Friday, May 04, 2007 – Detect plagiarism on the internet

from - published startups by rachsig Copyscape is a site that aims to get rid of a big problem: the ease with which work can be plagiarized on the internet. You can register your content with the site and put their banner on your article, proclaiming to all that your work is protected by Copyscape. Then you enter the url address of your article on the Copyscape site to see if anyone has written something that is similar enough to have been copied. The site uses a Google API to search for similar word content, so that you can see if anyone has cited your work or even copied you.

The service is free, and Copyscape also offers a Premium service which has more accurate and advanced search options as well as unlimited searches. To use the Premium service, you pay by search. Each Premium search costs $0.05. Search credits are purchased in advance and can be bought as and when they are required. In their own words: "Copyscape is dedicated to defending your rights online, helping you fight against online plagiarism and content theft. Copyscape finds sites that have copied your content without permission, as well as those that have quoted you. * The free Copyscape service makes it easy to find copies of your content on the Web. Simply type in the address of your original web page, and Copyscape does the rest. * The powerful Premium service provides professional grade coverage, plus an unlimited number of searches. You may also copy and paste to search for copies of your offline content. Copyscape Premium includes integrated case tracking to manage your responses to multiple instances of online plagiarism. * The advanced Copysentry service provides ongoing protection for your entire website. Copysentry automatically scans the web every day and alerts you to copies of your content. It also includes integrated case tracking. • The Global Web Rights campaign provides the tools and information you need to defend yourself against content theft and copyright violations on the web." Why it might be a killer: The site is a logical companion to anyone who blogs or posts content on Wikipedia and so on. Even if your content isn't actually copyrighted, it is still good to be able to know when others are using it. Some questions: Five whopping cents for a search is not going to add much to the site's revenue (which comes from ads), and it may turn off users who don't want to bother with the time or the small cost


Solar power plant looks heavenly

David Pescovitz: This 40 story tall tower just outside Seville, Spain is actually a new solar thermal power plant. Operated by Solúcar Energía, the facility uses 600 mirrors on the ground to tightly focus the sun's rays on water pipes at the top of the tower. The heat converts the water into steam that drive turbines to generate electricity. It's the photo of the reflected solar rays hitting the tower that really impresses me though. As editor Alistair Strachan pointed out to me, the scene "looks strangely religious," like a bad biblical illustration. From the BBC News:
 Media Images 42877000 Jpg  42877005 Mirrors Bbc 203The tower looked like it was being hosed with giant sprays of water or was somehow being squirted with jets of pale gas. I had trouble working it out. In fact, as we found out when we got closer, the rays of sunlight reflected by a field of 600 huge mirrors are so intense they illuminate the water vapour and dust hanging in the air. The effect is to give the whole place a glow - even an aura - and if you're concerned about climate change that may well be deserved.


Improve your photos with classic painting color palettes

Mark Frauenfelder: How to use Photoshop's "Match Color" tool with classic paintings by the old masters to make your digital photos pop. Picture 11-7
I keep a directory of about 30 of my favorite paintings and anytime I need to do color correction, I just scan through them to find the one that gives the photo I'm working on the best look. This technique can be used in other ways. For example, use the color from a scanned-in 1970's Kodachrome snapshot to give a recent photo a vintage look. Need to make a picture more menacing? Use the color from a picture of a storm.
Link (Via Lifehacker)


Small is The New Big

Richard Moross, a twenty-something Londoner, was bored with the business cards most people were exchanging. He decided to do something about it. He started Moo Prints, a 10-person start-up that takes images from popular websites, like Flickr and Bebo, and prints them on cards that are exactly half the height (28mm x 70mm) of a regular business card.

Size alone makes Moo cards memorable. Moross cleverly dubbed them “mini-cards,” leveraging a marketing trend that’s already been über-successful in selling autos and iPods. Better still, Moo minis are highly personalized. For instance, Moross will take photos from your Flickr account and print it on your cards.

Getting your Moo cards is simple—sign up for the service, fill out your contact details, add your Flickr ID, and 10 days later 100 cards show up. All in, a set of Moo minis sets you back just $5.

Thanks to their size, Moo minis are cheaper to print than typical calling cards. The company prints its cards on an industrial strength laser printer made by Hewlett-Packard. But Moross juices his profits in other ways as well. Because Moo works with existing communities (and social networks) such as Skype, Habbo Hotel, Bebo, Second Life and Flickr, the company has built a sizeable following without spending a dime on marketing.

Which brings me to my point: Moo is among the first wave of young businesses finally putting the so called Web 2.0 technologies to work to make good on the promise that this much-ballyhooed generation of start-ups has been vapidly pledging for far too long: that Web2.0 would reinvent the boring, the old fashioned and the antiquated.

Don’t get me wrong. No stretch of imagination could conjure Moo into a technology business. No, no. Moo is a technology-enabled business. Forget patent-protected code (thank you, Justices of The Supreme Court!) or over-designed hardware. Moo is the epitome of a business that has truly harnessed Web2.0.

Several others companies fit the bill, too. Among them: Germany-based t-shirt maker Spreadshirt; Chicago-based Skinny Corp; and San Francisco-based 8020 Publishing, publishers of the JPG magazine. And CastingWords, which offers a transcription service based entirely on the web. In each case, the basic work product of these companies is no different from that of their traditional predecessors. (A T-shirt is a T-shirt. A business card is still a business card.) These young businesses are not inventing new things that distinguish them. It is the way they are using technology to execute and interface with their customers that makes them special.

I tape an interview with you and upload an MP3 file of our conversation to the CastingWords website. CastingWords puts the job of transcribing our chat to an open auction among its pool of pre-approved transcribers—people who might be dispersed over the world. The low bid wins, and a few days later I receive our transcript in the mail, for a fraction of what it once cost me to have the same chore done by a local service in San Francisco.

