"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

First to Market, or First to Rate?

Posted: January 29th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

In the world of business the success of your idea depends hugely on word of mouth and feedback, especially with the Internet. The same is true of music, with new bands scrabbling to get any bandwidth with already saturated music lovers. In such a situation we often rely on music taste makers that we know and trust to point us towards new music we might like. This was a subject that Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his excellent book ‘The Tipping Point‘, where he described such people or groups as ‘super influencers’ who have an effect on many people’s opinions and can even make or break new products.

Well it seems not everyone believes Gladwell’s view of how information is dispersed. In a recent article Fast Company talks with Duncan Watts, a Network Theorist, on his own views of how information travels. He feels that information sharing in tightly grouped areas such as music depends much more on who gets the first attention, rather than who is referenced by the most connected people. This was found in an experiment where he set up new songs on a music sharing site, and then asked different groups to rate the music – but some of the groups had a social aspect, and others didn’t. What transpired was that the top rated list of songs was totally different for each group, there was no shared ‘best song’. The result for the ‘social’ world seemed to be driven more by who got the first votes, not who was actually best.

This result has some intuitive merit. In today’s social information networks, information that is tagged most rises to the top of display lists such as ‘Recent Top 10’ or similar. Other people then see these lists and give their own opinions on this music, perhaps biased by its position in the list, instead of going round all available music and seeing what they like. In this case the influencer is the social group en masse, rather than a single super influencer. Either way it seems that getting out there first with your product into a new area is critical, although as Watts says – “In general, the ‘best’ songs never do very badly, and the ‘worst’ songs never do extremely well, but almost any other result is possible&rdquo – so make sure your product is worthy of any attention is receives and you can’t go far wrong. Or if it’s not great, then make sure you can get feedback from this failed attempt to make sure the next one is worthy.

[From Boing Boing]

Subtitling Videos

Posted: May 12th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Life | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Earlier tonight I was watching some hilarious sketches from ‘Smack the Pony‘, an overlooked British comedy show from the late 90s with classic sketches such as this:

Once I’d stopped laughing I realised there was something interesting going on here – the subtitles. This sketch had been recorded off a French channel so the video stream had subtitles in it, but what if I wanted Spanish subtitles? Then it struck me, that if you could put an overlay onto any video from a service like youTube that embedded subtitles you could extend the reach of any video. Maybe you could even help world peace… Maybe.

I filed this idea away for later, then about an hour later I was looking at metafilter and came across someone trying to do just this – dotSub. D’oh, beaten to the punch again. But then having reviewed the dotSub offering I still feel like there’s potential here for someone else to do a lot better. For example it doesn’t look like dotSub overlays videos from other sources, they stream them directly and embed their own pre-structured English subtitles to work from. They also don’t seem to offer a rating system for thei subtitles, which given they’re done by free from their audience seems a bit risky.