AltSearchEngines Essay Competition

I recently won first place on an AltSearchEngines essay competition. Charles Knight asked readers of his new blog to contribute ideas on how alternative search engines can increase their collective market share. Here is my entry.

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Google and Yahoo currently have a stranglehold (75%) on the search market for one simple reason – for the past six or seven years they have offered users the most relevant search results. Through long-term success these two have achieved mindshare, thus significant path dependencies exist within their core user base. MSN, AOL, and Ask, own the next 20% of market share. This means that 95 out of every 100 Internet searches are owned by five companies (actually four companies, if you consider that AOL now displays Google results). This exercise asks us to consider the remaining 5% of alternative search engines as being one general entity and we are tasked with increasing the Alt’s market share to 7% or beyond.

Nearly every alt engine has its own unique quirks, positive or negative, and a considerable number of these engines do indeed offer quality of output that rivals most any search result from the major 95% market share holders. Yet most Internet users have never heard of nearly any of them. Before making direct suggestions on how to compete by creating a better search experience, it is more important to consider the products that already exist in the alt search market, and understand what drives the 95% of search users to the big five engines.

Consider the three second-tier search engines, MSN, AOL, and Ask.com. MSN has the benefit of being Internet Explorer’s default homepage (used by more than 70% of Internet users), and they’ve spent many millions working on their search technology to catch up to Google, but it clearly isn’t there yet in terms of quality. AOL has the benefit being the country’s largest ISP, therefore able to place its homepage in front of millions of people every day – but they do not offer links to Google’s advanced tools (which require a Google login). Ask.com is a well-funded company with a simple domain name that continues to spend millions of dollars driving traffic, and though their search results have improved over the years, the results are still not yet generally considered superior to Google or Yahoo. The obvious question is why would 20% of the market utilize inferior search services? The answer is likely that less sophisticated users make up a greater percentage of this 20% than Google’s and Yahoo’s user base.

For more evidence of this, cross-reference Quantcast.com’s demographic information. It indicates that Google and Yahoo attract a larger percentage of users in the 18-34 age group (the most Internet-savvy age group), generally coming from higher income households.

http://www.quantcast.com/google.com
http://www.quantcast.com/yahoo.com
http://www.quantcast.com/aol.com
http://www.quantcast.com/msn.com
http://www.quantcast.com/ask.com

There are two reasons why the quickest path to increasing market share is to focus marketing and education efforts on the demographics which make up 20% owned by the second-tier search engines. First, these users are likely newer to the Internet, and more open to trying new ways of surfing. Second, it is easier to demonstrate higher quality search results from an alt-engine over the second-tier engines, rather than Google and Yahoo, whose users are affected by stronger path-dependencies.

To attract this new audience, marketing materials must focus on how your alt-engine makes life easier and improves the online search experience; how it provides quicker and more accurate information, thus creating a more comfortable online experience.

Much can be learned from Ask.com’s growth over the page five years. Previous to their disastrous 2007 marketing campaign (“The Algorithm Killed Jeeves”), emphasizing simplicity and user-friendliness was precisely their approach. Ask created effective television commercials that in effect spoke the following message: “Go to Ask.com – type in any question in the world – and we’ll give you the answer.”

Remember, before your alt-engine acquires a Yahoo-sized market share, it has to first get an Ask.com and MSN sized percentage. Grab the users at the margin first – and then go for the big time.

-Michael Hussey CEO, PeekYou.com

RateMyTeachers, Teacher Unions and the UK

Do not believe the excuses put forward by the teacher unions — demanding that internet censors protect teachers from cyber-bullying? RateMyTeachers is at the forefront of protecting teachers online by promoting the best and the most effective among them. Since our inception, RateMyTeachers has instituted rating rules to protect teachers from bullying. Any rating that crosses these rules is removed without question. A moderating force of over 5,000 individuals is constantly on the look-out for any ratings that do not meet these standards. Every rating is reviewed before it is posted live on the website.