Companies like CastingWords are riding the crest of a wave of change that is only going to gather more momentum – and fast. Now any businesses can be reinvented with Web2.0 technologies.

You might be wondering, haven’t we heard this story before? Like ten years ago, when the commercial Internet hit its stride, when many brick-and-mortar businesses set up dot-com shops. But this didn’t trickle down to the little guys, to the small businesses that constitute the bell of the curve of the U.S. economy. This is one of the reasons why most new start-ups from the 1990s, like Amazon, had to spend hundreds of millions to compete with the older, established and large players.

Small and specialized entrepreneurs, such as the printer who specializes in business cards, or the graphic artists who open a T-shirt company, could never have possessed enough scale to make Web-enabling them attractive, or to attract the kind of investment or professional money that might have been necessary to do so. Size mattered.

But no more. Now that Web 2.0 is growing up, scale no longer matters. Even tiny businesses—like transcription services—can go global.

Today the same productivity gains enjoyed by large corporations in the ’90s are available to anyone for a few hundred bucks a year. A couple of hundred for a CRM suite, Google Apps for $50 a year, financial software for less than $10 a month – the cost of running an online business is a few thousand dollars.

The refined service of product customization popularized by Dell Computer no longer has to cost you millions. Today, a few hundred dollars buys you a slick and highly interactive site that is backed up with open source software and cheap hosting. Drive your labor costs with oDesk, which makes it easy to find talented programmers on the cheap.

Web APIs offered by the Google, eBay, or Amazon make once mundane and expensive business processes cheap. Store your customer data on Amazon’s S3 storage service; buy computer [processing] power on demand via Amazon EC2. Don’t want to manage your own inventory (why would you!?), shipping companies like FedEx and UPS or even Amazon, will do it for you.

In other words, today you can work like you are as big as a Fortune 500 company, without incurring 1/500th of the costs. It’s like looking in the rear view mirror: objects may seem bigger than they really are!

But before you decide to chuck your boring day job to start a new Web2.0 business, remember that in this generation—even more than in past business eras—everything about your business, and I mean everything from operations to marketing, must revolve around the customer.

Here are my Three Rules for the new technology enabled company:

  1. Involve your customer: Spreadshirt and Threadless work because they allow customers to create, design and customize their own T-shirts, instead of buying off-the-shelf stuff.

  2. Your customer is your ultimate salesperson: Moo grew by tapping into and riding on the backs of special interest groups and social networks. Every time a customer hands out a card, Moo gets free marketing.

  3. Serve your customer: If you want to play at cost arbitrage, as CastingWords does, make sure your service is high on convenience as well as low on price. This has been the case for centuries, why should the new millennium be any different.

So what are you waiting around for… time to start something new! Or old, for that matter.


Breaking: Yahoo To Shut Down Yahoo Photos In Favor Of Flickr

I am at the annual Outcast CEO Dinner event - Brad Garlinghouse (Yahoo SVP Communications & Communities) and Stewart Butterfield (Cofounder Flickr) are sitting at my table and told me that they will announce the closure of Yahoo Photos tomorrow. The actual closure will occur over the next few months, they say.

The service will be shut down in favor of the newer and more social Flickr, which they acquired in March of 2005. There has long been an issue at Yahoo where newer services have competed with older services, and Yahoo has finally taken some strong action to getting their house in order with a consistent set of product offerings. Garlinghouse has been one of the stronger proponents of this strategy.

Yahoo is not forcing transition to Flickr - instead, users are being given the option of choosing among a number of top photo sharing sites. If you are a current Yahoo! Photos user, you will be given the option to export all your photos into Flickr (a one-click process) or you will be able to export to a few other services such as Photobucket, Snapfish, Kodak Gallery or Shutterfly. Most of these services have built special tools to transition users, Butterfield said. Users will also be able to download full sized original photos, or order CDs and prints at a discount to the normal price. “We have no interest in forcing anyone to switch to Flickr” Butterfield said. “We want happy users.”

Yahoo Photos is currently the largest photo sharing site on the Internet, with around 2 billion stored photos. Flickr, by comparison, has around 500 million photos. But Flickr is also growing much faster than Yahoo photos and coincidentally has just exceeded Yahoo! Photos in traffic, according to Comscore.

The first graph below shows only U.S. traffic for Flickr and Yahoo. The table below that shows March Comscore numbers for the worldwide audience.


Site Unique Visitors(M)
Yahoo! Photos 31.1
Flickr 28.5
Photobucket 28.1
Facebook Photos 23.5

Butterfield also confirmed that Flickr will “soon” allow users to upload videos in addition to photos.


