Archive by Author - David Spark

What can you do with a scannable and identifiable model of Paris?

by on December 8, 2009 at 1:45 am

At Silicon Sentier, a startup collective in Paris, I interviewed Maurice Benayoun, Artistic Director of CiTu a research lab for artistic projects. One such project, Terra Numerica, is an easily digestible and programmable scan and index of the city of Paris for which others can use the data to develop applications. City planning and management examples include:

  • Walk through Paris virtually like you would in the real world.
  • Paris had a flood in 1910 and it’s feared that it’s going to happen again within the next ten years. Simulate the flood and see what the effects of such a disaster would have on the city.
  • Virtually raise and lower buildings. See what views would be like.
  • Since the database knows where all the cameras are all over the city, you can play a game where you run through the city avoiding security cameras. I asked Benayoun, “Couldn’t this tool be used by criminals?” Watch the video for his response.


(From an original article by David Spark)

Free report “Real-Time Search and Discovery of the Social Web”

by on December 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

rt_search_iconCall it good or bad timing, but I just happen to finish a report on real-time search on the day that Google announced its rollout of its integrated real-time search results within its general search results. While I had to do some last minute edits, the report is done and I’m making it available to everyone for free. It’s entitled “Real-Time Search and Discovery of the Social Web.” You can download the PDF, or view it right now on Scribd.

I’m giving the report away for free. All I ask in return is some feedback. Positive, negative, but whatever it is, please make it constructive. I’m eagerly learning as much as I can about this subject. This is an area that I think is going to grow like crazy, and we’re only looking at a thumbnail’s worth of what is yet to come.

Here are some highlights from the report.

  • Real-time search could steal away as much as $40 billion from traditional search. Google and Microsoft’s announcement to incorporate real-time search results is a good first step to prevent losses.
  • The definition of real-time search is far more varied than the definition of traditional search. You’ll see more variations in what is considered a real-time search engine.
  • All real-time search engines are far from equal. The major reason is they don’t index the same content.
  • Real-time search engines that only index Twitter are missing up to 90 percent of the real-time web.
  • One exciting new aspect of real-time search is the creation of real-time programming that will be complimentary and competitive with traditional programming (e.g. TV, radio, print, and online).

Enjoy and let me know what you think. David

December 10th, 2009 CORRECTION: The article mentioned that real-time search engine Wowd required a plugin for its use. That is not true. Current report is updated to reflect that it’s not required.

Real-time Search and Discovery of the Social Web

Related posts:

  1. Facebook, Google, and the future of real-time search
  2. Free Google tips to drive traffic to your site
  3. Kevin Rose not worth $60 million. Search AOL data. Protect your searches.

(From an original article by David Spark)

Parisian accordionist sings “Just a Gigolo”

by on December 7, 2009 at 1:36 am

Here’s another video from the karaoke accordionist I saw in Paris on my free day before the beginning of the Traveling Geeks French tech junket. While the accordionist handed the mike to others to sing while he accompanied, he took over to sing “Just a Gigolo” (history of song) all in English.

Related posts:

  1. Karaoke accordionist in Paris
  2. Accordionist and Bassist on the Paris Metro
  3. The cool and not-so-cool of LeWeb

(From an original article by David Spark)

Karaoke accordionist in Paris

by on December 7, 2009 at 1:32 am

The Parisians know how to have a good time. With a free day just before I met up with the other Traveling Geeks, for our junket through some of the latest in Paris tech and Le Web conference, I took a day to wander around Paris. At a weekly Sunday Parisian street fair, I stumbled across a karaoke accordionist. He had a slew of song sheets out for people to pick a tune. Even though it was raining, a small tent was pitched and the locals were dancing along getting into the tunes. Make sure to watch the other video, Parisian accordionist sings “Just a Gigolo.”

Related posts:

  1. Parisian accordionist sings “Just a Gigolo”
  2. Accordionist and Bassist on the Paris Metro
  3. What can you do with a scannable and identifiable model of Paris?

(From an original article by David Spark)

The Traveling Geeks land at Le Web

by on December 6, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Go to dinner with the geeks and you’ll get lots of photos taken

David SparkLet me set the scene for you. More than a dozen geeks have traveled to Paris for a weeklong tech odyssey culminating with coverage from France’s premier Web 2.0 conference, Le Web. I’m having a hard time trying to determine what the difference is between “Le Web” and “The Web,” but as far as I can tell, it’s soft cheese. (more…)

(From an original article by David Spark)

Chris Anderson on the democratization of manufacturing and distribution

by on December 1, 2009 at 10:24 pm

David SparkEvery five or ten years, myself and my colleagues reflect on how much we used to pay for technology and how we’re able to do things we couldn’t do before because it was cost prohibitive.

