I found myself continually visiting The Huffington Post many times a day, despite what I consider to be almost sheer sensationalist journalism.
And I just found myself doing it again, one too many times. I’ve been thinking a bit recently about how to design behavior, particularly bad or unwanted behavior and I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be built into the constraints we apply to ourselves or users.
Thus, the following now resides in my /etc/hosts file:
I’m finally getting around to churning through some of my saved Pocket posts and came across a TC post from late December titled “Instagram Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Related To Last Week’s Change Of Service Terms” and it got me thinking.
Of course everybody has thought to themselves “who even reads these things” as we check “I agree” to any of the multitudes of services we use in a given day.
AND, if nobody reads them does that mean we’re signing our collective digital personas away to be monetized through personal ads or affiliate revenue?
Likely. Though I’m not so sure that behavior by mainstream digital services will be looked so favorably upon by the American judicial system. Actually, I have no real way of knowing that either but this class action lawsuit against Instagram on behalf of its users will definitely set the industry tone going forward on how binding a TOS is as well as how one must articulate and maintain those terms.
A veritable natural law in social media is that to get to a system that is large and good, it is far better to start with a system that is small and good and work on making it bigger than to start with a system that is large and mediocre and working on making it better. — @cshirky in Cognitive Suprlus
It’s curious to me that Apple is not yet a single sign-on provider and it makes me question if the walled garden of Apples ecosystem will ever extend to third party sites.
I really started to consider this question after I got an iPad and started to realize how much data is accessible through the Apple ID, particularly with iCloud and iTunes Music Match. It is likely, especially with email, contact, and calendar data in iCloud, that a third party application might get great value out of offering Apple as a single sign on partner. It is also likely that Apple would be able to collect a great deal of information that could help many of their consumer facing data plays more effective by renting out this new device-graph.
When you consider what the layer of information stored in Apple isn’t really a social network (besides failed attempts like Ping), but more of a representation of a persons entire life. You have apps (great representations of interests, for instance there are very few reasons a person will download a MotoX app), tunes and digital media (great representations of preferences), and Calendar and email data (great representations of behavior). I can only imagine the potency when combined with social sources like Twitter and Facebook.
Then again, there is real reason to doubt if Apple will be interested in collecting more data through third party developers. After all, they’ve maintained an ever more vaulted wall around their garden since the end of the clone wars.
It will be interesting to see what happens. As the other Silicon Valley giants race to liberate (or appear to liberate) the massive amounts of user data, Apple predictably moves in the other direction.
Hark back to the year 2008; do you remember what was different then? Sure, the world economy was collapsing, we were in a heated political battle between McCain and Obama; things were uncertain, including something we take for granted today: the penetration of mobile.
I’m sure we’ve all seen Mary Meeker’s chart of the growth of mobile versus other internet-based technologies, so no need to rehash here. However, I remember starting on an iPhone app in 2008, and I remember my dad asking me if I thought that the iPhone would take off. Today, that seems like the most ridiculous question. But in 2008, we didn’t have any handsets that weren’t under the direct control of the carriers.
Fast forward three short years, and apps have become a sweet spot in this dismal economy. Mobile ad spends are approaching multiple billions of dollars per year; it seems like every day a new mobile startup is starting, growing, and being bought by some major player. Meanwhile, a whole class of mobile developers has ridden the wave up.
Now I’m not talking about the Zynga, Rovio, or the Instagram crews. I’m not talking about the terrible apps that are never downloaded more than once (probably on the developer’s mom’s phone). I’m referring to the middle class of mobile developers. The developers with decent skills and decent ideas, but who can not cut through all the noise to make enough revenue off their apps full-time.
Its this group of developers that will likely be squeezed the most. Its companies that serve this cohort of developers with easy-to-use tools and provide end results with dollars attached that will thrive.
This mobile patent war is getting ridiculous. Its more dramatic than All My Children. I guess it took them 40 something years to get rid of that nuisance as well. Damn, 40 years of this crazy IP WMD business, and we’ll all be fucked.
Major props to those only on the receiving end, particularly Google. They didn’t have many patents, because they didn’t want to have to play this game. So much for that, I suppose…
Went to go see the two Andy Goldsworthy pieces in the Presidio this weekend. The “Wood Line” was pretty awesome, and very Goldsworthy-esque.
Since I’m on a Facebook tear right now, along with the rest of the world I suppose, it would be prudent to lay down some of my thoughts regarding the newest it-thing in the Facebook ecosystem: Zynga.
The game company’s recently filed S-1 reveals how important the social graph (and the largest creator of it) is to Zynga. The S-1 filing mentioned Facebook over 200 times (source). This may not be surprising to those who understand Zynga to be the creator of FarmVille and MafiaWars (two very popular Facebook games). But Zynga has also branched out from just the Facebook platform, producing the ever-popular Words with Friends mobile application. Yet, the bulk of the company’s future success remains correlated with Facebook.
But it is not an unrequited relationship: it was recently noted that almost 10% of Facebook’s revenues came from the fees paid by Zynga. This seems to also be born out by the speculations in financial markets, valuing Facebook at $100 billion and Zynga at approximately $10 billion. To have 10% of revenue come from a single company seems to be somewhat risky.
With regards to Zynga, I’m still having trouble accepting that they got millions of people to spend real dollars on digital cows and corn. But it is clear that they’re really onto something and it will be really exciting to watch it’s trek through the IPO and onto the markets.
OR my Chromebook experience
Last week I boarded a plane from SF to Chicago. I suppose the airline is important for the story: I flew Virgin America. It was probably the most enjoyable flight I’ve had in… forever?
