Blog posts tagged "“long form twittering”"

Airbnb was the breakout app at SxSW 2011

March 17th, 2011

The question going into SxSW was, “What will the breakout app be?”

And the conventional wisdom was that it would be one of the group messaging clients. Conventional wisdom was wrong. It was Airbnb. Airbnb was everywhere at SxSW this year. But quietly. And they were killing it.

As someone who is learning the ins and outs of building a marketplace I can appreciate how well they’re doing it (and tried and failed to track down Brian for a margarita at SxSW). Meanwhile my friends who do iOS development are impressed by how well done the app is. But mostly I just fell in love with the design of their gift card packaging.

More importantly it let the underground SxSW survive another year. The official show was so ridiculously huge, the hotels blocked out and booked so extensively in advance, that the community that made SxSW important and has been thriving in the badgeless favela, wouldn’t have found places to stay without Airbnb. (thanks to Buzz for helping me refine that insight)

Always interesting to see how fast these things converge when they start to converge. When a standardized creation myth starts to emerge you’re observing a trajectory which is starting to steepen sharply upward. These two interesting posts by Fred Wilson and Paul Graham capture two of my favorite pieces or the Airbnb story: the breakfast cereal hustle, and the hitting the street commitment to knowing their users.

Anti-Social SxSW

March 10th, 2011

I posit this is going to be the year of the anti-social SxSW.

Back in pre-history SxSWi was tiny, really small, negligible. You felt lucky to have simply found anyone else who cared about what you cared about.

Moving into more modern times, it started to feel big. But not so big that you didn’t immediately love and trust everyone who was there. The 2004/2005/2006 era it was safe to assume anyone you met on the streets of Austin during Interactive was of your tribe, and likely a good friend you hadn’t met yet. We’ll call this the “partying with 5000 of your closest friends” era. There was some technological facilitation needed on the tail end of this era. I’m wearing a much faded, much loved Dodgeball shirt as I type this.

The geometric progression of attendees continued upward though bringing us to low 6 digits where it currently sits, and a few other things happened. First Twitter. Twitter in particular had the tendency to cause social events to blow up. It was a consensus engine that drove everyone to be at the same panels, and the same parties. This almost broke SxSW. Foursquare’s arrival on the scene help defuse some of this as it allowed a more nuanced consensus to emerge. But we pretty much trashed the Driskill opening night last year in a way I hadn’t seen before (at least before Music got to town). Still this was the start of the anti-social era. Rather then assuming everyone on the street was a friend, you were actively seeking out the people you already knew.

This year the evolutionary pressure seems to be driving most of random social out of the event. The rise of private group texting pods, the preponderance of invite only parties, and the general private band communication makes anti-social the most interesting trend at SxSW this year. (as an aside, I just really like the word “pods”, but I’m personally betting on GroupMe)

Anti-social is traditionally a derogatory term. I’m not using it as such. Often the only opinions I care about are those of the people in my affinity group. I whined about the lack of, and then was pleasantly surprised that I can scope Foursquare recommendations to only people I know. I think it’s a really interesting trend, and I’m looking forward to seeing (and writing) more anti-social software. (a term I’m going to credit to Maciej).

I expect this year we’ll have squeezed much of the synchronicity out the experience, but the call of qualified information and insights our brains can layer proper social expectations onto will be too appealing, then late next 2011 early 2012 there will be a sharp rise in experiences powered by PRNG, of which Situationist is probably an early model.

(One of the many) Ebook Dilemmas.

January 25th, 2010

I'm going to need books, lots of books

How do I support and reward the excellent curation of the local bookstore if I want the ebook version of something I find? – Kellan

I am not a unsophisticated consumer of science fiction. And finding new material to feed the book addiction is something I spend a not inconsiderable number of cycles on. Yet, there I was standing in Borderlands last week, and books to buy were jumping off the shelves. 2-3 of “my authors” had new books out that I hadn’t heard about. (tho 2 of them are on low rotation right now, as they’ve disappointed me of late) A book multiple friends had mentioned but I’d failed to track was featured. And I found several other new promising options, none of which I had heard of, and several of which aren’t normally available in print in this country.

Low Paper Diet

And I was stuck. You see, I’m on a pretty strict dead tree diet right now. I simply don’t have to the space to store books. And while I’m at it I’d rather not incur the carbon debt of chopping down trees, mass printing on paper, warehousing and transporting a product which is statistically likely to be pulped before ever being purchased. Clearly I’m getting a huge amount of value out of Borderlands, but I didn’t really have a way to include them in the exchange. I wasn’t even sure I was really comfortable wandering next door to their newly opened cafe and settling in with my Kindle as I was inclined to do.

Micro-slicing the pie vs trickle down?

Charlie Stross wrote a really great post recently, The monetization paradox analyzing the value chain of content production right now, summed up as,

“Google could in principle afford to pay every novelist currently active in the English language out of the petty cash.” – Charles Stross

Amazon is doing something similar. Capturing greater value then they’re providing. (and I love Amazon) I visit, I visit the Kindle Store. And I walk away empty handed. Amazon captures the value when I buy a book for my Kindle, but aren’t providing sufficient tools for me to do this. Without Borderlands, Amazon would have gotten no $$ from me last week, as it is, they did all right.

