Archive for May 2009


Google Street View, on Steroids

May 29th, 2009 — 10:19am

Imagine this. You’re on holiday, you’ve been out walking, and you need to get back to the other side of town to your hotel.

You come across a bus stop, and you decide to wait for a bus. Whilst standing there, you decide to take a photo of your friends waiting with you.

You take the photo and then show the photo to your fiends. Hang on, what’s that on the photo? The bit of the bus stop in the shot has got a URL on it, inviting you to click on it. You click, and are presented with a bus timetable for this stop. Highlighted is the next bus going to your destination, and the length of time you’ve got to wait!

Amazed, you click back to the photo, and notice that in the background you’ve managed to capture part of a window of a local restaurant. Again, this part of the image has a URL, which you click on. Hey presto, you’re on the restaurant’s website, where you can check the menu and also get a money off voucher.

A bizarre view of a convenient future? This is one envisaged by MOBVIS, the Mobile Attentive Interfaces in Urban Scenarios project, which is currently mapping out streets in both Austria and Germany.

The service claims to be able to recognise pictures of surroundings and add URLs to anything in that image it can find information about.

It is a so-called ‘pre-emptive’ technology, designed to anticipate your need to search for information.

The MOBVIS project is funded by EC.

Scary picture of the future? Fantasy comic book idea? Or exciting project that could change searching and surfing habits? Please leave a comment below.

Putting your Business on the Map

May 28th, 2009 — 1:52pm

Do you run a business, or are you building a website for your business or someone else’s? You may or may not know, but thanks to Google Maps and some information lifted from the Yellow pages, there is already information about you that is appearing in the Google search results.

You may yourself have seen this. When you search for a particular sort of business in a specific place, you are often presented with a map along with a list of providers who fit the bill.

Here’s an example:

These maps really grab the attention of anyone presented with them. To start with, because they are a visual representation they stand out from all the other text on the page. Second, since they provide specific map based information to someone who has searched for a specific business type in a local area, they are likely to be extremely relevant to the searcher’s query.

These listings are compiled from a database called ‘Google local’, or ‘Google Business Center’. Since people are finding information about your business in this way, it makes sense to take control of those listings, and to expand or improve them.

Here’s a link to the Local Business Center.

The first thing to do is make sure the information is factually correct and up to date. However, you can provide additional incentives for people to both look at your listing, and then follow that up by looking at your website or visiting your physical shop.

These extra incentives might include photos of your business or a relevant topic, your business hours, and coupons or money off vouchers.

Google have put together a video that shows you the sign up process, and the benefits of the local business center.

Check it out and then start editing (or creating) your listing!

Let us know how you get on by leaving a comment below.

Google Street View: Not in My Back Yard

May 27th, 2009 — 4:19pm

We covered the UK launch of Google Street View last month. The database of street level images from 26 UK towns and cities has been one of Google’s more controversial projects. There have been lots of objections that Google Street View is an invasion of privacy, since it takes photos without any individual’s permission, and in most cases without their knowledge. It has also been described as a helpful aid to burglars.

Despite this, its proved a huge boost for traffic to Google Maps.

The photos are taken from a panoramic camera mounted 12 foot high on the top of a moving car.

The residents of one village near Milton Keynes have turned their objections into direct action. Protesters from Broughton surrounded a Google Street View car to prevent it taking photos of their homes.

A local councilor said the camera was ‘intrusive’ and that people should have been consulted.

The protest was significant enough for the police to be called: “A squad car was sent to Broughton at 1020 BST after reports of a dispute between a crowd of people and a Google Street View contractor”, said Thames Valley police.

This isn’t the first time objections have been raised. Before the project even launched, Google had to satisfy all privacy concerns with the Information commissioner’s office.

For my part, there’s no way I’d get in the way of the Google Street View car. Aside from being a really innovative development in real world mapping, it’s been really exciting to travel along known streets and roads pointing out the homes of friends and family.

And of course anyone can remove images of their house from the database once it goes live, if they still feel like their privacy has been invaded

What do you think? Great innovation or invasion of privacy? Leave us a comment below.

Website Builder Tutorials: How to add Members to your website

May 27th, 2009 — 2:08pm

Last week we announced the launch of a range of new features of the WebEden website making system. These features put your WebEden website at the heart of your social networking sites. The feedback so far has been very positive. However every new thing always takes a bit of getting used to, so we’ve put together video tutorial that shows you how to add members to your site.

Have a go and let us know how you got on!

Is this the Idea that makes Twitter worthwhile for Business?

May 26th, 2009 — 3:23pm

We’ve written quite a lot on this blog about Twitter: what is it, how do I use it, and what, frankly, is the point? Well a business practice is emerging that might finally be able to answer that last one – what’s the point – and make Twitter a good place to do business.

The potential to use Twitter for business all lies in its ‘real time search engine’. Whilst you can search on Google for all information added to the web on a particular topic, ‘Twitter search’ allows you to search for what people are saying right now.

And that becomes quite interesting if people are either talking about your product or service, or asking a question that you can answer by pointing them towards your website.

For example, if you run a B&B in the West Country (yes, I’m back to that example!), then you could try looking out for any searches to do with ‘B&B west country’ or similar. When someone asks for a recommendation, then get in there and point them towards your site. Something like ‘have you had a look at Dave’s B&B in Somerset?’. This might get some direct sales, but is also an opportunity to promote your website to their followers.

You can have a look at Twitter search here.

But who has really got the time to be searching on Twitter, spending time waiting for potential customers to ask a relevant question? The good news is that there are a couple of services that will do this for you. These services send you an email alert for specific twitter searches. One of the better known of these is called tweetbeep.com, but we’ve also come across twollow.com too.

Here’s the personal bit. Since receiving this recommendation we’ve been trying it out. Whenever anyone mentions that they want some help building a website, then we ask them if they have had a go at webeden.co.uk. The upside is that we’ve generated a few sales through this. The downside is that you really feel like you’re intruding in other people’s conversation, and trying to sell them something. It’s something equivalent to listening to a conversation in the pub, and then interrupting to sell them a packet of peanuts.

If people are genuinely looking for help, then that’s fine. But how many of those ‘need help’ Tweets are a just rhetorical?

Is this the idea that makes Twitter work for business? Are you using Twitter to promote your website? Want to follow WebEden on Twitter? Leave us a comment below.

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