Friday, April 30, 2010

The Next Web – Timothy Ferriss

First speaker on the last day of The Next Web was Timothy Ferriss, author of the ”4-Hour workweek”.
I don’t know what I was really expecting from a guy who preaches the 4 hour philosophy at a conference for people who probably work more like 80 hours per week. So expectations – luckily – were not that high.
Ferris presentation was a strange and somewhat narcissistic confession on how to deal with “haters” when you have become so incredibly popular that everything you do or say will attract thousands of reactions and comments. Not really relevant to the average person working in the Internet business, but OK – maybe relevant in the cases where your blog, your website or your project attracts a certain amount of interest beyond the ordinary.
Ferriss’ philosophy was basically Stoicism rewritten for the 21st century. Quoting Seneca, Ferriss was saying that you should seek to “avoid excessive responses to things outside of your control”. True indeed! But not something you couldn’t have read in any other run-of-the-mill self-improvement book.
Ferriss went on to talk more specifically about how to respond to comments and discussions on the Internet, and this part was definitely more relevant to the crowd at The Next Web. Ferriss described two options for possible reactions to people who write negatively about you on the Internet:
  1. Starve the post of oxygen. In some cases – especially cases where the content of the post is something you would like to keep unnoticed – you should at any cost avoid to comment back or link to the post. Absolute silence is the preferred strategy because any reaction will just create more content and more links, which will improve the Google ranking of the original post. So if you really don’t want attention to the post – ignore it!
  2. Pour on Gasoline. This strategy is relevant if the original post doesn’t exactly harm you, and you can use the post to get positive attention to your own writing. Pouring on gasoline will inflame the discussion and attract more visitors to the post.
This is definitely relevant advice and good strategies for dealing with public debate on the Internet. The only issue is that Ferriss seems to think of public debate as only extensions of his own personal brand (although he claims that he has no interest in personal branding). It seems like he forgets that debate on the Internet is also the foundation of qualification of knowledge. A free and open discussion will – in most cases – result in more true and more interesting information and knowledge.
Sometimes you should throw Google caution to the wind and throw yourself into discussions with trolls and haters – even if this may damage you personal digital brand. It is simply more fun and more honest to the way that the Internet works – but it definitely will require that you spend more than 4 hours per week…

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Apprupt - TNW Startup Rally

What they do?
Mobile application distribution service.
A service which puts the right applications in front of the right users.
Comment: Makes sense to create services that filters the jungle of mobile applications. But somehow it reminds me of the early business models of category portals such as Yahoo.

Playlistify - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Discover, create and share music playlists.
You can import playlists from other services like iTunes and
Comment: Not exactly super new. I have seen a couple of services like this before, but this service seems to be especially nice when it comes to importing and sharing playlists.

See the deLiftPitch here

Shutl - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Delivery of e-commerce items within 90 minutes of purchase.
Using courier companies and are allegedly price competitive with regular delivery services.
Comment: Sounds fantastic. Let’s have it in Denmark!!

Rapportive - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
A social CRM system built into you inbox.
Apparently a service which will add social media information about the people you correspond with in you email inbox.
Comment: Looks interesting. Took me 20 secs to install  Testing testing…

See the deLiftPitch here

SubMate - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Meet people on your regular commute.
You sign up to the service with information about your regular commute, and then SubMate proposes friends, events etc.
Comment: Only works in Paris. Seems like the service needs a LOT of users in order for it to work. But the concept is also a bit strange. Most commuters just want to get from A to B – they don’t want to interact with other people, go to concerts or a bunch of other events…

Pressdoc - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Social media press releases.
A new style of press release which is more suited for sharing in the social media space.
Comment: Makes sense to update the old school press release concept. But so far it is only a content management system without distribution, which means that the value of the service is somewhat limited…

See the deLiftPitch here

Brainient - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Interactive video advertising. Creating layers that are applied on top of videos (magic layers) that enable interactivity with the video.
As an advertiser, you can build layers that publishers can add to their videos.
Comment: Sounds extremely cool! Especially considering the explosion of video content on the web right now. Their website, however, is kind of disappointing… It is not super obvious how you get started using their service!

Distimo - App Store Analytics

What they do:
Collecting all publicly available data from app stores (Apple, Android, Nokia, etc. etc). Targeted both at developers, device manufacturers and carriers.
Comment: Sounds like a useful tool if you are heavily into the mobile app market and distribute your apps on many different platforms.

Next widgets - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Transactional banner advertising. A service where the actual transaction takes place in the banner – without the user ever leaving the site.
The service also serves the widgets in a contextual way so that content on the site is matched with products being sold in the widgets.
Comments: No a very novel idea – but the combination of transactional banners and contextualization could indeed be quite powerful.

See the deLiftPitch here

Double Dutch - TNW Startup Rally

- TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Foursquare for the Enterprise
For companies that want a private check-in service. Tapping into the same trend as Yammer – the consumerization of the enterprise.
Enables the enterprise to customize the branding of the app and create their own “game dynamics”.
Comment: Not completely obvious how companies will use this service. But maybe for companies with employees on the road – like real estate agents, travelling salesmen etc…

See the deLiftPitch here

Fork - Prey - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Software which will help you track a stolen phone or computer. Using geo location in the computer, the camera to take a picture of the thief etc. etc.
Comment: I am going to install it right away!