See for yourself: http://www.ratemyteachers.com/info.php?type=RateRules

A tyrant demanding absolute control is the first to censor whatever threatens its power. Teacher unions recognize the threat websites like RateMyTeachers pose to their monopoly and use “cyber-bullying” as an excuse to enact censorship. The fact is, not all teachers are created equal and RateMyTeachers is making this plainly obvious to anyone with an interest in the education system (parents, students, administrators, taxpayers). Despite any rhetoric to the contrary, teacher unions by their very nature view every teacher as a cog in a great education machine.

Teacher contracts are negotiated so that every teacher, good or bad, is treated the same. Teachers who opt out of paying union dues are punished even though they are required by law to accept the union negotiated contracts. Tenure tracks ensure that horrible teachers will waste students’ time and taxpayers’ money; and in some cases, a bad teacher can seriously harm the education and mental development of a child. Pointing out to the public which teachers are creating an environment for learning (as most teachers are successfully doing) and which teachers are failing in that mission (a small minority), leads people to question a system that restricts choices.

The point issue, which the press always ignores, is that any pressure to allow school or teacher choice threatens the teacher union’s power. For a tyrant, choice is to be avoided at all costs — and censorship is always on the table when losing power is at stake.

The United Kingdom stands at cross-roads. By allowing its citizens to access websites and servers outside of the country’s borders, the UK has unwittingly granted incredible new freedoms to its citizenry, the implications of which were not foreseen. This freedom threatens many of the institutions that prop up the State apparatus; hence rumblings of this kind are not at all surprising. The choice at hand is between protecting citizens’ rights to access information freely and looking to China for inspiration in controlling people and the information they may consume. Sadly, considering the recent rhetoric ringing through the highest levels of the UK government, I would not be shocked to see the UK look east for inspiration.

PeekYou.com Beta launch

PeekYou

    PeekYou Emerges From Stealth Mode With 50 Million Profiles in Beta, Providing Easy and Efficient People Search Capabilities
    Tuesday July 17, 12:54 pm ET
    RateMyTeachers.com Founder Seeks to Meet Growing Demand for Online People Search
    Via Yahoo:

    NEW YORK, July 17 /PRNewswire/ — PeekYou.com (www.peekyou.com), an innovative search engine dedicated to finding people online, announced today that it has officially launched in beta mode. The Web site is the Internet’s first true openly edited white pages, allowing users to easily locate other Internet users with a presence on the web and access a list of all relevant links to the person being searched. The site has been in stealth mode since October 2006 and has already built profiles for over 50 million users, with more being added every day.

    Created by RateMyFace.com and RateMyTeachers.com/RateMyProfessors.com founder Michael Hussey, PeekYou aims to be an open source directory of every individual online. Hussey, who has been featured on CNN, NPR and BBC amongst others looks to bring his experience developing popular consumer destination sites to building PeekYou into the premiere people search engine. Each individual will have their own personalized page and a PeekYou profile that will include bookmarked links to all information available about the target person. PeekYou differentiates itself from other people searchers by the site’s ability to link and identify numerous Internet identities to a single individual based upon tags and online identities.

    The site allows users complete freedom to edit, add or remove information, links, photos, and tags (school, work, interests, etc.) associated with their profile or other PeekYou user’s profiles. In addition, PeekYou provides human created search engine results, reducing nonspecific and incorrect matches. Concerned with maintaining privacy, PeekYou empowers individuals with the opportunity to be “unlisted” (similar to the White Pages) as well as edit their profiles to ensure correct and accurate information.

    “People searching is one of the most popular online exercises, but until now it has been a largely inefficient and often confusing experience,” said Michael Hussey, founder of PeekYou. “PeekYou is a true Web 2.0 ‘people search’ – we discover and map where people exist online, almost like writing a biography about your life on the net. In doing so, we are building the ideal engine for individuals to monitor their own online identity.”

    “PeekYou is creating an entirely new lens from which the web will be viewed,” said Baldev Duggal founder of Duggal Dimensions, LLC, which is funding PeekYou. “I think PeekYou will forever change the way that ‘people searches’ are conducted.”

