Piczo has created a space that gives teens around the world the freedom and
tools to express themselves and connect with friends in a safer social networking environment.
Piczo allows its users to create fully customizable personal websites that
do not require any understanding of html code. Users share their life stories with friends by designing their sites with multiple
pages featuring photos, graphics, guest books, comment boards, music, and more. Each site can be linked to other friends'
sites and users can interact with them and their friends, and meet new people online.
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Comic Relief gets IT ready for donation deluge
Case study: How Red Nose Day's website copes with "peaky" traffic
By Gemma Simpson
Published: Thursday 15 March 2007
Comic Relief has revamped its website and IT infrastructure to cope with its increasingly tech-savvy fundraisers.
Supporters are using the charity's website more often to donate and fundraisers are getting web 2.0 friendly - downloading photos and videos of their efforts - putting more pressure on its infrastructure.
Martin Gill, head of new media at Comic Relief, told silicon.com: "All those things - supporting what [the
users are] doing, doing our own stuff or giving them applications where they can provide a bit of information about themselves
and get tools to help them raise money - lead to additional burden on our platform."
The charity expects between 1.2 and 1.3 million donations to come in on the Red Nose night alone, with the
lion's share being split between the charity's website and the 13,500 call centre operators employed to take donations.
The infrastructure can now deal with 20,000 transactions per second. The old
system was only able to cope with 800 per second...
The infrastructure is also dealing with even more data as the charity's call centre moves to a computer-based
system to register and check pledges.
The charity has opened up its back office with 10,000 operators using a computer system to input donations
– and the other 3,500 sticking with the previous paper and pen-based system.
Gill said: "The challenge is transactions appear in a very peaky way between 19:00 and midnight [of Red Nose
Day] so there's a huge volume of what potentially can be very dense traffic."
To help cope with such peaks - usually due to a surge of TV viewers reacting to a certain clip on BBC One's
fundraising show - the infrastructure can now deal with 20,000 transactions per second. The old system was only able to cope
with 800 per second.
The charity's two data centres have also streamlined the load-balancing and security of transactions, to speed
up the process of supporters inputting their credit card details into the website or via call centre staff.
Gill said if things get sticky and slow down then donors start to get concerned about the security of their
He added this has the knock-on effect of call centre operators having to deal with worried donors - rather
than taking money from other people.
The Red Nose Day website expects to have around two million registered users by the main day - 16 March, 2007
- with those users wanting to do more via the Comic Relief website, putting additional pressure on the charity's IT infrastructure.
Users can already create blogs and put photos on the site. Around 4,000 events and sponsorship pages were
created on the site in its first month of opening (it launched on 1 February).
Comic Relief is planning to use social networking more in future fundraising events and has approached the
likes of YouTube to start pushing punters to support the charity. It has already joined forces with teen-based site Piczo to encourage a younger audience to get involved
College students listen to the news, and the news is: Big Brands are Uncool. The age group is characteristically
rebellious, but as it becomes more aware of the "everywhereness" of big brands, it sees patronizing these businesses as decidedly
Journalists and trendspotters such as Naomi Klien have been following the trend for some time, and have found
clusters of youth around the country who purposefully avoid big brands. "In a lot of cases, I don't want to have a brand that
everyone knows about," says Daniel McCoy, a senior at The University of Texas at Austin. "If you look around, you see everyone
wearing the same thing from the same store -- nobody's different."
Even though Daniel is in the minority, more and
more youth are beginning to follow suit. "Unbranded" clothing companies such as American Apparel are gaining popularity. The
company is opening new stores at breakneck speed.
And the avoidance of big brands is happening with more than clothes.
Companies such as Bathlush.com, whose inventory of women's bath products comes from small, boutique vendors, are also seeing
an increase in popularity. Instead of carrying the big names in bath products, bathlush.com sells soaps, scrubs and perfumes
only from obscure, unique outfits with names like "Calypso" and "Little Twig."
Brick-and-mortar retailers are becoming
more open to buying products from small, understated brands, but the internet seems to be the storefront for these micro-brands.
12445 Magnolia Blvd, Valley Village, CA 91607
Contact: Dominique Rose
Dominique R. Salamone started Bath Lush after designing her own stylish wrappings for bath products. Today, Bath Lush
operates a retail store in Valley Village, California, and also sells its decorative wares on-line at www.bathlush.com.
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