• It used to be too costly to produce a video, then we got non-linear editing on the desktop.

• It used to be too costly to produce a live television program and distribute it, then we got tools like the TriCaster.

• It was unheard of for an individual to produce and broadcast a 24 hour video channel, but then we got a web tool like LiveStream.

These are just a few examples. There are tons more. Technology and the social web have lowered the barrier for so many things that simply weren’t possible without a huge cash investment. The net result is more people with more talent are able to create more products (e.g. music, games, movies, applications, Internet companies, etc.) just as long as they’re digital. The analog world hasn’t had a chance to see this kind of innovative renaissance, until now, said Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired, during a presentation at the Supernova conference in San Francisco.

We’ve created the model for distribution, now let’s use it

If the past decade was about finding new post-institutional social models on the web, then the next decade will be about applying those models to the real world, explained Anderson. In the video production examples above, cheap non-linear editing, video cameras, and online connectivity democratized video production and distribution, making it affordable to all. And as Anderson argues, when you democratize creation and distribution, you vastly change the world. And while we’ve seen this happen again and again in the digital world, we’re now seeing the trend bleed into the physical world, as Anderson demonstrates with a few examples:

  • 3D Printer

    3D Printer

    3D printers that can duplicate nearly any object, which used to cost thousands of dollars, are now available for $750. Anderson has one in his basement.

  • Access to manufacturers in China that companies like Sony use is now available to everyone using the manufacturer directory Alibaba along with its international real-time communications tool, TradeManager.
  • While it’s still expensive to open up a brick and mortar store, distribution is possible through ecommerce.

What all this means is individuals now have access to manufacturing and distribution and they can compete with Walmart. Anyone, not just major manufacturers, now have affordable access to platforms for micromanufacturing the long tail of physical goods. This is how the web revolution hits the real world, said Anderson.

Small companies filling market gaps

Micro manufacturers are also filling niche markets that major manufacturers don’t want to fill for a number of reasons, such as brand affiliation. In another example, Anderson talked about the squeaky clean image Lego maintains. They’ve got a very wholesome product with a wholesome brand and they want it to stay that way.

Brickarms_hangunsWhile wholesome-only products is what Lego wants to put out, there’s an audience that wants more. Enter Brickarms Covert Weapons Pack, mini toy weaponry for your Lego characters. Anderson spoke with Lego and asked them what they thought of Brickarms. Turns out they’re totally fine with Brickarms making these Lego weapons. Lego just doesn’t want to be in that market. They’ve got a brand to maintain.

With micromanufacturing, small companies can fill unmet market gaps.

Vertical integration is no longer necessary to reduce overhead

Anderson closed his presentation talking about two very different philosophies of production. Before the democratization of the Internet, the manufacturing model required businesses to internalize all transactions so as to minimize costs. But today, manufacturers can minimize transaction costs through a web of connectivity.

Creative Commons images by Roo Reynolds and G-Sta on FlickrDavid Spark helps businesses grow by developing thought leadership through storytelling and covering live events at Spark Media Solutions. He blogs at The Spark Minute and can be heard and seen regularly on ABC Radio, Cranky Geeks with John C. Dvorak, and KQED in San Francisco. See his business profile, contact David, or leave a comment below.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

(From an original article by David Spark)

I used to just be a geek, but now I’m a Traveling Geek

by on November 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Just a short post to let you know that next week I’ll be reporting from LeWeb in Paris with the Traveling Geeks. This is a group formed by Renee Blodgett where more than a dozen tech bloggers attend tech functions and report on the event. Previous Traveling Geeks trips have gone to London, Israel, and South Africa.

For the end of ‘09, the Traveling Geeks’ Paris team includes Eliane Fiolet, Tom Foremski, Robin Wauters, Kim-Mai Cutler, Frederic Lardinois, Matt Buckland, Sky Schuyler, Jerome Tranie, Ewan Spence, Olivier Ezratty, Cyrille de Lasteyrie, Renee Blodgett, Amanda Coolong, Beth Blecherman, and Phil Jeudy. (more…)

(From an original article by David Spark)

Alaska HDTV: Making Money from Podcasting

by on September 23, 2009 at 4:55 pm

(This interview is part of David Spark’s (@dspark) series “Making Money from Podcasting” (read summary “9 Successful Techniques for Making Money from Podcasting”) where he interviews podcasters who are actually generating revenue from their podcasts. There are many techniques, and here’s one person’s tale of how he’s making money from podcasting.)

