Current Events

Realtime Flight Tracking


Hey it’s Friday so here’s a little gee whiz technology to play with over the weekend. Aeroseek has added a button to their realtime tracking service that downloads an overlay file that you can view on Google Earth if you have it installed. It updates every minute so you can watch grandma march across the Wyoming on her way to San Francisco.

The Intention Economy – Pulling Demand from the Edge

I’m distilling my takeaways from this week’s eTech conference at, of all places, Disneyland. The vacation schedule of my son’s school afforded us a long weekend down here to the land of characters in big, overstuffed heads.

In such a commerce-driven atmosphere, you really begin to appreciate all the different ways that a machine like the theme park business grabs you by the shoulders to tell you why you and your dinero should part ways. Chats with other parents in the various queues confirm that Disney’s got this down to a science.

By the end of the day, the assault on the senses had even got though to my 6 year old. "I feel like I watched too much television," he said while we were riding the elevator back to our room in the hotel. Everyone in the elevator laughed out loud – he nailed it.

Doc Serls posted a good summary of the eTech conference and how it’s theme, "The Attention Economy," didn’t quite sit right with him. His point resonates with me. Describing the situation we are in as an economic opportunity in which a company only needs to harness attention is one-sided and leans too heavily on the perspective of the seller of goods that is vying for our attention. This is too reminiscent of the "aggregated eyeballs" of the we’s salad days. and not a place anyone really wants to return. If it was just a matter of getting and holding your attention, then companies would all be updating their approach to user acquisition with clever uses of games and social networks to engage prospects and move them down the conversion "funnel." I think there’s more to a sustainable long term relationship than blink tags and nudges.

If commercial activity is what you’re really after, better to state this up front as part of the contract and build the service around that goal. Doc goes on to say what this really means is that the focus should not be on just "attention" but "intention" as in, "intention to buy."

The Intention Economy is built around truly open markets, not a collection of silos. In The Intention Economy, customers don’t have to fly from silo to silo, like a bees from flower to flower, collecting deal info (and unavoidable hype) like so much pollen. In The Intention Economy, the buyer notifies the market of the intent to buy, and sellers compete for the buyer’s purchase. Simple as that.


The Intention Economy is about buyers finding sellers, not sellers finding (or "capturing") buyers.

In The Intention Economy, a car rental customer should be able to say to the car rental market, "I’ll be skiing in Park City from March 20-25. I want to rent a 4-wheel drive SUV. I belong to Avis Wizard, Budget FastBreak and Hertz 1 Club. I don’t want to pay up front for gas or get any insurance. What can any of you companies do for me?" — and have the sellers compete for the buyer’s business.

I immediately started to think that this was what Priceline and Lending Tree did – state your intent to buy and let the sellers compete for your business. But, as Doc goes on to say in the comments of his post, the flaw in these models is that they require you to go to their site and put all your intent to buy parameters into their silo and receive offers from their partners.

This is where the edge comes in. What really needs to happen to make the Intention Economy hum is an ability to broadcast your intent to buy on your own site, be it a blog, or other hosted homepage and, this is key, that site is open to the world to see and aggregate dynamically. In much the same way that Edgeio pulls classifieds information from an indivdual’s own blog post through the use of tags, Intention to buy data needs to reside outside any silo so that anyone with a product that can fulfill a stated need can offer to fulfill it.

Done properly, I could envision the day when any vendor can go to the net and determine pricing demand and quickly offer goods at prices that are far below standard prices because they will, after consulting the net, have much better data on the potential demand. If you’re in the market for a new refrigerator, you should be able to fill out a few fields into a wishlist with your published "strike price." A warehouse, facing a surplus of refrigerators as they get ready to place orders for next year’s model, should then be able to pull in all open requests with a series of tags, say, wanted:refrigerator:kenmore:sidebyside:>$1000

This warehouse could then sort on these wishlists which exist in blogs and homepages all over the net and filter by a zip code or geo-location tag and get a clean list of demand. Faced with a list of 20 pretty solid leads, they could then contact each potential buyer with a bulk discount price based on this explicitly published demand.

Build a commerce platform around the aggregated demand for goods and services and allow people to express this demand in a non-interruptive way and I think you’ve got something way more powerful than an advertising engine. You have a commerce engine built on or predictive market demand.

Advertising and Attention are about impulsive purchases which are fleeting, low-margin transactions. Wishlists and Intention are about carefully considered desires and long term customer relationships. While the former is a quick shot at user acquisition, the later is more sustainable and, if I were running a business, desirable.

The majority of a supermarket’s business and shopping experience is from the aisles in the heart of the store and not the racks or candy, batteries, and gossip magazines right next to the register.


Tyler on Disneyland

We’re at Disneyland for a few days to escape the dust in the kitchen and take advantage of a Friday and Monday holiday that the Alameda School District has scheduled. The sky’s threatened rain all day (with a brief downpour while we were eating lunch and I was sampling a fine Patron tequilla) but each time we were out under the skies, all four of us would puff our cheeks and blow air to keep the clouds at bay and, I have to say, it worked!

After a day of rides, Tyler, in the elevator of the hotel said in a tired voice, "I feel like I watched too much television." I think he nailed it. Overstimulation.

