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

CultureWatch Archives

CultureWatch: A Crowded Bus All To Myself

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When I was commuting to Menlo Park last year my journey would start on the San Francisco 38 Geary bus. It was always crowded and I’d be fortunate to squeeze in.

I remember one particular gorgeous sunny morning and I’m on a very crowded bus. I look around and everyone’s eyes are on their phones.  

I’m one of the tallest on the bus yet I don’t see a single person — across the entire double-length bus — looking up or around. Everyone’s eyes are down — subservient — I can’t meet anyone’s gaze at all.

I’m thinking, wow! I have this whole bus to myself. Everyone’s mind is somewhere else.

I love this photo of Marc Zuckerberg strolling with a huge grin through a large auditorium where everyone is wearing VR goggles except him.

It amuses me to think that Zuckerberg wants reality all for himself —  a private domain — while everyone else is immersed in manufactured virtual realities.  Just like he buys up houses next to his so no one can see into his world.  



Zuckerberg’s goal is to have 1 billion people in virtual reality writes Dean Takahashi in VentureBeat:

“We all have limits to our reality, and opening up more of those experiences to all of us is not isolating,” [Zuckerberg] said. “It is freeing.”


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I’m discovering a new appreciation for reality — the original kind. I like its razor-sharp definition, it has many levels of challenging gameplay plus the tactile feedback is exquisite.  Reality — it’s the real thing — the others are made by others. 

The Crunchies: An Aspirational Fantasy Of Startup Diversity; Plus Chelsea Peretti's App Ideas


Chelsea Peretti (above) a comedic actress, introduced the 10th Annual Crunchies — awards celebrating startups and VCs in Silicon Valley — and managed some decent jokes poking fun at the techie audience and coming up with some great app ideas. (The final one is a killer app — people will need full-cycle tracking of nutrients to create total body datasets. See my video here.)

Diversity was once again the bold theme of the event as seen in the careful selections of the nominees for the awards. Time and again the stage was filled with winners: startup teams of mixed color and gender. 

People viewing from outside Silicon Valley would be tremendously impressed that our young startups are so progressive and clearly want to build the future the right way.

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HBO Comedian Loves That Silicon Valley Can't Take A Joke


The winter issue of CNET Magazine is out and comedian T.J. Miller is on the cover and featured in an interview.

Miller is one of the characters in HBO’s sitcom Silicon Valley. In the interview he says,

I consider everybody who takes themselves seriously to be a little bit off,” Miller says. “And Silicon Valley seems to be the most effusive about how important their contributions are to society.

Miller proved his point last year when he hosted The Crunchies awards and upset many in the audience with his jokes about startups and the organizers said he would not be asked back.

Please see: The Crunchies’ Bitchgate: High Horses With Fake Unicorn Horns Ignore Decades Of Silicon Valley Misogyny -SVW

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What race is your AI? Obama discussion adds politics to tech



Above photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos for WIRED

Joi Ito, head of the prestigious MIT Media Lab told President Obama he is concerned that the core development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is being built by a “mostly white” and “predominately male gang of kids."

Ito's remarks were made at a recent meeting with Barack Obama and Scott Dadich, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine. They have been published here: Barack Obama on Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Cars, and the Future of Humanity | WIRED

Ito said:

This may upset some of my students at MIT, but one of my concerns is that it's been a predominately male gang of kids, mostly white, who are building the core computer science around AI.

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Culture Watch: Board Game 'Settlers of Catan' Has A Cult Following In Silicon Valley

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Photo from 

Guest Post: By Janet Miller — a board game addict, habit scientist, former Silicon Valley executive and cofounder of Jen Reviews.

Settlers of Catan Settlers of Catan was one of the first European games to gain popularity in the U.S., and has been called “the board game of our time" by the Washington Post

Settlers has gone from being a Monopoly style game set in an island valley to a social, cult-attracting capitalist paradise. If you don't play, you're not going to fit in with the crowd of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The game is very popular in Silicon Valley — here’s some suggestions why:

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The Limits On Big Data On Dating In Building Diversity At Work

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Romantic relationships, and a person's relationship with their work, would seem to be too distant and the experience too different to be comparable, yet eHarmony believes its success with the lonely can be put to use to make happier workplaces, and match people with jobs they love.

And if eHarmony's algorithms could also help build more diversity in the workplace, there are many Silicon Valley companies that would love to place an order because this has become a very hot topic and there's no quick solution.

