Web Button Thrives on Discovery Factor
An online experiment by two undergraduates is becoming an accidental global business success attracting interest from international advertisers and users in more than 148 countries drawn to its serendipitous quality and links skewded to small-scale sites...
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UBlam (www.ublam.com) was created by Imperial College, London students Ashkan Miri (19) and Christian Clough (20) as a simple experiment to create a virtual button and discover whether it is possible to get at least one person in every country to press it.
However, the experiment has turned into a thriving business after Jeff O'Reilly, the founder of MyUnitedStates.us, offered to pay for the button to link to his website. Now thousands of other companies and individuals are pouring in to buy a percentage of the Blam button's randomly selected links.
Linking personal, quirky & community-based sites
Said O'Reilly: "UBlam is a fantastic idea and when I saw that the experiment was getting big on the net, I decided to email them and see whether they could link their button to my site if I paid for it. I believe the idea is particularly suited to the growing popularity of fresh and original internet content, and will become increasingly popular as more and more people hear about it."
With a focus on individual and unusual sites, the Blam button now also links to many web pages created by MySpace users, and users of other community-based websites, who are keen to draw attention to their personal pages.
Co-creator Ashkan Miri comments "There are many creative people out there with online comics, blogs, and artwork that no one sees. UBlam can make the world aware of them."
To date, users in countries as far flung as Yemen, Reunion, Nepal and the Faroe Islands have become 'Blammers' by pushing the button on the site or downloading the free desktop Blam icon button for their computers. More than 75,000 people in the US and the UK have also become Blammers and are regularly pressing the Blam button to see where its random selection process will take them next.
A springboard for serendipity
Miri continues: "We aim to make Blamming a fun experience and have already found that many people are regularly relieving their boredom by hitting the Blam button to find sites they would not normally come across. To ensure that this diverse range of sites continues, all links are reviewed and verified by us before being added."
Among the more unusual web pages now linked to the Blam button are an interactive, constantly evolving books website, a site that features cutting edge flash animation and a blog which provides advice for people considering gastric bypass surgery. The Blam button can be found at www.ublam.com where there is also a live map of the countries 'conquered' to date.
About the Author
For more information or interviews with Christian Clough or Ashkan Miri contact Christian Clough on +44 (0)7850 911446 or email: christian.clough (AT) imperial.ac.uk