Kevin Kastner, co-producer of Alaska HDTV

Kevin Kastner, co-producer of Alaska HDTV

Get your own sponsors

Kevin Kastner is the co-producer of the video podcast, Alaska HDTV. He produces the show with Scott Sloan, the original founder of Alaska Podcast (the original name of Alaska HDTV). While in the Alaska Podcast incarnation, Sloan monetized the production through a relationship via the podcast network Mevio (previously known as PodShow and started by legendary MTV VJ Adam Curry – read/watch my interview with Adam Curry). At the time, he was making some ad deals with Mevio but he didn’t have much say and control about the deal. Sloan and Kastner really didn’t understand what the terms of the deals were. They simply received a check in the mail for a few hundred dollars. It wasn’t clear what arrangement Mevio had made with the advertiser and what their cut was, said Kastner.

Interview (Time: 17:13)

Download mp3

Mevio’s offers started getting weaker. Some deals required Kastner and Sloan to run advertisements for free with a referral code and if the advertiser closed a client, Kastner and Sloan would get paid out a referral fee. The relationship with Mevio was starting to sour. The poor offers, the lack of transparency in the deals, and the multi-year commitments caused the two of them to say themselves, we can do better on our own.

Alaska HDTVAs Kastner and Sloan set out to get their own sponsors, they quickly determined that they wanted to go after the travel and transportation industry. They picked companies and went direct to the PR and marketing departments within those organizations. The first company they targeted was Alaska Airlines. Not only did they go after employees within the company, but they also went after their ad agencies. The idea was to corner them at all angles so there would be no way they could avoid being seen, said Kastner. While they didn’t get Alaska Airlines, they did get a partner of Alaska Airlines, Bank of America, issuers of Alaska Airlines’ credit cards. Bank of America had a budget and some money to spend before the end of the quarter. It was really good timing for Alaska HDTV.

In the early days of managing their own ads, like with Bank of America, Kastner and Sloan baked advertisements into Alaska HDTV with a product placement and a pre-roll. Kastner said he avoided the CPM equation at all costs. He uses a flat rate sponsorships, traditionally three months. It’s not hard to calculate Alaska HDTV’s CPMs (between $30-$50) as Kastner gives sponsors full stat reports on viewership. While he was so eager and creative about advertising from the onset, the market has devolved, said Kastner. What they initially thought was advanced programming to entice advertisers (e.g. baking pre-rolls into shows, in-show product placements) turned out to be too confusing. Advertisers just want inserted pre-rolls where they completely control the creative. So for now, because that’s what advertisers want, that’s what Alaska HDTV sells.

Kevin Kastner, Alaska HDTV

Kastner says now that he’s made the full time switch to getting their own sponsors, they’ve increased revenue 200-300 percent. But that’s come at a real cost. It’s no longer a part time gig. Alaska HDTV is his sole source of revenue and the time he’s put into it has gone up more than ten-fold. They do seek other revenue opportunities through hired gun video production and speaking engagements.

Listen to the interview as Kastner tells the tale of his personal struggle seeking sponsors and offers some great experiential advice to others looking to head down the same path as him.

More episodes of “Making Money from Podcasting”

  • Never Not Funny (Technique: “Partial show for free – full show paid”)
  • Personal Life Media (Technique: “Build your own media network of programming and sell advertising against it”)
  • Pregtastic (Technique: “Get your own sponsors”)
  • Elsie’s Yoga Class (Technique: “Sell an iPhone application along with your podcast”)
  • Mac OS Ken (Technique: “Give away five shows for free, make them pay for the sixth”)
  • Duct Tape Marketing (Technique: “Build your brand to sell your services”)
  • ScreenCastsOnline (Technique: “Give away every other episode. Make them pay for the rest.”)
  • Izzy Video (Technique: “Give away every other episode. Make them pay for the rest.”)
  • Slate Gabfests (Technique: “Integrating sponsorship with the show’s editorial”)
  • Wizzard Media (Technique: “Got audience? We’ll get you sponsors. Or, get sponsors on your own and we’ll insert the ads” PLUS “Sell an iPhone application along with your podcast”)
  • (Technique: “Build an audience and sell premium podcasts”)
  • Manager Tools (Technique: “Build your brand to sell your services”)
  • ESPN (”Build your own media network of programming and sell advertising against it”)
  • Mevio (Technique: “Motivate your audience”)

(From an original article by David Spark)

How one company uses Web 2.0 tools to run and promote their business

by on June 14, 2009 at 11:36 pm

David SparkEveryone wants to be more efficient, productive, and successful. We’re constantly seeking advice on Lifehacker. We gravitate toward any post entitled “How to …” or “Top tips to …” And we’re feeding self-help book publishers who dominate 25 percent of the publishing market.

Rarely, though, do we get an opportunity to see one person or one organization completely open up the kimono and show us step by step how they deploy all of these time and cost saving techniques to actually run their business. (more…)

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