Archive for September, 2010

The Sergey Spot

11 Sep
The Sergey Spot

YouTube CEO Offers “YouTube Instant” Creator a Job via Twitter

10 Sep

If you build an awesome web app, the job offers will come. At least that’s the story for one computer science student at Stanford University.

Earlier today, Feross Aboukhadijeh launched a fun little app called YouTube Instant. It’s his take on Google Instant, the search engine’s real-time suggestion and prediction search upgrade.

YouTube Instant is a relatively simple app that brings up different YouTube videos while you type. It “predicts” what you’re going to search for and brings up the latest or most popular video related to that subject.

YouTube Instant quickly went viral on Hacker News, Twitter and the blogosphere. It also happened to catch the attention of Chad Hurley, the co-founder and CEO of YouTube. In fact, he was so impressed that he offered Aboukhadijeh a job.

It started with a tweet from Hurley to Aboukhadijeh:

Aboukhadijeh was quick to respond, asking whether it was a legitimate job offer:

Hurley then made it clear that he’s serious:

We can only imagine the back-and-forth DM conversations the two have had since. The moral of the story is this, though: if you build something cool, people will take notice. You could even get a job out or some funding out of it — who knows?

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, sandoclr

Reviews: Hacker News, Twitter, YouTube, iStockphoto

More About: Chad Hurley, Google, trending, twitter, youtube, YouTube Instant

For more Social Media coverage:


The American West: 1890, 1970, 1999

10 Sep

I've come to accept that the closest I will ever get to time travel is matching up modern photos to historic shots of the same place. Usually, that means extensive time travel is restricted to cities, places where lots of people were taking lots of photographs at lots of different points over the years. The Third View project is a notable exception. Starting with geological survey photos from the late 1800s, the project then adds second shots of the same spots taken as part of a Rephotographic Survey in the 1970s. Finally, new images, taken between 1997 and 2000, show how the lonesome west changed over the course of 100 years.


It's not entirely what you might expect. Sure, some places got more populated, but a surprising number of the sites are still as empty and wild as they were in the 19th century.

I'm particularly fond of this trio of images taken at Nevada's Comstock Mines, where you can see the way strip mining changed the landscape, and how nature is reclaiming the now-mostly abandoned site.

The Third View Project


FarmVille vs. Real Farms [INFOGRAPHIC]

10 Sep

With all those millions of Facebook and iPhone users tending to virtual crops and sharing them with friends, have you ever wondered how their toils stack up against actual real-life farmers?

How does our output of digital (and decidedly less tasty) tomatoes compare with our worldwide production of real tomatoes? And perhaps most importantly, who are these casual croppers, and are they anything like their plow-toting counterparts?

We broke it down by the numbers and put some of these FarmVille trends in perspective for you.

Go on. Harvest it.

FarmVille Infographic

What do you think? Does FarmVille ignite our romance with all things pastoral? Are digital crops poised to overtake real ones in terms of GDP? What does all this mean for the fate of humanity?

Share your wisdom in the comments.

More Gaming Resources from Mashable:

- 5 Fun FarmVille Accessories
- 10 Classic PC Games That Found New Life on the iPhone
- Why the Social Gaming Biz is Just Heating Up
- Why Games Are the Killer App for Social Networks
- 10 Cool Konami Code Easter Eggs [PICS]

Reviews: Harvest

More About: facebook, farmville, games, gaming, infographic, infographics, iphone, social games, social media, stats, trending, Zynga

For more Entertainment coverage:


Analyst: iTunes Costs Apple $1B Annually To Maintain?

10 Sep
Analyst: iTunes Costs Apple $1B Annually To Maintain

With iTunes 10 launched recently, Apple is enjoying a healthy position in the music market at the moment, but did you ever wonder how much it costs Apple to keep everything running? It probably won't concern the average consumer much, but analysts over at Asymco estimate that iTunes costs Apple a juicy $1 billion annually to run and maintain. Despite Apple getting 30% of the sales of apps from its App Store and profits from music sales, a billion bucks is still a very significant figure. It's estimated that iTunes cost Apple over $30 million a month to operate back in 2009, but the figure has since jumped to over $75 million a month now, which is nearly a billion a year.