I spoke with Dr. Steve Carter who heads the recently launched eHarmony venture: Elevated Careers. He says the same data science, derived from eHarmony's many years in the dating and mating scene, are applicable to our relationship with work.

Carter says the same methods for predicting romantic bliss can predict compatibility between worker and workplace.

Over the years, eHarmony's analysis of its Big Data on dating, has been honed to such a degree that it can claim a very precise, "438 marriages per day on eHarmony."

If it can bring a fraction of that accuracy to predict a person's job satisfaction,  Elevated Careers will have made a start on its mission of repairing, "A broken recruitment model that costs US businesses $11 billion a year."

Could the same data science be used to help employers make their workplaces more diverse? Could Elevated Careers match people's diversity with compatibility in the workplace? Many Silicon Valley companies are searching for ways to add more diversity by increasing numbers of women, minorities, etc.

"Oh no, we stay away from that type of protected information," says Carter. "We focus on helping each person find a workplace with a high level of compatibility with the company's culture, the hiring manager, and shared attitude towards work."

Elevated Careers can't help build diverse workplaces because it is illegal for a company, or its agents, to discriminate in its hiring practices, based on a candidate's qualities of diversity, rather than job qualifications.

But on a dating site, it is perfectly legal to filter candidates based on ethnicity, gender, size, shape, religion, sexual orientation, looks, color of hair, color of eyes, height and age. It is not racist or sexist when it's used for dating because all these individual preferences are essential in predicting relationship success.

Because eHarmony says that what works in dating also works in predicting success in professional relationships, the best analysis of workplace compatibility would be with all available measurable traits of a person's diversity incorporated into the Elevated Careers algorithm. But that would be illegal.

Elevated Careers can't use eHarmony's vast archives of relationship data; and it can't use the lessons learned in compatibility between people.  Its algorithms would be attacked as racist and sexist if used to measure job compatibility.  This means Elevated Careers begins life with a big job ahead in collecting all the people and workplace data it needs to prove its approach will work.

For example, to predict job compatibility, Elevated Careers needs to survey a significant number of each company's workers independently of the employer, so that a true and honest assessment of culture and job satisfaction can be made, and then matched. 

It's going to take a while for it to build a large enough dataset, adjust its predictive algorithms, and start helping people find a happier relationship with work.

Elevated Careers has a worthwhile mission, and it might improve some workplaces just from the jump in self-awareness that each company will experience when considering questions about its culture, and why it has such a high staff turnover.  

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Visual San Jose Photo Contest Focuses On Historic Images


Credit: San Jose Mercury

Charles DiLisio is a prominent Silicon Valley photographer focused on preserving the region's history. He tells me there's a new photo contest: Visual San Jose

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Predictive Technologies Will Transform Humans From Buyers To Beings...

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[A Saturday Post... The future is already here — it just needs some connecting dots...]

If we take our technologies of personalization and predictive business analytics to their ultimate conclusion, in the future we won't need marketing or consumers. Products will just show up at your door.

Inside the box, the shirt or whatever the thing is, everything about it will be perfect: a perfect fit, perfect style, perfect color, perfect price — and perfect timing.

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Edelman: Global Loss Of Trust Is Bad For Silicon Valley Innovation

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CEO Richard Edelman (center) discusses "trust" at a Churchill Club event in 2013.

Public trust in business has plunged across the world and is harming consumer acceptance of innovation, according to a survey of 27,000 people in 27 countries by Edelman, the world's largest PR firm.

The 15th Annual Edelman Trust Barometer found levels of trust in business, government, media, and NGOs had sunk below 50% — a crucial marker — in the US, UK, Germany and Japan,  in two-thirds of countries surveyed. Public trust in business had been a rising trend in prior years and represented a recovery from the financial crisis of 2008/9.  

The release of the Trust Barometer report is timed to the same week as the World Economic Forum's Davos conference.  CEO Richard Edelman (above) is always very active at Davos as a speaker and presenter.

For the first time, the survey asked the public questions about their perception of innovation. Very few, (24%) accept the idea that innovation is making the world a better place. Arun Sudhaman at Holme's Report, called it a "blow to Silicon Valley."

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Divorcing Personal Tech From Fashion —'Wearables' Need To Be 'Invisibles'

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The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is featuring a lot of "wearables" reports Techcrunch (above) (which all seem to be smart watches).

Foremski's Take: All the fuss over Apple Watch will certainly help sell a lot of watches - regular and smart. I recently started wearing a normal watch.

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No Private Bus Or Free Lunch - Weber Shandwick Named A 'Best Place To Work'

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Updated: December 1 — PRWeek named Weber Shandwick a Best Place To Work 2014 - Large Agency, for the second year in a row.

