Challenges are back… now with VOTING!

Hey 12ers,

Jacob here — It’s not often that you hear from me on the blog, but I wanted to go through some of the new features we launched today and Sol/Beach are not at their computers ;-)

We’re excited to re-launch challenges.. we know a lot of you have been missing them. The main difference now is that YOU get to vote on who you think should win everyday! Any time you record a response to the challenge, that video will have a little vote box next to it anywhere it appears on the site. Other 12ers can then click on the “vote” button and give you 1-3 votes, depending on how much they liked the video.

Here’s the catch – you can only give out 3 votes per day. You can give all three to one video or spread it out evenly and give 1 point to 3 different videos – It’s up to you. You can always go back and change your votes too if you see something later on in the day that kicks total ass – just go back to the video you voted on before and it will let you set your vote back down to zero or change it to something else.

At the end of the day (midnight PST), the voting for that day’s challenge will stop and a winner will be assigned based on your votes. You can only vote for the current day’s challenge, but the number of votes will be visible after voting closes.

In addition, we’ve made some other minor improvements to the challenge system:

  • New challenge bar that appears at the top of your home page
  • Responding to the challenge no longer requires a re-load of the page – just click “respond” and go!
  • We’ve now got a leaderboard for the challenges if you want to see who’s winning throughout the day.
  • Challenges can now be sent via your mobile phone. Just make the subject of your MMS message “challenge” and we’ll do the rest.
  • You’ll also be able to see the daily challenge question and submit responses from your iPhone with an update that we’ll be releasing later this week.

Sol wants me to mention that “This is all in good fun” and “There’s no need to get competitive”…. yet.

That’s it! As always, let us know if you notice any bugs and feel free to send feedback our way (I’m @jakey12 on Twitter)

So.. what are you waiting for? Go answer the challenge and vote for your favorites!

Record your 12s in TweetDeck (plus API news)

iain looking at us
@iaindodsworth peering lovingly at us via TweetDeck

Hey Everyone!  We don’t use our blog enough to deliver news so I’m going to take this opportunity to write a blog post to announce that you can now record your 12seconds posts using the best, most popular and completely superior Twitter client – TweetDeck.

It couldn’t be more simple.  Enter your 12seconds credentials after you hit the “12” button in the header of the application.  Not only will you be able to view all that great 12seconds content, you’ll also be able to record a new post from your webcam by hitting the record button on either the top or the bottom of the column.

It’s our singular goal to provide an application that makes both creating and watching short, pithy videos incredibly easy.  TweetDeck allows us to fulfill that goal by creating an environment whose purpose is to make more sense out of our increasingly busy socialmediasphere (I made up a word!).  In other words, those who use TweetDeck will love it even more and if you haven’t downloaded TweetDeck yet…you really should.

All versions of TweetDeck will be updated over the next week or two with this functionality built in, but if you want to play with it right now you have to download the latest version right from the TweetDeck site.  So go download it and let us know what you think!

The 12seconds authoring API

It’s time for us to release our authoring API for 12seconds.  This means that you can integrate recording 12seconds into your site the same way TweetDeck has done.  12seconds is great fun on our site but allowing others to embed the recording functionality has limitless potential.  Video commenting, video contests, video story collaborations, video music mashups!  Whatever you want to do with it, have at it!

If you want access to this API, you have to let us know so we can get you set up.  You’re going to need a parnter ID.   You can find more information about the authoring API as well as contact us to receive a partner ID here.

Alright, get out there and make some 12s!

How to get people to upload a profile image…

Hey social media expert types, here’s a little tip from your friends at 12seconds about profile images. If you’re creating a social network or other social application that allows the user the ability to upload a personal profile image, make sure that the default image is as stupid as possible. Many sites still try to make their default icons generic or even attractive. Many people like the brown twitter icon for instance. Others become apathetic when they see some boring grey box with a simple face or emoticon, such as what Yahoo uses.

