Saturday, 28 June 2008

Quoted in APM’s ‘The Pork Wars on YouTube’

As part of APM’s Public Insight Journalism program, I was interviewed as about the use of sites like YouTube for political issues (vs. campaigns) – specifically in the context of the recent tennis match between animal rights groups vs farm industry groups.

Here’s the bit of my interview they used on-air and online.

“Garrick Van Buren is a social media consultant. He says YouTube is useful only as a place to upload videos. It isn’t likely the best destination site for marketers, because videos are lost easily in the heap.”

“‘Figure out where the people that you are trying to reach are. Are they at Facebook? Then create a Facebook app. Find those people that are most likely to spread your message,'” Van Buren said.”

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Jon Gordon’s Twin Cities Coffee WiFi Google Map Started

Jon Gordon‘s going to be in the Twin Cities for a while and he thought it’d be fun to review the local selection of independent coffee + wifi shops.

As part of that effort, I’ve started a Google Map for listing and pin-pointing these places. There’s also a handful of invites floating around to for those that want to help.

Want one?

View Larger Map

Update 07 July 2008
I just cracked open a PBWiki for this project:

Friday, 20 June 2008

Something New In the Air

Two of my favorite people are starting new podcast projects in the next week.

  1. Kris Smith formerly of Croncast will be launching Life in the Can next Friday, still with Betsy on the other mic.
  2. Dave Slusher is launching the Reality Break podcast a couple days later.

Both projects are aiming to be more sponsorship-friendly than their preceding productions and I think that’s interesting. To date, sponsored showed haven’t kept my attention, but that had more to do with me being uninterested, not an aversion to sponsors. I trust Dave and Kris will be doing some interesting things to make it a win for everyone.

Kris, Betsy, Dave, congrats on the new production.

They’re both already in

Diversified Rhino Guarding

“If you’re building on someone else’s platform, whenever they are down, you are down. There is no way around that.” – Brian Breslin on why TwitBin development is stalled.

A year ago, I wrote about my hesitation of building on someone else’s platform. Since then, I launched Cullect. Which is nothing if not built atop OPP [1].

When I first started development on Cullect – it only supported OpenID. Only. Less popular and less understood than many other services. Today, Cullect extends 3 different platforms (4 if you count OpenID). Feels right. Feels successful. Tomorrow, I see that number increasing.

Will some services fall away? Maybe. I’m not married to any of them.

So, Cullect doesn’t care if you stop using your Twitter account and move to Tumblr. As I wrote then, I’m not interested in building on a single platform. There’s plenty of rhinos to guard.


“On top of that, there aren’t all that many rewards for building things on top of Twitter. Sure, there are tons of active Twitter users. But with all the outages and the arbitrary changes in the API limits, I just haven’t been feeling the love. Tweeterboard’s gone from a fun diversion to a distraction.” – Gene Smith

1. Other People’s Platforms 😉

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The State of Dense Comparisons

One of my biggest pet peeves is comparisons of the U.S to other countries – especially European countries – to show how the U.S. is “behind” in some nationwide attribute like healthcare, broadband speeds/adoption, public transit.

My first issue with these comparisons is one of scale. The United States is closer to the European Union in structure than any individual European country and multiple times larger in geographic area than either. We should be comparing individual states against individual states by GDP.

  • Minnesota ~= Norway
  • California ~= France
  • New York ~= Brazil
  • Illinois ~= Mexico

My second issue is one of population density. Lots of people in a small space increases the demand and makes it logistically easier to deliver public transit and high-speed internet access to more people faster. If nearest neighbors are 40 acres and a mule away, connecting them is far more expensive than if they live on top each other.

Ranking countries by their population density puts the US 180th (31 people/km2).


  • Netherlands: #25 – 395 people/km2
  • Belgium: #31 – 341 people/km2
  • Japan: #32 – 339 people/km2
  • United Kingdom: #51 – 246 people/km2
  • Germany: #53 – 232 people/km2
  • France: #95 – 110 people/km2

Imagine seeing 10x the number people around you everyday. Our towns, cities, and attitudes would have to dramatically change to support that. Just as they have to support their current densities (e.g. Minneapolis got a light rail train).

The US is closer by comparison to Madagascar (32 people/km2) and Estonia (29 people/km2).

I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard the US compared to those developing countries. Though from what I’ve heard about Estonia’s electronic government, there’s some interesting stuff going on there.

Again, individual state level comparisons are more appropriate here as well.

