Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Paying people for UGC

In a recent post Umair wrote a reply to a question that had come up in a recent Beers & Innovations night. Summary is when will people be paid for "user generated content." I made a point in the comments about how different people get value from services in different ways i.e. monetary payment is not the only form of received value. This is all well and good but many people will still want to be paid.

The biggest hurdle is that transferring small sums of money is prohibitively expensive for the size of the funds transferred. Widespread payment for UGC will not occur until someone cracks problem of providing transfer of funds between parties with a cost approaching zero.

There are several possible methods for doing it. The first would be for a company such as Google to create a financial transfer company and absorb transfer fees the banks impose as a cost of doing business. This is a big and costly option that runs up against (massive) regulatory problems.

The second would be to create a frequent flyer style points system that people can accumulate and then use to for discounts at stores or to purchase gift certificates. This option is probably one that would work well. The "frequent generator" (FG) points would be tied to an identity. For example, I could state (just as Amex holds my "loyalty points") that all my FG points would be held by Google whom attaches my FG points to my Google identity. I can then go to various stores and reclaim the points for discounts, gift certificates etc.

The third option is to essentially create an "internal market" where parties with an identity can transfer, at zero cost, funds. For this to work a provider, lets say Google, would create relationships with the various users of UGC. These users would deposit an opening balance to Google (Google holds this in escrow). When a user uploads some UGC to the site, which then makes some money, the service "transfers" money to the user by saying to Google "user x receives y amount". Google records against the users identity that they have received x without directly transferring the money. The costs are only paid if the user moves money to their real world bank account. Paypal on steroids if you like.

My guess is that a frequent-flyer like system is probably the best option. There is less regulatory overhead, capital and technical requirements. The other major attraction of FG points is that everyone understands frequent flyer systems and the redemption of points. GAYME companies are the obvious candidates to create these systems (they have identities and relations with the users and UGC companies) and I can see this being the next battleground for the hearts and minds of internet users.

Tags: UGC, Web Services

Thursday, October 05, 2006

UK Age Discrimation Laws - The death knell of target job boards?

As of 1 Oct 2006 the UK's age discrimination law (Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006) came into effect. I am now reading through a "guide" on these laws and, I am, to say the least astounded. The UK government has taken a massive sledge hammer to crack a small nut and then missed.

What strikes me as most interesting is the possibility that target job boards could possible be ruled illegal under the new laws. From the guide is the following quote:

"If you limit your recruitment to university ‘milk rounds’ only, you may
find that this is indirect age discrimination as this practice would
severely restrict the chances of someone over say, 25 applying for
your vacancies."


"Example: An advertisement placed only in a magazine aimed at
young people may indirectly discriminate against older people
because they are less likely to subscribe to the magazine and
therefore less likely to find out about the vacancy and apply."

Now the obvious first shot will be on services such as Milkround. However, I can see the same logic being extended to any target job board. For example the TechCrunch, Joel on Software and 37Signals job boards are seen by an audience that is by and large of a particular age group. This could be be seen as indirect discrimination.

Perhaps the biggest question is the liability of non-UK companies for job advertisements placed on the Internet? The obvious answer is don't be silly, but if a non-UK advertises a job that can be done by telecommuting, lawyers could argue that the advertisements do fall under the UK laws.

The law of unintended consequences raises its head again.

Also puts a damper on the outcome of News International's purchase of Milkround.

Tags: Web Services

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A brilliant but simple idea - SlideShare

The best ideas always are aren't they?

Today, Uzanto launched a second service called SlideShare. Essentially, it allows the user to take a already generated powerpoint or openoffice slide pack (doesn't seem to support Keynote yet although a help note says to export to PPT). The user can then share these slide packs with other users and embed them on other sites.

The embed is a flash movie making usable on a majority of social networking sites and viewable in most if not all browsers. The service seems to use Amazon's S3 service.

Just as YouTube has many similar competitors, I expect other presentation services to popup with a similar system. It will be interesting to see who wins. I expect SlideShare has a good start with a working service that is easily used that is compatible with a social networks and a majority of the web.

Tags: SlideShare, Web Services, Social Networks

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Defence in Depth in the world of Single Sign-on

Recent expansion of our network has led me to revist the concept of Defence in Depth and its relation to security. I am a big beliver in Defence in Depth. To the point all the computers at work run with software firewalls in addition to the hardware firewall. But that is not what the point of this post.

Rather, it is the concept of Defence in Depth in web services. The question arises of how many web service companies use Defence in Depth. Given the recent security failures my guess is not many at all. Cruel experience will change that I am sure. But this does lead to the problem of the social engineering attack.

I am wary of single sign-on as it seeminly destroys the usefulness of Defence in Depth. One sign-on and the cracker will then have access to all of a targets services. As web services usually have weaker protection from attacks that come from inside the service it opens up a whole world of hurt. I wonder if Defence in Depth is considered by Identity 2.0 crowd.

An interesting problem.

Tags: ,