Out of Scope December 2009
They Have Some Ex-Splean’ing to Do
It’s called WebSPlean—pronounced web-spleen—and it’s the latest in video spokesperson (VS) technology. According to a company release, VS tech is responsible for those digitally live-person video messages that welcome visitors to a Website, pointing out specific features and “bringing the Website to life.” The real-live people at WebSPlean didn’t think the current spokespeople were cutting it because “the tech consumer’s appetite for the edgiest gadget is insatiable, and therefore the greatest minds in the business press on to new frontiers.”
WebSPlean rose to the challenge and created “a video spokesperson with a brain!” By adding a few lines of code to a site, a video called “a Splean” (the name “Romulan” was already taken) “engages Website visitors with real-time messages, welcomes returning visitors back to the site, and even takes a simple VS message and transforms it into an interactive PowerPoint-like presentation.”
You can select a persona (an actor playing a role) or create your own. There’s a library of content selections to choose from, or you can create your own persona and script. These personae can welcome you based on the time of day (“Our Website never sleeps and apparently neither do you”), the day of the week (“Thank you for visiting us so early on this Monday”) or holiday (“Hola! It’s Cinco de Mayo. Now make sure you have a designated driver after all those margaritas”). We kid you not.
WebSPlean (www.websplean.com) is said to work for both small and large sites and, as a hosted service, there’s no software to install or hardware to maintain. And we hear the VS personae don’t eat all that much, either.
Behold! The Internet
Here’s another one of those technology “inside baseball” stories we all love—at least, we here at "Out of Scope" love them. The Register (www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/29/internet_celebrates_second_fortieth_birthday/) reports that some people date the birth of the Internet to Sept. 12, 1969. That’s “when a team of engineers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) connected the first two machines on the first node of ARPANET, the U.S. Department of Defense-funded network that eventually morphed into the modern interwebs.”
Others, however—including professor Leonard Kleinrock, who led that engineering team—suggest that the real birthday was Oct. 29, when the first message was actually sent between the remote nodes. Kleinrock explained to The Register: “That’s the day the Internet uttered its first words.”
The story he told is that a 50K-bps AT&T pipe connected the UCLA and research institute SRI nodes, and the first message sent was the word “log” from UCLA—that was the idea anyway. SRI was then supposed to respond with the word “in.” But after UCLA typed the “l” and the “o,” the “g” caused a memory overflow on the SRI Interface Message Processors. Said Kleinrock: “So the first message was ‘Lo,’ as in ‘Lo and Behold.’ We couldn’t have asked for a better message—and we didn’t plan it.“
Bartering in Babylon
Edgy new technology isn’t cropping up only in the Splean universe. By way of another company release, we learn of “an experiment in modern barter.” Meatscience, an independent company specializing in audio digital-signal processor and Web-application development, has launched Babylon, which purports to allow users to post their available “Goods, Skills and Tools” and initiate trades for anything they might want in their vicinity (100 miles, max).
Says Meatscience co-founder Maxwell Citron: “Inspired by our local community, we wanted to see an exchange network, in some ways similar to Etsy [or] Craigslist but without money, where I could directly trade my goods and skills for those of another member of my community.”
According to the release, two of the key Babylon features are a Google map that gives the most direct idea of where any Good, Skill or Tool is located in relation to the user’s home base, and a user profile—a permanent description detailing the Goods, Skills and Tools each member has available. If you think you have a barter-worthy Good, Skill or Service, you might want to think about creating your own Babylonian empire (http://babylon.meatscience.net).