Saturday, April 17, 2010

Digital Influentials Volume 2, Issue 5: Change Is In The Air

For most of the people reading this column, it’s Spring. Spring brings with it a sense of hope and optimism and the feeling that change is in the air. This Spring seems to have that feeling in spades as the economy is (knock on wood) starting to recover and the iPad is all the rage, ushering in a whole new world of publishing possibilities. It’s too early in my eyes to say that the iPad will be the herald of a future unlike anything else we’ve seen, but it will definitely create new opportunities for those intelligent folks willing to spend the time thinking about it.

In the meantime we’ll just continue to peruse the rest of the web to find ideas and services and destinations that provide us with something new. One of the things I’ve learned over the last few years is that when you evaluate new ideas, you tend to look at three things. First off, is the idea definable; meaning can you easily define what you’re trying to do. The second important criteria is whether it’s defensible; can it be defended against copy cats and imitators who spring up almost overnight. The last thing, and one that people tend to overlook, is whether the idea provides a solution for an existing challenge or if it is a solution looking for a challenge. The fact is that you may create a better mousetrap, all lined in aluminum uni-body design, but if the old mousetrap is doing well and no-one is looking for a new design then it’ll fail.

The companies and ideas below are the ones we discovered over the last few weeks that fit the mold of all three criteria. Let me know what you think!

Is your ear the “ear of the masses”? Can you pick out the best artists before all your friends? If so, check out MUSYCK (http://www.musyck.com/betastart/). For years my friends and I prided ourselves on being ahead of the musical curve, but now that I’m a daddy it’s a bit harder (the local scene trudges on without me). For the “me” of my youth, I’d have been all over this site which allows you to find new artists and share them with your friends/network, and get paid for doing it. Talk about easy money (thanks to Eric Porres for pointing them out)!

Speaking of your local scene, maybe you don’t have time to track all the “goings-on” of everyday life in your hood? Then check out FWIX (http://www.fwix.com). Fwix helps you aggregate all of your local news into one easy to use interface. Stephen Comfort says the iPad version is fantastic, so as soon as my iPad comes I’ll have to check it out!

Sometimes, keeping up with the news means keeping up with your twitter feed, but staring at lines of text can be mind-numbing, so check out TWITTER FOUNTAIN (http://www.twitterfountain.com/). The Fountain comes to us from Doug Chavez, who immediately loved the interface and presentation of rolling items related to specific content. I have to agree – it’s a peaceful way to monitor the world, isn’t it? It may not be a radically new way of reading Twitter, but it’s pretty and that goes for something?

Speaking of Twitter, ever wondered who is de-following you? Then wonder no more; check out QWITTER (http://useqwitter.com/). Qwitter tells you who’s stopped following you and when, giving you useful insight into when your posts are annoying (just in case you needed some help with figuring that out). If you over-post, you can lose followers, so maybe you should check it out (you know who you are).

And just in case you’re looking for ways to raise money, check out KICKSTARTER (http://www.kickstarter.com/) as a way to raise some funds! Kickstarter helps artists, film-makers, entrepreneurs and just about anyone raise money. Maybe you’re a local band trying to break through the scene? Maybe you’re the next Twitter? Maybe you are a clothing designer? Whatever you are, try to get funding here.

In about 2 weeks my iPad’ll be here, so then we’ll broaden the discussion of apps to include that wonderful new world, but this week its just one app to talk about… VOICE BAND. Use Voice Band to create all sorts of new music with just your voice (I love it when the name is clear and easy to remember). It’s fun and it could just be the way you get big, in your local scene, raise money and become a phenom promoting yourself on Twitter for the masses (how’s that for tying it all together). At least until followers start quitting you.

Have a great week everyone!!