on the presidential candidates with an inviting design for exploration. Users tell the site which issues they think are important, respond to a series of statements based on that input, and find out which presidential candidate most closely aligns with their views and why.”

My take: I love this concept, and from the user’s perspective, I really like that Glassbooth is a non-profit and therefore not aligned with any commercial biases or candidates. I just went through the site and I found the user experience to be excellent. It was helpful to have the issues lined up (with links to articles about the topics so I could read up on things that I am not totally sure about), and at the end of the survey, along with a suggestion of what candidate mostly aligns with my beliefs, I could find out details about what each of the candidates’ positions are on each of the issues, based on what they have said in the past and their voting history. This was a cool site and I highly recommend it for anyone who is still trying to figure out what candidate is going to get their vote.

Buildium
Buildium logo“Whether you’re a professional property manager, condo owner or a member of an HOA, Buildium has a property management solution to meet your needs.”

My take: I really liked this product, as well. The presenter told a compelling story about a guy who was in charge of his condo association and how he needed tools to help him manage the budgets, bills, planning and other stuff for that role. Since I have heard many stories about condo associations and the difficulty of being involved in them, it seems like Buildium would help. Note, however, that I haven’t seen these tools in action. I just like the concept.

MyHappyPlanet
MyHappyPlanet logo“The leader in social networking for language learning and cultural exchange. We provide a platform for language learners to improve their foreign language skills through peer-to-peer learning and user-generated learning materials.”

My take: MyHappyPlanet is one of those ideas that makes you say “why didn’t I think of that?” The basic premise is that there are people all over the world who are trying to learn languages, so the site lets them partner up and practice with each other. So, for example, I’m in the U.S. and I am a native English speaker, and I want to learn Spanish. The site lets me partner with someone in Spain who is trying to learn English to practice. This is such a great idea, and I could see it spinning out lots of other products, educational and commercial (globalization. localization and translation services, especially). It also helps that this site already has 80K-100K users.

Socrato
Socrato logo“A Web-based test preparation and assessment platform. Helps users quickly identify their strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to focus on the right areas faster, saving study time.”

My take: Basically, Socrato is a test preparation and learning tool that is trying to help students study better for standardized tests. This product didn’t pique my interest particularly, but I like the concept. 

Mofuse
Mofuse logo“A hosted mobile site creation application geared toward content publishers such as bloggers. Using the MoFuse application, anyone can create a mobile-friendly version of their website or blog in just a few minutes.”

My take: I didn’t get a good sense of Mofuse from the presentation, and it left me feeling a bit like it was irrelevant. My site looks great on the iPhone, afterall, and my bet is that all mobile Web browsing is all heading in that direction.

The next Web Innovators Group meeting is in Boston on April 2nd.

Globalization, oursourcing and Pure Incubation

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished my first board meeting for Pure Incubation, and I thought I would share my favorite statistic and slide from the meeting. One of the things that I like the best about this business is that, by design, I am working with people from all over the world. Currently, I am working with 17 different writers, designers, developers, marketing people and consultants, in 6 countries on 4 continents. To illustrate this, I put together a world map with the locations of my various consultants and contractors. I’m not a designer so forgive the bad graphics!

World Map with contractors