A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Archive for


While I was at Le Web London last week, I grabbed a few minutes from my frantic liveblogging to chat with Valentin Squirelo of iPad app publishing platform Tactilize. The startup is in closed beta right now, but he ran me through their quick, easy workflow for publishing iPad apps from a web interface.
It’s a great idea. There are too few good solutions for publishing content-based iPad apps which don’t rely on legacy page-layout apps like Adobe InDesign. The system he showed off was fast, elegant and intuitive. You use the Tactilize web tool to build your native app. It’s structured as a series of “pages”, locked into sections, and drag and drop interactive elements from a palette of options including Dropbox, Gmail and so on. 
Valentin described it as being “between InDesign and Tumblr” in ease of use, and I think he has a point. It’s probably more on the Tumblr end. 
At the moment it’s a cut/paste to get text into the app, but as he pointed out, it’s still early in its life. They have added a parser that will strip all the hidden junk Microsoft Word leaves in text out, though. Smart move. At the moment, updating the content in the app means resubmitting the app to the App Store as an update, but they’re working on removing that need in a future version – as well as adding Newsstand support. 
So, how does the output look? Based on the demo app he showed me, pretty impressive:
The prices they’re pitching aren’t cheap – $3999 for a one-off app, $1999/month + $1299$/app for a subscriptions. The team are talking at pitching it at individual bloggers and artists as well as at publishing houses – and I suspect they may struggle at that price, but it’s cheap enough for the publishing houses to take a serious look at (although, they’ll probably want CMS integration of some sort). I’d love to do an OM&HB app at some point – but at this price, it’s too much of a financial punt for me at the moment. Valentin did suggest that the price was, in part, to enforce a quality level on the apps produced. I’m not taking that personally. 🙂
Tactilize is due to go into public beta in October. 
Enhanced by Zemanta

The Keen versus Scoble fight

What to make of a debate between Andrew Keen and Robert Scoble, moderated by Milo Yiannopoulos? It’s like a bubbling Twitter pot of internet controversial celebs… 

But was it any cop? Well, it was entertaining. We found ourselves presented with the question “Where’s the real Scoble?” Is he purely relational? Is his sense of self completely determined by his followers? 
Robert ScobleI didn’t have followers 10 years ago,” said Scoble. “Back then I’d just find the geek at the cocktail party, and hang out with them.” Apparently, he just keeps the bedroom secret. We don’t know the clubs he was in in Amsterdam. (But I’m intrigued now, I don’t know about you.)

Keen asked how many of the audience would be prepared to go as far as Scoble in making their lives public – and only a handful put their hands up. Scoble shrugged it off. He turned an example of embarrassing drunken pictures of him into a positive: “I’ve been invited to a better class of party since those came out.”But he did point out that social media is killing people, because they don’t put their mobiles down when driving.
Andrew KeenOur two champions circled each other again, over the issue of data. Keen accused Google and Facebook of selling our data. Scoble struck back with the fact that Facebook sells access to you, not your data.

“Do people understand that?” asked Keen.  “People are getting resistant and wary of those social services. Social has climaxed, privacy is the next thing.”

Scoble, of course, disagreed. Totally. He thinks people are changing their habits all the time, and the freaky line is shifting. And Keen and Yiannopoulos think that he’s “super-freaky”. 

Then, they turned to my second favourite subject: whisky. Keen pointed out that when he asked Scoble what’s faster than real time, our favourite blogger replied it’s when the server knows what your drink is before you get to the bar. 

“And yet, I’ve Liked Oban whisky on Facebook,” said Scoble.  “And when I got to the Badoo party last night I was handed a champagne. I’ve never Liked chapagne. I don’t like champagne.”
milo yiannopoulosFilter bubbles? Scoble wants filters to shape what people see of him, or what he sees. Keen suggests that newspapers are already a filter bubble problem. And the internet is destroying serendipity, because you always get served Oban. Scoble says that people who know he likes Oban bring him a  new one, which they think is better. 