    About PeekYou

    PeekYou.com (www.peekyou.com) is an innovative search engine dedicated to finding people online. The site has been in stealth mode since October 2006 and officially launched in Beta Mode in July 2007, with over 50 million users and more being added everyday. PeekYou is the Internet’s first true openly edited white pages. The site allows users to easily locate other Internet users with a presence on the web and access a list of all relevant links to the person being searched. PeekYou satisfies a huge demand for Internet users looking to track down friends, family and business associates while maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with search engines. Once launched PeekYou will be the go to site for people search. PeekYou is privately funded by Duggal Dimensions, LLC, founded by Baldev Duggal who has been at the forefront of technology and creative innovation in the photo and computer imaging field for over 35 years.

Open Source Media Launch

I was able to attend yesterday’s launch party for Open Source Media (formerly Pajamas Media) at Rockefeller Center and the W Hotel. It was most exciting to put faces to many of the blogs that I read on a regular basis. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame, who CEO Roger Simon dubbed “The George Washington of Blogs” had the aura of a rock star, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with him for a few minutes. There were some excellent panelists, including an elitist, out-of-touch NY Times fashion reporter, Elizabeth Hayt who shamelessly and cluelessy excoriated the blogosphere as an activity for “rich people with too much time on their hands,” all-the-while nearly being laughed off the stage. Judith Miller was the keynote speaker at lunch, though I felt she was a bit off-putting with her praise of NY Times standards (which I know first hand are not what they claim, from a 2003 un-sourced hit piece they published on RateMyTeachers). Regardless, it was all quite interesting, taking place in a great setting.

Michael Hussey and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit
With Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame!

Partnered with Bolt.com

Classface
I recently moved to New York City, as I have partnered RateMyTeachers with a teen media company called Bolt.com. Bolt is selling targeted advertising for us at significantly higher rates than we were capable of on our own. So far, so good. I have also partnered with Bolt on a new venture called classface.com. If you have heard of TheFaceBook.com for college students, classface is essentially the same thing, except for high school students (using RateMyTeachers and Bolts significant membership to promote it). TheFaceBook attracts well over a million daily users and billions of page views each month. We are hoping to attract a similar audience. We’ll see.

Update (11/28/05): No longer working with Bolt.com. Classface has been renamed StudyBreakers.com.

RateMyTeachers on CNN

Today I was interviewed on CNN’s “In the Money” regarding RateMyTeachers.com. I was behind Wolf Blitzer in the makeup line. All I could muster was a weak “Hello” with a faint nod of the head. He looked really focused on getting to the news desk and I suppose I didn’t want to disturb him. He had a good, positive, disposition about him, though. All-in-all, an interesting experience, even though it felt like a radio interview (all I had was a ear piece to listen to the questions – I had no idea with whom I was speaking). Here is a recent USA Today article, as well. Overall, the press exposure has been great.

NPR Interview – All Things Considered

I was recently interviewed for this NPR piece discussing RateMyTeachers.com. This was my third appearance on All Things Considered. It is amazing how much has happened since I first was interviewed by NPR regarding RateMyFace.com in December of 2000.

“Jennifer Wing of member station KPLU in Seattle, Wash., reports on a Web site for school children across the country — RateMyTeachers.com — that allows them to “grade” their teachers.”

