Archive for April, 2007
I sent SeÃ¡n O’Sullivan from mySay.com a few questions by email as part of the piece I did in the Sunday Tribune on how it is people who bring the personal and trivial who are the new terraformers when it comes to technology. While before it was businesses trying out new technologies, now it is the ordinary citizen. Unfortunately, I was on a strict deadline so did not manage to get the below into the article but I still think the information here is quite interesting. Here are the questions I asked by email and the replies:
1. So what is mySay all about?
mySay lets you keep in touch with your groups of friends over the phone. You call, you can listen to their updates, and you can also drop them an update. You can decide who you want to listen to by registering and inviting your friends on the web. Once you friends are in, you can all keep in touch, hearing each other’s updates and stories, jokes, whatever, on the phone, on the web, or through mySay widget on your blog or desktop. It’s social communication, using your phone, with no need to download any software – just use your voice!
2. People are giving out that a lot of these services are vanity or ego services. Ways of allowing people to disclose too much information about themselves. What would you say to that? How old is mySay? How many users?
Many of these services are indeed “vanity” or “ego” based. However, one of the most powerful aspects for (for example) flickr, is the interesting social effect of having information be “open”. With flickr for example, it’s possible to search for “st patricks day 2007″, and to see photos from all over the world, from people you’ve never met, about an event of interest. This has a value beyond the simple value of storing photos on the web – it becomes a social documentary (via pictures) of something of interest. Blogs do something similar – while there is much ranting and self-listening via blogs, the outpouring of commentary that occurs around an event, whether trivial (Britney’s hair) or serious (Virginia Tech) is stimulating, varied, and compelling in a way that’s different to other current forms of media.
As for the specifics on enabling people to give out too much information about themselves:
- there’s always the option to make the information private (e.g. mySay lets you have a private page, so that only people you invite can listen).
- if stuff is public, but you don’t want to listen – eh, don’t. If blogs, or twtter streams annoy you, maybe you shouldn’t subscribe or look at them?
- control over privacy / amount-of-sharing is a critical element to get right in services like these.
mySay was launched to the public one week ago. There are a few hundred people signed up since we opened the doors.
3. How does a service like this recoup their revenue?
Well, like many of these services, it’s free to users. The business model flows from two areas: there will be an opportunity to generate some ad based revenue from the site and potentially in-call as we gain users and traffic, and secondly, we think there’s a great opportunity for sponsored content. For example, if I’m a listener to (say) the SF49′ers snippets, I might choose to opt-in to hear occasional offers directly related to the 49ers (tickets, merchandise). Or think of it a different way, a music festival (like Oxygen here in Ireland) might create a profile in the service, and people could sign up as listeners to hear updates, band samples and promotions about the upcoming festival. What if iTunes wanted a profile – listeners could add iTunes as a friend and then when they dial in to mySay, they hear a snippet of the latest music that matches their interests. And so on. There are a lot of potential commercial angles, but right now we’re focused on building a great user experience and ensuring it’s something people want to use and tell their friends about.
4. What’s next for mySay?
In the near term, we’re engaging with the users to ensure that we understand what they like, and what they’d like to see us add to the service. We’re adding support for some new countries right now, and we’re working on some easy-to-use and easy-to-integrate widgets for your desktop and blog/social network pages. The new widgets all work using the new mySay API, which we’ll also release in to the wild when we’ve tested it with a few partners. This is key to enabling an “ecosystem” around the service. With these kinds of services, the users really tell you what’s important, so it’s key to enable them to do what they want.
5. Answer a question I should have asked you.
Q. Give us a typical usage scenario for mySay?
A. Look at me. I phone it. When I do, I hear my new stuff: Joe (friend of mine) is ranting about Vista. Shona (girlfriend) is travelling right now, and is hamming it up ‘cos it’s sunny where she it, and it’s raining here (Ireland). Ross (colleague) is looking for recommendations for somewhere to stay in Oz. Keith is hungover. That’s the new stuff. Now I dial zero and say “Fame has arrived – I’m being interviewed for the Sunday Tribune! – will pass on the link when it’s up on the web!”. And hang up. Now – anyone of my listeners who calls mySay will hear my update. And Joe (for example) sitting at his desk at work is going to see his little mySay widget shake, and my photo’s going to appear with my little snippet.
Other scenarios emerging:
- Power Bloggers
- Families where the members are spread around the world – they can all leave updates and check in with each other is a casual way
Government to also charge disabled people for being disabled. As well as charging pensioners for their stay in nursing homes, it seems the Government will now charge disabled people in care and take the money from their weekly supplement.
It now appears that the department of health (which has historically dropped the ball on supports for those with disabilities) is planning to implement the same regime of charges for those with disabilities as for the pensioners in residential care. Which means they will charge disabled people for living in residential settings. And charge them out of their disabled person’s maintenance allowance.
See? Twitter can make money. Kind of. Selling t-shirts? Please.
Fucking brilliant. Firefox extension to uncensor starred out w*rds.
The start of the Data Bill of rights.
We can identify and review the data that companies have about us. A sticky issue is whether we can also identify and review data that is made about us based on other data the company might have. (IE, based on your behavior, we at Amazon know you might also like….)
Via Loic, subtitle any video using a wiki type collaboration model.
Feist – 1,2,3,4
Hopefully I can do this at the end of every week. A lookback on what was posted here during the week. (Excluding Fluffy Links.)
Labour launch the “This is Margaret” video. Harry McGee says it is the best 60 seconds of the election.
Free .info domains.
ENet, the crowd that run the fibre around the towns talk a lot of bollox.
Should Credit Unions become Angels/Venture Capitalists? Should there be a Startup Lobby Group?
I’m sure they might get taken down soon, so enjoy. More on Bjork’s set.
Army of Me:
The credit unions are having their annual conference this year and it seems from the preview in the Indo yesterday that they are looking at new ways of diverifying before they become obsolete.
CREDIT unions risk becoming irrelevant, fragmented and strait-jacketed by increasingly onerous regulation unless they undergo major changes, its strategy plan warns. The movement also risks losing members in their thousands as banks continue to target products such as loans which were traditionally the preserve of credit unions.
One area they are thinking of going into is “Wealth Management”:
CREDIT unions are considering expanding their services to tap into the fast-expanding wealth management sector of the market.The credit union movement, which is largely perceived to be rural-based and offering services to the less well-off, is also considering offering loans to businesses.
Any move into wealth management would see unions competing with a raft of banks and investments houses that target high net worth individuals. All the major domestic banks have private banking or wealth management divisions, while international heavyweights such as Coutts and HSBC have expressed interest in entering the Irish wealth management market.
Should credit unions get pitched and encouraged to get into the sub-million VC game? They could fill the niche where angels (and the main VC companies) fear to tread. Credit Unions are more forgiving and less greedy than banks and they seem to have more local knowledge or knowledge at least of their members. Though would they be allowed to gamble with their members’ money more so than they do now?
Also, I was wondering should startups create a lobby group or association to make sure that the Government thinks small about their big pile of cash? Does ISME and the SFA do this already? Small investments and hundreds of em are better than worrying about getting money back. Investing tax payer money into small companies and taking a slight gamble is better than taking large chunks of taxpayer money and investing in a handful of sure things. This should be public policy. You know, that’s the reason social welfare and the health system is not a money making machine. And linking to another post from Joe, this has got to piss ya off.
And a bonus link of rule-bending by Enterprise Ireland. Always happy to bend the rules for their sure things are ye lads?