What Drew Yahoo to Flickr When They Already Had Yahoo! Photos

Yahoo Photos director Will Aldrich had earlier denied any plans for merging Yahoo Photos and Flickr. But it was probably not making perfect business sense for Yahoo to manage two competing photo sharing websites under the same umbrella. Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield today informed TechCrunch that Yahoo! Photos is shutting shop and all existing Yahoo Photos! users will be migrated to Flickr. They'll also get a one-click option to export Yahoo photos to Photobucket or Shutterfly. And like Picasa and PhotoBucket, video sharing is meeting Flickr soon. Download Yahoo! Photos I was reading this interesting book - How Innovators Connect - coauthored by Techtribe founder Rohit Agarwal and journalist Patricia Brown, where they have interviews and success stories of Silicon Valley veterans like investor Ram Shriram of Google, Ashish Gupta of Junglee, Subrah Iyer of WebEx and many more entrepreneurs. Here's an excerpt from the same book, using the current example of Flickr, that suggests "timing" can play a crucial role in the success of a company. Makes perfect sense. Time to market, Be a trend spotter In 2005, Yahoo acquired Flickr, a Vancouver, British Columbia based company that lets users upload digital pictures from computers and cameras, and arrange their photos into albums and include them in blogs and other postings. Timing was critical in this acquisition for a number of reasons, says Bradley Horowitz, VP of product strategy at Yahoo, and the primary coordinator of the acquisition. Yahoo already had the world's most successful online photo site in 2005. But there are something Yahoo saw in a small company of just a dozen people: Their ability to build a community - or ecosystem - around the concept of photography was scalable. Flickr recognized the new keywords - social networking, interaction, and ubiquitous broadband. The Flickr founders simply connected the dots in a timely fashion. Yahoo's Horowitz says there were four specific factors that drew him to Flickr: 1. User Generated Content - This was not new to Yahoo. Yahoo had been soliciting user generated content through Geocities for years - but it had not generated the mass appeal that was driving the Flickr buzz. 2. User Annotated Content - Although Yahoo had billions of photos up in its section called Yahoo Photos, most of them didn't have "metadata" built around them. In essence, Yahoo created a huge digital shoebox with billions of people's photos, while Flickr offered users the ability to organized their photos in a sophisticated and intuitive manner using tagging technologies. Flickr made it much easier for common people to add metadata to the photos. As a result, roughly 85 percent of the photos in Flickr were tagged or annotated with some human entered metadata. 3. Community Distribution - Following the open-source model, Flickr encourage its members to share photos among its community. Yahoo and other companies at the time went to extraordinary lengths to preclude people from using the photos that lived on its servers outside the context of the Yahoo! environment. The Flickr model turned Yahoo's business model on its head. Instead of positioning Yahoo as the destination site for these images, Flickr allowed Yahoo to pay for the storage and bandwidth, while encourage third-party sites - mainly bloggers - to use that content. Tens of thousands of bloggers began to use Flickr as their imaging backbone, Horowitz says. This drove up awareness and dependency on the Yahoo site after the Flickr acquisition. 4. Platform Distribution - Flickr delivered a great end-user service. But it also delivered the services and facilities that allowed the community of developers to continue enhancing their own services. In effect, they had developers that were not on the payroll building enhancements - like the Flickr Macintosh coupler - at no cost to Yahoo!. Flickr Founders Flickr co-founders Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield developed an ecosystem that was possible only because of specific trends occurring in the market at the time of their innovative thinking process. Flickr's innovators created an environment in which millions of people contributed and distributed photos while a combination of Flickr's internal team and external collaborators created new offerings. "That's the leverage you get when take a risk and trust that people are creative, and trust in the idea that many people can do more than just a few," Horowitz says.


YouTube Launches Revenue Sharing Partners Program, but no Pre-Rolls

youtube.jpgThe news, first broken by Om Malik and now live on the YouTube Blog, that YouTube has launched a revenue sharing Partners Program for its top content creators is a positive step forward for a service that only made $15 million in revenue last year, despite a purchase price of $1.5 billion.

What is notably missing from the announcement is the inclusion of pre-rolls, or similar in-video advertising inclusions for the new YouTube partners, who include LisaNova, renetto, HappySlip, smosh, and valsartdiary.

We’ve covered rumors about the introduction of in-video advertising previously, in January Steve Poland noted the BBC reporting that the advertising on YouTube may take the form of 3 second pre-rolls, but some 4 months later, still nothing.

That’s where we could leave it, if it weren’t for the fact that not only is YouTube not showing a great ROI for Google financially, but the new Partners Program only goes as far as monetizing the actual YouTube page destination with Adsense units. Whilst not without merit, the new program is limited given the way YouTube content is consumed. The great strength of YouTube from its earliest days has been the use of embedded video on external sites: a large number, if not a majority of viewers will never see the advertising, viewing it only on blogs and forums which if they are running Google Adsense units, do so in a way that does not benefit the content creator.

Red Herring reported in April that YouTube was looking to introduce pre-rolls over Summer, but limited to only premium publisher content. Whilst the premium content is a strong driver of traffic to YouTube, YouTube’s sole focus on it for the introduction of in-video advertising would ignore the long tail of user generated and submitted content that was the real driving force for the site in the days prior to Google and its formal content distribution agreements, and as many would argue still is.

The question naturally is why? Why not roll out the option of in-video/ pre-roll advertising to all YouTube content creators? Whilst advertising may not be welcome by every one, Google knows the advertising market and it can credit much of its financial success to date to its inclusive embrace of content creators: Google Adsense today maintains its clear lead due to the broad expanse of publishers worldwide that have not only embraced the program, but were actually able to participate in it, Yahoo’s YPN remains an invite/ United States publishers only service, and Microsoft AdCenter is…well…there, but doing nothing in terms of embracing the long tail.

If technology is to blame, in that Google still hasn’t sorted out the tech behind the delivery of in-video advertising, you’d then ask why the delay, is this Google’s Panama? Google Video did exist prior to the YouTube acquisition so it’s not like they’ve only had since September to start work on the technology, and given that smaller startups including sites such as Revver can do it…well I guess there’s always the off chance of yet another video oriented acquisition.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Future of Image Search Belongs to Social Search

from Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection by Well, image search is one of the hardest types of search (audio and video aren't so easy either). With text search, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all have their proprietary algorithms where they look for text on a page, see who links to a page, etc. etc. words are in contrast to images much easier to figure out. If Mike Arrington is mentioned 40 times in a post by a highly ranked internet site, then the article probably has some authority to be placed in the results for an article about Mike Arrington. But photos of Mike Arrington are a different matter. It is very difficult for image search engines to get at what's inside a photo and how good a quality photo it is. Accordingly, image search engines that rely solely on algorithms without any human filtering fall flat compared to results that are filtered through social networks.

