Archive for April, 2008

Wild boar and gardeners

April 27, 2008

Amongst gardeners (I am not one but find myself in family of them and their lore), Robins are known for being tame and good friends of gardeners.

Apparently, this behaviour is because Robins have evolved to follow herds of wild boar who dig up roots, mushrooms, truffles and so on, which the Robins can dig through to get at worms, slugs and insects. Nowadays, the wild boar is rarely found, but gardeners plod through their gardens digging up the earth in much the same way, and the Robins follow them diligently waiting for a chance to snack on the fresh grub.

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Content Testing Goes Mainstream

April 27, 2008

There is a good Google Blog post on the fact that you can now get Google Web Optimiser without using Adwords — just any Google account will do. They’ve also improved the workflow to make it easier and more effective to use.

Purple Motes points out that as your site gets larger and attracts more traffic the audience demographic may well change. Just using multivariate testing to optimise once may not be enough. The post has some good ideas on how to identify what it is really driving usage and what not.

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Google Maps Follows Microsoft, Now Offers Traffic Predictions, whilst TomTom just leads

April 18, 2008

Mashable has a nice piece on Google following M$, implementing traffic prediction on their web maps (but not Google Earth or Google Maps Mobile): Google Maps Follows Microsoft, Now Offers Traffic Predictions:. Note that this is not realtime traffic which has been with us for a while, but future time traffic — traffic prediction.

Personally, I think that the greatest thing is Traffic on maps is still to be found at TomTom with the TomTom HD. Using mobile phone densities, this increases the traffic coverage to be found on any other navigation device (or on the web) from 45% of Dutch motorways to 100%, plus 100% of all secondary roads — and it’s the difference that makes a difference when it comes to driving in traffic. From my personal experience in the last three months, the TT HD consistently predicts correctly how long a journey through thick traffic is going to take and saves you significant time.

The TT HD also has a GPRS SIM card built in and uses its always-on nature to get 5 times as many traffic updates, and no more issues connecting to your mobile phone, or not being able to call whilst getting traffic updates. Combine this with the 10 times larger coverage and you have a killer app.

In another clever move, TT has released the TT HD Traffic Receiver (only in Dutch) which is a power cable with the GPRS SIM built in. At €99, this is dirt cheap for a year of free data 24/7 for your TomTom. It’s also a great way of upgrading those legacy devices to always-on, fully connected, location aware, ubiquitous computers.

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SpinVox Strategy

April 6, 2008

Great podcost and blog from msearchgroove on SpinVox. This company started out by translating voicemails to text. They have just got another $100m or so of funding to expand their offering into new languages and domains. Now, they are looking at use cases like listening to voicemails that mention “Let’s meet up in Covent Garden and have a bite to eat” which prompts your mobile to give you a list of great restaurants in Covent Garden and offer to book one. This is in contrast to a classic above the line approach of broadcasting ads at you. This is really contextual and personal: automatically relevant and because it’s purely opt-in, users are much more willing to transact.

SpinVox co-founder Daniel Doulton talks about implicit and explicit search. The latter is how most search engines work right now: a user needs to explicit state what he is looking for. The former is how search can add most value: by ‘listening in’ to our conversations, and looking at our day, and unobtrusively helping out. He reckons that this is the obvious reason why Google made their 411 play: voice is central to their strategy and way of making search really free-form. You see similarly pureplays in search companies like Powerset.

SpinVox allows you to note your blog, or your social networking product, then with a voice call add text to your site, or indeed add comments to someone’s site.

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Getting back in the saddle again

April 5, 2008

Well, it’s been at least five months since I blogged. This blog, like so many others, has gone ‘dark’. The blogosphere is like an iceberg and most of the blogs that are above water with the lights on are new blogs. Over time, the demands of a work life, family life or social life invade on your blog life and the lights dim and gradually go out. Your blog is dark. I am going to start fitting more blogging and gradually turn the dimmer back up.

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