Healthline Search Engine

SiliconBeat writes:

One of the challenges of being a successful vertical search engine is finding that sweet spot where no one else plays. Healthline, a new health search engine out of San Francisco, thinks it’s found its spot. It’s between a general search engine such as Google and a “medical destination site” with limited content such as WebMD.

“We’re the first search engine focused on the health care domain,” said West Shell III, chairman and CEO of the company.

Healthline says its stength is the ability to interpret everyday words used by searchers and match them with medical terminology so that users can burrow down to the info they need. It does this with semantic search technology and a health taxonomy of more than 800,000 medical terms and synonyms. The company’s crawled 62,000 of the top health web sites (they have 40 million pages indexed) and hooked in with some of the top medical databases.

Mobile Media Era

[via Lifeblog] InterCasting Corp writes:

We are entering the Mobile Media Era. The business model is changing again, this time with an emphasis on people and communication, not just commerce and entertainment. Broker takes a backseat to the more personal Connect as the main value driver for consumers. Notably, it is the first time in the history of media that people have been walking around with both media consumption and production devices, making them active participants in the creation and distribution of media. No longer Watching or Surfing, people are co-creating, mashing, blogging and networking together a media fabric that threatens the status quo in a significant way. Media is being more widely distributed farther away from the center of the network, this time right to the furthest edge the pocket of ever man, woman and child with a mobile-connected Personal Media Device. I find it most interesting that low production value MMS is often more compelling than slick, high-production quality television because it is personalized and serves a purpose very different from TV. I would like to state clearly that, while it is an important link on the value chain, the definition of Mobile Media is not TV on your mobile phone.

Events

Dare Obasanjo writes:

When I first started working on the platform behind MSN Spaces, one of my pet scenarios was making it easier to create blog posts about events then syndicating them easily. One of the things I slowly realized is that unlike blogging which has killer apps for consuming syndicated content (RSS readers) there really isn’t anything similiar for calendar events nor is there likely to be anything compelling in that space in the near future. The average home user doesn’t utilize calendaring software nor is there incentive to start using such software. Even if every eventing website creates RSS feeds of events, the fact is that my girlfriend, my mom and even me don’t maintain calendars which would benefit from being able to consume this data.

The corporate user is easier since calendaring software is part of communications clients like Outlook and Lotus Notes. However those aren’t really the targets of sites like Upcoming or Eventful, however I suspect those are their best bets for potential users in the near term.

Mobiles in Africa

The New York Times has an AP story:

Cell phones made up 74.6 percent of all African phone subscriptions last year, says the U.N.’s International Telecommunication Union. Cell phone subscriptions jumped 67 percent south of the Sahara in 2004, compared with 10 percent in cell-phone-saturated Western Europe, according to Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese who chairs Celtel, a leading African provider.

An industry that barely existed 10 years ago is now worth $25 billion, he says. Prepaid air minutes are the preferred means of usage and have created their own $2 billion-a-year industry of small-time vendors, the Celtel chief says. Air minutes have even become a form of currency, transactable from phone to phone by text message, he says.

This is particularly useful in Africa, where transferring small amounts of money through banks is costly.

How Web 2.0 Works

Dion Hinchcliffe explains (also check the accompanying illustration with the post):

Some people are primary participators and provide both raw information as well as enrichment. These are the folks that are making Web 2.0 an active, useful, and vibrant place the most. Consider these folks your Flickr picture uploaders, your del.icio.us bookmarkers, and Ning information mixers. Notice that all three of these activities are creating new information at different levels, either as original source or by adding on top of what came before.

Other folks are secondary participators and mostly consume information, though they may contribute occasional enrichment in the form of tagging, rankings, reviewing, etc. These folks are also an important and probably larger group of people than the primary participators. What these people do in the Web 2.0 space is valuable and should be encouraged too, though making them primary participators should be the goal and this is what Web 2.0 concepts encourage.

Lastly are users that merely passively consume things on the Web. This is no doubt the largest group of users on the Web and are predominate in Web 1.0 since they routinely have no mechanism by which to participate on the Web. Web 1.0 design concepts failed to strongly encourage involving its users and thus we are often left with the silent, one-way Web.

TECH TALK: Bootstrapping a Business: A Little History

The dictionary definition (from Answers.com) of bootstrap is as follows:

n.
1. A loop of leather, cloth, or synthetic material that is sewn at the side or the top rear of a boot to help in pulling the boot on.
2. An instance of starting of a computer; a boot.

tr.v., -strapped, -strapping, -straps.
1. To promote and develop by use of one’s own initiative and work without reliance on outside help: We’ve bootstrapped our way back with aggressive tourism and recruiting high tech industries (John Corrigan).
2. Computer Science. To boot (a computer).

adj.
1. Undertaken or accomplished with minimal outside help.
2. Being or relating to a process that is self-initiating or self-sustaining.

idiom:
by (one’s) (own) bootstraps
1. By one’s own efforts.

Dave Winer had this to say about bootstrapping in the context of software:

Bootstrap is an ancient computer science term. When you turn on a computer it bootstraps, or “boots.” First it loads the most ancient bit of code, probably written in the 1970s. It runs a program written in the 80s, which in turn launches a program written in the 90s. Each of the levels loads only for the purpose of loading the next bit of history. Doug Engelbart was the first to use the term in the context of this piece, as far as I know. All engineers bootstrap all the time. To understand bootstrapping is to understand software, imho. It’s the process that matters, not the bits, or system requirements.

When engineers build a suspension bridge, first they draw a thin cable across a body of water. Then they use that cable to hoist a larger one. Then they use both cables to pull a third, and eventually create a thick cable of intertwined wires that you can drive a truck across (actually hundreds of trucks).

That’s a bootstrap. First you take a step you know is on the path, learn from it, and use it to lift up the next level. And unlike the designer of a suspension bridge, software developers must be more flexible, because the pace of innovation in our art is so rapid. We don’t know exactly what next year’s trucks will look like, how much they weigh, or how many wheels they have.

That’s why networking technology comes in layers and why they must be designed with more power than they need to get today’s job done.

Wikipedia explores the usage of bootstrapping across many areas.

In the entrepreneurs world, this (also from Answers.com) is more relevant:

A situation in which an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital. An individual is said to be boot strapping when he or she attempts to found and build a company from personal finances or from the operating revenues of the new company.

Investopedia Says: Compared to using venture capital, boot strapping can be beneficial as the entrepreneur is able to maintain control over all decisions. On the downside, however, this form of financing may place unnecessary financial risk on the entrepreneur. Furthermore, boot strapping may not provide enough investment for the company to become successful at a reasonable rate.

Tomorrow: John Hagel and Brad Feld

Continue reading TECH TALK: Bootstrapping a Business: A Little History