Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Business done differently

I have been wanting to blog about SmugMug, the online photo hosting site that my wife and I use. I was having a hard time articulating what I wanted to say about it. Fortunately for me, the LATimes solved that problem.
They have a great two page article on SmugMug and what makes it cool. Do check it out here.
I am pretty sure we under-utilize our smugmug page :-) We are not active on the message boards either but we are feeling pretty good that our pictures are in really good hands. If you don't have an online photo site or are in the market for one, do take a look at SmugMug, they are really passionate about what they do.

Some good quotes from the LA Times article:
The MacAskills are determined to retain control of their business, turning down all offers to invest in or buy the company. Employees, who include "sorcerers" (engineers) and "support heroes" (customer service staff), agree that SmugMug wouldn't be the same with outside influence.

SmugMug may have one of the most distinctive corporate characters in Silicon Valley. After all, this is the company that in January gave a couple, Naomi Smith and Roger Brimacombe from Fetlar, one of Scotland's Shetland islands, a lifetime SmugMug membership in exchange for a sheep. As part of the lighthearted deal, the ram, which remained on Fetlar, was christened Smuggy, and SmugMug's green smiley face logo was spray painted on his coat, where it remained until he was sheared this fall.

Sean Rogan, 33, was a SmugMug customer who used to keep readers of Chris' motorcycle forum on the edge of their seats with his tales of life on the road. While he was passing through San Francisco on his way to Guatemala, Chris surprised him by offering him a job as the company writer.

"I thought: Could this have really found me?" Rogan said.

They also reward customer loyalty. Two years ago, when SmugMug raised its prices, it grandfathered in all its current customers. Every year, SmugMug organizes "shootouts" for its customers: roving expeditions to national parks with expert instruction on how to get the perfect shot.

And once, as payment for photo services, the MacAskills accepted livestock.
Like I said, business done differently. I was pretty encouraged and inspired by their story. Let me know what you think.

Merriam-Webster word of the year 2007 (and fine print)

is ... drum rolls ... W00t! and yes I did not type Woot (I purposely used zeros instead of the letter o)

W00t (interjection):expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word "yay"

If I understand this correctly, the 2007 word of the year is a synonym for "yay". I cannot help but find this disturbingly amusing. Oh but wait, it gets better, here are some choice snippets from the web site.

Thousands of you took part in the search for Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2007, and the vast majority of you chose a small word that packs a pretty big punch. The word you've selected hasn't found its way into a regular Merriam-Webster dictionary yet—

the exclamation is also known to be an acronym for "we owned the other team"—again stemming from the gaming community.

Merriam-Webster's #1 Word of the Year for 2007 based on votes from visitors to our Web site:

So, if I understand these findings. The 2007 word for the year is not found in the regular English dictionary and it is an acronym for "owning the other team" (talk about explaining theory A using an even more obscure theory B) and oh the result is based on votes from visitors to our website.

I do understand what W00t! means, I have used the word, the website and am quite aware of it. I have nothing against W00t. What I find troubling here is that a word with its primary relevance emanating from an extremely niche population (online gamers/gamers) has been chosen as the word of the year.

I find this similar to this imho classic post by Josh Kopelman who blogged about the techcrunch effect. The gist of the post is that, the 60+K (now maybe 100+K) users of techcrunch drink each others kool-aid in mass amounts and are freaked out by findings that the biggest priority of most Internet users is not switching from Word to Google Docs (gasp!).

I am sure there is a gamer somewhere who is thrilled to bits that W00t is the word of the year and cannot comprehend the fact that 95+% (i am guessing here) of the world's English speaking population has not heard of it.

IMO, the deeper problem here is that as the Internet makes communication quicker, easier and louder we are mistakenly associating the frequency of appearance of a thought/concept on the Internet as indicative of its prevalence or popularity. It is not and I am afraid some of the mistakes may be more costly than just a unknown word of the year.

But for now, hope you had a great 2007 and a big W00t! for 2008 ;-)

The top 10 words of 2007 can be found here

Prince Caspian Trailer

I am easing back into blog posting after a hiatus. I was busy for the past two months, starting a new job here. That left me in Chicago for 2.5 weeks in November, pictures here from when my wife joined me for the weekend. As you can tell, the 'Bean' fascinated us to no end *grin*

Then Kim and I were visiting Israel for two weeks and we had a wonderful time, pictures here (courtesy Kim again).

Anyways there was too much blog-backlog and I eventually stopped because the backlog was too daunting. I think the word "blog" above can be substituted with a lot of life activities and the statement would still ring true. For instance I can replace blog in that sentence with "exercise" or "reading my bible" or "phone calls to my parents" or "emails to friends" -- you get the idea. I am not going into deep introspection, just making an observation that this is a situation I find myself in quite often so learning to deal with it will probably help in more ways than one.

So here you go, I start by not worrying about the backlog and figure if something was worth blogging about or sharing about in the backlog the need will make itself clear.

Now for the title of the blog, the trailer for the next movie in the Narnia series is out. I found it here.