Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Micro-vicious Circles

After 3 years, nearly 1500 updates, exploration from many angles, numerous conversations, and wastebaskets full of crumpled analysis, I’m proud to say, I grok Twitter. Like I’ve never grokked it before1.

I also know why Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, et al, are better* than WordPress, Blogger, MovableType, etc.

And it’s completely the blog-engines’ fault. They’re some how locked into what a ‘blog’ is.

It’s not.

While I share Dave’s complaints2, I feel any free, hosted service has the same primary issue – people with accounts have no leverage in service availability.


and all my data is gone and I’m at the mercy of someone else’s feature set. I’m not comfortable with that. Not for my writing.

1. Hint – I’ve got a blog. The difference between this blog and something like Twitter – especially Friendfeed – is smaller than you think.

2. Dave, interesting note – the people I have lunch with are on Twitter. I suspect the people you have lunch with are on FriendFeed. Though – how we schedule lunch is less important than actually having lunch. I have a Friendfeed account primarily for your stuff that I personally preferred you published @ EGC, but either way, I pipe it through Cullect.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Home is Where the Blog Is

Back in June of ’08, I wrote a (relatively-speaking) lot here. Writing here is much more satisfying than almost any of my neigh 5k 160-character updates. Aside from the obvious freedom-to-be-verbose and control over visual presentation, and self-archiving, here is satisfying. Here is home.

Elsewhere isn’t.

When you comment here – it feels neighborly.

Elsewhere it feels like shouting at each other over the din.

While the updates here may be short (or long), this blog has regained write-of-first-refusal over other places.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Opening Line

Over the weekend, when the boy and I were out and about, we shared the following exchange – on each and every occasion.

(automatic doors opens)

“Papa, are those doors magic?”

“Any sufficiently advanced technology, son…any sufficiently advanced technology….”

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Wrong Stuff

“When software works, it all looks the same. When it doesn’t work, it all looks different.”

“How’s that?…Fella, I said, How’s that?”

“When software doesn’t work, it all looks scared.”

(apologies to Tom Wolfe)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Monday, 10 November 2008

Failing to Scale

Years ago, Google did something brave, bold, and innovative. They opened up GMail to a miniscule number of people and gave them a couple handfuls of invites to share with others. At the time, I assumed that strategy was as much about marketing as about scaling the service up. These days – when the tiniest, most obscure, single-use web apps are ‘closed’, invite-only, betas – this pure marketing strategy has become a parody of itself.

Cause every web apps thinks it needs to manage hockey stick growth out of the gate. Um. No.

When Twitter started, they did something more innovate and bold. They didn’t go invite. They went Fail Whale.

Open the doors, let everyone dance. When the servers stop, restart them.

No need to build and manage a temporary invite system – put those energies into solving performance problems.

“Building something people want is much harder than scaling it….If you solve the what-people-want problem, they’ll use you no matter how bad your interface is, how slow your site is, just give them somewhere worth waiting for.” – Matt Mullenweg

Invite-only launches aren’t a marketing strategy or a scaling strategy. It’s an arrogant strategy betraying how useless the actual web app is.

If the strategy is to be arrogant – at least charge for it.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

I Think We Got All 4

Remember, a few months ago when crude oil was at it’s highest (Unleaded hit >$4 in my neighborhood) and natural gas was spiking as well?

Considering both are falling (Unleaded is currently $1.85 in my neighborhood), both are sold in US Dollars on the world market, and the US Dollar is trading at it’s highest value in 8 months, I’ve been wondering what’s been so dramatically changing the value of $1 over the course of the year.

While I’m still looking for an answer, I thought this 2 year old blog post was quite prescient.

“…let’s hope Democrats can take the White House in 2008 through good politics and good policy rather than from a crash on Wall Street and a stagnating economy.” – Mark Thoma – University of Oregon, Dept of Econ – on Monday, December 4, 2006

This is the great thing about the proliferation of blogging and good search engines. Separating relevance from timeliness.

Thoma quotes a Robert Reich posts that describes how Hank Paulson’s been playing chicken with the Chinese (via interest rates) for at least 2 years. Smells close, but not quite it.

13 Levels of Engagement: Football Edition

There are a small number of NFL games I watch each season. Sunday’s Vikings vs. Packers game always makes the list. Sitting in the comfort of my own home – just a couple miles from where this down-to-the-wire game was played – my mind wondered how engaged I was in the game.

I sketched out this scale:

  1. Reading about the game
  2. Writing about the game
  3. Listening to commentary on the game
  4. Watching the game on television
  5. Commentating on the game
  6. Changing your clothes for the game
  7. Betting on the game
  8. Watching from the stands
  9. Watching from the bench
  10. Refereeing the game
  11. Coaching the game
  12. Playing the game
  13. Being the ball

(I’m a 4. Even my son’s a 6.)

Notice the further down the scale we go, the fewer the number of people participating and the greater their participation.

Seems consistent with the 1% power law behind Wikipedia.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Financial Shock: The Bad Decisions that Got Us Here

Financial Shock A 360º Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion, and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis is an amazing read.

Amazing for 2 reasons:

  1. It was published in early 2008 and
  2. is covering – in-depth – the issues the news media is just now picking up on – e.g. the Fed nearly bailed out Bears Stearns a year ago – in 2007 – when 2 of their big hedge funds collapsed.1

Our financial institutions, like our economy, are complex and global in reach. Zandi does a fantastic job of navigating that complexity and arguing that it wasn’t a single decision, or policy change, that caused the collapse, it was many Really Bad Decisions.

I’ve been dog-ear-ing the pages containing jaw-droppingly bad decisions, easily a third of page have their corners down.

Here’s just 3:

  • CDOs
  • ARM
  • Negative Amortized Mortgages

1. Stearn’s said, ‘No thanks. We’ll handle it internally.’ Add this to the Bad Ideas List.

9 Things Cullect Taught Me About Software

  • Forcing people to create an account to use your software is a bug.
  • if you’re not scared to deploy, you’ve stopped caring.
  • Murphy is alive and well.
  • Google and a bookself of technical books can be equally useless.
  • Good software is like an iceberg.
  • if you ask for money, people will give it to you.
  • Software is as hard as you make it. Don’t.
  • Most features can be removed and no one will notice.
  • A great project will eat everything in it’s path.