Showing posts with label web 2.0. Show all posts
Showing posts with label web 2.0. Show all posts

Saturday, January 1, 2011


What does it really cost to get around in the US today? By get around, I mean car, subway, bus and not planes or hotel expenses. Data from 4 million Mint.com users tell us that it is cheaper in cities and more expensive in states where you have to drive long distances.

I've been interested in aggregate data from Mint.com for a while now: 4 million users across the US, real data, from their credit cards and bank accounts, not remembered data. And of course, my statistical self has to recognize that there is sampling bias of some kind with mint users. And it doesn’t take your cash expenditures into account either. If I had to guess, because these numbers are low, they don't include the cost of insurance (around $1100/yr), and obviously not depreciation (around $1500+/year). Regardless, the comparative data is interesting.

But we can assume that for your car related purchases – i.e. the car, the maintenance, the fuel, the tires – most people do most of them with credit cards and primarily at stores that are actually vehicle-only retailers, so the data must be relatively clean.

I broke Mint's system (or rather it timed out) when I tried to get Mint to give me the aggregate data for the whole US. This isn't one of their queries. I edited the URL in search of it. But Mind does let you query state by state, and for specific cities.

So here it is: comparative “Auto & Transport” data of average monthly (yearly) expenditure – as eyeballed because the graphs don’t give precise tick marks.

NYC: $250/mo ($3000/yr)

Boston: $250 ($3000/yr)

San Francisco: $340 ($4080/yr)

NYstate: $310 ($3720/yr)

Texas state: $390 ($4680/yr)

Massachusetts state: $300 ($4000/yr)

California state: $410 ($4920/yr)

If anyone manages to get the US data set to load, I'd love to see what those numbers are. Or if you can get this data in Mint's piechart format, that shows you what fraction of household budgets are spent on what, I really want to see that.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tapping End User Content (2.0) for Speed & Scale

In the spring I gave a number of talks on how web 2.0 should really be talked about as 2.0 -- platforms for participation that invite and enable end-users to add their own content. Letting people tap into their own excess capacity is particularly potent because it is so low cost. And the platforms mean that this small and local content can be scaled to national and international proportions and influence.

Quickly.

IF you can get the platform right.

The video is a 4 minute edited synopsis of a 20 minute talk I gave at Columbia Unviersity a number of weeks ago for their Brite conference (Brands, Innovation, Technology). I reference chatroullette and couch surfing, both excellent examples of the phenomenon. 350.org does an excellent job of this as well.

Related blog posts of mine:
How Sharing Increases Innovation
Thinking about Scarcity & Abundance

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Times Sq Bomb & Crowd Sourced Security #2

I made this same point after the underpants bomber event. While the government can think up new security measures, we need to recognize that the best and most effective defense will be the distributed and ubiquitous eyes on the street. To repeat, relying on people means that you have eyes everywhere and some intelligence and context assessment thrown in. Very hard and expensive to do with just technology.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Web 2.0 is like Yeast: Rampant Growth Possible


I'm preparing a talk and this New York Times interview I found with Andrey Turnovskiy, age 17!!!, exquisitely and quickly explains the components that make Web 2.0 a force to be reckoned with.

Let's deconstruct parts of the interview quickly. I've put it in BOLD so I don't get int trouble about attribution.

Have you always wanted to be a programmer?
No, actually I had no interest in being a programmer. I was always interested in language, I studied English and Chinese and I hoped to be a translator. Then I got a computer and saw that you could write code, so I decided to try it.

How long did it take to build?
It took me three days. I built it on an old computer I had in my bedroom.


First point: we now have the tools available that enable people with little money and discrete skills to build things quickly and try them out. I think of these as "platforms for engagement." They dramatically reduce barriers to entry. Governments should be doing what they can to make sure these platforms exist. This is why I'm advocating open source, open data, open standards, internet protocol, open devices, and open networks for things built with taxpayer money.

Then what happened?
Well, at first I showed it to my friends and they criticized it; they asked why anyone would want to use it. So I went onto a few Web forums and asked people to try the site, and I got 20 people to try it.


He persisted even though people who theoretically knew better thought it was a stupid idea.

How many users do you have now?
Well, after the initial 20 users the site doubled and it continued to double every day since then. Last month [5 months in] I saw 30 million unique visitors come to the Web site and one million new people visit each day. It continues to multiply and I just couldn’t stop it from growing.


I would love to see that growth chart! But if you double every day, starting day one with 20 people, it takes 3 weeks to get to 30 million unique visitors (okay, so ChatRoulette didn't actually double every single day).

Remember that this success was totally unpredictable. This is one of the key reasons we (as a society, company, individual) need to make sure we have made room for easy experimentation and iteration. For every ChatRoulette, there are no doubt hundreds (thousands) of failed experiments. But if you don't open yourself (your company, your country) up to innovation, others will and will pass you by.

Lastly, recognize that the growth was possible thanks to other platforms -- the internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, wired and wireless communications -- that already exist, that make telling your friends really easy and fast. See Clay Shirky's book "Here Comes Everybody."

This speed and scale of adoption of new ideas and behaviors -- newly made possible by the internet and associated technologies -- is what gives me hope about our ability to solve the most terrifying and intractable problems this world faces.

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