What can we learn from Pownce.com shutting down?

By StrangeWork.com: News broke today that the micro-blogging service Pownce.com will be closing down on December 15th.

Pownce.com LogoI first wrote about Pownce back in July of 2007 when they launched in private beta. I even wrote some fun scripts that interact with the Pownce API, but in the end Pownce lost the fight and is closing down.

So what can we learn from the failure of Pownce?

Stay lean – Pownce was a pretty lean company for the most part, but how lean were they really? CrunchBase lists Pownce as having 6 employees, which isn’t bad considering some startups out there. Overall I think Pownce was very lean which is a plus.

Be unique – Sure Pownce had some unique features (meetings, images, events), but overall they were a juiced up Twitter. Even in 2007 Twitter dominated the micro-blogging space, so what did Pownce really offer over Twitter? It sure wasn’t the member base size, and the features weren’t unique enough to pull users away from Twitter.

Monetize – I would love to see the stats on the number of Pownce premium accounts vs. bandwidth costs. Did the premium accounts cover the bandwidth/servers costs? My guess is not since they are shutting down, but it would be interesting to see. Launching a new website service is easy, but making money from that site is not. Have a plan on how to make money to offset the costs of hosting/maintenance/support/service. You don’t need to be profitable right away, but you can only lose money for so long before going belly up.

Pownce had a head start from the launch with a name like Kevin Rose behind it, so it is surprising to see it close down so shortly after launching. With every great failure there is a great lesson to be learned. It’s always nicer learning that lesson from someone else rather than ourselves.

Asbury Park Chess Fest 2008 – Going for a World Record!

By StrangeWork.com: I’ve been working on a lot of great projects recently. One of those projects has been creating the new Asbury Park Chess Fest 2008 website.

Chess Pieces - King

The great folks at Prevention First, a not-for-profit agency, and the city of Asbury Park New Jersey will be joining together to host Chess Fest 2008 on September 27th. The event is going to try to break a Guinness Book of World Record for most simultaneous chess games. The current record was set in 2006 in Mexico City with 13,500 chess players.

“ChessFest 2008 will be star-studded and attract the world’s finest and most famous chess players. Pre-event chess-related festivities are planned for the week prior to the event and include a movie, a play and much more.”

Chess Fest Social Presence
We are currently working on building a “social presence” for the event. Currently we have launched four social network accounts:

Chess Fest Facebook Group – The obvious first choice. Facebook is becoming the standard for organized groups and events in a social community.

Chess Fest MySpace Group – by far the most annoying site to create an account for. Now have to wait 7 days before being “allowed” to create a group. coming soon I guess…

Chess Fest Ning Social Network – Ning is an awesome site that allows you to create a social network within minutes! Really looking forward to growing this site and getting the discussions going!

Chess Fest Twitter Account – Of course our good, and sometimes bad, friend Twitter is here. Twitter is a great tool to send out short blurbs and news posts for anyone looking for more information on the chess fest.

These four sites will help us spread the word and build a network of enthusiastic chess players! The next phase will include a couple more networks and possibly a social network application or two.

Now I need to study my chess moves so I don’t get hit with a Fool’s mate at the festival!

Indianapolis Twitter Meetup aka Tweetup

By StrangeWork.com: The first ever Indianapolis Tweetup has been scheduled!

Indianapolis Twitter Meetup Logo
The Twitter Meetup will take place on Friday March 14th at the Buffalo Wild Wings on 86th St. If you have not already make sure you visit the Upcoming event page and RSVP to help with a head count.

A Twitter Meetup, or Tweetup, is a local gathering of Twitter users. It gives anyone interested a chance to actually meet their Twitter friends face to face!

I will be attending and hope to see my Indianapolis Twitter friends there!

BarCamp Indianapolis 2008 Recap

By StrangeWork.com: Indianapolis held its first BarCamp on Saturday and I had the pleasure of attending the event!

BarCamp Indianapolis 2008 Logo
BarCamp Indy was organized by Scott Wilder and took place at the Unleavened Bread Cafe on Saturday February 9th, 2008.

It was great to see local tech enthusiasts getting together to share their knowledge and experiences with each other. Events like this are what Indianapolis needs if we ever want to become a technology focused city.

Below are the video presentations made during the event.

Rajan Chandi kicked off the event with his presentation on Going Green with Technology:Pascal Calarco gave the next presentation on Linux Desktop: Making the Switch:Next up was my presentation on The Future of Mobile Web:Stephen James was next with his presentation on Graphic Web Design & CSS:We broke for lunch and had some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had in my entire life!

Unleavened Bread Cafe Pancakes

Alex Connor gave his presentation on Simplifying your life in Spite of Technology

and last but not least was Neil Cox giving his wrap-up presentation titled Putting It All Together:If you weren’t able to make it out I highly recommend attending the next BarCamp Indianapolis. Talk has already begun to start organizing the next event. Be sure to check out the Indianapolis BarCamp 2 Wiki to share your thoughts/ideas.

