Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

This&That: Beyond Blogging; Take the man out of Manhattan; Beet TV; OutCast dinner; Blake leaves WetFeet and PR; Personal APIs; The Net DVD release

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 22, 2006

[I've caught one of those stomach bugs and am a bit low to the ground at the moment, but the blog must be fed(!)]

Last week I was with Chris Heueur over at the de Young, we were trying to do a podcast but it was surprisingly busy and this was a mid-week afternoon. So we popped back to his place in Duboce Triangle and recorded the podcast there on his deck in the gorgeous sunshine, in between pauses in his neighbor's lawn mowing activities.

It was a great conversation and Chris is using some of it for an event in Washington.D.C. called "Beyond Blogging 2006: The future of communications." (I didn't realises there was anything beyond blogging :-)

. . .

You can take the man out of Manhattan...and put him in Mountain View. That's what I learned last week when I met with Joshua Schachter, the founder of, the social bookmarking site. It explained why he had that New Yorker's expression on his face which can be summed up as slightly horrified.

On learning Mr Schachter's plight, I offered my condolences. He said he was still looking for decent restaurants in Mountain View, and he had heard that some places might even be open until midnight.

He told me he had spent 10 years in Manhattan and loved the place. After Yahoo acquired his company, he moved to Silicon Valley. "At least people here have heard of"

He says that Yahoo people ask a lot of questions but let him run the business group as he pleases. Yahoo provides the technical infrastructure, which is a big help. I couldn't get too much out of Mr Schachter on the record, but he says to look out for an interesting announcement this summer.

. . .

I recently spoke with Andy Plesser, from New York based Plesser Holland Associates and he tells me his video blogging venture over at Beet TV is doing well. One of his latest posts features Silicon Valley's most famous publisher, Tony Perkins, now at AlwaysOn.

And you might even see myself on Beet.TV very soon...

. . .

The Outcast CEO dinner last week is always an event worth attending. It didn't have quite the same energy as last year, but a lot interesting people showed up. I got to catch up with one of my favs, Satish Dharmaraj from Zimbra.

And the dinner-time show was provided byPeter Hirshberg from Technorati. Mr Hirshberg's presentation was funny and very insightful. I particularly loved his "Who wants to be a VC" a video that featured a group of 11 year old girls presenting business ideas to each other and deciding on who would get funding. I have an 11 year old daughter, Sarah, so I can relate very well. BTW, I recommend VC firms hiring a few 11 year old girls as consultants--they asked better questions than some of the real VCs :-)

. . .

I was sorry to hear Blake Barbera, is leaving the PR industry. Blake's WetFeetPR blog rapidly became one of the best sites on the subject of PR. Good luck in your next job Blake!

The future of PR is in the hands of Blake's generation and often it is these younger people in the PR agencies that know more about this emerging world of new media/new communications than their older colleagues. They haven't yet been taught what can and cannot be done, and they often have unique insights on PR and some of its ludicrous and wasteful practices.

. . .

I was thinking about how everybody seems to have a different way of communicating with the world. Some prefer email, others swear by instant messaging. I think we should all publish our own API to the world.

In the same way that an API (Application Programming Interface) tells software developers how an application or web service interacts with other software/services, a personal API would do the same.

I'm not sure what the right format to express a personal API would be but mine would be something like this:
Tom Foremski API

Email: Good but because of volume I sometimes miss emails and other times it can take days to answer. You can resend to make sure I saw it but please no phone calls. I have to impose daily email blackout periods of several hours at a time because I need uninterrupted time to write.
IM: Don't use it.
Cell phone: Good, please use especially when urgent or time related. It's okay to call anytime, I will answer if I can.
Desk phone: I don't give out this number.
Meetings: I like meetings and prefer them instead of email or phone in establishing relationships.
FAX: I don't use it.
Mail: Only for checks.

. . .

The Other Cinema recently released "The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet." It's an interesting documentary by a German team and it's fascinating to see how our tech culture in Silicon Valley/Bay Area became intertwined with that of a serial killer.

There are some great interviews in the DVD extra section. Stewart Brand and John Brockman offer several interesting stories on how part of the the computer industry became affected by the counter-culture movement in the early 1960s and the connection to the Beat writers.

For a really unique insight into the Internet, its creation and organization, the interview with Paul Garrin is fascinating and well worth buying the DVD to see. Mr Garrin has a truly unique perspective and his insights certainly set me thinking about things Internet-related in new ways.
From the description of "The Net."

This exquisitely crafted inquiry into the rationale of this mythic
figure situates him within a late 20th Century web of technology – a
system that he grew to oppose. A marvelously subversive approach to the
history of the Internet, this insightful documentary combines
speculative travelogue and investigative journalism to trace
contrasting counter cultural responses to the cybernetic revolution.

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