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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

10 Sites We’d All Pay to Use (I Bet)

The sites depicted in this post are fictitious. Any similarity to actual sites, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


I like what Windows Live Local is doing with their bird’s eye satellite imagery. Unfortunately, it only works for restricted areas in some cities – it doesn’t cater to the long tail of search. What we really want to see is the whole world in endless zoom. I guess to not violate privacy, persons and license plates and such need to be blurred. This would truly allow you to become a virtual tourist, or just check the directions to the dentist in a “virtual fly-by.”

I’d pay: $30/ year.


Microsoft Office is OK, but it’s too expensive. Plus, you can’t take it with you everywhere - like to the internet cafe. What we need is a web office where you pay a subscription fee. On the site, you can handle Excel, PowerPoint, Word and so on from within the browser. You can easily license everything – like a special font, or a special PDF converter – on a need basis (for example, when you open the clip arts in the web-PowerPoint, you can see 5 million great images, all with a price tag). No more upgrades, no more crashes, no storage needed on your PC, and the help is a life support chat instead of a weird talking paper clip.

I’d pay: $2 per document (on demand).


You’re likely not a big Hollywood producer or starshot director, but don’t you want to create your own Hollywood movies anyway? At Direct Your, you can select from a range of actor avatars – like Edward Norton, Denise Richards and so on – as well as settings. This would all be done in real-time 3D (in Flash or Shockwave rather than Java). You can then guide these actors through different movie actions, like “open door,” “light up a cigarette,” “shoot someone,” or “do a car chase.” You can also tell these virtual actors what to say, which would then be converted to speech automatically, and you can add a nice score in the background. Finally, you can put a price tag on the movie (Direct Your will always get a commission of sales), or give it away for free and just earn a share of the site’s ad revenues.

I’d pay: $20/ year (first movie is free).


Here’s the deal: you give this site all of your information (forget privacy), answer all of their questions, and then they handle all your tax stuff for you. Whenever there’s something new you need to answer, you’ll get an email alert. You won’t be talking to the tax office anymore. It goes further than being just an automated tax accountant, as it won’t ever give you any advice – it will just handle your tax stuff, period.

I’d pay: $10/ month.


Sometimes, you listen to a good song, and you want to congratulate the singer. Or maybe you have a question to the director of the movie you just saw. Or you just want to say Hi to your favorite author. Well, it turns out if you go to their website, you will have a hard time finding a contact email (if they have a website in the first place). Talk2Celebrity makes all of this very easy. They have a directory of stars, and when you contact a star, you will get an email reply within 48 hours. Naturally, you have to pay different amounts for different stars.

I’d pay: $3/ email reply from John Cleese.


If you’re a blogger, you’re often in need to find an illustration to go with a post. You have several choices, like looking for public domain or Creative Commons licensed content, or to create the illustrations yourself. What we really need tho is a website that offers us basic 3D clip art objects to combine together to make a new image. For example, if the title of your post is “Oprah Winfrey Caught Stealing,” you will do a keyword search for “oprah” and “jail” at and combine the two in a fancy way.

I’d pay: $0.10/ illustration.


There are already sites out there where you can purchase movies. CinemaNow offers you Big Sister 2000 (synopsis: a beautiful young woman is taken hostage and awakens in prison, where a mysterious woman meets her in the darkness). Google Video offers you The Brady Bunch. Yeah, right. (MovieLink simply decided to block my country, so I can’t tell what they have.) If that wouldn’t be enough to make you turn off your PC, those are mostly “protected” videos... which means after you purchase them, you can’t burn them on a CD to put in your DVD player, you can’t share them with your friends, and there’s a chance these vids won’t work in 10 years. What do we need? Quite simple: all Hollywood movies, all classics, all TV shows, every good movie ever made, pay-to-own, no DRMs attached.

I’d pay: $5+/ movie.


There are many statistic packages out there. As a blogger, what you really need is to understand how the web-wide conversation unfolds. Who links to you, what do people search for, what pages on your blog are visited the most often? What’s needed is a single network view that you can zoom into. You zoom into the Google node, and you can see the keywords people searched for. You zoom into into your blog node, and you can see individual pages and how popular they are. The bigger the circle, the more traffic individual nodes receive or send. As this is completely real-time (you added a JavaScript snippet to your pages), you will immediately see new referrers. You can also directly jump from a node to the site it represents.

I’d pay: $15/ month.


I don’t know how exactly it should look like, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a complete, full, and detailed visualization of the world wide web? There are several factors that could determine the shape of this network, and ideally, they would all be merged to give a 3D dimensional, zoomable shape of the web world; the similarity of pages (a bit like TouchGraph’s GoogleBrowser), traffic fluctuations (Google could measure this with their toolbar), site patterns (internal link structures, update frequencies and such), authority (like PageRank), the topics being talked about, image to text ratio, languages being used, and so on.

I’d pay: $40 (just to look at it once).


Have you ever played Zak McKracken, Loom, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Monkey Island, or any of the other adventure game classics? If you did, you probably have fond memories of them too. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a website where you could easily create those adventures yourself and share with others to play (and even sell the games)?

I’d pay: $20/ adventure.


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