The Future of Mobile Web by Brad Williams

By StrangeWork.com: I had the privilege of giving a presentation on The Future of Mobile Web at BarCamp Indy yesterday. I also gave a quick demonstration of my new startup SnapFoo.com. Below is the video of my presentation. You can download my PowerPoint here. Weekend recap to follow. Enjoy!

Live Streaming BarCamp Indianapolis 2008

By StrangeWork.com: Live Stream of BarCamp Indianapolis.

Live Streaming Bloomington Startup Weekend

By StrangeWork.com: Bloomington Startup Weekend starts at 6pm tonight! I will be live streaming the event for everyone to enjoy. The camera should power on around 6:30pm Eastern Time. Make sure you come and join us for an exciting evening with Startup Weekend!

A Busy Weekend For Techies In Indianapolis

By StrangeWork.com: This weekend is an extremely busy weekend for local Indianapolis tech enthusiasts! Startup Weekend Bloomington and BarCamp Indy both take place this weekend. I am planning on attending both events and am excited to announce that SnapFoo.com is an official sponsor of both events!

Startup Weekend Bloomington

Startup Weekend Bloomington Logo
When: February 8-10, 2008
Where: City Hall, Bloomington
What to expect: Chaos at its best! Startup Weekend is a gathering of local small business entrepreneurs who work together to create a new startup company from start to finish.

Founders work together to create an idea and turn that idea into reality in 72 short hours. Participants are all equal founders in the newly developed startup.

I was able to attend Startup Weekend West Lafayette and couldn’t wait for Startup Weekend to come back!

BarCamp Indy

BarCamp Indy 2008 Logo
When: 9am-2pm on February 9th, 2008
Where: Unleavened Bread Cafe
What to expect: Some really exciting presentations given by extremely knowledgeable members of the Indianapolis Tech industry.

Presentations include Going Green with Technology by Rajan Chandi, Linux Desktop: Making the Switch by Pascal Calarco, and The Future of Mobile Web which I will be presenting.

I’m really looking forward to meeting many of my local digital friends, who until now I have only communicated with over the web. I also plan on live streaming the entire weekend on Ustream.tv so be sure to check back on Friday for the links!

Indiana is finally heading down the right road for technology and this weekend is driving the bus!

How To: Create Your First Wikipedia Article

By StrangeWork.com: Have you ever wanted to create a Wikipedia article, but weren’t entirely sure of the proper steps involved? Or maybe you’ve created an article in the past, but it keeps getting deleted by Wikipedia admins? In this article I am going to explain in detailed steps the correct way to create a Wikipedia article.

Wikipedia.org Logo

1. Create an Account – If you do not already have a Wikipedia.org account you need to create one. You can edit Wikipedia articles without having an account, but to create a new article you need an account.

2. Search for your Article – Search Wikipedia to verify the article you want to write does not already exist under a different title.

3. Create the Page – Once you have verified your article doesn’t already exist on Wikipedia you will need to create it! On the search results page you will see a bright red bold link that says:

Create the page including your references.

Click this link to get started!

TIP: Wikipedia is case-sensitive which means brad williams is not the same as Brad Williams. Be sure to search for your article in the CASE you want it displayed in.

4. Start Writing! – This is the part of the article writing process where the most confusion comes in, writing your article.

Start your article with this line: {{underconstruction}}

Wikipedia underconstruction tag banner

The underconstruction tag will add a banner (see above) at the top of your article stating the article is under construction. This alerts the admins that your article is a work in progress. This is commonly overlooked, but will keep your article safe from deletion while you work on it.

Next let’s add an Infobox to your article:

Example of Wikipedia Infobox An Infobox is a great way to sum up key information about your article. Not every article needs an Infobox. Wikipedia provides a set of Infobox templates ready to go for major categories. You can view that list here:

Wikipedia Infobox Templates

Select the category that best fits your articles topic. Here is an example of an Infobox I created for a Fraternity article:

{{Infobox Fraternity
|name= Delta Gamma Iota
|crest= [[Image:DeltaGammaIota_Crest.gif]]
|founded= [[1965]]
|birthplace= [[Vincennes, Indiana]]
|free_label = Founding Principles
|free = [[Diligence]] [[Integrity]] [[Brotherhood]]
|homepage= http://www.deltagammaiota.org

Each template will have a list of available fields that you can utilize. Feel free to remove any fields you do not want displayed. Also notice these two lines from above:

|free_label = Founding Principles
|free = [[Diligence]] [[Integrity]] [[Brotherhood]]

This is a Free Label, which allows you to create any item you would like on your Infobox. Just fill out the name next to free_label and fill out the values next to free and your all set!

Now it’s time to write the substance of your article. Wikipedia is VERY strict on plagiarism and copyrighted materials. Your article needs to be unique. Wikipedia is also very strict about references. You need to have references for the facts that you are stating.

Adding References
Wikipedia states references are required for “direct quotes and for material that is challenged or likely to be challenged.” Any material that is challenged and for which no source is provided within a reasonable time (or immediately if it’s about a living person) may be removed by any editor.