Last words to Mr Keen: “Social media isn’t social: it’s creating a radically individualised web. It’s destroying social.”

He has a book out you know: Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us. If you buy it from that link, both he and I get money. I have no shame. Much like the scheduling of this panel… 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Nick Halstead

Nick Halstead, Founder & CTO, Datasift 

We’re expressing opinions all the time on the web, via Twitter, via Facebook, via multiple sources – and that’s all data. And Nick Halstead and DataSift take that data and, well sift it… As well as drawing out sentiment and analysing it, they’re also interested in inflection; most day’s there’s a certain baseline discussion about a company. If it suddenly changes, that’s worth noting.

The world of SEO is worth billions – now 50% of traffic to some sites comes from social media. How do you optimise that? DataSift take a cross-section of five news stories and analyse how people are reacting to them. Publishers can then tweak headlines and stories based on the information.

Wikipedia has peaks of 100 edits per second. No-one has ever captured this. Datasift allows you to filter against that content and see changes – it’s an amazing resource for researchers, wanting to know how things change. WikiStats looks at all those edits in real time and looks for trends. 

Big data in practical use. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Alexander Ljung of Soundcloud

Alexander Ljung, Founder & CEO, SoundCloud  

Alex explains that Soundcloud was born of the founders’ desire to share sounds on the web, in a pretty sound geek-focused way. However, they discovered what they were really interested in was all these social platforms that allowed people to connect. Their favourite form of expression was sound – and that could be social. And suddenly the idea went from their geeky need to something they felt the world needed – and they had to do it. 

Soundcloud solves specific problems: “I’m a musician, I want to promote my album, and spread it through networks”. But they’re more interested in sharing moments through sound. He admits to always being a sound geek. Sound can be music, a baby’s first works, a lecture ore a political speech. Sound evokes more of an emotional reaction than the written word. 

Sound is incredibly simple to create – we’re all walking around with these incredible microphones in our packet. One button – 140 times simpler than Twitter. Yes, it’s slower to consume – but it can be consumed in parallel. Imagine how much time you can spend with a game or a video if you have other things to do. It’s limited. In a connected age, sound can follow us around everywhere. It can be slower in terms of information transfer, but you have more time to do it, and it has more of an impact. 
jamillah-knowles-Alexander -Ljung.jpgThey’ve seen incredible growth, and a lot of passionate users – and they give feedback on the site. The web has progressed since the site launched, so they wanted to incorporate feedback, and make the site faster, more gorgeous and more engaging. They brought in ideas from the mobile app. They’re making it easier to share sounds, and adding real time notifications. It should be easier to go through sounds quicker, and added seamless playback throughout the site. And you can create collections of sounds. 

Hack days have been really important. Hacking is very similar to how designers work with prototypes – you’re solving a problem by actually doing things. That’s tremendously powerful. It’s not limited to writing code – you can hack in every discipline. They’ve had an API since the public launch. The web is, by definition, an inter-connected thing. If the parts aren’t connectable, you’re just an island. They wanted to be a Lego block. 

Freemium is working for them. They don’t see much scope for charging brands in a different way – people seem to have individual account, even within a company. It’s a flexible and successful model he seems very content with, because it keeps the interactions personal. Their profiles have been revamped on the site to make fluid sharing of sounds across the web, whatever the platform more easy. 

More and more of our lives are mediated – and eventually everything will be mediated by the internet. The issue with that is that online interactions are mainly based on visual communication – but that’s not reflecting the richness of what it means to be human. He’s really excited to see sound take a more important role on the web in general. In five or six years they won’t be where he wants – but they’ll be a lot closer. It will be normal to speak to the internet, and it’ll be less clunky and more fluid – and more people being moved by their web experiences. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Efe Cakarel

Efe Cakarel, Founder, MUBI

A global VoD platform that I’ve never heard of – I’m so very parochial. But isn’t everyone? As Efe points out, only 13% of global internet users in the US – and it’s a steadily declining share. His business started in Palo Alto – and it’s easy to think of that as the centre of the universe. But the US may not dominate the internet in 2030 – and dominating that world means understanding other countries. 

