I attended the New York Tech meetup last night with about 400 others in IAC’s lobby on West 18th Street. Sort of like an Ignite but without the auto slide advance and proximate cash bar. Seven individuals or teams talked about their projects for five minutes each.
The lead off talk was from Transclick. Founded by an ex hedge fund manager (hedge fund managers leaving to do tech startups, things that make you go hmmm), Transclick does real time translation among 16 languages for IM, SMS, email for mobile devices. They are also beginning to leverage voice recognition tied to the translation engine. They’ve been around for a while and pretty widely discussed and feted so no need to add much more here. However, one interesting note came up during the Q+A. When asked about Twitter, Robert Levin, Transclick’s CEO, claimed to be in negotiations to add language translation to the micro blogging service. Of course that will be great, as now native speaking spammers from all over the world will be able to follow me with less effort.
A few other quick mentions…
Pluribo is using natural language processing to summarize user reviews on Amazon.com. Delivered for now as a Firefox plugin, it analyzes a stream of user comments to find key words that relate to user concerns and automagically create a brief summary. Hovering over the key words in the summary brings up nice visuals that describe overall customer sentiment or issues to pay attention to for the item.
Daily Lit is either really great or mildly depressing depending on your point of view. Delivering books in bits and pieces via email or RSS, it is designed to fit literature into our harried lives through the channels we are already paying attention to. I can’t decide if that is really cool or if it’s like occasionally dropping a pearl into a Skinner box. Pellet, pellet, pellet, omg!!, Vronksy shot himself, pellet, pellet, pellet…
Cause Caller is a great example of the web’s generativity in action. Fred Benenson’s NYU thesis, it combines Media Wiki, Asterisk, and EC2 so that an individual citizen can describe a cause, link it to the politicians that might most readily influence the outcome, publish a call script, and automate the dialing. The most active cause on the site today is “say no to Telecom Immunity.”
If you’d like to take a look at the rest of the projects that presented, they are Wakozi (a NYC-based delivery service), Cloudsmith (a cloud-spanning distro mapper), and Independence Year (“a workflow engine for taking the country back”).