Magazine article Information Today

The Innovators

Magazine article Information Today

The Innovators

Article excerpt

According to legend, the prophet Mohammed was once asked to give proof of his connection to God and ordered a nearby mountain to come to him. When it did not respond to his command, he took it as a sign of God's wisdom (if it had come to him, he and those nearby would have been crushed), and he said, "If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain."

For decades, internet users have been combing through a proverbial mountain of data looking for information related to their jobs, their hobbies, or even their own curiosity. With users demanding simpler and more efficient ways of collecting and digesting information, a trio of companies serving completely disparate client bases has challenged the assumption that the mountain of information can't be brought to the user.

Fishhound: A New Kind of Online Stream

The words "innovation" and "fishing" don't often come into particularly close contact. Even with the advent of GPS and new high-tech rods, fishing is about as old-school and analog a pastime as there is. The basic concept of dropping a hook and line into the water and coming up with a fish hasn't changed since the Stone Age.

But to Fishhound president and founder Charles Dohs, an avid fly fisherman, the sport needed something new. He responded by bringing the latest trends in hyperlocalization and usergenerated online collaboration to the world of fly-fishing.

"Fly-fishing is a very intricate sport, very detail-oriented," Dohs says. "There's a lot of resources on the internet ... none of them are any good. You go on and find fishing reports that are 6 months old."

For fly-fishing, any change in the conditions, from weather to water opacity, changes the ideal equipment; it might even make a river unflshable. The constantly changing conditions and inaccuracy of online conditions were particularly frustrating to Dohs, who lives almost 3 hours from the nearest suitable river. He recalled one trip in which he and his friends each did hours of research on the internet to prepare for the trip, only to find that conditions had changed by the time they arrived at the river. The aha moment came when Dohs received more accurate tips from the local tackle shop owner.

"That's the core of the idea, getting the local knowledge," Dohs says.

Fishhound.com (tentatively www.fish hound.com) will compile fishing tips from local sources and allow subscribers to view the very weather conditions that might throw their fishing trips out of whack. What's more, instead of having to make do with outdated reports, Fishhound subscribers will get the latest information, updated, in a manner of speaking, on-the-fly.

One factor in what makes this kind of a venture possible is that the fly-fishing community isn't dominated by one large company. Instead, "the market is run by numerous mom and pop shops," Dohs says. Those mom and pop shops form the backbone of the Fishhound model. Instead of some automated feed, the local shop owners input the day's conditions manually.

"We acquire the information from the locals," Dohs says. "Prior to the locals giving us the information, they create baseline information, where we compare the returns to what they tell us are optimal conditions to fish that particular river."

Fishhound will go live in January. For $12.95 per month or $99.95 for a year, subscribers will not only be able to see the conditions but also a "fishability index rating" (FIR), which is a number between one and 10 that distills all of the conditions reported by the local affiliate into one simple number that says, essentially, how the fish are biting. Subscribers also get tips on what kind of equipment to use. All in all, they get the hyperlocalized tips they want from an internet service either via Fishhound or through text and email alerts.

"We don't even like to call them reports; this is so much greater than a fishing report," Dohs says, adding that the company is taking a "wait-and-see" approach to the market. …

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