Permalink: Analyst: iTunes Costs Apple $1B Annually To Maintain? from Ubergizmo | Hot: iPhone 4 Review, Droid X Review, BlackBerry Torch Review


tumblr_kx69v9Pea11qz4d4bo1_500.jpg (JPEG Image, 500×358 pixels)

09 Sep



5 Things Magicians Can Teach You About Blogging

09 Sep

At some level, blogging is really just a stage show. We, as bloggers, are up on a virtual stage giving a performance that goes on for as long as we run our sites. Whether it is a stand-up comedy routine or a serious academic lecture, we’re talking to the world and hope that our audience, no matter how large or small, will listen.

On that front magicians are masters of the stage show. Using nothing but a few tricks, which can range from very simple to unbelievably complex, their charisma and whatever effects they have at their disposal, they have to keep a difficult audience entertained and enthralled through their entire act.

So maybe magicians can teach us bloggers a few things about showmanship and how to keep our audience glued to the screen, no matter what type of site we are trying to run.

On that front, here are five tips virtually any magician can tell you that can help make your blog a little bit better.

1. Have a Catchy Name

Good marketing starts with a good name and magicians understand this. You can tell a great deal about a magic act based on just the name it goes by and magicians are constantly honing and improving their brand by seeking publicity and getting their well-chosen name out there by any means necessary.

Application: Spend some time coming up with a good name that is easy to spell and pronounce but is also unique and describes what you are trying to do. Then, promote that brand vigorously and stand by it unless you have some urgent need to change.

2. Dress 1 Step Above Your Audience

Magicians have a general rule that one should dress one step above their audience. If you are performing in front of a completely casual audience, they will wear business casual, if the audience is business casual, they will dress in a suit, if the audience is wearing suits, they’ll wear a tux. The reason is that this gives the performer a sense of authority while making them approachable and relatable.

Application: Your dress is your writing and your language. Try writing your content one small step above what your audience would write, making it more authoritative than casual writing but still easily understood and approachable.

3. If You Mess Up, Be Honest, Break the Tension and Move On

Mistakes happen and when a Magician goofs they do so in a very public way. However, magicians rarely try to hide their mistakes, especially if they know their audience has caught on. Instead, they’ll admit to the mistake, go for a joke to break the tension and then move on quickly and confidently.

Application: Going for the joke may not always be appropriate but when you goof on your site you need to acknowledge the error, end the tension quickly (either with an apology, a joke or whatever is appropriate) and then move on. Don’t linger on your mistakes once you’ve dealt with them.

4. Make People Look Where You Want

Half of magic is about diversion and drawing attention where the magician wants it. A majority of magic tricks wouldn’t work at all if the audience was not looking at the right spot while the trick part takes place out of view. Magicians achieve this by using motion, colors, lighting and anything else at their disposal to distract and direct the audience to their will.

Application: Tell the readers what you want to look at, use subheads, lists, tables, images and other things that draw the eye to make them look at the information you deem most important. Use such tools sparingly, otherwise the eye doesn’t know where to go, but don’t force your readers to figure out what’s important on their own.

5. Know Which Secrets to Keep

Magic thrives on secrets. As the TV character Jonathan Creek was fond of saying, once explained what was once magic becomes mundane. Magicians keep their secrets closely guarded to keep the illusion of their tricks being actual magic. Though the illusion is fleeting, most people realize magic is just an illusion, the ability to deceive oneself for a moment is an important part of enjoying the show.

Application: Blogging isn’t nearly as secretive as magic but you do have to think long and hard about what information you want to give away and what you don’t. You need to ask yourself what information will help your readers better enjoy or learn from your site and what will confuse and complicate things needlessly. Keep the secrets that you need to in order to stay on target and be effective, don’t try to throw everything out.

Bottom Line

Though magic and blogging have many differences, blogging involves significantly fewer rabbits for one, there are definitely enough similarities so that we bloggers can pick up a few pointers, especially when it comes to keeping our audience entertained and informed.

It might be easy to not think of blogging as a public performance but, in reality, that’s exactly what it is, the most public kind of performance possible and the fact that it merely writing, audio or video doesn’t mean that many of the same rules don’t apply.

So let’s listen to the magicians, they might have a lesson or two for us.

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5 Things Magicians Can Teach You About Blogging

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Can you Kayak a marathon–or a jail?

09 Sep
A recently launched start-up called FindTheBest takes the comparison engine model that Kayak made popular and attempts to apply it to everything else on the face of the planet. It might work.

