Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marketplace Activity Feed

If you're a user of Facebook, LinkedIn, or practically any other social network, you're familiar with the concept of an activity feed - a "stream" of activity to let you know what's going on amongst your network of friends.

Over the weekend we introduced this same concept to Inkling marketplaces. Now featured prominently on the homepage of every marketplace is the marketplace activity feed. Currently in the feed we include trades, comments, and the introduction of new users in the marketplace. This can be configured to show you everything going on, or only events directly related to you, i.e. events occurring in markets you've traded in or created.

activityfeed

Notice the cute monsters? They're generated from the Gravatar service. Gravatars are a universal thumbnail/profile image service. Upload thumbnails of yourself to Gravatar and any site supporting Gravatars will automatically show yours so you don't have to upload profile images to each site that has profiles. If you don't have a Gravatar, you get a monster representation of yourself. (Any marketplace administrators who don't like this can request to have Gravatars shut off.)

We think the activity feed continues to make more headway in our never ending quest to make an Inkling marketplace an interesting and fun place to keep coming back to. In the coming weeks we'll be adding more events to the marketplace activity feed to make it even more interesting to track: new friend relationships, profile updates, market expirations, etc.

If you have other ideas for what we should include or how we can make the activity feed even more powerful, let us know.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Inkling Administrator Conference on May 7th in Chicago

Space has been reserved, the morning OJ and bagels have been ordered, and the lanyards to hold badges should be in shortly.

In two weeks on May 7th in Chicago, Inkling is putting on its first annual Inkling Administrator Conference. The term "conference" seems a little misplaced, however, as we've purposely limited the number of attendees, have shunned sponsorships, and designed the day for lots of discussion and informal presentations. Even the room will be set up like a big horseshoe so it will be easy to dialogue with one another.

Our goal will be to focus exclusively on sharing war stories, practical advice, and valuable applications, and for Inkling administrators to meet each other and swap notes and business cards.

The agenda we've put together should make for a compelling day. Representatives from Sears/Kmart, Kraft, Procter & Gamble, Chevron, and The World Bank will talk about their marketplaces: their lessons learned, their growing pains, their results.

Arik Johnson from Aurora WDC will talk about applications in competitive intelligence, Jared Heyman from Infosurv will discuss results of their work with clients using Inkling for market research, Steve Goldberg will share his ideas about prediction market applications in the non-profit space, and I'll be presenting some thinking we've been doing around prediction markets applied to value chains.

We'll also discuss the challenges of going from pilots to scale, how organizational/bureaucratic pitfalls can be overcome, and share some insights on the success factors of marketplaces we've seen over time.

We're really looking forward to meeting everyone in person and listening to our speakers and attendees share their thoughts.

If any other current or prospective Inkling administrators reading this would like to attend, you can contact our intern phil@inklingmarkets.com, who has been helping us organize the day. We can probably fit a few more people in the space we've reserved, so he can tell you if we still have room and answer any questions you might have about the day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jellybean guess is good for $25,000

On the rare occasion I'm invited to a social gathering and people ask what Inkling is about, I often find myself reverting back to the story of the jelly bean jar. Have one person guess how many beans are in a filled jar and they will inevitably be off. Ask 100 people and average their answers and they will collectively be quite close to the answer. "Now you understand what Inkling and prediction markets are all about." I say.

"Ah" they say, "brilliant!"

But then this woman had to come along and ruin it all. :)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Trade Directly From Email

This weekend we rolled out a complete overhaul of our marketplace "New Market Alerts." Traditionally if you subscribed to them, you got an email each time new markets were created. These emails were very simple and told traders what the new questions were and included a link to the market. As Nate wrote about in his last post, these emails are critically important as they consistently drive new interest in the marketplace. But there were two problems with what we had: the emails become monotonous over time, and the only action you could take was to go to the market. So if you wanted to trade in a new market you needed to click on the link, login if you weren't already, then click a few more times to make a trade.

More importantly we've gotten feedback from several of our administrators that they would like to be as inclusive as possible of executives; that it's hard to get executives to try out new applications and what could we do to help get them more involved more often. We know that most executives are addicted to their Blackberries (crackberries?) and iPhones so what better way to try and get them involved than through these new market alerts.

So now, instead of just getting a link to the market, you actually get links to make trades directly from the email. And we've formatted the emails in such a way that they look and work great on mobile devices.

Here's what the new market alerts look like:

emailtrade

Here's what they look like on an iPhone:

iphone1

And when you click one of the trade links on an iPhone:

iphone2

Now even if an executive doesn't want to become a "power user" they can very easily express their opinion every once in awhile right from their mobile devices. And for the rest of us who do trade casually or regularly, the process has become that much easier to express your opinion right away. Just one click!