The 12seconds default profile image is stupid. It is actually a photo of me (Beach) when I was about 16. I made it black and white and slapped a 12 on top. Who wants that guy as your profile image? That’s right no one.

A little story about this image. It was 1986 or something. I was living in Santa Cruz, but going to high school in Aptos, which is a little south of Santa Cruz. Aptos High was having their annual “Kowabunga Beach Ball” dance. You see, Aptos, like Santa Cruz, is a beach town. Because of this, we have to endure clever ideas such as calling a dance the “Kowabunga Beach Ball”. For similar reasons, and because my last name is Beach, I had to endure being called things such as “Beached Whale”, “Beach Butt”, or “Nude Beach”.

On this occasion in 1986, my friends and I decided not to attend this Beach Ball, because that was what other people did. We were happy to drive around aimlessly tipping garbage cans over and stealing garden gnomes. However even this kind of thing gets boring… so that evening, we decided to crash the dance. Doing so was easier than we expected. And we learned something important about crashing events, all you have to do is look like you know what you’re doing. In future years, this got us back stage at Oingo Boingo, REM, and U2 concerts among others. It also got us beer.

So we snuck in, had a photo taken and snuck out. In all this took about 5 minutes. And now this photo is used as your default profile image. You are welcome! Everything about this photo is stupid. How we took it, why we took it, and who we were. Because of this, it is the ideal photo to use for a default profile image.

I should mention that there are other 12seconds users in this photo. dickhollywood is the guy in the blue plaid shirt and thund3rbox is squatting in the pink jeans flashing the odd gang sign. And of course I am holding the beach ball in all my glory.

I hope this little story has given you something to think about as you create your social media experiences. Sure, you can link to other services like flickr or facebook to use their profile images, but remember that people need an incentive to do so.

Santa Cruz is Super!

Well, it’s been way too long since our last post. I think we need to update this thing more, so I’ll try my best to give you all something new more often.

Since the last post, we went to the Crunchies and got runner up for Best Bootstrapped Startup. That was cool. It was nice that Dave McClure was giving out the award since he was one of the first people we spoke with after we launched the pre-alpha for last years SXSW. He gave us great advice over BBQ ribs on a rainy day in Austin. He said to never tire of your focus but get plenty of rest because it’s good to be awake if you can… At least that’s what we think he said. It was hard to tell because of all the rib eating and stuff.

So here we are. Still bootsrappin’ and still in Santa Cruz. The title of this post is “Santa Cruz is Super!” and here’s why. In Santa Cruz, they write a big story about you for the front of the business section of the local paper just for getting runner up for an award! Beat that San Fracisco or San Jose! It’s not gonna happen. But it does in Santa Cruz. Check it out: 12seconds wins runner-up at 2008 Crunchies.

This is a special place. The people are kind and supportive. I was actually part of the first internet startup here in town. IUMA. It was 1993. We’d get people walking in off the street asking what they could do to help. We’d also get people coming in and asking if we were the Internet. But people were so cool. It feels very similar now, especially because of NextSpace where we keep a tiny office. NextSpace is an awesome c0-working space right down town. It houses dozens of engineers, designers, lawyers, service providers, architects, and startups. Our friends UserVoice are right down the hall. It’s an exciting place. We get people stopping by all the time to ask us questions or to offer their help. It really feels like home.

Santa Cruz is 45 minutes away from Sunnyale, and 80 minutes away from downtown SF. It’s just close enough to stay connected, but far away enough to stay sane. It’s a good place to be, I recommend it.

The Crunchies – Please Vote for Us

12seconds has been nominated for a Crunchie Award. “Best Bootstrapped Startup”. This is very exciting for us. Let me get this out of the way now… Please vote for 12seconds. You can vote once per day, so keep coming back and cast a vote until the polls close. 

