Tracking hot trends with Trendio, Web 2.0 style 28 February, 2007 — Stuart Brown
Disclosure: This is a paid review via the service at ReviewMe. The opinions in this post are unbiased and my own, however.
I love statistics. Whether it's my Techorati ranking, web server log files or my FeedBurner subscriber numbers, the numbers that shape my work are a fascination. I'm sure it's the same for a lot of bloggers out there too - surely most must have obsessive-compulsive like desires to keep up to date with figures?
Trendio has a strong grounding in statistics and word analysis - indeed, it's like a meme stockmarket, tracking the popularity of key words in news stories. Unusually amongst the swathe of Web2 startups, they've managed to get some major press coverage, including The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine.
Indeed, if the Alexa stats are anything to go by, the press coverage caused quite a stir back in June 2006, and it's only just now that the traffic to Trendio is seeing some recovery.
It's an interesting idea, and although the stock-market idea has been tried before (CelebDAQ, for instance), it's not been done in quite this way yet. Being able to trade on a particular keyword, as well as famous names, means there's quite a variety of things to 'purchase' - from newsy keywords, through politics, business, entertainment, sports and technology. If you're banking on the pseudo-planet Pluto heading back into the news, then you can invest your scrip currency - 'Trendillions' - there. Ditto for Mac OS X, Barack Obama or Manchester United.
The interface is as Web2.0-esque as the name would imply, decked out in a shade of green somewhere between Technorati and Writely. The interface is the requisite mix of Flash and AJAX, although it's more understated and usable than some Web2 monstrosities. Purchasing virtual stocks is as simple as you'd need it to be, and tracking your portfolio is relatively clear.
Beyond the basic operations however, some of the more advanced navigation is more obscure - changing the date range on tracker graphs is clumsy (and, at times, a little slow) - and not everything is in a logical place. I get the impression that the front page isn't as appealing to first-time visitors as it could be, either - despite the addition of introductory videos, it's all rather overwhelming.
Although the graphs are novel, the statistics are of dubious worth and don't have the depth or breadth to draw users back from that standpoint. There's not enough going on, activity wise, to make it exciting - and most of the peaks and troughs in the stats are a mystery, unlike the related news tabs found in Google Trends.
The community aspect is a little lacklustre, too - there's a forum, sure, but there's little in the way of integrated social aspects - no simple tracking what your friends have been doing, no mini-leagues or means. There are small aspects implemented, but there could be a lot more.
I suppose some of the shortcomings can & will be remedied as the site matures, and engenders a more loyal set of users - and for now it has a few interesting features - but I suspect I'll soon tire of trading on buzz, just as I got tired of trading on the CelebDAQ (And that was 4 years ago now, before this 'Web 2.0' malarkey)...
A relatively fun diversion, but ultimately lacking in usefulness and key community features.