MaryDonna [I'm CEO of Zooomr, we are building both a social based image search system as well as a stock photography platform] Live Image Search advances | Larry Larsen | Channel 10 Larry Larsen over at Channel 10 blogs today about some recent enhancements that Microsoft has made to their image search technology and suggests that they have "greatly enhanced relevance," and as such deserve a "day off." Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disagree. While I like the fact that Microsoft claims an increase in speed on how fast their images load, the relevancy of their results still pale significantly in comparison to what can be done with social search. This is not the first time that I've blogged about this and it won't be the last. The future of image search very much belongs to social search. What do I mean by this? Well, image search is one of the hardest types of search (audio and video aren't so easy either). With text search, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all have their proprietary algorithms where they look for text on a page, see who links to a page, etc. etc. words are in contrast to images much easier to figure out. If Mike Arrington is mentioned 40 times in a post by a highly ranked internet site, then the article probably has some authority to be placed in the results for an article about Mike Arrington. But photos of Mike Arrington are a different matter. It is very difficult for image search engines to get at what's inside a photo and how good a quality photo it is. Accordingly, image search engines that rely solely on algorithms without any human filtering fall flat compared to results that are filtered through social networks. To see what I mean lets look at some examples: Mike Arrington, Flickr Mike Arrington, "new and improved" Mike Arrington, Yahoo Image Search Mike Arrington, Google Image Search Mike Arrington, Summer, Flickr Summer, "new and improved" Summer, Yahoo Image Search Summer, Google Image Search Summer, (I particularly appreciated the relevance of that third row result on Flickr). Brunette, Flickr Brunette, "new and improved" Brunette, Yahoo Image Search Brunette, Google Image Search Brunette, (ok, so which would you like to date the most, isn't the difference between Ask and Yahoo dramatic?) Africa, Flickr Africa, "new and improved" Africa, Yahoo Image Search Africa, Google Image Search Africa, As you can see from the examples above, the higher quality, better caliber images generally come from Flickr. Flickr's results are screened through their social network. The users validate which photos are best by their social activity around the photographs. Users also tag photos to better identify what's inside the photo. Yahoo's image search is largely the worst. This is the future of image search. It is also, by the way, the future of the $2.5 billion stock photography market. Comparable searches between Getty Images, Corbis and Flickr would produce comparable results. This is why we are working on building the best stock photography search engine in the world on Zooomr right now. It will certainly have application for broader more generic public image search, but it most certainly will be the future of the stock photography business as well.


Virtual World Revenues, $6 Billion by 2012

from GigaOM by Wagner James Au David Cole of DFC Intelligence, a game industry expert for years, has been a guiding source for me for years, and he just revealed some astonishing numbers about the MMOG market: “I can let you be the first person we tell that we forecast the worldwide MMOG market going from $2.2 billion in 2006 to $5.9 billion in 2012,” he e-mails me. These figures are part of an upcoming DFC report, and they are bullish in the extreme. For proportion’s sake, bear in mind that the entire computer/videogame industry is currently a $7.4 billion business. “In terms of overall growth,” Cole continues, “the market in both North America and Europe is expected to triple.” Furthermore, over $2.3 billion of that revenue is expected to come from advertising and digital distribution of virtual items/characters etc, not subscriptions.” This would be quite a reversal, for most Western MMOs still rely on a monthly subscription model. The DFC forecast, it’s worth noting, is pinned to online games, with some ambiguity on how to count revenue from the numerous virtual worlds on the market or about to be launched; many are social hangouts or user-created collaborative spaces, and not games in the strict sense of having pre-defined goals, levels of success, and so on. “Does MySpace count?” Cole asks rhetorically. “Every free site that has an avatar?” (Many online worlds are free to the user, and depend on external advertising deals for revenue.) DFC’s solution for virtual worlds, he goes on, was to only count user-to-company payments. “If you can get them to pay a subscription fee or get them to buy items in a virtual world… for those consumers that starts to become a game.” With those services, he says, “[W]e would count the subscription and virtual item revenue, but not any ad revenue they generate.”


Swapper, for faster file transfers via caching

While the application’s key features - swapping music, photo and videos with trusted friends - are on tap from any of the dozens of start-ups, what is different about Swapper is that it combines a P2P distributed file system with upload caching, which gives application some speed oomph.

Classic caching (reverse proxies, CDNs) saves bandwidth only where downloads of popular content is concerned. This helps boost the download speeds. Swapper is the exact opposite - aka upload caching. Given that most broadband connections are asymmetrical (at least in the US), the upload speeds are the biggest issue with P2P apps.

Personal peer-to-peer (p2p) and personal file sharing services are dime a dozen. Not a day passes when some new start-up shows up with a new offering, with a slightly different twist.

Wambo (previously known as Perenety), is throwing its hat in the ring, with Swapper, a new software-service that promises to address the biggest pain of file transfers: upload speeds.

Wambo was started by co-founders Arnaud Tellier (CTO), Guillaume Thonier (Chief Architect), and Xavier Casanova (CEO) and company’s first product, Shooter had launched almost a year ago in beta. It tried to do too much, and had a difficult interface.

The trio and their distributed work force (India, Estonia and California) went back to the drawing board and came up with a simpler and easy to use application called Swapper. For now it is a Windows only application. “Shooter was the early prototype and we used it get users and build a small P2P network of a few hundred nodes, for development and testing,” says Casanova.

While the application’s key features - swapping music, photo and videos with trusted friends - are on tap from any of the dozens of start-ups, what is different about Swapper is that it combines a P2P distributed file system with upload caching, which gives application some speed oomph.

