I have finally been at the conference of TC50. The crowd is huge. It is said that there are more than 1,700 people in the conference room. The Internet connection is, however, crappy. It is until close to the end of the morning session finally the WiFi service became normal. Here are a few of my comments on the companies presented at the morning of TC50.
Shryk: This is a new service for children to learn how to save money and learn basic financial skills. The UI seems attractive and the goal is well, especially for family. The problem is, however, how the company is going to generate profit if it is a profitable corporation.
Hangout: The company develops virtual spaces for young kids to explore. The service helps bridge kids' online and offline experience. It is about virtual world and user-generated content. Kids can put their real pictures into the wall frames in the virtual world or plug in their real video into the TV and play in the virtual world. Moreover, the service also support mixing of music intrustments such as play drums when click on it and add the click of drum sound into music. This is quite a cool service and children might love to explore it. A question is, however, how the company is preparing to compete Second Life. Just be a Second Life for kids would be a risky strategy.
Blah girls: It is targeting teenage girls, who chase for Hollywood celebrities' life. It is like a mutual interactive blog site that regularly posts celebrity news and uses avatars to broadcast news and interact to the young blog readers. The service is about celebrity news, fashion, and all kinds of gossip inside Hollywood. An interesting (and probably most valuable) technology presented by this blog is to apply virtual characters to directly interact with real people in the world. Blog readers may get personal message from the three Blah Girls in animation. This service is a new approach to engage the life of virtual world into the real world. A shortcoming is the extensibility of the service. It is limited by its essential platform type as a standard Web 2.0 blog. If it may break this limit such as deploying avatars across platforms instead of solely copying videos, the product could be more interesting. At last, how many parents would support their children for this service?
Tweegee: This is actually the best service in this first section by my preference. However, I feel the founder have led the service to a wrong direction. In general, the service is about improve web experiences for young kids. The virtual world created by Tweegee is not a standard virtual world. In fact, it is a virtual world of training how to perform right in the virtual world of the Web. Tweegee may provide kid-specific emails, social networks, and all kinds of services in the adult society that help the new-age kids be quickly adopting the new digital world. This is a great idea. But the founders must know that it is not about creating a real social networking for kids. It is about training kids to know how to be a better member in the adult virtual world when growing up. By this sense, the company would better addressing itself be a non-profit organization than a commercial company. By cooperating with all kinds of education organizations, the service may have brilliant future. However, if the founders keep on their current dream, the service will die shortly.
Dotspots: This service is about engaging the wisdom of crowd to perform semantic annotation. By adding external content into the target news page, readers may be able to access more related comments and other services when reading the news. A significant problem of this service is the scalability. By the way, I am not sure why it is semantic annotation when there is nothing about semantics mentioned in the speech.
Angstro: This is a new professional social network that is to compete with LinkedIn. In essence, the service looks for the linked people name inside news and based on certain ranking criteria sending information to users. But how may the service efficiently distinguish people? The problem is non-trivial at all.
LiveHit: The CEO is a female lead company. The service is targeting 18-25 age young audience. It employs a digg-type but 3d-map-style display of pages. It ranks the popularity of users as well as pages. But it is still unclear how the service may survive through its uniqueness when there are so many powerful competitors there already.
Quant the news: This service uses machine learning, a powerful but dangerous term at the technological realm. A current service, StockMood, utilizes news feed to predict stock market. The computed positive mood will suggest the price of the stock up and the negative mood suggest opposite. But how large the user base might be? It would be an interesting question.
At the stage of TC50, Google finally announced a new service---Google news search. The theme is to make historic offline news become new-age online searchable information. The technology is based on original Google book search. Scan old newspapers, Make history be part of the new Web age. make the old history also be linked to each other. links beneath portion of newspaper.