There are two steps involved for creating references.

1. Place the <ref></ref> tags where you want a footnote reference number to appear in an article
2. Place {{reflist}} at the bottom of your article. This is where your references will be listed.

The following code:

was founded in 1965<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.deltagammaiota.org/about.htm|title=Delta Gamma Iota Official Site| accessdate=2008-01-21|publisher=deltagammaiota.org}}</ref>

Will create this reference:

Wikipedia Reference Example

So lets break this down:
|url=http://www.deltagammaiota.org/about.htm – the link to the web page you are referencing.
|title=Delta Gamma Iota Official Site – this is the title of your reference displayed in your references section
| accessdate=2008-01-21 – this is the date you retrieved the information.
|publisher=deltagammaiota.org – this is the original publisher of the information.

References are a required element of your article. 99.9% of articles written with no references will be deleted from Wikipedia.

Now lets discuss some common formatting options for your article.

  • Add italics by placing two apostophes (NOT one double quote) around the word(s) – e.g. ”hello there” will display as: hello world
  • Add bold by placing three apostrophes at each end of the word(s) e.g. ”’hello there”’ will display as: hello world
  • Add bold and italic by placing five apostrophes around the word(s) e.g. ””’hello there””’ will display as: hello world
  • Add an internal link (to another Wikipedia article) by placing the title of the article in double square brackets (make sure it’s spelled correctly) – e.g. [[Hello world]] will link to the article called Hello world
  • Add an external link (to somewhere else on the web,) by placing the entire URL within single square brackets (make sure it’s correct) – e.g. [http://www.strangework.com] (must have “http”) will link to the webpage at http://www.strangework.com
  • To indent a paragraph, put a colon (:) beginning the line (2 colons = double indent)
  • To do bullet points, put a star (*) at the start of each line
  • To do a numbered list, put a hash (#) at the start of each line

At anytime during your writing process you can click the “Show Preview” button to get a look at what you have done so far. This does NOT save your article, but does show a preview of what it will look like. When you are done editing your article click the “Save Page” button to save your article. The first time you save your article it will appear live on Wikipedia.org, so make sure you have a semi-working page built before the first save.

TIP Add the {{inuse}} tag anywhere in your article to let others know you are currently working on this article. This is typically only used for larger edits and more popular articles. Read more about {{inuse}}

5. Add a Category All Wikipedia articles must be placed in at least one relevant category. The easiest way to find categories for your article is to search for a page on a topic similar to yours, copy the category code and add it to the bottom of your new article.

Sample category code:


The category code is placed at the bottom of your article.

6. Clean-up your new Article – Once you are done with your new Wikipedia article remember to remove any temporary tags you might have added to your article including the {{underconstruction}} tag and the {{inuse}} tag.

Congratulations! You have just created your first Wikipedia article! Remember you can edit any page in Wikipedia. If you get stuck just find an article that has the feature you want and click the “edit this page” button at the top to see how they accomplished adding that feature.

Below is the entire code I used to create the Delta Gamma Iota article on Wikipedia for reference:


{{Infobox Fraternity
|letters= ?GI
|name= Delta Gamma Iota
|crest= [[Image:DeltaGammaIota_Crest.gif]]
|founded= [[1965]]
|birthplace= [[Vincennes, Indiana]]
|type= Social
|colors= Maroon and White
|flowers= Black Rose and Cala Lilly
|free_label = Founding Principles
|free = [[Diligence]] [[Integrity]] [[Brotherhood]]
|address=420 Shelby St.
|city= Vincennes
|state= Indiana
|country= USA
|homepage= http://www.deltagammaiota.org

”’Delta Gamma Iota”’ (”’?GI”’) was founded in 1965<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.deltagammaiota.org/about.htm|title=Delta Gamma Iota Official Site| accessdate=2008-01-21|publisher=deltagammaiota.org}}</ref> at [[Vincennes University]] in [[Vincennes, Indiana]]. The Beta Chapter was founded Nov 11th 1995 at [[Indiana University South Bend]]. The Gamma Chapter of Delta Gamma Iota was founded on February 7, 1998 at [[Ball State University]] in [[Muncie, Indiana]].

Bloomington Startup Weekend Starts February 8th

By StrangeWork.com: Startup Weekend is coming back to Indiana! This time making a stop at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

Startup Weekend Bloomington IndianaStartup Weekend Bloomington will take place on the weekend of February 8th-10th. This will mark the second Startup Weekend of the year. Tickets for the event are $20 and go towards covering event expenses.

I had the opportunity to attend Startup Weekend West Lafayette back in October of last year. I was only able to participate for one day, but had a great time working on ScrollTalk.com.

Unfortunately Startup Weekend is scheduled directly over BarCamp Indianapolis this year so I will not be able to attend on Saturday, but I am planning on participating Friday to again experience the madness that is Startup Weekend!

Rumor has it that Andrew Hyde, the founder of Startup Weekend, might make an appearance at BarCamp Indy on Saturday if he comes to town! Be sure to send him a few hundred emails to ensure he makes it!