Posts

Showing posts from December, 2011

16Pics Automatic Photo Picker: Humans Do Better But Have Better Things to Do

Image
This week I've been testing a new website called 16pics that is designed to take the hard work out of choosing a selection of photos from an album. Once you have set up your account it is very simple to use. You just choose an album on your favorite photosharing site or on Facebook and it automatically chooses a suite of 16 photos that you can share with your friends.

Surprisingly the process takes less time to do than to describe. Assuming you already have your photo album on a photo sharing site the automatic selection takes literally a few seconds. If you are not happy with the choice you can select any of the 16 photos and manually replace it with a single click. For some features you don't even need a click -- just selecting an album from the list starts the selection process so there is no "proceed" button, a time-saving design feature I like.

When I tested it on a collection of 82 photos of Tanzania the initial choice was acceptable and easily tweaked to make…

Three Simple Ways to Make Video Event Streaming More Effective

Image
In the last two weeks I have seen a best-in-class example of a video streamed event -- LeWeb Paris 2011 -- and I have appeared myself in a conference professionally streamed from the IAE Graduate School of Management near Aix en Provence. I have also seen another example of an event that was streamed less successfully, probably because the streaming was improvised. I won't say who did it to spare them needless embarrassment  but I will explain how you can get acceptable results video streaming an event with no special equipment or skill.

All you need to stream an event is a computer, a webcam (preferably HD), a microphone, a reasonably fast connection and an account with a streaming service like ustream.com, but to get usable results there are three things that you have to get right.

1. GET THE MICROPHONE CLOSE TO THE SPEAKER.  Sound is more important than video because you can follow a speaker when the video is far from perfect but if you cannot hear what she is saying people wil…

Trading Influence for Equity, Wahooly Boosts Startups, Raises Ethical Questions

Image
[ 2 February 2012: Wahooly has started now. See note at Google Plus Wahooly Post ]

Perhaps one day people will run out of ideas for new Internet startups but I don't think that we are there yet. Alongside all the me-too photo sharing and social network sites there are some brilliant new concepts that remind me how creative people can be. Wahooly.com is one of these.

Wahooly is a new web service scheduled to roll out in January 2012 that effectively trades influence for equity in startups. Their business model is simple yet compelling: a startup approaches Wahooly and offers a small percentage of their equity in return for the support of influencers to get their business started.  This is an intriguing idea though there are some ethical complications, as we shall see later.

Let's just suppose you have a new video sharing service -- not a great idea, but this is just an example -- and you need a critical mass of early users.  You offer 5% of the equity to Wahooly which then sign…

Managing Across Cultures: Three Non-Obvious Problems to Watch For

Image
When you are managing people from other cultures you probably expect that they see things differently in some ways, but there are also many deep cultural differences that can cause unexpected problems. Here are three of the most common culture-related surprises I have encountered doing intercultural workshops, and what you can do about them.

1. HIERARCHY HEADACHES.  The world is divided into cultures where hierarchy is very important and those where it is not. Hierarchy enhancing cultures are actually in the majority, but whatever side you come from you are likely to have problems one day. Some effects of hierarchy are clearly visible -- like the way managers in hierarchical cultures distance themselves more from lower level employees -- but some effects are less obvious. If you are from a relatively flat hierarchy culture, for example, and you are managing people who are from a highly hierarchical society you will find that someone might do no work for a time either because you didn&…

How Brunel Built Bridges, Railways & Steamships Without Email

Image
How did Brunel build bridges and steamships without email, powerpoint and other modern communication tools, asks a recent question on Quora.com.  You don't have to go back so far; at the end of the 1960s NASA sent men to the moon and returned them safely to the earth with little more than slide rules, typewriters and carbon paper. But the question is interesting because when you think about it Brunel was perhaps better off not having email.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the Elon Musk of the 1800s, pioneering  modern railways and metal steamships that could cross the Atlantic. His list of achievements is more than impressive and he is rightly considered one of the greatest engineers who ever lived. Brunel lived in interesting times where he witnessed the development of the postal service and the electric telegraph but for most of his business communication he relied on paper messages hand carried by messengers -- just like people did until the 1980s.

Until email went mainstream busi…