Press Archive – 2003

* Journalnow.com, NC – December 26, 2003
* Fayetteville Online, NC (By Jessica Banov) – December 25, 2003
* The Herald Mail – Hagerstown, MD – December 21, 2003
* The Evening Tribune – Hornell, NY – December 17, 2003
* Kidspeak! – December 14, 2003
* WMTW ABC Channel 8, ME – October 8, 2003
* Maimi Herald, FL – November 30, 2003
* USA WEEKEND – November 28-30, 2003
* The Mercury News – San Jose, CA – November 28, 2003
* San Mateo County Times, CA – November 25, 2003
* Oakland Tribune, CA – November 25, 2003
* Dallas Morning News, TX – November 19, 2003
* WLTX-TV Columbia, SC – November 18, 2003
* Reno Gazette Journal, NV – November 16, 2003
* The Tampa Tribune, FL – November 13, 2003
* The Las Vegas Sun, NV – November 10, 2003
* Edmonton Journal, AB – November 8, 2003
* San Diego Union Tribune, CA – November 8, 2003
* Wellesley Townsman, MA – November 6, 2003
* Chippewa Falls, WI – November 6, 2003
* Kansas State Collegian, KS – November 5, 2003
* WFSB-3, Eyewitness News, CT – November 4, 2003
* WTVR-6 CBS Richmond, VA – November 4, 2003
* Newsday, NY – November 4, 2003
* The Collegiate Times, VA – November 4, 2003
* WAVY-NBC Norfolk, VA – November 4, 2003
* WGOW 102.3 FM – The Morning Press, Chattanooga, TN – November 3, 2003
* The Daily Press, VA – November 3, 2003
* The Washtington Times, DC – November 3, 2003
* Times Herald-Record – November 2, 2003
* The Greenville News, SC – November 2, 2003
* tjTODAY Alexandria, VA – November 1, 2003
* Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, WI – October 31, 2003
* 1500AM WGHT, North Jersey’s Talking w/Lee & Teresa – October 31, 2003
* Fox News Radio Live with Alan Colmes – October 30, 2003
* Team Clark Howard’s Consumer Action Center Radio Show – October 30, 2003
* RadioU Columbus – The R!OT with Nikki & Obadiah, OH – October 29, 2003
* Cumberland Times News, MD – October 28, 2003
* 630 WMAL – Chris Core Show, Washington, DC – October 28, 2003
* Journal Times, WI – October 28, 2003
* FoxNews.com – October 28, 2003
* Asheville Citizen Times, NC – October 26, 2003
* Syracuse Post Standard, NY – October 26, 2003
* Beaufort Gazette, SC – October 25, 2003
* Phoenixville News, PA – October 25, 2003
* Raleigh News Observer, NC – October 24, 2003
* News 3, WI – October 22, 2003
* WAFF-TV – Huntsville, AL – October 22, 2003
* St. Petersburg Times, FL – October 22, 2003
* The News & Observer, NC – October 22, 2003
* Milwaukee Freeman Newspapers, WI – October 20, 2003
* Atlanta Journal Constitution, GA – October 20, 2003
* Times Record News, TX – October 18, 2003
* San Luis Obispo Tribune, CA – October 17, 2003
* Ventura County Star, CA – October 16, 2003
* Cecil Whig, MD – October 16, 2003
* Mail Tribune, Medford, OR – October 16, 2003
* Mail Tribune, OR – October 15, 2003
* KVAL 13 News, OR – October 14, 2003
* Corvallis Gazette-Times, OR – October 14, 2003
* WHNT News Channel 19, AL – October 14, 2003
* Democrat Herald, OR – October 14, 2003
* Salem Statesman Journal, OR – October 14, 2003
* Register-Guard, OR – October 13, 2003
* The Sun News, SC – October 13, 2003
* NBC4 Washington, DC – October 13, 2003
* WBIR-TV Knoxville, TN – October 13, 2003
* Wisconsin State Journal, WI – October 12, 2003
* Herald Tribune, FL – October 12, 2003
* Net Family News – October 10, 2003
* Student Press Law Center, Arlington, VA – October 10, 2003
* UPI/Washington Times, DC – October 10, 2003
* Capitol News Service, MD – October 10, 2003
* Concord Monitor, NH – October 10, 2003
* Florida Times-Union – October 9, 2003
* KOCO-TV Channel 5, OK – October 9, 2003
* The Monument, ME – October 9, 2003
* The Journal News, NY – October 8, 2003
* Virginia Gazette, VA – October 8, 2003
* Portland Press Herald, ME – October 7, 2003
* Concord Monitor, NH – October 6, 2003
* WJLA-TV News 8, DC – October 6, 2003
* Ventura County Star, CA – October 6, 2003
* Washington Post, DC – October 6, 2003
* Gannett Suburban New York Newspapers, NY – October 5, 2003
* The Daily Camera, CO – October 5, 2003
* The Journal News, NY – October 5, 2003
* Bangor Daily News, ME – October 3, 2003
* Frederick County Gazette, MD – October 2, 2003
