Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter


MinneDemo's new location, at the University of St. Thomas Schulze Hall, was a big improvement. The seminar room comfortably held everybody who showed up (although some of the demos were hard to see since they had small text, even on the large screen.) The outside foyer, however, was not very conducive to conversation--- it was loud and echoed.

Two games:

Qonqr: underwhelming demo of this location-based game. Didn't really show the gameplay, just their fancy map. (With good reason, gameplay is just "press a button to earn a point.") Talked a little bit about the game features they are going to add for beta, but I think they'd have been better off waiting to demo then.

Daybreak Heroes: iPhone "social" game, I didn't think the ideas were as "revolutionary" as advertised. Incorporating auctions and social networking into a fairly standard hack-n-slash game. I'm not sure what the niche is for "better than Farmville but not as much fun as Wow."

Four "social media" sites:

Speaking of Wow, we got a last-minute substitute in Evolve. (Side rant: PICK A NEW NAME. This is nearly impossible to search for.) This is a social network for hardcore gamers. Now, they actually made a good point--- the sorts of things you want to talk about with your gaming buddies is not the same sort of thing you want to share with the rest of your friends, or your professional network. And game-based social networking tools tend to be fragmented--- even Steam doesn't cover everything. But, does that mean that we need separate sites for all these interests/communities, or that Facebook just isn't doing the job yet but they or a competitor will get there? I use LinkedIn and LJ, so I guess I can see a future where there are these multiple social networks. But I tend to think that this is not going to be compelling once social media sites provide a more layered or view-based approach that doesn't treat all "friends" equally.

They made a big deal about "integrating" with games, but what this really meant was that you could hit the windows key to bring up their chat application in front of the game (like you can Alt-Tab in Steam games.)

Inveni: a recommendation engine, demoed for movies but applicable to other things? Social networking + recommendation sharing. Slick interface but I felt no need to sign up; demo spent too much time walking through signup process and not enough showing benefit. It was also the least readable of the demos since there is a lot of stuff on each page, with small text. (The presenter also showed why nearly everybody else has one person talking and another running the keyboard.)

EventBurn: Summarizes and aggregates social media about a particular set of keywords, phrases, or tags. Fairly interesting--- I would much prefer to read Twitter or Facebook that way than the real thing. However, their demo showed a couple weaknesses. You have to come up with all the various iterations of the topic yourself--- i.e., enter both "rally4sanity" and "rallyforsanity" and "rally for sanity". The service would be more useful if it found related or misspelled tags automatically. Their "top four tweets" from the event shown also included two duplicates (one had a hashtag that the other lacked) which directly detracts from the value they're supposed to be adding. (I might actually be more interested in finding messages that were *not* retweeted a billion times...)

Sophia: Knowledge sharing social networking. You put together information about a topic (video, screencasts, other media), and can label it as relevant to a particular course. The lessions can then be shared by a particular group, say a class. The use case here made a lot of sense to me--- questions and answers about a particular topic are limited to the particular group sharing it, not everybody in the world, in a good example of the sort of "view-based" approach I talked about earlier.

Three other web projects:

Minnesota Hockey Hub: very polished and easy-to-use site (using the "SPORT NGIN" platform) for hockey teams. Coaches can enter schedules, player rosters, etc., fairly easily. Even amateur teams can produce play-by-play records using a Flash application (or mobile app, I think?) and the site will manage player stats.

LitLift: A novel-writing helper; sort of a web-based notepad or outliner. He gets it right not to try dictating how to write the novel (or in what program, he showed a Google Docs plugin.) But all that's left is an organizer for characters, scenes, etc. It's not clear how much somebody like mrissa would benefit from doing that on the web rather than just a separate document.

Zipnosis: Fast web-based medical consultation; it's been getting a fair bit of media coverage.

One geeky joy:

Passy-pass: Awesome hardware hacking project--- a USB password keeper that emulates a keyboard device to enter passwords for you. Also generates them so you need never see the password at all! The input was limited to a (chorded) set of 6 keys; however, you can interact with the device by having it type into an editor window for you (and offer menu options, etc.)
Tags: geek, internet, minnedemo
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