Pictures will follow (including a hilarious one of Tyler mouthing out, in a full exagerated Franco accent, "Crème Brulee!") will follow when I get home and can pull the photos off the digital lightbox.

eTech Day Three Roundup

I’m going to harness the community to sum up today’s sessions.

Tim Bray sums up the various product pitches.

Something has been bothering me about the format of the conference. Each session is so rushed that there is little room for Q&A following each presentation. As a result, you don’t often get a chance to hear the audience’s point of view. The only way to get at this is if you force yourself on strangers in the hallway but, depending upon how you strike up a conversation, it can be hit or miss. Especially when both of you are rushed to ge to the next session. Chris Lott writes about the geek clique and how it limits viewpoints from the edge.

As the buzzwords fly it was bound to happen sooner or later – bingo cards for Day Four.

Sean Bonner (I hope I get a chance to finally meet him) posts a juicy chunk of the irc backchannel. We all ooh & ahh over the beautiful graphical representation of the activity put together by the folks at Stamen Designs.

Tim Appnel bangs the Atom drum.

Isn’t it ironic that this year’s theme is around Attention with a sub-theme being "less is more" yet most of the product announcements are about further atomizing content so that instead of getting doused with a firehose you’re sprayed with peppershot? Very few companies are presenting technologies that help cut back and focus with the exception of Boxxet which had the unfortunate timing to have to present at the same time as the overflow session nextdoor on The Data Dump


eTech Day Two quote of the day

Email is an attention chipper/shredder – think "Fargo" – very graphic image.


    – Linda Stone




Yahoo Application Gallery

The Yahoo Developer Network just launched an Application Gallery. Similar to the Widgets Gallery, this site shows off the best applications built on top of the Yahoo APIs. There’s the opportunity to upload and submit your applications to the gallery and, once they are there, have them reviewed and showcased.

This comes as frosting on top of today’s announcement of a whole new set of APIs, the first out the gate being the commercial Shopping API which gives third parties a cut of any revenue generated by their sites. Jeffrey McManus who is presenting the Yahoo Developer Network here at eTech posted about the other APIs which includes support for browser-based authentication so apps can take advantage of their user’s Yahoo profile and information tied to that profile.


Checkmates – location-based Flickr friend finder

I’m sharing a room with Chad Dickerson here at eTech and he was up until the wee hours last night and up again at the crack of dawn putting the finishing touches on a prototype called Checkmates. The application, which runs on your cellphone, uses a combination of APIs to show your location superimposed on a map along with the locations of your Flickr friends (as long as they also have the Checkmates running and have declared their location.

For eTech, Chad posted this morning about the Checkmates and mentions a special overlay where you can declare your location on an eTech map.

I’ve run into a snag b/c my Sprint cellphone won’t let me run my web browser while in Digital Roam mode (reception is not so hot inside the conference hall). I’ll try and install it later.

Check it out!


Multi-touch Interface shown off at eTech

Totally cool – they had Jeff Han showing off his touch screen interface. I got a pointer to this a couple of weeks ago and was blown away – someone at Yahoo called it “web 5.0”

Here’s a page with a video showing it in action – must be seen to be fully appreciated.

UPDATE: so many people have been hitting this entry that I thought it best to upload my own video clips taken from the eTech presentation.

  1. Playing with virtual lava
  2. Sorting photos
  3. Channel surfing
  4. Zooming in on San Diego

Ray Ozzie at eTech

RSS is the DNA wiring the web, the connecting tissue between active web sites. Part of the current excitement around mashups is that it’s moving these "composite applications" up to the level of the scripting programmer. The closer you get to the user, the closer you get to real domain expertise.

Cut/Copy/Paste – these commands are used everyday by PC users, to the point where they don’t even think about it. Ray asks, "Where is the clipboard of the web?"

Enter Live Clipboard (screencast examples on Ray’s blog)

Action button that can cut events from an events site (he used and paste it into your calendar. Ray showed examples of pasting the event into Windows Live Calendar and the Outlook client. In both cases, the clipboard already knows the date so the paste action automatically puts the event into the right day.

The clipboard can store multiple items. Shows example of copying address and credit card information into commerce site (shows example of mocked up Think Geek order checkout page). It appears that this can also write to a cookie file because pasted information moves from one screen to the next.

The cut/copy/paste action button can be used to consolidate the multiple RSS subscription chicklets. Single copy action then moves the RSS url over to RSS reader (in this example he uses Bloglines).

Copy GPS location information and paste it into Facebook profile. New "sync" action button makes this link into an updated version of the old "dynamic data link" that we saw in Excel. The link will update automatically via RSS.

Copy a list of friends from Facebook, all with locations updating real-time. Paste this into a Windows Live Contact Map widget and you get a map showing real-time location of your friends. You can paste this into Excel to get a different view of this data.

Copy a Flickr thumbnail and the action button pulls the data so when you paste it into your Windows My Pictures folder, it will then pull down the hi-res version of the photo. Expand this to a photostream, you can then sync it and do things like have an automatically updating folder that will change out something like your desktop wallpaper at set intervals. 


Netsquared Interview on Tagging

Netsquared, an arm of the non-profit advisory site, Techsoup, just posted an email interview I did with them about tagging. At the end of the interview, I also listed up a few examples of how Yahoo applications can be stitched together and used by non-profits (and other small organizations) to organize and inform their community.

Netsquared Interview