ETech Day Three Quick Thoughts

After my marathon blogging session last night and taking notes all day, I’m a bit burnt out on writing. But here are a few quick thoughts. More details to follow.

  • I’m digging the home page and the integrated Live Search. Since I’m on a rented laptop, Live Toolbar will have to wait. Coolest new feature IMO is the Search Macros, though it’s a tight race with the new image search interface.
  • Jon Udell and Michael Goldhaber spoke about attention economy today. I still don’t get it, though Jon had some interesting ideas about metadata. I’ll believe that attention is a currency when I can buy a car with it.
  • I liked the session on the Yahoo! Design Patterns, though the title and abstract of the session were awful. The title was “The Language of Attention: A Pattern Approach“. The inclusion of attention just confused the issue. Why couldn’t they just call it “A Pattern Language for User Experience”? Because it doesn’t have the concept of attention shoehorned into it.
  • I really like Eventful, even though I’m on record as thinking their business model doesn’t work. Their new demand feature is pretty cool, though it doesn’t really help their business model any.
  • George Dyson’s session on “Turing’s Cathedral” was fascinating, though he tried to cover too much ground in the time alloted.
  • I’m not sure what the point of Joel Spolsky’s Blue Chip Report Card was. Apparently the alien from Reddit is cute and Motorola newer cell phones (RAZR and PEBL) are taking Joel’s advice on becoming “blue chip”. This is somewhat related to points the folks from Adobe (previously Macromedia) made, except much more obtuse.
  • I have no idea what the point or business model of Plum is, even though it was featured as a keynote (a last minute promotion it appears from the conference guide). Seems too complex and centralized to actually work.
  • I wrote last night that Casting Words isn’t really a business because nothing stops me from going directly to Mechanical Turk and getting the transcription services myself. Today, I found a Casting Words task on Mechanical Turk so I decided to figure out how much they’re making. The task I found was to transcribe about 28 minute podcast and they were offering $5.41 for anyone willing to do it. That’s about 19.5 cents per minute. Tack on Amazon’s 10% charge brings the total to around 21.5 cents a minute that Casting Words is paying for transcription services. Given that they’re charging 42 cents a minute, that’s just under a 49% profit margin. Exactly what are they doing to earn that profit? What’s their value add and is really worth a 100% markup?
  • Anyone want to start “Cheap Casting Words” with me? We’ll pay 22 cents a minute (11% more than Casting Words) and charge 36 cents a minute (14% less than Casting Words) and keep the 12 cents a minute markup (a 33% markup). 😄

Update: Added Quick Thoughts on Yahoo!, Eventful, George Dyson, Joel Spolsky and Plum. Added more detail about the attention economy sessions from today.