Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Blog Location:

The Digital Industrial Park blog has moved to a nice, comfy hosted location:


Still a WordPress blog, though. We love ya, WordPress.

Happy New Year to all!


If you can watch only one usability redesign this holiday season…

If you aren’t familiar with boxee, their goal is nothing less than putting cable out of business. No small task. Boxee is a media center interface for aggregating both locally stored and streaming movies, TV shows, music, photos and more. Whitney Hess will be leading the redesign of the user experience and it is a fascinating project because boxee is a critical time in their development. They’ve got loyal early adopters but it needs some work before it gets rolled out to the masses (and if they want o beat cable at it’s own game it has to work really, really well. Computer users have much higher standards than TV viewers. It’s weird but true. Two boxes, two different sets of expectations.)

Here’s how Whitney Hess describes the project in front of her, “So I have quite a challenge ahead of me — how do I preserve the existing elements of delight while making the app more scalable, more social, more effective and easier to use by a larger audience?

I’m starting off by doing usability testing with current alpha users, using boxee both on laptops and TV set-ups, and will additionally conduct interviews with prospective boxee users to learn their media consumption behaviors, attitudes, motivations and frustrations. Together these findings will be brought to light in a small set of user personas and scenarios, from which the necessary features for the ideal experience will emerge. Working closely with the boxee team, I’ll develop a set of wireframes to communicate how the features should be woven together in the most useful, usable, pleasurable way, screen by screen. From there the visual designer and developers will bring the product to life, infusing all of the sleekness and fluidity you’ve come to love so much. And all together we’ll test it, and validate it with users, and tweak it and test it again. On and on and on until we’re ready to launch beta.”

Jeffrey Cole of the State (and Future) of Media.

If you’re an advertiser/marketer and you’ve got questions about the opportunities ahead of us in digital, you’ll want to spend 31:24 listening to what Jeffrey Cole has to say. Television moves out of the home and becomes pervasive and mobile will be at the center of everything digital…but that synopsis doesn’t begin to do it justice.

On the past:
“In 1946 4.3 billion movie tickets were sold. By last year the population doubled so we would have needed to sell 9 billion tickets. Instead we sold. 1.4 billion. The movies are a shell of what they used to be but the theatrical film business is a thriving, high-profile business and it is not a coincidence that it reached its peak in 1946 on the eve of the introduction of television.”

Even more interesting than the history lesson is his view of the digital future and the ensuing discussion.

Hint: John Wanamaker’s conundrum will be answered, I know that half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I’m not sure which half.”

Readable, Recognizable, Locatable, Addressable, and/or Controllable via the Internet.

The Internet of ThingsThe “Internet of Things” to refers to the general idea of things, especially everyday objects, that are readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable, and/or controllable via the Internet. This ties into the business planning that was mentioned in the previous post on “Tools“. These innovations are exactly the kind of things we will be vetting out as we plan out our new business:

“Ideally, the following use cases could be common in ten to fifteen years. To complete shopping in bricks-and-mortar retail stores, customers could simply walk through doorways to check out, debit accounts, and receive e-receipts that they can inspect via the displays on their cell phones. A soldier could rapidly learn how to perform a maintenance procedure by scanning an item of equipment using a handheld device and reading the device’s display. Handheld devices could become not only information sources but universal remote controls for the environment—user interfaces for engaging lights and appliances, locating misplaced and loosely-organized objects, diagnosing problems with systems, and controlling tele-operated objects from greater or lesser distances.”

The Internet of Things (PDF) appears to have ben coined by a member of the RFIDS development community around 2000. I would suggest downloading the PDF, printing it out, and thinking about some of the ideas put forth in the paper. As always, think big, because NOW is when the game will change.

Using Tools As Thought Starters: The Art of the Possible.

With every announcement of corporate layoffs, there has been an increased interest in building small businesses as “displaced” workers look for new ways of making a living. This just may be a very good thing. Without minimizing the pain that accompanies losing a job (it can be traumatic), a world that is connected digitally presents numerous exciting opportunities.

Since no one can be an expert in everything that is out there, I am going to explore some of the tools in my consideration set as we build a business.

