Sunday, 9 August 2009

Shortly Over

“No business we approached wanted to purchase for even a minor amount.”

I appreciate’s honesty.

From what I understand,’s business model was similar to’s and – what increasingly feels like – Twitter’s business model: aggregate and sell statistics on how information is being shared on real-time basis.

Measuring word-of-mouse if you will.

Given how fleeting and how nascent the real-time stream is, it feels like trying to measure string pushing.

Sure there’s a result, but if value = effect - effort then the real value (relevance, importance, and significance) – doesn’t unfold until the pushing stops.

To that end – I don’t see’s (or any other URL shortener’s) breaking the internet for more than 5 minutes.

If anything this shutdown is a reminder that URL shorteners are cheap hacks apologizing for poor content-management-systems, network security risks, and that publishers should be shortening themselves.

Elsewhere, related:

“And when I return to the United States every three months or so and pick up a newspaper, I find I haven’t missed much at all.” – Pico Iyer

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.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Prepare Your Pocketbooks

“Launching a paytoplay service in the midst of free alternatives makes little sense…But there’s a lot more to the conversation.” – Aaron Mentele

Heh. That’s why the next web app I launch, I’m charging. A pile. Get ready cause, I’m looking at your pocketbook.

Seriously, if you want to get in on the action early, show me the money. At least 3 digits. I’m not so much looking for angels as lifetime account holders.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Blurring Identity to Clear It Up

“What if there was an agreed upon microformat…that would telegraph to others our capabilities, experience, strengths, knowledge and, especially, our availability to be hired?” – Steve Borsch

Must be something in the warm Janurary in MN air. A lunch earlier this week – unfortunately without Steve (need to remedy that) – was all about the need and value in increasing the visibility of expertise, availability, and reputation.

In a very primitive, rudimentary, and analog form – the barometer Steve asks about already exists; participation in peer communities like forums, professional organizations, and generally impressing people with how hard your rock – are all reputation builders and indicators. Primitive, because it’s still pretty hard to find people that can vouch for you. Google, LinkedIn, eBay, and the comments on your own blog, are all ways to others gauge your status.

For better or worse – all the measurement systems listed thus far are isolated and non-portable (pointing your eBay rating at a potential consulting client means little). Maybe I should dust off my Identity XML thinking. Managing access to a bunch of Identity.xml files sounds far more useful than YAIS (Yet Another Identity Silo).

Many of the attributes Steve lists in his question above are most accurately declared by others – verses self. The world…er…marketplace…creates my identity as much as I do.

So, Steve, I’ll declare what I know of you, if you declare what you know of me. 🙂

Re-reading this, I think RSS is the microformat in question.


“It took a few years, but it’s great to see software actually being built around the identities that aren’t vendor controlled.” – Dave Winer

I need to poke around MyOpenID.

Friday, 24 November 2006

First Crack 92. – The Home Improvement Social Network

Curbly - The DIY Design Community

Bruno Bornsztein, Ben Moore, and I talk about their recently launched project – – a social networking site for sharing DIY projects, tips, and finding help.

After we run through the site, we talk about;

  • Using agile web development processes and what Ben calls WWIBAN (What Would I Bitch About Next) to be “one day behind the future”.
  • The Ruby on Rails framework and the Ruby.MN developer group.

The follows my original profile of at

Listen to – The Home Improvement Social Network [23 min]

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

More and Less, More or Less

Overheard in a meeting today:

“You’re going to be less recipient and more participant.”

Seems like a pretty good description of how this media landscape is changing.

Friday, 15 September 2006

Success Equals Being Acquired and Losing Control?

Check out this one line in ZDNet’s coverage of TechCrunch’s Arrington web winners/losers list:

Winners (got acquired)

Now, I don’t know if that’s Arrington’s perspective (I suspect so) or ZDNet’s (also likely), either way the sentiment is disturbing.

If this is the mentality of the Valley, then I celebrate every project on the “Very Good Bets” list that has dismissed multi-million dollar buy out offers.

On a personal note, while I have stagnant accounts on many of projects on Arrington’s combined list, I actively only use 3; Skype, WordPress, RocketBoom.

Leading to me further question the items in his ‘Avoid’ list. I read the list to mean Arrington doesn’t see any room for game-changing innovation in those areas. Since I don’t actively use many of the existing offerings…I respectfully disagree.

Oh, yeah, and FeedSeeder will be an online feed reader.

I think I’ll follow Dave Slusher‘s lead and un-sub from the west coast Web 2.0 VC mentality.

Thursday, 10 August 2006

First Crack 83. Chris Dykstra, Zanby, and Social Networking

As part of my ongoing effort to highlight Minnesota-based internet startups, Chris Dykstra and I talk about the strengths and weakness of various social networks (evite, yahoo groups, meetup, linkedin), and how his Zanby is aiming to solve them. Namely – how a single person easily manage dozen of disparate and related groups.

Listen to Chris Dykstra on Zanby and social networks [22 min]

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Garrick Speaking at Civic League’s Future of Policy Making in MN Series

On August 22nd, as part of the Citizens Leagues’ 2006 Summer Policy Series, I’ll be joining Tom Swain, Jean LeVander King, Jen Alstad, and Steve Borsch for a conversation on the Future of the Web and Civic Engagement. Should be an interesting conversation – especially since it kicks off at 7:30am.

Here’s my initial thoughts on “myspace meeting our space” – more flushed out as the date approaches;

  1. Collaborative document tools like: Wikis, Writely, SubEthaEdit, WriteBoard – provide a place where groups can refine and revise their message prior to sharing it publicly & in a more structured way than blogging provides.
  2. The number of people with their own blogs will continue grow. Meaning, the information about what’s happening in a very small geographic area (i.e. my block) will continue to grow. For civic leaders this means 2 things; first – they may be expected to blog, second – a network of publishers to spread messages and engage others is ever growing.
  3. All of these technologies are but extensions of existing social behavior and the foundations of civic engagement. To me, that’s the most important bit.

Special thanks to Mike O’Connor for recommending me to Sean Kershaw at Citizens League for this conversation.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006