Classic caching (reverse proxies, CDNs) saves bandwidth only where downloads of popular content is concerned. This helps boost the download speeds. Swapper is the exact opposite - aka upload caching. Given that most broadband connections are asymmetrical (at least in the US), the upload speeds are the biggest issue with P2P apps.

Here’s how it works: when you are sending a friend a song (legal of course), Swapper checks with its servers to see if that file has already been uploaded by you or someone else. This check is anonymous an fast.

For instance, you upload a photo album and sent it to a cousin. A week later you send it to your cousin - the system checks for a special file signature, and sees if there is something matching that signature on the servers. If there is a match, your uncle gets the photos you already sent to your cousin with Swapper, since they are cached on the servers. No need to upload again.

“The entire process is anonymous and doesn’t ever expose any of your content,” says Casanova. “Most MP3s, personal photos, and mini-videos are less than 20-25MB. We compress, cache, and pre-fetch to make these fly. That’s our market. Not the large gigabyte sized files.”

Wambo hopes to make money two ways: by delivering promotional content delivered in Swapper (similar to email newsletters) for a fee and offering a pro-version of the service for small and medium sized businesses.

There are two big concerns I have about the product - first and foremost, the legal issues could cause major migraines for the company, even though Casanova points out that their EULA makes it pretty clear that illegal uses are prohibited. I am not sure the RIAA and MPAA gun-men who who shoot first, ask questions later, will appreciate the nuance of an EULA.

The overcrowded nature of the market should be a nagging worry for Casanova and his co-founders. Despite have a seemingly good technology, they would have to fight for mind share and grow subscribers. And that’s not easy.


Secret AACS numbers, the photoshopped edition

from Boing Boing by Wired News has a gallery of the lovely photoshops of the notorious AACS "secret key," a 16-digit number that is illegal to possess and disseminate. AACS is the anti-copying system built into HD-DVDs (and you're out of your mind if you buy one of these boxes -- their future is apparently so fragile that it can be unmade with a 16-digit number!) and controlled by the AACS Licensing Authority. The AACS LA shot itself in the head this week by sending legal threats to sites that contained the number, sparking a user revolt on Digg and many other outraged blogs, pages and posts. Right now, 368,000 pages contain the number, up from 3,600 yesterday. Good luck getting the food coloring out of the swimming pool!


Somehow, Flickr has created a marketplace for professional photography and made it look like an accident.

May 02, 2007 By Daryl Lang (From the May issue of PDN) Excerpts "What did these photographers do to drum up work? Almost nothing. They uploaded their photos to Flickr and the work found them." "With millions of keyworded pictures, the site resembles a big stock library. Photo buyers praise the quality of the photographs... and with so much traffic it seems like a logical place to set up shop." "But Flickr has done little if anything to welcome professionals. It offers no e-commerce features. It expressly forbids commercial uses of its site." "Paul Buckley, vice president and executive art director for Penguin, uses Flickr to find photographs, something he mentioned in a story about book publishing in PDN's March issue." (thanks, Andy) Your Friend Flickr? May 02, 2007 By Daryl Lang (From the May issue of PDN.) Ryan Brenizer landed a job covering events for Paul Wilcock licensed his concert photos to a few newspapers. Hamad Darwish got an assignment to shoot desktop backgrounds for Microsoft Windows. What did these photographers do to drum up work? Almost nothing. They uploaded their photos to Flickr and the work found them. Flickr went online in 2004 as a powerful yet easy-to-use program for storing and sharing personal images. It was acquired by Yahoo! in 2005. Today it leads a double life as a hugely popular site for amateurs to share personal snapshots, and as a growing marketplace for licensing photo rights. With millions of keyworded pictures, the site resembles a big stock library. Photo buyers praise the quality of the photographs and the ease of the Flickr search engine. Professional shooters say the site's forums are a good source of tips and inspiration. Joining the site is free, and with so much traffic it seems like a logical place to set up shop. But Flickr has done little if anything to welcome professionals. It offers no e-commerce features. It expressly forbids commercial uses of its site. "If we find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your account," its guidelines read. Many of its users happily give their photos away for free. Transactions that take place off the site are not forbidden, however. Flickr neither encourages nor discourages art buyers from e-mailing photographers to ask for photos, a spokesperson says. Members say such e-mails are on the rise. Flickr's forums bustle with discussions about requests users get for their images, and how much to charge. Sherri Jackson, a Flickr member who says she shoots for fun and personal expression, noticed more people contacting her in the last few months asking to use her images. "I get more requests every week and it's exciting to learn how people wish to use my images," she says. "I like the fact that my work can be out there and available and I really don't have to do anything to market myself." Another Flickr member to notice this trend is Matthew Blake Powers, a graduate of architecture school who takes photographs as a hobby. "Many times, the e-mails I receive are very casual and get to the point. They simply state who they are, what image they are interested in, and how/why they would like to use it," Powers says. In one case, someone designing the annual report for the Milwaukee Art Museum e-mailed Powers seeking to use one of his photos on the cover. After researching how much to charge, and weighing the fact that he never had anything published before, Powers decided to ask $250. To Powers' disappointment, the museum selected another cover. Paul Buckley, vice president and executive art director for Penguin, uses Flickr to find photographs, something he mentioned in a story about book publishing in PDN's March issue. "I use Flickr as any other stock photo source with a search engine," Buckley says. "That may not be its intended purpose, but it works beautifully, and the site has a smart, powerful search engine." Penguin recently used a Flickr photograph on a book cover. There is no way to know how much business is conducted through Flickr. One member claims a major ad agency paid him $2,500 to use a Flickr photo as a background in an unaired TV commercial. Darwish's job for Microsoft, shooting landscapes to be included with Windows Vista as desktop wallpaper, was almost certainly a multi-thousand-dollar job. At the other extreme, some blogs and small companies ask to use Flickr photos for free. Some don't even ask. "I think a lot of companies are using it as kind of a fishing site for cheap stuff from people without a lot of experience," says Jim Hunter, a stock and assignment photographer and editor of But even Hunter posts work on Flickr, which he says drives a fair amount of traffic to his professional site. His wife also uses Flickr to share family photos. Brenizer, who has been shooting events like the New York Comic Con for thanks to a Flickr connection, joined the site as a casual member a few years ago. Brenizer credits the site's message boards with teaching him to be a better photographer and jumpstarting his photo career. "The passion just totally captured me," he says. "There's that positive reinforcement of all the people on there. . . . Then the people who contacted me started to be clients." A former newspaper editor, Brenizer now works in the publications office of the Columbia University Teachers College, where a large part of his job is shooting photographs. On his own time, he shoots weddings and events, and he spent a week as the photographer-in-residence at a biological research center—all jobs he got through Flickr. "I've never solicited, I've never done any advertising," he says. Flickr has made some photographers into cult celebrities. David Hobby, a Baltimore Sun staff photographer, publishes a blog about lighting called Strobist. To complement the blog, he started a Flickr group so his readers could share advice and photos. The Strobist group spun out of control and now has more than 7,100 members, who post dozens of messages a day. Hobby doesn't have time to answer all the questions people send him. A lighting seminar he organized sold out weeks in advance. Hobby says he is impressed by how good Flickr photographers are, pointing to the Strobist photo pool. "Almost every one of those pictures has earning potential," he says. Like a lot of Flickr fans, Hobby thinks it's only a matter of time before the service finds a way to monetize this collection of talent. "You don't sit on a big oil well and not drill down eventually," he says. A Flickr spokesperson would not comment on future plans. For now, Flickr makes money off advertising and by selling upgraded memberships for a small annual fee. It has some direct competitors (including Zoomr, SmugMug and Photobucket) but none with the kind of popularity and goodwill Flickr has achieved. Flickr allows members to set free usage terms by attaching Creative Commons tags to images, so a logical next step might be to let users set prices for certain kinds of usage. Another strategy could be to partner with an existing stock photography site, perhaps one of the royalty-free micropayment sites that also appeal to semi-professional shooters. Or it could do nothing. To better understand Flickr's future, it may be helpful to step back and look at how Yahoo! and its investors view the site. In earnings calls and media interviews, no one asks Yahoo! executives how they're going to make money off photographs. Instead, the buzz is all about "Web 2.0," the user-generated, community-focused sites that have attracted huge audiences. Sites like Flickr, MySpace and YouTube are hot because they engage people in a way that traditional media increasingly cannot. Yahoo! recently began requiring Flickr members to use the same ID to log in to Flickr as they use for other services like Yahoo! Mail. As a result, the company can collect more information about users and their online behavior. To Yahoo!, Flickr's value is not its photography, but rather the desirable audience it attracts for advertisers and marketers. This may explain Flickr's failure to embrace, denounce, or even officially care about the pro community. Somehow, Flickr has created a marketplace for professional photography and made it look like an accident.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007 To Launch Contextual Advertising Product

