Saturday, November 26, 2005
Speaking of Google, when I saw the headline, "Google extends searching offline," I hoped that they had finally launched my dream service, Google House, which will let me search the contents of my house and tell me instantly where my son left his toy dinosaur when he's looking for it.
Alas, it's about kiosks that Google is installing in airports.
I really like this new blog from ex-Google marketing guy Doug Edwards. He's an ex-journalist who writes well, is very concrete, and tells good stories.
I always wish that I had gone to Google's launch party in 1999 and joined the company. One of my old buddies was employee #2 (now retired, and living in Tahoe), and I had an invitation to attend. Perhaps if I had gone, I would have realized that they were up to something special and joined up.
While doing so would certainly have been lucrative, another, ultimately more interesting reason is to take part in something special.
Make no mistake, I would love to have a ton of Google money. It would make life a lot easier. But I also regret missing on on the feeling one gets when everything is coming together, and you truly feel like you're changing the world.
There are only a few companies that have been able to provide that feeling. You can count them on one hand: Microsoft, Apple, Netscape, Google. Those who were there at the beginning are fortunate in more ways than one.
Friday, November 25, 2005
I realized today that blog comments represent a significant percentage of my writing output, yet there's no way for you, my loyal readers, to see them unless I create a special blog entry.
That led me to conduct the following thought experiment:
What if I tagged every one of my blog comments, then created a feed out of those tags?
It seems like it would be pretty easy to do.
So why haven't I seen anyone else doing it?
Ben Casnocha turned me onto this discussion about how both Paul Graham and Jason Fried place great importance on the ability to write well.
Being a writer, it warms my heart to see such importance being placed on writing. But I think that there is another, often overlooked reason why writing is such a necessary skill.
Good writers also understand their audience. Good writing doesn't exist in a vacuum. It is a product of understanding both your subject and your audience.
To write well, you must listen well and understand other points of view. That may be just as important as the ability to organize one's thoughts.
The ability to both read/listen and write/speak lets you close the communication loop, and persuade your audience of your point of view.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
After meeting Mike Arrington of TechCrunch and Archimedes Ventures, I was inspired to do a little further digging (as opposed to Digg-ing).
A quick Google search turned up this roundup of the new breed of incubators. I'm particularly interested in Curious Office Partners, who seem to be trying the micro-investment route ($10-250K).
If incubators have more reasonable expectations this time, I think they may be well-positioned to succeed in this world of smaller, cheaper startups.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Startup Names Suck!
Now this is getting silly.
The use of i and e I disliked, but could live with.
I thought that the iants and ients were bad.
I thought that we had scraped bottom when we got the sters.
Now we have Flickr to thank for the latest trend in stupid trendy names:
Maybe I should register the domain name eiantstr now!
Sunday, November 20, 2005
I'm firmly of the opinion that just as other activities are becoming more like business, I think business is becoming more like other activities.
For example, what if you ran your business like Disneyland? The book, "If Disney Ran Your Hospital" looks at this question...I haven't read the book, but it sounds fascinating. This tidbit particularly intrigued me:
"Disney doesn't measure customer satisfaction in a traditional way. The only number that matters to them is the number of people who rate them five on a five-point scale without any pressure being put on them. That is the only number that truly captures loyalty; those people are Disney promoters. On patient satisfaction surveys, hospitals have traditionally averaged promoters with other satisfied people, which diluted their score."
This gets to what Kathy Sierra is always talking about--the key to success is to create a group of insanely loyal users.
Or how about this story about an entrepreneur who closed his retail store to sell solely via the Internet? The interesting thing is why he did it: He's not making more money, but he has more time to do the things that he really enjoys.
Or how about this list of activities that a group of UK specialists used to boost the happiness of a particular town? Why not use them on your employees? Or your customers?
* Plant something and nurture it
* Count your blessings - at least five - at the end of each day
* Take time to talk - have an hour-long conversation with a loved one each week
* Phone a friend whom you have not spoken to for a while and arrange to meet up
* Give yourself a treat every day and take the time to really enjoy it
* Have a good laugh at least once a day
* Get physical - exercise for half an hour three times a week
* Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger at least once each day
* Cut your TV viewing by half
* Spread some kindness - do a good turn for someone every day
Remember text-based games? They still exist. I think they're ripe for a comeback as SMS games.
The brilliant Raph Koster on online games. This may be the best use of slides I've ever seen. Well worth checking out just for that.
The unbundling of work
The Merc recently covered LiveOps, a new startup that provides the infrastructure for running virtual call centers. The operators are moms with young children, who like having a job that requres no commute, and can fit into their schedules.
The operators make $.25/minute, with bonuses for upselling. LiveOps already has over 5,000 operators handling calls for Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer and the Ronco Rotisserie Oven.
While columnist Mike Cassidy laments the death of the traditional job, I think the move to unbundle work will have tremendous positive effects. Work should become more flexible and efficient.
I also predict that the rise of the true Free Agent Nation will also create an enormous business opportunity for helping people to construct custom bundles of job, office space, health benefits, and so on.
Where have all the computer scientists gone?
What's wrong with this picture?
"The U.S. Bureau of Labor Standards says software development and engineering are among the Top 10 fastest-growing occupations through 2012."
"The nationwide percentage of incoming college freshmen who want to major in computer sciences declined by more than 60 percent from 2000 to 2004, and is now 70 percent lower than peak levels in the early 1980s."I'm mystified myself. I often wish that I had studied CS when I was at Stanford, and can't imagine why its popularity has fallen to such low levels.
Of course, one alternate explanation, advanced by Paul Graham, is that one doesn't need a CS degree to be a great hacker.
The editorial I pulled these stats from hints at this point:
"Computers, video games and iPods, among other devices, give today's students a familiarity with technology not possible by earlier generations. We need to channel the enthusiasm of early adopters of the latest video games into a transferable technical skill they will pursue for the rest of their lives."
It would be interesting to measure how the percentage of those who describe themselves as hackers, or can write code, has changed over the years.
And, as I've mentioned before, I think that educational games are one of the most promising areas for the next 25 years.