Makes me wonder as I look at Yahoo! Buzz – year in review 2008.  These are the top 10 search terms in Yahoo search.

yahoo-top10-searches

  1. Britney spears (Music /Entertainment)
  2. WWE (Sports Entertainment)
  3. Barack Obama (Politics)
  4. Miley Cyrus ( Entertainment)
  5. RuneScape (Online gaming entertainment)
  6. Jessica Alba (Movie star / entertainment)
  7. Naruto (Entertainment)
  8. Lindsay Lohan (Movie star / entertainment)
  9. Angelina Jolie (Movie star / entertainment)
  10. American Idol (TV / entertainment)

Note that 9 out of the 10 terms are entertainment oriented, a trend which is similar to 2007.

Wonder if this is a reflection of Yahoo users or whether the entertainment industry is recession proof ? What do you think ? (Note: Britney spears is worth $110 million)

There are two beasts in entertainment which I feel when legalized in India, could change the face of entertainment and prove to be a great opportunity for startups.

  1. Gambling on TV / in casinos.
  2. Pornography on TV.

What do you think ? Any ideas for killer startups in this space 🙂 ? (or should we say hot startups 🙂 )

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World Usability Day 2008 Bangalore

World Usability Day 2008 Bangalore

World Usability Day (WUD) is a global initiative of the Usability Professionals’ Association to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, in November, over 300 events are organized in over 40 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and train professionals in the issues central to good usability research, development and practice.

The 2008 World Usability Day focuses on Usability in Transportation focussing on the interaction people and vehicles, the challenges and issues infrastructure and modes for moving around in our environment. World Usability Day 2008 is focused on exploring and creating awareness for several aspects of transportation in Bangalore and in India.  

Details

Date : 29th November 2008

Time : 10.30 to 4.30 am

Venue : Yahoo campus (inner ring raod, domlur)

Register to participate on the UPA Bangalore wiki.

If you are going to be at the event, drop me a line in comments below or send me a message on Twitter.

I just finished going through the Consumer experience report, from Razorfish a survey which has documented the online behavior and characteristics of more than 1,000 “connected” consumers on the internet. This was refreshing to read in the midst of all grim news and presentations from VC firms and the layoffs in internet firms.

The Consumer experience report looks at:

  • People’s life online and their exchanges and networks that they build on the web
  • Changing consumer behavior heralded by Web 2.0, UGC and the voice of the consumer
  • what is the real impact of the “social web”;
  • Key drives for transactions and purchases on the web
  • and who is really using the mobile web and what are they doing.

The survey report is nicely documented and gives several key insights into online consumer behavior. If you are building a consumer internet product, it would suggest you go through this report.

Here are some thoughts I found encouraging, with potential for building opportunities on

  • Search as the start of most online experiences
  • Increasing importance of user experience design and designing for the “Facebook generation”
  • Emergence of online video as a rising star and increased adoption across demographics
  • Accelerated adoption of social media technologies at a breakneck speed – Increasing popularity of Twitter, Facebook and other social technologies which connect people and enable conversations
  • Peer driven search and search from social recommendation sites driving digital commerce
  • Market for smartphone is growing and adoption of online mobile services nascent
  • Growth of mico conversations and social media tools like twitter -“I don’t remember how I kept in touch before!”
  • Increased use of widgets which mashup data from various sources and can be accessed on the web and mobile
  • Increased demand for data visualization and enabling users to track their activities over the social web.

So what are your thoughts on the report ? If you run an Internet startup, what are you doing to leverage this ?

razorfish consumer experience report

You can download the entire report in PDF from here.

Understanding spatial search

November 4, 2008

So what is spatial search ?

In today’s context, where the Internet is the starting point for finding any information you need about anything in the world, and of course most of us use Google. The problem with traditional search is that it does not support or have information about the geographical dimension.

Why is spatial search important ?

This becomes extremely important when searching for something like “Guest houses in Bangalore”. Although the geographical location, in this case ‘Bangalore’ can be used as a part of search query term, the search engine does not interpret it as a geographical location.

So results for the search query – “Guest houses in Bangalore” will turn up documents with “Guest houses” and “Bangalore” and might not show up results with guest houses koramangala or indiranagar which are localities in Bangalore and also hence very apt results. This is because, the search engine does not have a relationship between these terms.

The other issue with traditional search in entities like homes is that the geographical information of these locations are not known, and hence they cannot be visualized on a map – which would be the most intuitive way to visualize these results.