Their business mashed Netflix and Groupon – one movie a day, at a much lower price point. And they decided that Turkey was the country to focus on – it’s got growth of 9% right now. Forecasts show Turkey as fastest growing OECD country. Half of Turkey is less than 30 years old – and they are very social media savvy. And – to the benefit of his business – they have a healthy disregard for copyright. 

So, it’s time to wake up and smell the Turkish coffee. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mike Arrington and Kevin Rose at Le Web

Do entrepreneurs have a sense of the future? Based on the session at Le Web billed as being about the future they don’t have the first clue. When we spend more time talking about Kevin Rose‘s car collection than the future, we have a smug exited-startup love-in. But lets cut through the dross and find some information in the discussion.

Why do entrepreneurs who have made a good exit still work? Chad Hurley gets up to have fun – life’s too short to sit around. Kevin Rose just doesn’t think about it as work. Niklas Zennstrom loves competition. 

Chad Hurley

Hurley is working on AVOS, which has a series of components which allow them to get things off the ground quickly. They have Delicious, and Zeen is coming next – a tool for building online magazines. Delicious was a challenge – they had to rewite the whole codebase and migrate the data. They’ve been focusing on their other products, but are coming back to Delicious, and are hoping to build on the brand with some innovation. 

Zennstrom’s Atomico is aiming to be a global investment operation. And Rose is with Google Ventures

What’s the future? Zennstrom thinks we’re no longer building the technologies- we’re building the products. And the opportunities are in where people connect online. 

Hurley is bored of tweeting and liking. The default position is socially sharing everything – but he doesn’t care what his friends are doing – he wants to figure out what he’s doing. 

Rose would like to get involved in TV-commerce related stuff, should he go back into entrepreneurship after his “break” from it in Google Ventures. 

Niklas Zennstrom

Zennstrom brings up climate change as something not being aggressively addressed enough yet.. 

Are Google Ventures looking at eco tech? Rose says he’s more involved with early stage startups, and is interested in the quantified self idea, tech that monitors your body and lifestyle. He also suggests that there will be eight to 12 apps we will use every day. You need to figure out what those will be.

Zennstrom thinks that common apps like calendars and address books are still ripe for disruption. Enterprise is too slow still – it’s innovation cycles are very, very long. 

Q. Anyone doing anything in education?

A. Rose invested in Treehouse. 

Q. Investments in Africa?

A. No. 

If these guys have good insights into the future, they didn’t want to share them with us. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Jan Rezab socialbakers

Why do so many businesses which claim to be social have closed Facebook walls? How many companies use social media as more than a thin layer on top of traditional businesses. Good questions, and Jan Rezab, Co-Founder & CEO, Socialbakers thinks he has some answers – analysis. 

Socialbakers – only a 50% response rates to their fans. They knew they needed to make this better. He’s read articles about social media IVR – it’s automating responses. He thinks that isn’t going to work. You can’t automate people and it misses the point of social media.
Industry response ratesThey’ve started ranking companies socially. 70% of fan questions go unresponded. We do marketing to communicate with people, and get interest. And then we ignore the interest. Why? 

Their ranking of top social companies actually shows south american companies doing very well. The bottom three? Ebay, Yamaha Motor Indonesia and BlackBerry. Ah, poor RIM.

These leader boards are all available on their site – Socially Devoted – which they’ve just launched at the show. It’s built as a starting point for the industry to start talking about this issue – to get some sees of what the industry benchmarks are for response rates, response times and the like. And in an industry where social media snake oil in is severe danger of drowning the genuine innovators, that conversation needs to happen.