Inbox2 - TNW Startup Rally

What they do
Helping you focus on the relevant messages in you inbox – based on social metrics and previous rating of messages.
The service also aggregates messages across platforms.
Comment: A compelling idea, but can you actually be really sure that the system picks the important messages and gets rid of the less important. It reminds me a little of “top news” in Facebook, which I always end up disabling, because I prefer to do my own curation of what is important and what is not.

Next2news - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
As an advertiser you can simply scan news stories that are relevant for your business, and then you can buy that specific add space.
Comment: Pretty cool idea for the smaller scale advertisers that are looking for really targeted advertising and ways to get significantly higher CTR’s on their ads. - TNW Startup Rally

- TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
The virtual Fitting Room.
A clothing fitting service where people can actually see what clothes will look like on a robotic virtual model.
Comment: Interesting service which will be very useful in a huge etail market: the clothing industry.

See the deLiftPitch here

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

English Attack - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
The web 2.0 way of learning English.
It is basically the web version of Sesame Street. A fun and interactive way to learn the English language – using videos, games and interactive features. Targeted at learners all over the world.
Comment: I couldn’t really see the 2.0 element on the site. It seemed fairly one way in its communication style. But it can, of course, still be a very useful site.

22 tracks - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Curated playlist music site in Netherlands. The lists and the genres are curated by professional DJ’s but the site is also powered by social recommendations via Twitter.
Comment: Interesting concept, but they are competing in a jungle of music services that are all offering music recommendations in many different shapes. The curation model is fine for some purposes, but it has a hard time competing with full on 1to1 personalized services like Personally I am a great fan of the obscure genre “Goth Americana”, and this genre doesn’t really appear on 22tracks…

See the deLiftPitch ere - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Something about organizing your conversations…??
Comment: Not a very organized presentation, and it seems like there are many more of these services around… When I was here in Amsterdam two years ago, the Next Web conference was teeming with services like this!

See the deLiftPitch here

Fashiolista - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Designed exclusively for women. A facebook of Fashion. Using the social graph to navigate the fashion jungle.
Users pick and share fashion items. Users can love items and most loved items are profiled on the page.
Comment: Cute site, nice cat walk show, but the idea is not very original. MSN has done something very similar in Denmark with MSN Style.

The Next Web - Robert Cailliau: the "other" creator of the WWW

Very entertaining presentation from the second grand old man of the Internet: Robert Cailliau.
They guy was all over the place in his presentation, but here are eight of the main highlights:
  1. The WWW was basically a spin-off of the Large Hadron Collider. This project is so huge and took so much collaboration that you needed something like the internet to build it…
  2. The original web browser developed by Cailliau and Tim Berners Lee was much easier to use than present day browsers (and it even worked like a Wiki-style publishing tool as well – Reading and Writing was actually indistinguishable)
  3. Today there are only two acceptable browsers: Firefox and Safari – although the Safari browser on the iPad is really horrible (says Cailliau – not me!)
  4. The Internet has given us a lot of freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility, and we haven’t worked that much on this part.
  5. We need to get rid of the awful Author, Reader, Advertiser triangle. We need more reliable payment systems on the Internet to get rid of this triangle. Will Mobile provide this opportunity, or is this business already infested with sharks as well???
  6. Social networks are fine (although Cailliau doesn’t use them himself) But: where are they? Who are they? What do they do with my data. You can get in but you cannot get out!
  7. We need more peer to peer style social networks, where people actually own their own data instead of entrusting their data with large unknown and unreachable companies.
  8. We are running the planet towards over-exhaustion, and we have a naïve belief that technology is going to save us. But we have been talking about AI, fusion power, space travel and genetic modification for so many years and we are still driving around in piston engine cars and living in light bulb enlightened homes.

Buildor - TNW Startup Rally

Presenter: James Law
What they do:
“Dreamweaver in the Cloud”
Basically an advanced browser based web editor, where you can modify existing websites without the use of a CMS.
Comment: Sounds relevant for small scale mom and pop type companies that do not have money to pay for web developers. It does look a little technical though!!

See the deLiftPitch here

Peecho - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Printing you personal stuff from websites, mobiles, social networks and games.
Example: Send a postcard from your mobile phone or a t-shirt from facebook or a book made out of gmail messages.
Comment: Printing may be old skool, but this actually sounds really cool. I’ll send a personalized postcard right now from Amsterdam!! - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Brings people together around places and events.
Basically the same as Foursquare and Gowalla but more local. Close cooperation with spot owners and event organizers.
What can you do: Check in to places, get inspired on places to go, meet your friends or meet new friends, rate the atmosphere at a spot.
Comment: A complete Foursquare rip-off!! (you can become the “king” of a location…!) Not really interesting if you are not from the Netherlands.

