Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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P2P lending on bootstrap – notes

Between burger and an ice cream in Hard Rock Cafe I jotted down notes from today’s bootstrap. I needed them in electronic form anyway. I wrote down stuff which seemed useful for me, so it’s not guaranteed to be complete.

This time it was in an unusual for boostrap form of a panel. Meeting took 3 hours, but I found it very interesting. Technical people might beg to differ, though, as tax/legal discussion was really exhaustive (exhausting).

I made some comments below in the notes, but here I can also share my “first impression” of the P2P lenders present. It is really first impression because I didn’t bother to check them myself, so some doubts below might be result of this.

  • Finansowo – approach to start as simple as possible, no collections or support in executing transactions between peers. The biggest risk is that some things that they ignore seem critical (collections).

  • Monetto (blog)- most advanced approach, ensured partners from the beginning, including bank (mBank) and collectors. The biggest risk is that they start with a very complicated machine that no-one will use.

  • Kokos – midway between the two, with the advantage that it is already up and running.

On a first glance I like Finansowo and Monetto, because they follow clear-cut concepts of simplicity and exhaustiveness, while Kokos was less clear, at least as much can be judged from the presentation, and also takes cautious approach regarding some legal challenges (e.g. possibility to grant anonymity and stick to electronic contract form).

(read more…)

Microsoft to take over Yahoo!, aim for more failure

Strange, but sometimes things that are expected to happen, actually do happen. Microsoft announced a hostile bid for Yahoo.

I so like the bid to succeed. That’s because I feel strongly about the result of this take-over and I would love to verify my hypothesis.

My hypothesis is that the market shares of the two do not sum up. MSFT will lose focus and instead get entangled in restructuring of Yahoo!. Users will get the combination of the two worst, in my personal view, experiences – Google will be able to differentiate even more strongly through simplicity and focus, playing contrast to the new behemoth with combined dna of committee-driven software factory and a portal.

Or maybe the above will be proven wrong and Google will at last get a worthy competitor.

(Even though falling price of MSFT stock indicates that I’m not alone in my opinion of the contrary.)

In any case, this merger going ahead will be decisive, this way or another, for both Google and Microsoft.

Bootstrap: Ruby stuff and Blip, not a twitter clone at all

Today I visited Bootstrap meeting for the first time, so now I feel obliged to write a post about it. Even better to write it before Albert does.

In fact, I thought I would be horse riding at the time of the meeting. But you have to live by your principles, and one of my principles is, don’t ride horses in a shitty weather. The weather was awful all day.

The place

Chlodna 25. Nice place! Never been there either. It’s a cafe and there is also a room downstairs, where the presentations took place. And there are lots of board games available that you can play.

I arrived exactly at 12, took a chair from above because there was already no free places in the basement and ordered an apple pie (12 was early enough for me to miss breakfast), and the presentation started. (read more…)

Web 2.0 consulting project?

Wow, my company still surprises me sometimes.

Fellowforce, outsourced innovation

Now it’s getting difficult, because though I set up as second blog for “visioneering” stuff, some topics just feel like being posted on both of them.

One is Fellowforce, a site in which you can solve a challenge posted by a company and get rewarded if your idea wins.

Plaxo: making sense of it

I start to get some clue on how Plaxo can be useful. Interestingly, many of my friends are already in, but I’m yet to hear from any of them on any usage for it.

The cool thing that Plaxo can do is gather rss feeds from a number of sites that you may be already using. Say, you publish your pictures on flickr, share favorite articles in Google Reader (this was actually new to me, more below), update your profile on myspace, etc. All these sites publish feed with updates, which Plaxo can import and aggregate.

Result? Your friends can track your activity across all sites in one place – Plaxo.

Now, two problems with this idea and my friends .

First, they usually have no idea what is “feed”.

Second, they barely use any of the sites other than Linkedin (which doesn’t have a public feed, btw), and maybe some Polish sites (like Goldenline), which also have no feed.

There is little to aggregate in their case.

But I start to like the overall idea of Plaxo (and there maybe more to it which I didn’t bother to find out yet). I added this blog’s feed and it gets aggregated pretty well.

Also I accidentally discovered “shared items” functionality in Google Reader while trying to figure Plaxo. When I “share” the item that I like you can see it on this page. Nice, I will try to share some interesting stuff from time to time.

Adsense performance on blogs: 0.02% CTR, eCPM 0.06$?

Found this post accidentally: Blog Tip: Do NOT Put Adsense on Your Blog.

Its point is that Adsense brings so little revenue on a blog, that it is not worth bother to use it.

Quotes numbers which give 0.02% CTR (mine is 0.13%), and 0.06$ eCPM (mine is 0.$19). Hey I’m not so bad – relatively:)

Still it’s clear that ad performance on non-targeted blogs is very low.

How many Radioheads it takes to bury recording industry?

For years, record labels have been busy fighting file sharing on the Internet. This activity gave them a good excuse not to bother with changing their obsolete business model. Today, however, Radiohead’s move to release their new album on “pay as much you like” basis may indicate that it will be top bands, not pirates, who will bury the labels.

Label business model is the following: revenues from top bands allows them to invest in promotion of the new ones, in hope that some of them will eventually reach the top, too.

Now, though, top band can itself distribute its music on the Internet at marginal cost. Why share profit with label, then?

Problem with bands is that, in contrast to the customers, they actually own the music, so there is no option to sue them.

Enough top bands head to the doors, record industry model collapses.

Whatever happened to social bookmarking

Some time ago I wrote a couple of post about social bookmarking, namely about starting with and later reviewing Blinklist. And now, since I cannot sleep in this Moscow, I took a look at Alexa chart to see how the guys are doing… but what’s this?