While planning and architecting my100floors, we understood the need for Spatial search and helping users visualize home searches on maps. Moreover we felt that that searching for properties on maps was the intuitive way to find properties. In fact, we are the first to provide a map based search in India, cracking the problem of non-availability of geo-coded data.

The next post will talk about our implementation of Spatial search in, challenges we faced and a walk through of the user experience.

property_mapsearchmy100floors.com is currently in closed beta, leave your email address on the site and drop me a line here or on twitter and I will make sure that you get the invite.

Following is Gartner’s list of Top ten disruptive technologies for 2008 to 2012

  • Multicore and hybrid processors
  • Virtualisation and fabric computing
  • Social networks and social software
  • Cloud computing and cloud/Web platforms
  • Web mashups
  • User Interface
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Contextual computing
  • Augmented reality
  • Semantics

What do you think ?

The Twitter obsession (and addiction) continues, we are all hooked on to it, aren’t we.

If you aren’t already, do follow me on Twitter.
So for all the Twitteratti / Tweeple / Tweeps out there, here’s my list of top 10 tools / plugins (in no particular order) for Twitter to enhance your Tweeting experience.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck takes all the information from Twitter and helps you manage the information overload by grouping them into managable pieces or based on your interests.

Twitturly

Tracks Top URLs which are talked about on Twitter. Extremely useful service and helps you find the most interestsing and latest information on the web.

Twitter Patterns

Helps you give your twitter page some style! They have some really cool designs, check it out.

Twitterfeed

Very useful app, which automatically tweets whenever you publish a post on your blog. Helps you get some link love!

Easy Tweets

A handy tool for online and digital marketers who wish to leverage the advantages of social media and microblogging. Easy Tweets enables you to switch between multiple Twitter accounts, track follower, replies etc all from one dashboard.

Hashtags

Hashtags enable you to track and follow conversations on Twitter. Follow @hashtags on Twitter and the service will index your tweets. Then add a #tagname to your tweet and this can be instantly looked up or searched.

Quotably

This service lets you follow a user’s conversations in a threaded manner, showing you all the various people the given user has had a conversation with. Interesting tool, especially when you trying to find out what others are saying about your brand/service.

Plodt

Plodt enables charts your tweets based on a tag and rank you provide. For example you could tweet
Vinodh’s blog . *interesting 10* and as you keep adding such tweets, Plodt gives you a timeline graph such as below

Power Twitter

Power Twitter Features
This Firefox plugin greatly enhances twitter to include: photo sharing with embedded flickr photos, video sharing with embedded youtube videos, shared tinyurls are unwound and lots of other power user features.

Twitter Keys

Twitter keys is a fun tool for Twitter which enables you to use UTF8 symbols in your tweets.  Once downloaded, this appears as a floating window, so all you need to do is to choose your symbol, copy n paste. So come on, get creative in your tweets using these symbols.

One special feature

Vakow

Vakow is an India focussed service which lets you post to Twitter as an SMS. Very useful and probably the cheapest way to pot to Twitter via mobile in India.

Let me know what you like and what tool you use.

Security vs. Usability

September 23, 2008

I have been using my ICICI bank credit card for over thryears now. I encountered this weird error this morning while paying my bills on visabillpay. (Click image for a larger view)

ICICI credit card error

Alright let me set context.

This is a page which ICICI bank brought up while doing a credit card transaction on Visabillpay. This page asks me to register my credit card online with ICICI bank using a Internet banking pin number.

So I have seen this page multiple times on this site but always opted out as I don’t have my interent banking pin number. So today I did the same thing and opted out of registration by clicking on the “No, thanks Don’t activate my card now” link, but this is the message I got.

“You have exceeded the number of opt-outs for this card. If you decide to opt-out even now then bank will decline your transaction.”

I was astounded. I had no clue of what was happening. The bank never told me that I had a fixed number of opt-outs from registration. Now I can’t pay my electricity and water bills.

Here’s how this scenario could have been handled using better product design

  • ICICI bank should have told users the number of opt-outs they have. This could have been in the form of a counter which is very prominent on every registration request screen.
  • Educating the user about the advantages of registering their credit card. In fact ICICI bank is mandating this for higher security and to prevent online credit card fraud. Educate your users by telling them the benefits of doing a particular action and then lead them to this action.
  • Forgive your users which they don’t do something that’s needed, after all they are users!
  • Send users warning alerts as their opt-outs are nearing to zero. ICICI bank has my email address and my mobile number.
  • Get customer care to call users.

Forgive, educate and lead to action – simple but powerful.

What do you think ? What you faced this issue ?