* CBS 3 Philadelphia, PA – September 30, 2003
* KUTV-TV Channel 2, UT – September 29, 2003
* BBC News World Edition, UK – September 29, 2003
* Peoria Journal Star, IL – September 29, 2003
* Deseret Morning News, UT – September 29, 2003
* Inland Southern California, CA – September 29, 2003
* The Press-Enterprise, CA – September 28, 2003
* WTIC AM – Newstalk 1080, Hartford, CT – September 26, 2003
* School Wise Press – September 24, 2003
* Maryland Gazette Newspapers, MD – September 23, 2003
* Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil, IA – September 23, 2003
* The News Journal, DE – September 21, 2003
* Baltimore Sun, MD – September 21, 2003
* St. Louis Post Dispatch, MO – September 21, 2003
* Napa Valley Register, CA – September 21, 2003
* Florida Today, FL – September 20, 2003
* Gaylord Herald Times, MI – September 19, 2003
* The Bagpipe – Highland Park High School, TX – September 19, 2003
* Baltimore Sun, MD – September 17, 2003
* Education Week – September 17, 2003
* Michael Smerconish ow, 1210AM Philadelphia, PA September 17, 2003
* Pasadena Star News, CA – September 15, 2003
* Seattle Post Intelligencer, WA – September 15, 2003
* WTNH News 8, CT – September 15, 2003
* Dallas Morning News, TX – September 15, 2003
* Philadelphia Inquirer, PA – September 14, 2003
* King5.com, WA – September 13, 2003
* Naples Daily News, FL – September 13, 2003
* WBAL 1090AM Baltimore, MD – September 11, 2003
* East Valley Tribune, AZ – September 11, 2003
* Federal News Mirror, WA – September 11, 2003
* Wrangler News, CA – September 10, 2003
* TechTV – Tech Live – September 8, 2003
* Coloradoan, Fort Collins, CO – September 6, 2003
* King County Journal, WA – September 5, 2003
* USA TODAY – September 4, 2003
* Tuscaloosa News, AL – September 4, 2003
* HeraldTribune, AL – September 4, 2003
* Fox 11 News Tucson, AZ – September 3, 2003
* The Dallas Morning News, TX – September 2, 2003
* Pioneer Press, MN – September 1, 2003
* Tri City News, BC – August 30, 2003
* Pittsburgh Post Gazette, PA – August 30, 2003
* FYI London, ON – August 27, 2003
* KSDK ST. Louis, MO – August 25, 2003
* Jerry Moore’s School Talk – August 24, 2003
* The Standard – August 23, 2003
* WTSP Tampa/St. Petersburg – August 22, 2003
* WTSP Tampa/St. Petersburg [VIDEO] – August 22, 2003
* The Saratogian – August 22, 2003
* Albany Times Union, NY (Rick Karlin) – August 18, 2003
* Penn Live – August 16, 2003
* Duluth News Tribune – July 30, 2003
* Portland Tribune – July 29, 2003
* The State – July 14,2003
* Jonesboro Sun – July 10, 2003
* Amarillo Globe News – July 6, 2003
* Tampa Tribune – June 29, 2003
* KMOV TV- June 27, 2003
* Quad-Cities Online – June 22, 2003
* The Patriot Ledger – June 21,2003
* WOKR TV Rochester – June 18, 2003
* New Haven Register – June 15, 2003
* Education Week – June 11, 2003
* Bristol Press – June 11, 2003
* United Federation of Teachers – June 6, 2003
* Record Journal.com – May 28, 2003
* Bronx High School of Science – May 23, 2003
* Brookline Tab – May 21,2003
* Library Journal – May 21, 2003
* App.com – May 20, 2003
* NY Times (Lisa Guernsey) – May 8, 2003
* NY Times (Marcia Biederman) – May 8, 2003
* Newton South High School’s The Lions Roar – May 1, 2003
* Akron23.com News _April 30, 2003
* ABC NY – April 17, 2003
* Clemsford Independent – April 16, 2003
* Acton Institute – April 8, 2003
* Hollister Freelance News – April 4, 2003
* New York Post – March 31, 2003
* The Optimist – March 31, 2003
* QO Prowler – March 24, 2003
* Abbotsford Mission Times – March 11, 2003
* The Phillipian – March 9, 2003
* Tampa Tribune – February 28, 2003
* The Lamp – Frebruary 28, 2003
* Montreal Mirror, PQ – Frebruary 27, 2003
* Pasadena Citizen – February 20, 2003
* Orlando Sentinel – February 17, 2003
* CNN.com – February 17, 2003
* Lawrence Journal-World, KS – February 17, 2003
* Yorktown Indiana Revealer – February 12, 2003
* Niles High School, IL – February 2, 2003
* Newsleader.com – January 27, 2003
* Kansas City Star – January 24, 2003
* Augusta Chronicle – January 20, 2003
* MSNBC.com – January 19, 2003
* CyberPresse.ca – January 17, 2003
* NetNacs – January 17, 2003

