Two of the interesting startups presented tonight at NY Tech meetup underscore one of the crucial facets of the tech industry today: In terms of what will be successful, no one really knows what is going to happen next.
Unless something is really the next Facebook or Twitter, it is going to have to piggyback on existing tools or data sources.
Tagnic (playtagnic.com) is an interesting twist on an old theme. Twitter already lets you mention other twitter users (known as an @ reply), but Tagnic allows you to attach ideas to that person – like rockstar, sexy, or nerd. You can wish someone happy birthday, or good luck. You don’t need to sign up for this service separately from Twitter; it is a Twitter application. You also don’t need to learn anything very special to use it. You just use a plus symbol (+) followed by the tag you are tagging the person with.
If you receive enough tags attached to your name, you get a “badge” from Tagnic, kind of like a scout badge.
In my opinion this is noteworthy but probably not going all that far. Interesting? Yes. Revolutionary? Hardly. One of the criticisms that was mentioned at the meetup was what happens if people tag bad things about you. At best, this could be a friendly jest. At worst, this could be a visceral attack on another individual. Like Twitter mentions, there’s actually no way to erase what other people say about you in a tag. The company had no official response to this social downside.
Something heard not too often in a tech industry sense, when asked “What’s your revenue model?” founder Adam Simon replies bluntly: “We have none.” By the sheer gusto of his response, this statement is met by the 500+ person audience with rapturous applause.
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Only in the tech industry could a business come so far along with a technical platform whose very premise exists on questionable legal grounds. Anyclip (anyclip.com) has created an interesting and innovative technology for movie buffs: a transcribed and time-coded collection of every line of dialog in big production movies.
Aaron Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder, types “stay puff marshmellow man” into the search engine and the iconic scene from Ghost Busters of the giant marshmallow man destroying New York comes right up.
The transcripts are time-coded to the exact point in the movie where the dialog (or thing) appears, so you get a clip of that very scene. Pretty cool, if the idea works and flies.
Personally, I’m not certain about the technology. In his demo Cohen asks the audience for any term. Someone shouts out “bicycling.” When he searched for this, several movie clips with no bicycles come up. While there could be various reasons for this glitch, it seems that the data set being search is large and refinement of the query is a precise science that they have yet to master. (I also searched myself for “I’ll have what she’s having” and couldn’t find the famous scene that takes place in Katz’s deli from When Harry Met Sally.) While not a fatal flaw, it seems like the engine should know based on relevance and popularity what you are probably searching for.
The main elephant in the room for Anyclip is: Do they have the rights to show these clips? Well, er, actually no. As of now they have no deals with the big 6 movie studies (which control 88% of the US Marketshare 1)
Anyclip claims their lawyers say that they can use up to four minutes of a clip for promotional use. Nevertheless, official studio sanctioning is their plan. In september, they told Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch: “I’m not that interested in having tons of content that they dont want us to have. We can’t build a business on the backs of their content illegally and hope it works. Over time we will get it all.” 2