It all starts with a business plan and I will get to that next but, first, let’s look at some of the tools that Intridea offers to get the ideas flowing. This is a bit bassackwards but it is a good thought-starter exercise if you are considering a digitally-enabled business. We need new ways to work together and communicate with the marketplace. We’re not going to throw everything old out…but we are going to look new tools and new media consumption patterns. As you look at these tools, think about how they might be used to leverage your business. Think big. Private Micro-Blogging for Your Business.

Crowdsource: Customer Feedback Widget.

SocialSpring: White-Label Social Networking Platform.

MediaPlug: Media Transcoding Appliance (whew, that’s a mouthful).

Scarlr: Cloud Computing, Minus the Sky High Prices.

Intridea offers a program that I think is brilliant. It is called Live In Five and what they will do is implement your business concept in five days. Devloping a proof-of-concept is always critical and frequently problematic. The Live In Five program is very powerful because there is a big difference between talking about a business and actually building one.

In Paul Gillin’s book, The New Influencers, he desrcibes “The Marketer’s Dilemma”. “The shift to small markets served and influenced by an entirely new breed of opinion-leaders is a sea change for markters. Most marketers still have no idea what to do about it.”

And therein lies our opportunity, doesn’t it?

Balsamiq: $100k in 5 Months. (Nice Business Model).

balsamiqlogoReadWriteWeb has a great story on balsamiq, a software company started by Peldi Guilizzoni who wrote an app and then published his revenue for all to see. As it says in the article, “a simple tool coming along at just the right time!” There is opportunity out there, friends.

[Link to Balsamiq here]

“We love this story. Back in July we wrote about the inspiring experience of Peldi Guilizzoni, a lone software developer who’d built a web design mock-up tool called Balsamiq and who was opening up his financial records on his blog to show everyone how things were going. We’d been following his progress since before he launched, but just 6 weeks after Balsamiq hit the market at roughly $79 per license, we wrote that Peldi had already made $10k in revenue.

That was a cute story, but now it’s been just 5 months and today Peldi reports that he’s just cleared $100,000 in sales of the four variations of his product. Talk about a simple tool coming along at just the right time! It’s cool software, too.”

REST of the article is here.

16 Things to Do While You’re Waiting for the Future.

The economy is bad. Certainly more dramatically so than any of us have seen in our lifetimes. So, what to do? What to do?

A recruiter that I have known for a very long time told me, “Bill, 2009 is going to have two polar-opposite types of positions: Positions with companies that are trying to do more with less and sole proprietors”.

Even if you are in a large corporation, it will be helpful to think like an entrepreneur. And if you happen to be amongst the staggering number of newly unemployed, here are some places to think about starting some revenue-generating opportunities from Rajil Kapoor, Managing Director at Mayfield Fund.

Mechanical Turk – this cool marketplace from our friends at Amazon enable anyone to do human tasks and make some cash.  Several of my startups are using this for simple yet fundamentally human tasks such as image classification, reviewing content, etc.
Etsy – online bazaar for individuals that create handcrafted goods.  This is as much about community as it is about shopping for hard to find goods.  The community shares tips with each other on how to market themselves best online.  Etsy organizes it all in one place and provides all the tools.
Fixya (note: Rajil is an investor) – the Q&A marketplace for tech support for any consumer product.  If you can’t wait, you can get live support for a fee which we share with the experts. About half of our experts do it for the money vs just the glory.
Edufire. Wiziq – marketplaces out of the US and India connecting tutors anywhere in the world to students – focused initially on test prep and language instruction.  Not only do they help you connect with students but they also provide the tools for delivering online lessons – a full interactive chat with blackboard and even video.
Cafepress, Minted, Threadless – online storefronts and communities for designers to sell their wares – in t-shirt, printed form, or any object you can put a design or photo on (reminds me of my snapfish days!)
elance, odesk – connecting programmers, designers, and other professionals with jobs online.  I’ve heard many stories of entrepreneurs finding great worker bees on these services.
ustream, mogulus, qik – It doesn’t all have to be about learning and coding.  These platforms enable consumers to have fun and become video hosts or programmers to broadcast live video and generate a following (and hopefully advertising revenue!)
reverbnation – sites like this help you manage the un-business of playing music in a band., mahalo – these seem like great reference sites on the outside but they are really a super-powered community of writers that are doing it for a living – and thriving!