Originally posted at The Social


BI Has Hit the Wall

09 Sep

I delivered a keynote presentation at Tableau’s Customer Conference last week. Several people at the conference expressed appreciation for the insights contained in one of my slides in particular, so I thought I’d share it here in my blog.

Here’s what I said while showing this slide:

The industry that has claimed responsibility for helping organizations get real value from information goes by the name “business intelligence.” This term was originally coined by Hans Peter Luhn, an IBM researcher, way back in 1958. Luhn defined business intelligence as “the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal.” The term didn’t catch on, however, until sometime after Howard Dresner, best known for his work at Gartner, used it again to breathe new life into to the data warehousing industry. Dresner defined the term as “concepts and methods to improve business decision making using fact-based support systems.”

Contained in these early definitions was the seed of an inspiring vision that caused people like me to imagine a better world, but the business intelligence industry has done little to help us achieve the vision of the people who coined the term. When Thornton May was interviewing people for his book “The New Know”, he asked a prominent venture capitalist known for his 360-degree view of the technology industry what he thought of when he heard the phrase business intelligence. His response was “big software, little analysis.” Sadly, his response rings true.

In the 1990s, the data warehousing industry, which had become lackluster due to its many failures and the inability of thought leaders and vendors to tell us anything new and worthwhile, promoted the term business intelligence (BI) as its new rallying cry. It was used as a marketing campaign to rekindle interest in old technologies, but did little to change the course of events. The industry continued to focus on building the infrastructure of data rather than the tools and methods that are needed to actually use data. Until this day the BI industry still focuses on collecting, cleaning, transforming, integrating, storing, and reporting data, but the activities that actually make sense of information and use it to support better decisions have remained behind a wall that they’ve failed to scale and have never seriously tried to scale. For information to be useful, we must explore it, analyze it, communicate it, monitor it, and use it to predict the future, but the BI industry’s attempts to support these activities with few exceptions have been tragically comical. The technology-centric, engineering-oriented perspective and skill set that has allowed the industry to build an information infrastructure is not what’s needed to support data sensemaking. To use the data that we’ve amassed, a human-centric, design-oriented perspective and skill set is needed.

All of the traditional BI software vendors and most of the industry’s thought leaders are stuck on the left side of the wall. The software vendors that are providing effective data sensemaking solutions—those that make it possible to work in the realm of analytics on the right side of the wall—have come from outside the traditional BI marketplace. Vendors like Tableau, TIBCO Spotfire, Panopticon, Advisor Solutions, and SAS tend to either be spin-offs of university research or companies that have ventured into the BI marketplace from a long history of work in statistics. Traditional BI software vendors and the scores of recent start-ups that emulate them can choose to climb the wall, but it won’t be easy. They’ll need to rebuild their approach from the ground up. Unfortunately, most of them don’t even realize that their attempts to provide data sensemaking solutions are embarrassingly uninformed and ineffective. Until they see the wall, they’ll never learn to scale it.

Take care,


Video shows asteroid discoveries since 1980

08 Sep

Just in case I wasn't already in awe of the scientific progress made during my own lifetime, Lauren Submitterated (it's a verb now) this video showing the mind-blowing numbers of asteroids that have been discovered since 1980. Created by Scott Manley—and with some very lovely music, I might add—the video shows new discoveries in white, then changes their color to reflect position in relation to the inner solar system. Earth crossers are red. Earth approachers are yellow. All others are green.

Manley's included a lot of good information about what the patterns of where and when new asteroids appear in the video tell us about astronomy over over the last 30 years.

Notice now the pattern of discovery follows the Earth around its orbit, most discoveries are made in the region directly opposite the Sun. You'll also notice some clusters of discoveries on the line between Earth and Jupiter, these are the result of surveys looking for Jovian moons. Similar clusters of discoveries can be tied to the other outer planets, but those are not visible in this video.

As the video moves into the mid 1990's we see much higher discovery rates as automated sky scanning systems come online. Most of the surveys are imaging the sky directly opposite the sun and you'll see a region of high discovery rates aligned in this manner.

At the beginning of 2010 a new discovery pattern becomes evident, with discovery zones in a line perpendicular to the Sun-Earth vector. These new observations are the result of the WISE (Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer) which is a space mission that's tasked with imaging the entire sky in infrared wavelengths.