ECWID - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
Basically a web store widget, which you can install on your existing website. They claim that this can be done in 43 seconds!!
20 languages.
10.000 sellers
Coming out of Beta today.
Business model: Freemium (premium accounts)
Comment: Sounds almost too good to be true. But if it works, I will be selling all my vacation photos on Facebook tomorrow!

MailSuite - TNW Startup Rally

What they do:
One place for all of your online community.
Creates a unifired inbox for you messages on, Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. etc.
USP: Absolutely NO SPAM!
Comment: Sounds a little old school. The site is not up, but I will definitely check it out, when it is up…!

Tribe of Noise - TNW Startup Rally

Presenter: Hessel Van Oorschot
What they do:
Online community connecting musicians with companies.
Advertising agencies, production companies, etc. can search and buy music on the site. And they can also hire musicians to work on their production music.
6.500 musicians and composers are part of the community
100.000 songs are available.
Comment: Will definitely look into this site for our next production.


Time for some start up presentations from The Next Web...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Next Web - Tom Preston-Werner

Next interesting speaker at TNW was GitHu ‘s Tom Preston-Werner, who’s business was slightly too geeky for me to actually understand (something about sharing code online…). But he had some very interesting observations on how to start a business as a side project (which I found incredibly interesting because I am running my own bootstrapped side project called
So here they go:
1. Stealth mode just doesn’t work. You need to share everything you do with as many people as possible. Get out in the open with your idea and the project, because if you don’t you will miss out on valuable feedback and you will end up going down all the wrong alleys. (
2. Bring in another person with the same mind set. Go to meetups to meet people – but even more important: go drinking with your potential partner, because only under the influence of alcohol will you really understand your future (potential) partner
3. Bootstrap as long as possible. A lot of people are too focused on bringing in VC’s early in their startups, but they forget that with external funding you need to serve two masters: The VC’s and the customers. If you bootstrap you only need to serve the customers who are (after all) your customers.
4. Hire only the best people. It seems obvious, but you really need to understand that you should be able to work with these people for the rest of your life.
Good advice. Indeed!!!

The Next Web - Joe Stump: SimpleGeo

The basic premise of Joe Stump’s presentation was that content is no longer king. The new king in town is context. Basically meaning that the real business potential on the web now are applications that adds context to the users’ position in the time/space grid. It is all about giving you the right information at the right time and in the right location.
Stump talked about the value of contextual information and concluded that the value of knowing someone’s location decreases as the distance increases. In other words: It is quite valuable to know that your friend is at the bar just down the street, but it is not very interesting to know that he is in a bar in a different city altogether.
And the same applies to time. Events that are temporally closer – are simply more valuable than events that are far away.
Stump then listed a number of areas where there is obvious business potential in the world of contextual information.
1. What is physically nearby. A lot of physical items have not been indexed yet, and there is huge business potential in increasing the amount of businesses, events or objects that are spatially indexed.
2. Who is physically nearby. There are a lot of services like 4square and Gowalla that provide these services, but there is still huge potential in services that build interesting user experiences on top of theses services.
3. What’s virtually nearby. Virtual objects can be tagged in the physical world – creating the potential for virtual/real games, where people interact with virtual objects in the physical world.
4. Games. We should be able to shoot missiles at each other or throw rotten apples – all virtual games taking place in a geo-indexed physical world. It is all about combining the physical world with compelling game play.

Slow start at The Next Web

Ok – it was kind of a slow start to The Next Web conference today. A lot of cancellations and some half-baked pecha kutcha presentations from people without much to say.
I did, however, attend two really interesting presentations at the “real time” track (mr. Kelway attended the Mobile track and will be reporting from that)

First day of The Next Web

Today is the first day of the Next Web conference. Frans, James an I are sharpening our pencils, charging the iPad and rewinding the video tapes to give you - our audience - the most spectacular, fantastic live social Media update right here from Amsterdam.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Going to Next Web

Hello Group is sending Force 10 to the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam. I will be blogging about it from this blog, but you can get the full multi media experience at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How to work with User Experience methods

I have now been working in the field of User Experience for approximately 10 years, and the holy grail has always been some kind of coherent methodology which makes it easy to understand the many different methods and tools withing the field. And not least some kind of process which explains when to use what, and why it should be used in different situations.
Well - it looks like we are finally there. Or at least we have taken a major step in that direction here in Hello with the UXBASIS model.
We have been working on the project for more than a year along with our different client assignments. The UXBASIS model is thus not an academic exercise, but a methodology grounded in day-to-day work with clients and Hello's own projects.
The UXBASIS model will have three manifestations:
1. A web page which can be accessed here:
2. A deck of cards which can be "played" in a meeting with clients and account people
3. A poster to hang on the wall in any UX department
The web page is now ready in a beta version. We are still weeding out the last spelling errors and small mistakes, so comments are still welcome here.
The cards and the poster will go into print when we are out of the beta phase and then we will start selling and shipping posters and cards at a cost price, which will have to be determined.

Check out the UXBASIS website, and rememeber to share it with friends and colleagues in the UX field.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Twitter Brain - Hello Ignite Episode II

"Twitter is basically like small snippets of text working like neurons - getting fired back and forth, interacting with each other. Basically creating a new kind of global awareness"