Apr. 25, 2007 at 12:01am Eastern by Barry Schwartz To Launch Contextual Advertising Product is launching a new sponsored listings contextual product and will go live the week of May 21st. The Ask contextual product will initially launch within IAC's own network of sites including, Ticketmaster, Evite and Citysearch and will then expand to trusted third party publishers. Individual publishers will most likely have to wait until next quarter to gain access to this contextual product. Current Ask Sponsored Listings advertisers will be automatically opted into the contextual network, but will have the option of opting out before the product launches. In addition, advertisers will be able to preview the features and controls they have, prior to the launch date. The advertiser controls will be separated; there will be unique bid prices for contextual ads as well as unique, separate reporting tools, and referrer blocking. The publishers will have two unique features that are not currently available in the Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network. Publishers will be able to set "page yield thresholds" and set "relevancy thresholds." There will be levers to allow publisher to determine if they want higher paying ads or if they want more relevant ads with these levers. In addition, the ads will be unique from that of Google and Yahoo ads. Ask told me that they will allow "very customized" interfaces for the contextual ads; such as customized backgrounds and graphics. Let me just clarify one more time that they will first launch with IAC's own network and trusted publishers, then possibly, in the next quarter, allow other third party publishers sign up to the contextual program. Here is the full release: IAC Advertising Solutions Announces Contextual Advertising Product Contextual advertising offering creates new revenue options for publishers, expands distribution options for Ask Sponsored Listings advertisers OAKLAND, Calif. – April 25, 2007 – IAC Advertising Solutions (IACAS), a wholly-owned business of IAC (Nasdaq; IACI), today announced a contextual advertising product that enables publishers to generate revenue via contextually-relevant ad units on their content pages. The contextual product is integrated into the Ask Sponsored Listings (ASL) platform and allows ASL advertisers to seamlessly extend their pay per click advertising campaigns to content pages. Reaching over 34 million unique users each month the ASL content advertising network will launch with sites from IAC’s portfolio of brands including, Ticketmaster, Evite and Citysearch. “IAC Advertising Solutions already operates the 3rd largest search advertising network1. We’ve achieved this scale by providing innovative and flexible monetization solutions to more than 90 publishers. We are excited about this new offering and the expanded set of publishers that we’ll be able to serve through a content advertising network.” said James Speer, GM Search Marketing at IAC Advertising Solutions. IACAS continues to make significant investments in people and technology to better support a growing network of publishers. “We have consistently heard that publishers want more diversity in their revenue streams and transparency into the true value of their inventory. We fully expect that our new contextual product will satisfy the needs of these content owners” said Speer. The value of contextual lies in its ability to deliver relevant high yield advertisements deep within the content channels of web properties. As a result publishers are free to focus resources on other revenue streams including integrated brand sponsorships. The ASL contextual product provides superior sell through today for publishers of technology, telecommunications, travel, automotive, real estate and finance content. Contextual Advertising Features and Benefits Increased Page Yield Higher revenues due to an established and growing advertiser base Improved relevance and higher yields than ROS/RON CPM ads Customizable yield thresholds to support page yield management Self-serve revenue reporting portal Revenue reporting across multiple channels and products Enhanced Editorial Control Customization of ad look and feel (background color, font, layout, graphics) Customizable relevancy settings to meet user experience goals Editorial control of advertisers (competitive advertiser blocking) Editorial categorization of site pages is supported Improved Integration Capabilities Contextual ad tags can be served via existing publisher ad servers (i.e. DFP, AdManager) Standardized ad tags promote quick and easy implementations with little or no maintenance The Ask Sponsored Listings contextual product will be available during the week of May 21st. For more information publishers can send email to 1 Source: comScore and internal data, January 2007 About Ask Sponsored Listings Ask Sponsored Listings, introduced in the Fall of 2005, is an automated open-auction system allowing marketers to purchase, manage and optimize campaigns on and its publisher network. The ASL search advertising network is now the 3rd largest reaching 61.4 million monthly unique users. More than 30,000 advertisers use the system to bid on more than 25 million keywords. Additional information about ASL is available at IAC Advertising Solutions is also demonstrating its commitment to stemming click fraud as a member of the IAB Task Force on the issue. About IAC Advertising Solutions One the world’s largest online advertising solutions and sales groups, IAC Advertising Solutions offers complete solutions for a variety of communication needs and a comprehensive range of advertising products, including search, media, and direct marketing. Search solutions include Ask Sponsored Listings, an automated open-auction system allowing marketers to purchase, manage and optimize campaigns on and its advertising syndication network. Media solutions include online templated ad units and integrated sponsorships, as well as offline media capabilities on IAC’s network of leading online brands, including Ticketmaster Citysearch, Evite,, iWon, Excite, and Expedia. Direct Marketing solutions include email, lead generation, co-registration, sweepstakes and promotions. IAC Advertising Solutions is a division of IAC Search & Media, a wholly-owned business of IAC (NASDAQ: IACI). IAC Advertising Solutions can be contacted at or 212-404-1000. Postscript: Marchex released a press release that shows they are one of the few early contextual ad partners in this program. Marchex, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHX, MCHXP), in conjunction with its IndustryBrains subsidiary, today announced that it has signed contextual advertising agreements with four online publishers, including Computer Shopper,, Wall Street Reporter, and SitePoint. Under the agreements, Marchex will provide its contextual advertising solutions to selected areas of the publishers' Web sites, or to channels associated with the sites, such as targeted newsletters and blogs. Postscript #2: The Blog just covered this explaining that this product different from the competitors because of three reasons: * It gives publishers more control over yield and relevancy * It gives publishers more creative ad unit opportunities * It allows both advertisers and publishers more control over where and what ads are displayed