“Bootstrapped”, in this sense, means a company that hasn’t raised more than $100,000. In our case, we haven’t raised a penny.  There have been many articles written about us and our approach lately, but check out what Robert Scoble has to say in his post from 12/27, “30 Minutes at 12seconds.tv Shows Future of ‘Reality Based’ Startups“. Scoble came by the day after Christmas to hang out and to see what we’re up to… I’ll embed the video below. It’s pretty cool. Scoble has been very gracious. 

The video I shot with 12seconds.tv is a good example of “real” entrepreneurialism that will lead to good things for all of us.”

It’s been quite a year. Sol and I realized today that we first met up and talked about the idea of 12seconds (then 10seconds) last December 19th. This was the third time I had ever seen him. We went to a pub and just started chatting. I had an idea and Sol liked it. We ended the evening deciding that we’re going to do this thing. We weren’t sure how, but we were going to do it no matter what. The thing that’s important to understand is that how we ended up making this happen is all Sol. We could have built out several ideas, but they all would have been built the same. Sol’s vision was to bring the community of Santa Cruz geeks together, and use our friends and networks to accomplish what normally costs several hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions, for burritos, barter, and a share of the success. Sol is an amazing dude (so is Jacob). The result of all of this has been incredible. A rad co-working space has been created, I have more friends in Santa Cruz than I could have imagined, and more startups are coming to Santa Cruz to take advantage of the talent and atmosphere…
-beach

12seconds iPhone App! Plus redesign and open registration.

Today is a huge day for 12seconds!  Here’s the rundown:

  • We’re releasing our very own iPhone application to the app store
  • We’ve redesigned the entire site
  • We’re opening up registration (no more invites)
  • We’re now in beta status

The iPhone application

We’ve been busy bees on this application.  You can’t record video on your iphone, right?  This application changes that.  With the 12seconds iPhone app you take 3 pictures, record some audio and post it.  We’ll turn it into a video and post it for your friends to see.  There’s no other app in the app store that outputs video so we’re pretty excited about it.  It will cost only 99 cents.  It’s a great value and a great way to support your friends at 12seconds.  Here’s a short video demonstration.

The Redesign

So, we’ve gone ahead and redesigned the site.  We’ve grabbed a lot of feedback from you, our dedicated 12ers and think we’ve come up with a beautiful redesign.  The goal was to make 12seconds a better product.  Here are some of the key changes:

  • New, awesome look (pink and brown never looked so beautiful)
  • Inline video playback
  • Inline commenting
  • Your “home” will tell you when you have new videos (auto-updating)
  • Hide or Show the recorder whenever you’d like
  • New navigation tools (an easier interface to navigate)

Open Registration and Beta Status

It’s time for us to move forward.  We’ve had a great few months in alpha.  Hundreds of thousands of people have watched 12second videos.  We’ve been able to integrate with great partners and participate in some incredible events.  We’ve seen 12seconds used for status updates, citizen journalism, short song writing, movie reviews, jokes, challege responses, weather reports, cigar reviews, wine reviews, cupcake reviews, daily lunch specials, name that tune and millions of other creative uses.

The time has come to open up and share 12seconds with the rest of the world.  Now anyone can register and join our beta program.  So, please, invite your friends and let’s build a rich community of people 12ing all over the world.  12seconds is easy, fun and engaging.  We’ve got the best community on the Internet.

So, that’s it.  As of today we’re retiring the Alpha user award.  It’s done and will never be given out again.  All existing and new users will receive the Beta user award.

Thanks very deeply for being part of our community.  Here’s to an exciting 2009.


Happy 12/12 Day!

Hey everybody it’s 12/12 day and we here at 12seconds are doing something about it… okay it may not be exactly what we wanted to do about it, but it’s something :)

We are working away on a bunch of cool stuff for you, as you probably know, but it’s not quite ready. Soon baby soon!

So to celebrate 12/12, go to 12seconds and answer the challenge! Everyone who does will get a special award! Yay!

And we promise… awesome things are happening. Happy 12/12!