Paparazzi 2.0: Coolspotters Launches

A few days ago, my ex-colleagues from ESPN.com launched a new site: Coolspotters.

It’s a soon-to-be gigantic database of public figures and the products they use. Want to see what watch Barack Obama wears? How about what jeans Steve Jobs wears? Or anything at all about Gisele Bundchen

It’s all right there for your perusing pleasure, but even better, it’s 100% powered by the community (of course) so you can add photos and details if you happen to snap that candid shot of Anna Kournikova pulling up in her Escalade.

The site is interesting to me on many levels:

  • Although I’m not generally interested in what public figures buy (although millions of people are), I’m very interested in the concept of how to express your consumer tastes on the web. I’m equal parts salesman, connector, and maven in the Gladwellian sense and product “endorsements” on the web have the ability to touch all three disciplines. Whoever successfully discovers how to get everyone to express their product endorsements on the web without seeming salesy is going to be a huge financial success.
  • Coolspotters was created by a very talented group of friends who I’ve worked with for years and funded by the same people who funded us at Newsvine. In that sense, they are a sister company to us.
  • The site has really fantastic click appeal. In other words, without registering or otherwise even “getting” the site, you can click around for hours (see previous words re: Bundchen and Kournikova). This is something I always wanted to do better at Newsvine; showcasing content that is a lot lighter on the brain and the attention span.
  • The design, courtesy of Aaron Weyenberg and Mark Boulton, is of course fantastic.

So anyway, check out Coolspotters.com and let the fellas know what you think in the comments below.

Like this entry? You can follow me on Twitter here, subscribe via email here, or get the RSS feed if that's how you roll.

18 Responses:

  1. Sweet. Now I can pick me up a pair of those Air Steve’s I’ve been lusting over.

  2. Mike says:

    Looks fantastic! It’s rare to see a website with a nice design that is usable to boot. Definitely one for the bookmarks.

  3. Sandy says:

    What is this all about … Icon? I thought you had to have a G5, or at least an SL65 to be listed in this category: http://coolspotters.com/business-icons/mike-davidson

    Sure will be cool to see how this site grows. Judging from my wife’s appetite for this kind of thing, I can see the affiliate dough being truly astronomical.

  4. Mike D. says:

    Sandy: Uhhhmm yeeeeeah, that must be an artifact from the beta testing. Good times.

  5. Mike G. says:

    The color schema is very flickr-esque. Not that there is anyting wrong with that.

  6. Byron McCollum says:

    Damnit!

    I though this was going to be about an update to Paparazzi, the Mac webpage screenshot utility.

  7. Adam says:

    Fantastic! Now I won’t have to hear about that pesky Iraq war, or keep up with the elections anymore!

  8. Jason says:

    Novel idea I suppose, albiet a little superficial. But my instant critiques are 1) why are so many of the photos so small and 2) why does the icon usually cover the actual item in question, which leads to 3) the combination of the two leave me wondering how anyone can tell what kind of phone, watch, or sunglasses are in the photo? (is it just me or?)

  9. At first blush, I see a clash of demographics. Web 2.0 targeting the fashion elite? It feels like a so-so idea implemented really well. But, I wonder if people won’t tire of the (as Jason puts it) superficial aspect of the concept pretty quickly.

    I get the impression that designers can be a pretty cynical bunch, and I simply don’t see going to a website to take a look at (say) Justin Timberlake to make a purchasing decision based on which $500 pair of jeans he’s wearing on any given day. The cynicism in me wants to rebel against the idea that I should be checking in on famous people I don’t respect, who probably annoy me, and what they’re wearing at any given moment.

    In short, it’s like they took the magazine rack in a supermarket checkout lane, added on a bit of social-networking web 2.0 sheen, and are trying to convince people that they should care about these things, probably in an effort to earn a bit of revenue sharing income.

    “Peer Pressure 2.0″

    I think I’d like it better without the celebrity angle. I have no aspirations of keeping up with those joneses, but knowing that 20 of my peers (people I actually respect on one level or another) just rushed out to buy the flip might move me to do the same thing.

  10. The entrepreneur in me wishes he’d thought of it.

    But the rest of me, thinks oh great, yet another thing adding to the “high school-ification” of america.

    I am sure the least common denominator crowd/followers will eat it up.

  11. Brade says:

    What’s the difference between a fan and a follower?

    This site seems like info overload, with vague links aplenty all over the place. I agree with Brian Ford: “It feels like a so-so idea implemented really well.”

    I don’t see myself coming back unless a page appears on digg… ER I MEAN NEWSVINE.

  12. [...] along with this is Coolspotters, basically a database of celebrities and the products they use. Mike Davidson of Newsvine fame gives a good [...]

  13. Raymonty says:

    Mike ~ I have been telling Calvin Tang to start his own clothing design company. Do you think that this is a good idea? Coolspotters is a good place to get started – Ray/Raymonty.

  14. phillip says:

    Looks like a good looking site useful for those that just want the same watch or shoe as someone they admire :)

    Can someone explain what their business model is?

    I looked at their site and have also looked at the Newsvine site and don’t see any banners or ads. I assume most sites make money via subscritions (ie Flickr) or otherwise sell banner space (ie new sites, google).

  15. Mike D. says:

    phillip: There are ads all over both sites.

  16. phillip says:

    So you make most of your income off ads?

    I think I must have installed one of those ‘hosts’ files so I don’t see ads on some sites.

  17. phillip says:

    Set firefox to use a proxy server. Wow, I see all the ads now ; )

  18. Michaela says:

    Wow. I find this kinda scary actually. The technology can be translated to Facebook, for example, where you can then tag all the ubercool products you flaunt in your personal pictures (and, as Brian Ford implied, you know people will do that, just to show their friends they wear obscure Euro-jeans or Kate Moss mascara). This info can then be used by Facebook or whomever to personalize/customize their advertising messages and banners. Information like that would be incredibly valuable to big brands trying to gain a new segment, especially considering Facebook has info about your nationality, location, age, education level, etc etc.

Shared
Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”
- Tim Kreider’s denunciation of the cult of busyness is excellent. (via jimray)
The iPhone and Disruption: Five Years In:

Take your pick of about 20 great quotes from this Daring Fireball article. My personal favorite:

The iPhone is not and never was a phone. It is a pocket-sized computer that obviates the phone. The iPhone is to cell phones what the Mac was to typewriters.