Blogger hack: Expandable posts with Peekaboo view

Blogger hack: Expandable posts with Peekaboo view Your blog's main page usually shows the entire content of each post. If your posts are usually more than 2 paragraphs, then your visitor will find it difficult to quickly find the topic of interest to him because he needs to scroll down a lot. This is where expandable post summaries helped in the old Blogger. This hack serves the same purpose for the new Blogger and more! That is, main page will show only post summaries and when you click "Read more", the full post appears in the main page itself (Peekaboo view)!! I got some requests to do such a hack and I managed to get it working. Later, Hans improved it by adding a "Summary only" link with which you can collapse the post back to summary. link to full instructions here


Blinkx Video API

Blinkx API: The Blinkx service “uses automatic spiders that crawl the Web, and through partnerships with 200 leading content and media companies, blinkx has indexed over 7 million hours of video content and made it fully searchable using speech-to-text transcription and visual analysis.” Note that the API documentation is only available after registration.


Lexar rolls out 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB ExpressCard SSDs

from Engadget by

We already knew that Lexar had an 8GB ExpressCard SSD up its sleeve, but it seems that the company just can't get enough of that high-speed solid state storage, today announcing 4GB and 16GB cards in addition to officially announcing the 8GB model. From the looks of it, both the 4GB and 8GB models will give a peak data transfer speed of 250 MB/s (we assume the 16GB will be the same as well), with all three coming bundled with Lexar's auto-backup software, and each ready for use with Vista's ReadyBoost feature. While the whole lot of them are supposedly shipping now, there only appears to be pricing details available for the 4GB and 8GB models, with them setting you back $130 and $200, respectively.


Kodak - Winds of Change (humor)


Digg Surrenders to Mob

from TechCrunch by

To say what happened today on Digg was a “user revolt” is an understatement. The Digg team deleted a story that linked to the decryption key for HD DVDs after receiving a take down demand and all hell broke loose. More stories appeared and were deleted, and users posting the stories were suspended.

That just got the Digg community fired up, and soon the entire Digg home page was filled with stories containing the decryption key. The users had taken control of the site, and unless Digg went into wholesale deletion mode and suspended a large portion of their users, there was absolutely nothing they could do to stop it.

Digg CEO Jay Adelson responded on the Digg blog earlier this afternoon but it was clear he did not yet understand the chaos that was coming. The post only added fuel to the fire. Just now, co-founder Kevin Rose posted yet again on the Digg blog, effectively capitulating to the mob’s demands: He says

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

Until today, it seems, even Digg didn’t fully understand the power of its community to determine what is “news.” I think the community made their point crystal clear.

Vive La Revolution.


Getty goes multimedia, acquires smaller firm

Stock-art seller branches into video and multimedia, acquires PunchStock for more imagery.