So how do I cut my local bookstore/curator in? I asked on Twitter and the consensus emerged around “buy the book, steal the ebook”, or “tip the bookstore.” (thanks to waferbaby, dajobe, BOBTHEBUTCHER, benprincess, timoni, carlcoryell, bhyde, and rabble for feedback!)

One of the ways I know I’m getting old is most of the time stealing media isn’t worth it. This also is a product of consuming outside of the most mainstream troughs, and genuinely liking/respecting most of the players in my media supply chain. I’ve got sitting on my drive detailed specs for building a relatively high throughput personal book scanner, and in the moments when I’m honest with myself I’ll probably never build it.

Open Questions?

Which brings me around to, how do I tip bookstores? And if there exists a viable model of funding that allows me to express my generalized appreciation of the existence of these important curators while getting some specific value back, a Kickstarter inspired model if you will? Would anyone besides me use it I wonder? How does this interact with Charlie’s ideas of a subscription model for writers? Given a semi-hyphothetical open e-reader with a radio could we partially fund bookstores with a real world version of Amazon affiliate links?

Unfortunately I still don’t have the answers, but I wanted to write down the problem, am I’m going to keep looking into it. Meanwhile if you know of anyone experimenting with this, I’d love to hear about it.

(so concludes the latest in this week’s series of blog posts written by the simple expedient of scaling up a tweet by a 30x inflation factor)

(update: a few really interesting comments, thanks guy!)

When I say “FUD” …

October 22nd, 2009

"Flicker upcoming"? WTF? :)

… I mean Flickr/Upcoming/Delicious. In particular, I mean that brief moment of optimism in the Spring of ’06, on the roof of the Iron Cactus, at the Spread the FUD party, when it looked like Yahoo! had a wedge and the will to solve the social search problem, and magically, I might even get to be a part of that. I said in my cover letter (in silly flowery, cover letter speak)

“The next round of innovation will be about building connections. The explosion of voices, information and ideas is currently outpacing our techniques for coping with them. We need to be helping people and communities find new ways to connect, interact, and work together to make sense of this accelerating decentralization. Innovation has been blossoming at the edges of the Net since the beginning, but innovation is also moving back to the connecting nodes, like Yahoo.”

Which is much on my mind when I hear about Marissa demo’ing social search yesterday.

And I’m deeply puzzled (and not a little disappointed) that anyone would care if Bing or Google can search the public status timelines, if it doesn’t come with social context.

Now the question is can Goog shake their historied failure at all things social.

Photo from Jan Brašna

Undue Suspicion

July 13th, 2009

Makerbot, NYC Resistor

Spent the morning bike ride composing a scifi story about a future world where Google’s statistics driven decision making has come to dominate the planet, and chip manufacturers introduce hyper subtle ideological math bugs (ala the Pentium FDIV bug) into their products knowing they’ll eventually make their way, sleeper cell like, into the Big G logging/computation/map-reduce-democracy cluster, and there by sway the outcome of the global events.

In other news we’ve been experimenting with bucket test driven design, but there keep being heisenbugs. I might have also been reading Charlie’s How I got here in the end, part eleven: the music stops.

Random Notes on Twitter Culture

December 4th, 2008

I tried to fit this all into 140 characters. I really did. I couldn’t do it, not even with disemvoweling.


Chatting with a friend who does information architecture for pharmaceutical advertising she was shocked I hadn’t heard about the “Motrin Mom” twitter-in-a-teapot. I had no idea what she was talking about.

Apparently “Twittering Critics Brought Down [the] Motrin Mom Campaign”. And the entire advertising industry, at least here in New York, is having a fear-of-a-twitter planet moment. Complete with righteous anger about the “irrationality of Twitter”. (um, hello folks, but didn’t you build one of the largest global business by cynically manipulating people’s “irrationality”?)

But the part that really caught me off is this didn’t blip my radar at all. Maybe I was just offline for it, but as far as I can tell the twittering classes I follow didn’t peep about this. I thought Twitter was all about us? (Also, Summize you are already awesome and everything, but if you add “search within people you’re following” and “search within people who follow you” I promise to love you forever)


Only tangentially related, I’m sure Tyler Hawkins aka @flickr has a very busy @replies tab.

What I can’t figure out is if all these folks responding to @flickr are really confused about whether Hawkins is a Flickr representative (he isn’t and doesn’t in anyway suggest he might be) or just believe so strongly that “@flickr” address twits will arrive in Flickr’s inbox that reality is irrelevant.

I’m torn on whether the assumption that when you speak you will be heard is the ultimate arrogance (and one particularly prevalent on Twitter), or if rather this proves that we’ve historically worried too much about URIs and that culture has no problem evolving them ad-hoc.

Now if only I had a thesis, rather then a rambling collection of half thoughts. Which is why I wanted to fit this all into 140 characters. Alas.