Aggregating Microstock data – LookStat

Business,Seattle by on October 29, 2008 at 10:40 am

As more and more of our data moves to the cloud, it frequently gets scattered across different sites. As much as I love data, aggregating and normalizing it is a pain. I have been an advocate of Yodlee for nearly a decade, and have become so accustomed to it that I can’t imagine how people manage their finances or frequent flyer accounts without it.

Stock Photography Shoot
Sample Microstock by keitheddleman

Microstock (stock photos that cost <$10 per photo) has become an increasingly large business and is rapidly tearing the $2B traditional stock photography business to shreds. There are probably close to a fifty thousand individual photographers contributing photos to sites like istockphoto, fotolia and dreamstime.

If you are a photographer, you’ll submit your images to multiple sites: the sites are non-exclusive, it costs nothing to submit a photo and it increases your chance of selling the photo (which can be sold multiple times). But tracking the performance of your photos is very challenging - you need to download data files from multiple sites, normalize them and then somehow link the photo-by-photo performance data from the different sites.

Rahul and Casey Zednick just launched LookStat, a must use application for serious microstock photographers. Not only do they aggregate the data from multiple sites, but they also do the very hard work of normalizing your data. That means that you can see how much a single photo is making across all sites.

I fully expect that LookStat becomes an essential application for photographers. Congrats on the launch!

TechFlash – Full Feeds Please!

Business,Seattle by on October 23, 2008 at 9:18 am

The Seattle tech news scene has long been dominated by two bloggers: John Cook and Todd Bishop. Both were formerly writers/bloggers at the Seattle PI, and both left at the same time to launch TechFlash with/for The Puget Sound Business Journal.

Although the site launched on 10/21, it seems that they’ve both been writing for a while and are in the process of publishing back posts (either that or they soft-launched back in September).

There were a number of things that disappointed me about their prior coverage, and I hope now that they are free from the restrictions of a big media news organization like the PI they’ll become better bloggers. Anyway, here are my suggestions for making TechFlash even better:

  1. Full feeds. No respectable tech news source sends out partial RSS feeds. Attention is way more valuable than the incremental page views. I spend way more time reading the other publications on John Cook’s Feeds list than I have on his blog at the PI. Full-length feeds are a big part of that. If partial-feeds are a must, then at least write a paragraph feed summary - don’t just take the first 30 words…
  2. Opinion. Please provide some. If all we wanted to know was what a company did, we could visit their website. Tell us if they will be successful or if they’ll flop or what you think of their offering.
  3. Unique. Guest bloggers are great, but don’t just reprint their content. I subscribe to Andy Sack’s blog. I read his original post on venture over the holidays last week. I really don’t need to see the same thing twice in my feeds (yes, even though it was a good post).

Regardless of whether or not they implement these feeds, I’m definitely excited for the increased depth that Techflash can provide.

SEOMoz announces LinkScape – Radically altering the SEO Tools market

Seattle,SEO by on October 6, 2008 at 11:46 am

Last night SEOMoz announced LinkScape, a link-based tool that maintains a self-generated index of 30 Billion pages. Yes, that’s B of Billion. It was only 3 years ago that Yahoo announced an index size of 20 Billion pages.

Almost equally impressive is that this service was built on $1.1 million in venture funding (yes they did have revenue, but that was still less than a million a year). Internet companies and products are being built for far less now than they have ever been.

The enormity of this accomplishment cannot be understated, and I’m certain it will revolutionize the typical approach to SEO. SEO has long been more of an art form than a science and I expect LinkScape will be the first of many tools that will decidedly shift the balance towards science. The search engines have always held their core algorithms close to the vest, but the impacts of links on those algorithms will shortly be a solved equation.

Well, I wrote too soon. It has since come to light that Linkscape does not operate its own crawlers and instead leverages the many crawler APIs. This intentional error of omission definitely lowers the magnitude of the accomplishment, but it doesn’t change the value of the service.

Trip up a Snowy Mt Adams

Personal,Seattle by on June 25, 2008 at 9:13 pm

I climbed Mt Adams again last weekend with Rahul, Matt and several other friends. The climb up on Saturday was pretty brutal, as was camping at 9K feet in very stiff winds. Sunday was gorgeous. Read the full Mt Adams trip report or view some photos from the hike.

Columbia River Gorge

Personal,Seattle by on May 6, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Iva and I spent the weekend at the Columbia River Gorge with friends of ours. We spent Saturday hiking around the various waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (with a dead camera battery). On Sunday we hiked Dog Mountain, a gorgeous hike that rewarded us with fantastic views and an incredibly windy summit. Our room at the Skamania lodge had incredible views along the gorge.

Dog Mountain Overlook

View on the way up to the Dog Mountain summit.

Seattle City Light’s usage stats help to go Green

Personal,Seattle by on April 25, 2007 at 10:08 pm

I was looking at my twice monthly power bill, and was simultaneously impressed and disappointed with the ‘green-oriented’ aspects of the bill. I can begin to see how something as simple as a power bill can contribute to broader conservation efforts.

I love stats, and the power bill contained two comparative stats that told me how our usage compared to last year’s usage. I thought the graph and stats were pretty cool:



So, we used 20% less electricity this year. Great. I think.

I love that this is on the first page of the bill, but they could do so much more. This would be a great place to tell me:

  • Is my improvement better or worse than that of other customers (an unseasonably warm winter could have improved everyone’s bill)
  • How does my consumption compare to other customers? What quartile am I in? How about average energy usage per sq ft? Even better, tell me how I compare to the other people on my block.
  • Usage by day? Are we particularly inefficient on some days? A daily graph would be pretty cool, although I’m pretty sure they don’t have the data to support this.

Not everyone is a numbers geek like me nor are they similarly competitive. But, this has actually had an impact on our energy usage, so I imagine it would do the same for others.

They also have this cool renewable energy program: GreenUp. You get to buy a guilt free energy consuming lifestyle for a mere $12 a month. For this low monthly charge Seattle City Light commits to give you energy from renewable sources instead of stinky coal factories. So, your power can at least feel superior to other people’s power as it travels down the lines to your house.

Although I’m happily spending $12 a month, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just paying Seattle City Light extra money for the privilege of feeling better about my energy footprint (aka, does the money go to renewable sources or to a public utility slush fund).

Does anyone know if other utilities have similar programs?

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