By Stephen Shankland Stock photo seller Getty Images launched a new division Monday for selling licenses to footage and multimedia content, then on Tuesday announced the latest in a series of acquisitions, PunchStock.

Leading the multimedia group is Craig Peters, who joined Getty through its acquisition last week of MediaVast and its subsidiary WireImage, which licenses video content. Peters was senior vice president of new media at MediaVast.

PunchStock, based in Madison, Wis., adds a third stock image unit to the company, supplementing Getty's core business and the newer iStockphoto acquired in 2006. PunchStock offers simpler licensing and search, Getty said.

Getty has been reshaping its business through recent acquisitions. In March, Getty acquired Scoopt, a site that sells amateur photos to the news media. "Citizen journalism is 2,000 years old," Getty CEO Jonathan Klein said in an interview earlier this week, arguing that amateurs can supplement professional coverage and that Getty can assure media outlets using that content that its provenance is sound.

Getty announced the PunchStock acquisition along with its financial results for the quarter ended March 31. The Seattle-based company's revenue increased 6 percent to $213 million compared with the year earlier, and net income was $38 million, or 63 cents per share.

The company also announced it's restating financial results from 1998 through the first half of 2006 to deal with errors in its stock-based compensation. To correct the situation, the company expects to take a noncash charge of $28 million to $32 million, 95 percent of which involves finances in 2002 and earlier years.

A special committee investigating the stock situation concluded in April that the evidence "did not establish any intentional wrongdoing by current employees, officers or directors of the company, and the special committee continues to have confidence in the integrity of current management."

(thanks, Owen)


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

10x Revenues

Companies don't really sell for multiples of revenue, but the math is easy so everyone does it.

I've read that Doubleclick sold for 10x their revenue of $300mm.

And that Right Media sold for 12x their annual revenue of $70mm.

Please correct me if I am wrong on these numbers as I am just relaying what I've heard and don't have access to the financials of privately held companies.

I believe that ultimately price needs to be factored as a function of EBITDA - earnings power. It could be the present value of future cash flows, it could be a mutiple of current EBITDA, it could even be a multiple of the cash flow that a buyer believes it can get by merging the asset into its business.

So when I see online advertising assets trading at north of 10x revenues, it makes me think that it's the latter factor at work.

I've heard that AOL monetized their acquistion of buy running all of their unsold inventory through and that they got a tremendous return on investment from doing that.

So that may be the play for Yahoo! with the Right Media acquisition. And thus a multiple of current revenue or even cash flow is largely irrrelevant.

But even so, these are large numbers being paid and as a part owner of three online ad networks (TACODA, FeedBurner, and TargetSpot), I am thrilled to see these trades print.


09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0


Tesla scales back range targets

Filed under:

While we doubt it'll be enough to get any of the lucky few first customers to cancel their orders, those planning a long haul trip in their shiny new Tesla Roadster may find themselves slightly disappointed when they finally get the keys, as the company's pulling back a bit on its promised 250 mile range on a single charge. Apparently, testing the car on an EPA-compliant dynamometer proved to be a bit more taxing than their initial estimates, forcing them to reconsider their boasting. While Tesla's not quite ready to get specific with the new numbers, it says it'll still come in at greater than 200 miles, which would still peg it well above other, less stylish electric vehicles. Now, if they'd only find an excuse to scale back the price.


Monday, April 30, 2007

Lexar's 8GB ExpressCard SSD sneaks on the scene

Filed under:

While Lexar does a fine job competing in the flash memory arena, it appears that the outfit is giving it a go in the solid state disc realm as well. According a marginally descriptive product page, Lexar is offering up an 8GB ExpressCard SSD, which should go nicely above that 120GB PCMCIA NAND drive as you attempt to cram more storage into peripheral slots than inside your laptop's casing. Moreover, the device features a peak data transfer rate of 250Mbps, and while it doesn't appear to be available for shipment just yet, it'll run you a penny under $200 when it formally launches.


Hip-IP's Mobigater Pro routes Skype calls to your mobile

Routing calls every which way has been going on forever (well, almost), and Hip-IP's Mobigater Pro doesn't differ a whole lot from other Skype-to-cellphone channelers that we've seen in the past. Essentially, the device seamlessly "transfers your Skype calls to your mobile phone without the use of SkypeOut credits," as it connects to your mobile via an internal SIM card. As predicted, it interfaces with your PC via plain ole USB, and users can not only ensure that they never miss an incoming Skype call, but they can phone up other Skype users around the globe just by using minutes from their mobile plan. The device can even redirect calls to five different handsets, but considering the £185.99 ($373) pricetag required for such a luxury, only the heaviest of yappers need apply. Click on through for a shot of the rear. [Via Wired]


MIT researchers tout "practical" holographic video

Filed under:

A team of researchers at MIT seem to think they've finally come up with a way to make holographic video a bit more practical for everyday use, touting the new system they've developed as a possible display for PCs and video game consoles, Technology Review reports. According to the researchers, the display will be small enough to fit in an entertainment center when finished, boast a resolution as good as a standard analog television, and only cost a "couple of hundred dollars." Much of that increased practicality comes from the fact that this latest version, dubbed the Mark III, simply relies on a standard graphics processor instead of specialized hardware. The researchers also managed to streamline some of the other optical hardware, which they say made the previous incarnations as big as a dining-room table. It apparently still has a few drawbacks, however, with it currently only able to display monochromatic holograms in a space about the size of a Rubik's Cube. They insist that's only a temporary problem though, and promise that the next model will be comparable in size to a desktop monitor and boast a full range of color. No word if there'll also be a port of everybody's favorite quasi-holographic arcade game, Time Traveler, to go along with it, but we can hope.