  • Minnesota ~= Somalia[1]
  • California ~= Greece
  • New York ~= Kuwait
  • Illinois ~= Spain

For the densities greater than 100 people / km2 we need to move to New England:

  • South Korea ~= New Jersey
  • Netherlands ~= Rhode Island
  • Belgium or Japan ~= Massachusetts
  • United Kingdom ~= Connecticut
  • Germany ~= Maryland
  • France ~= Ohio or Florida[2]

Looking at these numbers it’s clear why Thomas P. M. Barnett says the U.S. has more in common with emerging markets like Brazil and Russia than Western Europe and Japan.

We’re definitely behind Brazil in open source software adoption.

1. Interesting considering the recent influx of immigrants from that country into Minnesota
2. Yes, I know Ohio and Florida aren’t in New England. I found the comparison of France with Ohio & Florida entertaining so I wanted to keep it in.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

For Sale: Lief’s Green House in Nordeast Mpls

Looks like Leif Utne bought a 1-way ticket on the high-speed underground tunnel between Minneapolis and the Pacific Northwest.

“Pass it on to anyone you know who might be interested in a beautifully-remodeled, energy-efficient home close to bus lines on a safe, quiet street in an artsy neighborhood. It has a brand-new kitchen and furnace (95% efficient), and in 2002 we did a complete attic remodel, including bamboo flooring, new windows and skylights, super-efficient Icynene insulation, and a 50-year metal roof. The remodeled attic master suite (from architects Otogawa-Anschel) has won numerous design awards and was featured in two Parade of Homes tours, as well as the StarTribune home section, HomeTime TV, and an architecture book about attic remodels” – Leif Utne

2518 Cleveland St. NE Minneapolis, MN
, $250k, 3bd/2ba.
Full details at Edina Reailty

Monday, 16 June 2008

iPhone: Must Have Show Stoppers

Last week, I wrote: “For every really cool thing the iPhone has, there’s a really lame thing. 3G even more so.”

Abi Jones asked me to draw up the list.

This is the first pass at the list. I’m expecting corrections and additions, especially post-July 11.

Cool Lame
From Apple From AT&T
Lower device cost Can’t purchase online. Higher monthly rates.
Custom, iPhone-specific Apps Delivered via iTunes
Syncs data with other computers Except for iCal To Dos and iPhone Notes
Internet connection when outside of wifi No tethering internet connection to a laptop or VOIP calling

Dave Just Got a New Phone

There was a time when, if you wanted telephone service, there was one model that AT&T leased to you.

Today, there’s no requirement that you and I must use the same phone when we talk to each other. Just as there’s no requirement that we must use the same email or IM client.

This weekend, Dave Slusher announced he left Twitter.

But not really.

I’m still receiving his messages at, just as I’m receiving Evil Genius Chronicles at

That’s the beauty of the platform-agnostic publishing Twitter showed us. How and where I publish a signal is as inconsequential as where your receive it.
The important thing is that the signal is received and appropriately responded to.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Now That It’s Either Obama or McCain….

The 2 parties have a 6-month opportunity to show the American public how serious they are about solving this country’s problems.

“…Spend 1/4 of the money [raised by the campaign] telling everyone how you’re using 1/2 of the money to help people. This proves that your Presidency will be about solving problems, because you’re not waiting to get elected to solve problems.”- Dave Winer

I have a hard time imagining people are waffling between the Obama or McCain. I have an even harder time imagining anything either of these campaigns do will pull people from the other camp (negative advertising, etc). Hell, I doubt there’s anything the RNC or DNC could do that would cause Bob Barr supporters to defect.

If there was. Anything. That could cause someone to switch affiliations between now and Nov. It would be using campaign dollars to solve problems today. Instead of betting that they won’t actually need to.


Tim Brunelle passed me the baton

    4 jobs I’ve had (and would be even less good at today):

  1. graphic design
  2. laser printer repair
  3. baling hay
  4. hand-milking sick cows
    4 places I’ve been (and anxiously await returning):

  1. Brussels
  2. Hamburg
  3. All those waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge
  4. That hill I used to spend winter afternoons hiking up and snowboarding down.
    4 bands or artists I am listening to:

  1. Lucero
  2. Centro-matic
  3. Two Cow Garage
  4. Gentle Reader
    4 of my favorite foods (that I either don’t or can’t eat anymore):

  1. Anything from Krispie Kreme
  2. Cake frosting on graham crackers
  3. Unpasteurized cheeses
  4. Sandwiches from the Acoustic Cafe in Menomonie, WI