Delicious alexa chart

Similar story in case of Blinklist and Simpy.

Seems social bookmarking is out of fashion lately. Oh, and it seems Philipp Keller has already written about it. So we are in trough of disillusionment stage now. And I’m not even ashamed of what I wrote on “Peak of inflated expectations”, just still amazed how did I manage to write such a long review of Blinklist. And Simpy review was supposed to be even longer, and I even had a nice pyramid diagram of the bookmarking phenomenon, but I never got to finish the article.

Anyway, Philipp’s identification of hype stage would match my case, too, since I don’t use anymore. Actually I didn’t bother to reinstall the plugin after swapping the laptop. And interacting with web interface is slow and you have to navigate the pages and wait for them too load… makes me rather stick to the messy bookmarks menu in Firefox.

But that gives me some idea about the next hype stage, “slope of enlightenment”. Integrate bookmarking seamlessly into browser (not only tagging, but also browsing and searching) and it will finally work as it should, and I will use it again.

Talk wisdom of the crowds

One of the viewers of a photo competition Grand Press Photo spotted traces of Photoshop being used on one of the photos, which actually won second award in the category of nature photos.

(I woudln’t see it even now that I know it’s there)

Now, how one can doubt in the wisdom of the crowds.

Web 2.0 too bright?

I’m just doing some digging related to site layouts, and stumbled upon the amusing story of redesign of the local newspaper’s web page. As a result of the operation, the web page became perfectly 2.0: blue on white, lots spacing and sans-serif fonts. And users revolted.

Newspaper is Lawrence Journal-World, online at Unfortunately there is no old layout available for reference.

The comments, on the other hand, are here.

What users didn’t like most?

Most surprising, how many disliked (increased) amount of white space. “It’s like starting at the light bulb”, one commenter wrote. Now that I read it, I see some point in it. White might not be easy on eyes. There must be some research on it, good thing to check in some free time.

Also, white and blue design is found amateurish and boring by some.

Other people find text difficult to read. If the font is really without serifs it is not so surprising.

By the way, as for other findings, I don’t think you can go more Web 2.0 than

PS. I must also quote this comment by prairie_girl:

I don’t care for the new design?.I can?t find a thing. Had to do a search just to find the obituaries?.how am I supposed to know if I died or not if I can’t find it? Also can’t find the daily record to see if I was arrested either. The old front page was much better with the column on the left.

Now I feel that I’m missing all the “local media” experience. Must try and find some local media when I’m back in Warsaw.

Linkedin launches “answers” service

Linkedin opened a “Q&A” feature. I think it might breathe more life into the service, which I’m probably not alone to consider underused.

Now you can ask a question to the network (all network or just your connections), and people can answer it, either in private or publically. In the latter case anyone can browse the answers, which are often interesting.

Consider, for example, question “As an entrepreneur or small business owner, what is your biggest fear?” – here (I’m not sure how linking works and if you need to be logged in to access the question).

Inevitably, some answers feel more like a sale pitch. Another question: What is the best way to do market research in an industry where a) it is a new field and you know many people are building plans to do something similar b) protect your business idea and model ANy ideas most welcome, Thanks Johann. I decided to answer. High level and two-liner, but at least unbiased:)

Web 2.0 and narcissism

I’ve read many comments to the latest “person of the year” chosen by the Time magazine – “YOU” – meaning the crowd, now empowered with web 2.0 means of self-expression, including blogs, myspace profiles, social networking, etc.

The Last Psychiatrist article, linked by Furious Seasons, uses the event to make a point about narcissism becoming the driving force of the society, and all the web 2.0 gadgets – tools for narcissistic validation:

Being on YouTube, having a blog, having an iPod, being on MySpace– all of these things are self-validating, they allow that illusion that is so important to narcissists: that we are the main characters in a movie. Not that we’re the best, or the good guys, but the main characters. That everyone around us is supporting cast; the funny friend, the crazy ex, the neurotic mother, the egotistical date, etc. That makes reminders of our insignificance even more infuriating.

And fragment below reminds me of trying to write “about me” page: what is really defining us as a person?

I’m not saying each of us as individuals is insignificant. We should, could, matter. But to protect ourselves from an existential implosion, we decide to define ourselves through images and signs, rather than behaviors; lacking an identity founded in anything real makes us vulnerable to anger, resentment. And no guilt, ever. The nearcissist never feels guilt. He feels shame.

As for Time’s choice. I don’t know if YOU is a positive character. But to be a person of the year, it doesn’t need to be positive, it needs to be significant. I feel it is significant. Actually the author seems to agree:

I’m not sure anyone in psychiatry sees this– they are too busy documenting Pharma excesses and Lamictal outcomes– but it is the problem of our times. The only ones who seem to notice are advertisers, marketers– they see it. They don’t judge it, they simply profit from it.

The choice was right, then, even if premises were wrong.

Google surpasses Technorati

Nothing against Technorati, but Google’s blog search is clean, fast, and usually works.

Google docs make a nice first impression

I only took a brief look at the word processor. The spreadsheets I left aside for now.

I won?t go into the topic whether the online office will replace desktop suites and when, and how do you manage to work on the airplane, and all the others. But from the brief tour that I took, and the first document I created, and the one invitation that I sent to collaborate it, the toy has Google?s charm to it.

The interface meets expectations of elegant simplicity, the ones that you usually have in case of Google.

It was fun to poke around and observe how they manage to pack the features into the browser environment. Table editing, for example. Inserting an image. And inviting collaborators, which feels like sending an email from gmail, through the similar auto-suggest box.

Google docs

I?m sure you hit the limits eventually, if you try to go too far with the tool. I would be surprised if it was already fit for complex reports or other heavy duty work.

But I look forward to having a practical opportunity to give it a real world test.

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