NY Tech Meetup Recap (1/09/07)

by mike on January 10, 2007

So, I attended the Tech Meetup yesterday held at Cooper Union in NYC. It’s been a few months since I’ve been able to make it to a meetup in the city, but it’s definitely worthwhile every time I do. Here’s a run down of the night.

1. ChangingThePresent
Their goal is to create a marketplace that makes it easy for people to give charitable gifts to one another. This seems like a good cause considering we spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on “crap” we don’t need. My only question here, is how are they going to inspire consumer confidence and build a brand. I give a small amount every year to charity, and would give more if I knew (for sure) my money was being used exactly for what its supposed to be. I’m guessing there a good number of people that are in this bucket with me.

2. Bitwine
These guys seek to provide a knowlege market, similar to Yahoo Answers. Maybe its just me, but I don’t get these types of sites and would never (yes, never) use them. Here’s the demo that one of the co-founders (Alon Cohen) ran. Imagine this, you’re training for a marathon, but have no idea where to get started. FYI, try Googling “marathon” or check out Wikipedia. Anyway, so he searches their network and finds a so called “expert” who has ran marathons. He decides that he’ll offer this guy up to $20 to help him, which is totally insane. Then the clock starts and you see the $20 balance dwindle down. I was impressed with the features and technical implementation. They had Skype integration with video, PayPal integration and a nice workflow. Overall, if you do plan on using the site, the process was rather simple and easy-to-use.

3. Platial
Photo storytelling on a map. Essentially, you can use their APIs to create your own custom maps. Maybe something is wrong with me, but I don’t get this one either. They have angel funding from Kleiner Perkins and all their revenues are currently from advertisements. From a tech standpoint, they are build using open source software such as PHP and PostgresSQL.

4. Cheap animation techniques in 10 min
This was just “some guy” (Lee) presenting a technique to learn how to draw animations using an open source software program called MonkeyJam. You only need a few things to get started – transparent paper, webcam, MonkeyJam, market and basic lighting (or lightbox). I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw cartoons so here’s my chance. Look for a few soon, but please be kind. This demo was refreshing since Lee wasn’t promoting his own company, but rather spreading the word about this cool software. In the future, he hopes to apply the technique along with the software as an educational tool for children.

5. Citizen image
Citizen Image aims to connect photographers and publishers. Their goal is to help citizen journalists monetize their photos. Seems reasonable. Publishers can also request photos (had an example from National Geographic). One thing that stuck out in my mind was a quick comment by the presenter that 2006 was the year people gave away their content on YouTube and how they wanted to change that in 2007. That’s total bull. People contribute content on YouTube b/c they want to. It’s a form of self-expression and part of their online identities. Not everyone wants to make money from their 1 minute rant about how their trip to Panera sucked. Anyway, things are changing a bit and becoming a bit more corporate, but the fundamentals started out that way. Nevertheless, the site looked clean and easy-to-use.

6. Daylife
Jonathan Harris demod Daylife – a news aggregation/analysis service. I had never heard of them, but apparently they’d been covered by TechCrunch (here) and Scott had a vested interest himself. They are attempting to aggregate global news and provide “better news”. I love the grand ambitions and passion of the Jonathan. They also seemed to focus on their openness to partnerships and third-party applications via APIs.

The night ended in a discussion around the new Apple iPhone. If you have not been spending your days stuck on an island in the middle of the ocean then you know about the brand spanking new and amazing iPhone unveiled at MacWorld on Tuesday. It’s always interesting to hear other people’s perspective. I really really hope Apple changes the game and opens up the phone so developers and startups can innovate on the platform.

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