But what blew everything else away was the awesome Chromebook I got to test out. In the terminal, there was a kiosk of Chomexperts lending Chromebooks. All I had to do was give them my credit card so I can’t steal the device.
The boot-up time was insane. Literally 8 seconds. My MacBook does a pretty decent job with Lion but you can tell that some engineers spent a long time shaving precious time off the startup.
But there were also some interesting aspects of the keyboard. For instance, the Caps Lock was replaced with a search button that automatically puts the focus on a search query. And there were a bunch more keys that clearly only a computer that ran in a browser would need. For instance, a dedicated key for refreshing a page, as well as keys for traversing the browsing history. You could also make a tab full screen and have no other distractions with a simple button.
And you access the device with your standard Google account. It brings in all of your services in the expected way. That was a disappoint feature, to tell you the truth, because I would have expected some of the applications to have Chromebook specific behavior. The only one in the standard suite that did was Google Talk, which worked very much like Facebook chat if it wasn’t isolated to the browser window.
So a Chromebook is useless without the internet, after all the point Google is making with Chrome OS is that we utilize the Cloud for so many of our services, that the OS becomes obsolete. And to that end, Virgin America hooked it up with free WiFi at 36,000 feet.
Now its not blazingly fast, but I sat in a chair in the SKY surfing the internet and chatting in real time with my friends far below me. To be fair, YouTube couldn’t really load any videos and I couldn’t consume streaming media but I’m not sure that was the fault of the Chromebook. I would assume that its the internet on the PLANE! (Sorry, I can’t get over that little fact).
The Chromebook itself, seemed fast enough to handle all the processes I was trying to do. The trackpad has some funky interactions, but I think that’s because I hand-mumble as I use a trackpad.
Overall, awesome experience. Thanks Google & Virgin for making my flight awesome. Its so nice when it actually feels like 2011 :)
The integration between social networking giant Facebook and enterprise giant Microsoft is really astounding. It seems to me that a large part of Microsoft’s future is tied up in the success of Facebook. Perhaps, the Redmond giant ought to change its ticker symbol from $MSFT to $MSFB?
Recently, Facebook announced a new addition to its communication suite: Skype integration with regular ol’ FB chat. This allows all the users of Facebook to see each other in real-time. Now, remember that Skype was just acquired by Microsoft for a cool $8 billion.
On top of this new partnership, Facebook’s search capability has long been powered by Microsoft’s search engine Bing. And furthermore, recently Bing has been airing TV commercials that highlight the social integration with the search engine. Namely, you can see what your Facebook friends have to say about a particular search result.
There is no doubt a strategic partnership to be had, particularly as an affront to search behemoth Google. The company spans many verticals: mobile with Android, (now) social with Google+, enterprise software with Google Apps. Though let’s not kid ourselves, Google Docs is nowhere near Microsoft Word.
But how will the partnership play out? Will there be a dramatic episode as there was between the Apple and Adobe of the late 90’s? Will there eventually be a move to make all of Microsoft’s products social through Facebook? Is such reliance on another company dangerous in the long-term?
I’m not quite sure what the relationship will develop into, though I am quite sure it will leverage the combined audiences of Microsoft (now including that of Skype) and Facebook, and that is massive. Even with Google+ growing at the rate of a million users per day (the same as FB during its rapid acceleration in 2009), the Mountain View company must be hyper vigilant. This is going to get interesting.
There are some truly amazing and smart people in technology, and I’m not sure that the concentration is different from other math, science and engineering-based fields. The attitude, however, is something that I find to be completely unique.
The first aspect of tech start-up culture that I have come to love and appreciate is a complete disregard for the status quo. Allow me to rephrase, a disregard for the status quo when the normal procedure results in frustration. If a pain point exists, the question asked is not “why does it exist?” but “how can we erase it?” The existence of a problem simply means the quest for a solution must begin.
The next question would be, “how can one fix this problem?” In the tech scene of 2011, where the costs of raw components to build amazingly powerful tools have become negligible (an AWS instance, a few smart people and LOTS of coffee) that question can more easily be answered. And its not just being answered conceptually, products are being built that erase pain points everyday.
This attitude translates into intense and frequent optimism; optimism that spills over into many aspects of life. I find it to be why working at a tech startup is so jovial and fun. I believe that there is no better time to work in technology and in San Francisco than today.
Except, maybe tomorrow.
To be honest, I don’t really concern myself with the question of is this a bubble or not. If it isn’t a bubble, it is at least a great boom. And booms are almost always followed by some derivative of bust.
I think the real question is what is the risk of the mania. I define risk as probability-of-occurrence multiplied by an impact coefficient. Thus, even if something is incredibly unlikely (statistically speaking), if the impact is extreme then the situation must at least be given some thought.
Until the recent tech-IPO mania (Groupon, LinkedIn soon-to-be Zynga), a great deal of the risk was borne by institutional investors, by savvy venture capitalists. This was declared to be a departure from the dot-com bubble of the late 90s when the public financial markets exposed many average people’s wealth to the vacillation.
And I agree with that. If many of the current tech companies that have received so much in private capital went bust, the losses would amount to fortunes, but the fortunes of investors who profess to be intelligent and informed.
Though I was just at a recent panel of VCs, one of whom said that this time would be different because now intelligent investors will be the ones buying the securities; the same intelligent investors who bought so many mortgage backed securities. Remember those?
However, now as many investors seek to harness the great IPO climate as an exit strategy, the fortunes of average people become intertwined with the fortunes of these tech companies. And I’m not so sure that’s the greatest thing.