Archive for the "Ideas" Category


Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

tweetdeck_128I finally succumbed to peer pressure and set up an account on Twitter.  Added the little Twitter widget to my sidebar, and have been playing with various tools for tweeting and consuming tweets.  One I came across today is particularly interesting – TweetDeck.  Its an Adobe AIR application.  AIR is essentially a cross-platform delivery system for rich Flash applications that can work independently of a web browser.  I’ve been seeing some very interesting applications of AIR recently.  This one however is quite elegant indeed.  I highly recommend it for anybody that is interested in tapping into Twitter.

blipfm_lgGenerally speaking, what intrigues me most is the dynamic that is created by mini-blogging sites.  Twitter is one of many sites (even Facebook is trying to jump on the bandwagon with their latest redesign) using this paradigm.  One of my favorite is – basically a mini-playlist site (if you want to apply the mini-blogging paradigm to this vertical).  On (which by the way interfaces with Twitter quite nicely) you select music or link to publicly hosted mp3 files.  Other people can then play your “mp3 mini-playlist” and give you props (a sort of social currency) for your selections, add you to their favorite DJs list, etc.  Check out my blips if you’re interested.

Here’s an article comparing the top 4 mini-blog options.  I haven’t comprehensively played with Jaiku or Tumblr, but the sites seem to be intriguing clones of the Twitter concept – according to a quick glance.  Pownce seems to be have been acquired by SixApart and is no longer functional as its own site.  Seems like there’s going to be some consolidation in this space, but I’m more interested in the apps being built around existing sites, like TweetDeck, and other verticals this can be applied to, like

Anyone know any other cool examples in the mini-blogging space?

Wolfram Alpha

Monday, March 9th, 2009

wolframalphaspikey-stillI just read Nova Spivack’s post about Wolfram Alpha on Twine.  It looks like Stephen Wolfram has been operating a stealth-mode company that has built a natural language question answer and computation engine.  It launches in May 2009. Its a system that can answer factual questions, using computation to generate some of the answers based on information it knows or can pull in.  Interesting concept, although not new as some of comments have pointed out.  True Knowledge is a company that has a working version of this already. And there’s the START Natural Languange Question Answering System which has been “on-line and continuously operating since 1993″.

google_gorilla03What’s interesting about Nova Spivack’s spin on the project is that he compares it directly to Google and how Google is a lookup engine whereas Wolfram is a computation engine.  I don’t think Google is behind the curve on this issue though – seems like they’re either waiting for somebody to solve this problem well and then they’re going to get gobbled (or googled) up and bought.  Or perhaps they have a system of their own that does this sort of stuff and they’ve just been waiting for the appropriate time to launch it – when their stock needs a big boost or something :) )  At this point Google is a company with almost infinite resources both computationally and financially.  There are very few companies that can be compared to them in a functional way.  What Google is doing is not competing in a very obvious way.  They’re competing in a very smart way – undoubtedly there are things being worked on at Google right now that are foundations for some very exciting applications – some of them could be monetizable, some of them may not be.  But what they’ve been revealing are tools that are molding the web into a better business platform for them and for everybody else.  Its hard to be mad at an 800 pound gorilla standing next to you in a crowded room passing out free drinks.  What I’d like to see is how Wolfram Alpha is going to monetize their business – are they going to run Google Ads or are they waiting for Google to buy them?

Text to Speech and Back Again

Monday, January 19th, 2009

I became interested in text-to-speech and voice recognition recently.  Partly because I started recording voice notes on my BlackBerry Bold recently, instead of adding new todo items and typing out text memos of new ideas.

Back in 2003, I pondered using text-to-speech to perform intelligent “morning buddy” tasks.  Originally it was motivated by a post on Seth Godin’s blog,  In other words – how would you like somebody to wake you up (and I mean persistently bother you until you actually get out of bed); and somebody to read you the morning news, weather and todo list; and what if that thing was your computer – or even a little bed-side appliance?

Over the last couple of days I started thinking about this idea again.  Originally I thought it would be very cool to control your instant messenger application with voice.  Think about driving and getting an IM alert from your phone.  Unlocking your phone (as I use the BlackBerry password lock feature religiously) with voice would be cool.  Then you could have the phone read the IM message to you.  Prompt it to read you the previous message to give you context of the conversation – and it does that.  Prompt it to reply and it uses voice recognition to type a response and then read it back to you.  Tell it to send the message when you’re ready, and presto! – voice-based instant mobile messaging.  I’ve used the Voice Command feature on Windows-based mobile phones like the Treo.  I know this kind of thing can be done.  But if somebody created something like this already, why don’t I know about it? Tell me if I’m wrong, I’d love to just use something like this that’s already built.  But somehow I think its either not a reality yet or perhaps it hasn’t been properly marketed.

Either way, I’m going to make this a little pet project, or something like this.  I have no doubt that there’s a demand for something like this.  Now I’m gonna have to get my google search on, and then get my hands a little dirty with code to make it happen.