The Meaning of the New Economy

Published as an addendum to a business plan written for an online entertainment concept

The new economy is by no means a fundamental shift in the capabilities of capitalism. However, what excites many people is that we now have at our disposal technology that empowers individuals light years beyond even a few years ago. In order to fulfill the promise, we must utilize the fullest efficiency provided to us by such technologies. Too many potentially profitable models turned sour after entrepreneurs used venture investments to hire large staffs in an effort to amass as many talented minds as possible. By lacking the understanding of an individual’s new found empowerment, unknowing managers wasted untold dollars by hiring more employees than were necessary to succeed. The overlap of the job and employee-capability was a huge problem leading to innumerable wasted resources and man-hours. The new economy is really about a fundamental shift in how the division of labor is applied with individual-empowering technology.

Because through the use of today’s technology a single industrious person can now accomplish tasks that used to take many people’s simultaneous labor, unprecedented amounts of wealth may be generated by individuals practicing a profitable idea. Execution matters; individuals matter.

Every day, fewer individuals will be needed to execute projects on a given scale. Of course, this is the history of capitalism. Rather than focusing management on repetition and labor uniformity throughout the production process, the individual laborer is now enabled to accept many more responsibilities because the labor time required to complete a given task has decreased in many instances infinitesimally, although always to varying degrees. To dedicate an individual of talent to one specific and menial task is not only a waste of resources: it creates overlapping skill sets when this individual may have successfully completed many such tasks on their own. This problem, so common to the dot-com bust, causes wasted capital outlays as a result of too much employee down-time; it also offers cause for the employee to become distracted from the goals of the company.

Thus, the new economy continues to increase our capabilities of specialization, and individuals are capable of eliminating many previously necessary man hours. However, because the vast amount of wealth production possible today via new technology is hard to fathom by many, management decisions lacking the vision of how much an individual can accomplish in relatively so little time, have limited the labor pool’s production possibilities.

Plans for IMConnected – Connecting Friends to Friends Online

I have completed plans for IMConnected and have started showing it off to potential partners or investors (including people at Microsoft).

IMConnected

Have you ever stepped back and considered the sheer number of people you have met in your lifetime: your friends, co-workers, acquaintances, classmates, teachers, etc.? Have you ever thought it was curious the way you have met many of these people? For example, I have a friend Jennie, whom I met through my life-long friend, John. Jennie and I became friends and through Jennie, I met another great friend, Jasmine, who lives in Washington DC. I then introduced Jasmine to all of my friends in Washington DC, spawning new relationships well beyond my immediate control and knowledge. Eventually, Jasmine would meet people I had already known and met through other unique relationships. These new relationships have spawned many new relationships and our “web of friends” grows ever more interesting and complicated by the day. While some people are more conscious of this interesting phenomenon then others, this is something everybody thinks about and is potentially intrigued by. I am about to make this curiosity explicit, via the power of the Internet.

We all know that we live in a small world; there is much truth to that adage. There is even a statistical theory called the “six degrees of separation” describing the phenomenon of a shrinking world where any random two people can discover a link through a chain of six acquaintances. We plan to physically store these relationships in a giant database and output the information for the public in a giant web. We then can map out each individual’s web of friends and see how connected we all are and how small a world this really is.

