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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

DayTripr : Mobile Access

I've added mobile access to the DayTripr trip pages. You could get to the site over WAP before, but you couldn't see the Javascript-based maps. Now any request with a WAP header gets served a special page with a static map image and some link-based navigation controls. To try it out, just visit any of the trip pages using the browser that's built into your phone. Let me know how it goes. If you think it's hard supporting Firefox/IE/Safari/Opera, you should try supporting every kind of cell phone under heaven.

Mobile access to the trip pages isn't really all that useful, but mobile access to the soon-to-be-implemented trip planning pages is going to be a hoot. No more carrying around bulging folders of notes and maps!

So maybe you don't carry around tons of research on your day trip, but I'm thinking it's going to be nice to be able to get to all that info you came across when you were planning the trip during your lunch hour last Wednesday. (A three hour drive and the crab shack is closed for the winter! It totally didn't say that in the review. What about that other place we talked about, you know, the chowder place? Was that around here? What was it called?)

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Monday, October 16, 2006

DayTripr : Soft Launch

I "soft launched" DayTripr on Sunday. There's just enough there for friends and family to start helping with basic workflow testing and building up some initial content. Feel free. Fresh eyes have been spotting lots of problems I never noticed or had gotten used to. It's been a little depressing to find so many issues, but making something simple takes a lot of work.[1] I'm glad I resisted the urge to add more features before launch or I'd never have it all working right.

Within a couple of hours DayTripr had it's first sign up from somebody I hadn't personally invited. I took some log perusal to figure out that they'd found the del.icio.us bookmark I'd added as a convenience for testing on different browser/machine combos. Some further digging revealed this little gem of site.[2] At first I was appalled. You know that feeling you get when you look at your driver's license photo? Then again, I asked for it.

[1] "I have only made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter." Pascal. Lettres provinciales, 16, Dec. 14, 1656.
[2] http://betamuseum.blogspot.com "Web2.0 Sites Museum". Is it meant as a subtle dig? The "museum" part seems sort of final. There's a cultural gap in there somewhere. On the upside, I've been getting a steady trickle of hits and I've enjoyed reading through the other, uh, exhibits. On balance, I'm flattered.


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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Eight Things about Bar Camp NYC 2 Sponsorships

Amit asked me to write a few words about handling sponsorships at Bar Camp NYC 2. The first thing to say is that Courtney Pulitzer rocks. Things got extremely busy at my day job and I fell far behind in my Bar Camp duties. Courtney swooped in at the last minute and saved the day. Thanks Courtney!

On the theory that it's better to have something imperfect now than something perfect later, I'm going to skip the slick writeup and just make a list:
  1. We went over budget. Not much, about $140 at last count, but one of our number got stuck unexpectedly with the bill. Although we worked it out, it was needlessly stressful.
  2. Don't forget tips when budgeting, especially if the vendor delivers. Many things will turn out to be just slightly more expensive than expected and it adds up.
  3. Google Spreadsheets was a lifesaver, both for pre-event planning and for keeping track of the budget on the days of the event. Making a local backup before arriving at the venue is a very good idea, though.
  4. If you can possibly manage it, have the sponsors purchase the food and handle the delivery. Not only do they get stuck with tips and other unexpected charges, it means they are more directly involved in the event.
  5. Although one of last year's sponsors declined to re-up on the basis of "insufficient benefit", most of them didn't seem to care that much. They either already knew, or had fairly low expectations for return on their $200 donation.
  6. On that note, lots more people knew what a Bar Camp was this time around. Part of that was hitting up the sponsors from the previous event, but part was a generally greater awareness.
  7. Donations were mostly in the $100-$200 range, with a couple of standouts contributing more. Everybody got the same sized logo on the sponsor wall.
  8. People promise things, but then forget. Expect to send at least one, maybe several reminders to sponsors, especially the ones you line up early.


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Thursday, October 05, 2006

DayTripr : Monetizing Other People's Work

Guy Kawasaki's recent blog post on Fanpop hit a nerve with me. DayTripr is going to be a site that makes use of "user generated content," but I'm uncomfortably aware of the nasty power imbalance that that can imply. I've pretty much decided that the "we own and/or permanently-licence-for-free-forever everything you do" model is not the right way to go.

Om Malik sums it up nicely:
"...aren’t we seemingly commoditizing our most valuable asset - time. We become the outsourced workforce, the collective, though it is still unclear what is the pay-off. While we may (or may not) gain something from the collective efforts, the odds are whatever “the collective efforts” are, they are going to boost the economic value of those entities. Will they share in their upside? Not likely!"
The argument for a site like del.icio.us is that the minor effort required to bookmark a link is more than offset by the value the site provides. I'm not sure if that would be true for a site like DayTripr (writing up a day trip is harder than clicking a bookmark button) and I've been thinking a lot about what that implies.

There is added value to be found in aggregation and analysis, but raw material needs to be paid for, and I think sites need to pay (not necessarily in money) for the content they're made of. It needs to be something more than gold stars, though.

I'll be exploring some of my (mostly stolen) ideas on how exactly to go about that in upcoming blog postings.


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Tuesday, October 03, 2006


We go on lots of day trips. Before our daughter was born we went on bunches, and now that she's two, we go on even more. Planning is a pain. I generally spend as many hours planning as I do on the road. There's a lot of good information out there on the Interweb, but it's spread out and hard to find. Traditional travel sites aren't much use, they concentrate on flights and hotels. Chamber of commerce sites have lots of information, but like those day trip books in the "Local" section of every chain bookstore, they're hit-or miss (often out of date and of questionable quality)

I tend to use recommendations from friends and depend a great deal on serendipity (especially write ups in blogs), but I don't always get lucky, and sometimes it gets a little stressful.

Day trips are just different than multi-day trips, and I feel like they've been neglected.

Out of these frustrations (and some really good conversations at Bar Camp NYC 2) is born... DayTripr : The place to plan, record and share your favorite day trips. Well, technically, "will be born". I'm in the middle of coding right now. The site should premier sometime next week. I've got friends and relatives lined up to help with the initial content, but it's going to take a lot more than that to get the site up to speed. I may be asking some of you, dear readers, for a little help. For right now, any feedback on the idea itself is appreciated.

More soon...

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