Thursday, 12 June 2008

I Bet It’s Self-Fulfilling

Back in May, Barry Ritholtz bet James Pethokoukis that we are in a recession.

From my view and the numbers I’ve seen, the downturn is concentrated in the housing sector. A good thing. Unfortunately, housing is a huge percentage of our overall GDP and it completely collapsed.

Reminds me of early 2001, when the tech sector collapsed and slowed down the economy. Other sectors (even specific areas within the tech sector) were still growing.

We’re fortunate that our economy is so diversified that when one area collapses, other sectors can soften the blow.

Taking me back to the bet between Ritholtz and Pethokoukis. I find the bet quite amusing for two reasons;

  1. How specific the bounds are in defining “winning”. Because anything less specific is the equivalent to “I know it when I see it.”
  2. That the amount of money spent by the “loser”. It could easily approach, if not surpass, the ‘economic stimulus’ tax rebates. An amount designed to get us out of any recession we might be in.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

First Green Light for High-Speed MSP – MKE – ORD AMTRAK

Big thanks to Tom Elko over at the Minnesota Independent for bringing me the best transit news I’ve heard all year.

“The House of Representatives easily approved the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act….legislation authorizes $14 billion in appropriations to modernize and expand passenger rail…includes $850 million in grant money to fund high-speed rail initiatives.”

The promise of cutting 2.5hrs off a trip to Chicago, while not driving myself and not being stuck in the Illinois Tollway Parking Lot is pretty attractive.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Twitter: Build a Revenue Stream on Dunbar’s Number

The problem with many of the suggestions on how Twitter should charge1,2,3 is they put the emphasis on the wrong problem. The problem isn’t on the publication side (number of ‘tweets’ written by any individual), it’s on the distribution side (delivering the ‘tweets’ to their ‘followers’).

A simple equation to understand this ‘spew’ problem.

Message x Number of Followers = Total Number of Messages Sent

As of this writing I have 521 followers, so everytime I hit ‘update’ I’m sending 521 messages. and I’m no Scoble (>26,000 followers as of this writing). 26,000+ messages with each update.

The same math applies to email4 – why it’s a bad idea to send large attachments to a large number of people – but, due to the distributed nature of email, it’s less of an issue.

Unlike email, the message senders aren’t the ones specifying recipients. The recipients are initiating the relationship.

Scoble isn’t to blame. If anyone is, it’s each of the 26,000+ people that have explicitly clicked ‘follow’ on Scoble’s profile.

I’m a big fan of charging at the point of value, and the point of value here is real-time updates from Scoble.

Amie Street determines the price of a song by it’s popularity. Get in early – it’s free, be the last to hear it and pay $0.98.

It’d be interesting to implement the same model on Twitter.

Since Twitter is about personal connections, I’ll propose tiering the price on multiples of Dunbar’s Number. $1/150 followers, starting at #151.

Here’s how that breaks down:

  1. Greg Swan; 838 followers, $5.59 to be the next follower
  2. Chris Brogan; 9,104 followers, $60.70 to be the next follower
  3. Dave Winer; 10,282 followers, $68.55 to be the next follower
  4. Scoble; 26,842 followers, $178.95 to be the next follower

Me? I’m a bargain at $3.48. 😉

Three things I find very interesting about this idea:

  1. it turns following into a market – which at these volumes is what it is – more on that here.
  2. it might result in getting more of these kind of Twitter accounts and fewer of these
  3. Like all cool things about Twitter, they don’t need to build this for it to exist.


“Well I’ve got [a solid business model for Twitter], and it’s quite simple. Allow accounts to charge to be followed. A one time fee, or a subscription. Twitter takes a cut, say 30% like the Apple app store. ” – Jim Gilliam

1. “In Twitter’s Scoble Problem”, a Business Model by Om Malik
2. Possible Twitter Business Model: Charge Leets, Not Tweets!
– Bex Huff

3. “A business model for Twitter: Pay up” – Dan Farber
4. This is probably why Twitter won’t be supporting payloads anytime soon.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Tweet Up with Jon Gordon, Happy Gnome, 5pm+, June 9 2008

Jon Gordon from APM’s Future Tense will be in the Twin Cities for a few days next week.

If you want to say ‘Hi’ and your golf game isn’t what it could be, come by the Happy Gnome sometime after 5pm on Monday June 9 and grab a pint of Bender or Bubble Jack.

Should be easy to spot a gaggle of geeks.

I was going to add this to Facebook, but they want 23 fields filled out for the 1 line I needed and I didn’t know how to categorize, “stop by and say ‘hi’, maybe grab a drink.” If you’re so inclined, go for it.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Fermenting: Lefse Blonde

I bottled up the Hefeweisen on Saturday, and after cleaning everything up, the carboy looked so empty and alone. So, Sunday night, I brewed up a batch of Northern Brewer‘s Lefse Blonde (equiv. to a Belgian Abbey Blonde Ale yummmm).

Watching the fermenters boil (6lbs of Bliess Pilsen malt extract and 1lb of soft Blond candi sugar) was the most entrancing thing I’ve seen since iTunes introduced visualizations.

Everything went according to the instructions, down to cutting the heat to prevent a boil over when I threw in the ounce and a half of hops. Gradually bringing the heat back while stirring comfortingly brought everything under control.

I’m already enjoying this batch more than the Hefeweizen, just look at how rich the color and density of this fermentation.

Update July 18, 2008
I popped open the first bottle of the Lefse Blonde tonight. It was very close to exactly what I was hoping for. I would like it to be just a bit crisper. That may mean more hops next time around. Either way, this one was far more enjoyable and ‘on style’ than the Hefe Weizen.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Podcasting is My Co-Pilot

I’ve been making regular trips across the metro lately, the time in the car and all the road construction detours are perfect for podcast listening. Via a recommendation from Dean Allen, I grabbed Stephen Fry’s Podgrams. I quite enjoy all Fry’s work, from Jeeves & Wooster though to his appearances on Bones1. His podgrams are on the whole, too English for me. I’ve skipped the first and second more than a couple times, but his third, ‘Wallpaper’ sucked me in. In it, he transported me from I-94 West-bound to 5th St. in NYC watching Empire State Building rise from the review window of a taxi.

Today, on the way home from a cancelled meeting, I listened to Dave Slusher’s May 31, 2008 Clambake. In addition to re-inspiring me to hit the record button, it was nice to catch up with Dave. If you need an example of how a podcast can deliver a person to you, listen to this one. By his closing song, I swore Dave was sitting in my passenger seat.

1. Anyone else notice the intro riff of Bones’ theme song used to be the intro riff of Numb3rs? Everytime I hear it, I think, “We all use bones everyday.”

Project Launch: Sun Support Center

I just got word the new Sun Support Center launched. This was one of the first information architecture projects I worked on after returning from leave earlier this year. A couple of things I like about how it turned out:

  1. It brings /support inline with the templates used for /products, /services, and /solutions.
  2. There’s a clear indicator differentiating free and for-fee areas of the site.
  3. Community-support; forums, open-source, etc is prominent – though it didn’t make the crop 😉

Thanks and congrats to everyone on the team. It’s always great to see a project launch.