The way the site will work is as follows. Someone, e.g. Mark, logs on to the site and enters the names and email addresses of his friends and then provides a short explanation of how he met each person and what the nature of their relationship is. Each person Mark includes in his “web” (and there will be a lot) will receive an email from Mark that says he knows them and has written a comment about them on this website. The person receiving this email from Mark will almost surely click through to see what Mark has written about them; the urge will be irresistible. When the new user inevitably becomes a member to see these comments, he or she in turn enters in the names of their friends. Some will probably overlap Mark’s friends, and many will not. As increasingly more people join, we start to develop webs around each individual that we can actually map (imagine a web like structure with your name in the middle, mapping out a degree or two of your relationships – immense but intriguing). Each member of the community (and there will be millions in a short period of time) will have their own page mapping out all their relationships, and listing all the comments from other members who know them and have written about them. We will create a dynamic and interwoven community, allowing members to search for and find other interesting people with whom they may interact.

The community possibilities are endless and exciting. Imagine being able to search for someone from Wisconsin who is “two degrees” separated from you (i.e. you have a common friend, but did not know it yet). Not only do you have something instantly in common with each person you engage to communicate with on the site, but you also would expect to have many people engage you, just because you are who you are and know who you know. This excitement will be easy to carry over into the site, and will create unprecedented momentum and growth of the community.

Update 2004: I was never able to generate an investment to develop IMConnected and at the time I didn’t have the funds to bankroll it myself. Everyone I approaced properly asked “how will it make money?” At the time, the internet advertising market was seemingly close to dead. I always responded that I didn’t really know how it would make money; I just knew it had the potential to be insanely popular and we could figure out how to make money after.

Up until that point, the internet was much about finding people across the world that you really didn’t know. No one was really exploiting the unique real world relationships and networks we all have developed across the course of our lives. Two years later, Friendster and then MySpace launched utilizing the same pioneering idea, today known as “Social Networking.”

Launched RateMyTeachers.com Today

RateMyTeachers.com

RateMyTeachers launched today, bringing the funcationality of RateMyProfessors to middle and high school students – created by ordinary people with a vision for a better way of doing something. This past year, the concept of “accountability” in education entered the public consciousness. Many of the original founders had an interest in education (two of them are teachers) and asked who is accountable to whom? Are schools accountable to the federal government? We concluded that students have a right to discuss the quality of their education and that teachers must be accountable to their students. We decided that a site like RateMyTeachers.com would be an effective tool to elevate the student voice into the public discourse on quality education.

RateMyTeachers aims to help facilitate a positive change in the way parents, students, and teachers alike look at the education system and therefore to encourage structural changes with regards to school and teacher choice. Secondly, it is a place for students to have their opinions validated.

Lastly, RateMyTeachers is a useful resource to the teacher who is open and self-assured enough to face the opinions of their customers, i.e. students. Every teacher wants to be respected by his or her students, and every teacher entered this profession in order to help students develop as individuals. By studying their ratings, the teacher can often adjust their methods, helping create that environment of mutual respect, whereby their knowledge will translate more effectively to the mind of the student.

RateMyFace makes the New York Times, sort of…

NY Times: ‘Face Time,’ With a Twist

Times reporter Matt Richtel called me this week to discuss the rapid growth of my first RateMy site, RateMyFace. Two days ago Matt called me back and told me his editors couldn’t publish our URL in the article since we allow users age 13 and up (whereas AmIHotorNot is 18+), even though our site launched over a year ago and there have been no issues with any of our members. Better than nothing, they still published some quotes of mine — but it is a shame that AmIHotorNot is going to get the major credit for my concept.

For example, Michael Hussey, 22, a recent graduate of the University of Maine, helped found Infinite Medium, a company that has a similar site, except that his site has become something of a dating hub. It has had roughly 7,000 pictures and gets 150,000 page views a day, and it is not restricted to adults. The site says it is open to anyone 13 or older. No pornography is allowed, but teenagers can and do post seductive images with suggestive user names and self-descriptions.

”We’re putting the responsibility in the hands of the surfers,” Mr. Hussey said, adding that parents needed to take care about where their children went online.