I've been spending a lot of time in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, working with teams on Weber Shandwick's Mediaco venture, which is helping companies become media companies.

This week Ad Age named Weber Shandwick as one of the best places to work. As an independent observer of only one large Weber Shandwick office, I can attest that everyone is hard driving but super nice with each other and with everyone else. 

I can also attest that there are no private buses whisking staff to work, there are no celebrity chefs in the office kitchens, and there's no free lunch or Blue Bottle coffee for the staff. Tech company HR managers would be aghast.

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Will Silicon Valley 'Disconnect to Reconnect' On October 4?


Matthew Reinhold writes:

I want to tell you a little about our project. It's a movement that asks for Oct. 4, to be the day for disconnect to reconnect. A gathering group of mostly Californians, feel overly accessible and need a second to catch their breath, enter the 'Day of Disconnect.'

As Silicon Valley tirelessly endeavors to simplify our lives though tech and innovation, is it possible that with telecom's constant interruption, the creativity's flow might hindered? Maybe this 24 hours of peace can lead to the next Uber, AirBnB or Tindr? 

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No Mention Of Innovation At TC Disrupt?

This week at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference, it seems that "innovation" has been lost in a discussion about disruptive companies.

John Biggs reported:

Investment bankers Bill Hambrecht and Clayton Christensen took to the Disrupt SF stage today to defend the concepts of disruption and to address the ways the Valley predicted the future of financial services and technology.

"'Disruption' is, at its core, a really powerful idea," [Christensen] said. "Everyone hijacks the idea to do whatever they want now. It's the same way people hijacked the word 'paradigm' to justify lame things they're trying to sell to mankind.

"The Original Disruptor, Clayton Christensen, And VC Bill Hambrecht Talk About The Theory Of Disruption | TechCrunch

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Friday Night Market On Mid-Market Street A Big Hit - Mayor And Supes Attend

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The new Friday market on mid-Market Street was a big hit with hundreds of people enjoying drinks, food trucks, and shopping eclectic stalls on a warm autumn evening. Mayor Ed Lee and several supervisors arrived, too. I managed to speak briefly with the Mayor about some of the tech community issues and urged him to integrate the tech community and not keep it segregated. He agreed and said the Friday market was a step in that direction.


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CNET's 'Vexed in the City' Series Examines SF's Divisive Tech Boom


CNET's reporters have published a series of articles under the title "Vexed in the City" examining the pressures on housing and community caused by the expansion of San Francisco's population of tech workers.

There are ten articles in the special report including an interview with Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce by CNET Executive Editor Charles Cooper:

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Businessweek Defends Silicon Valley And Its 'Bro' Culture


There's a lot of backlash out there around Silicon Valley and I think it's largely because of the hypocrisy in techies claiming to be changing the world yet they can't change anything in the very places where they live.

Silicon Valley cities and schools face the same problems and high drop out rates that others face around the nation. What's the point of communities living with tech companies if there's little benefit? Twitter demands huge tax relief in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco. 

Silicon Valley's halitosis of hypocrisy stinks and it is becoming a laughing stock. Mike Judge's "Silicon Valley" on HBO is very funny -- because it's very true.

Joel Stein at Businessweek comes to the defense of Silicon Valley and its predominately male techies in this month's cover story. However, he ends up reinforcing many negative perceptions of Silicon Valley rather than changing them. Here are some extracts:

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Berkeley Memorial For Its 'Fearless Scientist' Alexander Shulgin - Psychedelic Drug Creator And Activist

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Saturday, August 2, there was a memorial service for Berkeley-born chemist Alexander Shulgin, who died recently aged 88. Mike Power, reporting for the Guardian newspaper (above) described his work as "fearless" because 

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Tales From Off-The-Bus: Original Ideas Come From Original Experiences...

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I'm adamant that San Francisco shouldn't be allowed to be made into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley's business parks. Original ideas require original experiences and companies should take advantage of that and not force their staff onto a bus and ship them to a central holding facility for the day.

San Francisco offers a treasure trove of original experiences. Silicon Valley staff should be told to stay off the bus, telecommute, and get out and about. It'll generate new experiences and possibly new ideas. The same experience every day, waiting for your cubicle to pick you up, won't generate anything new.

Why do we have hundreds of To-Do list apps, Email managers, calendars, get-food-delivered apps...? There's a cornucopia of mundane and me-too apps. Original ideas come from original experiences. Watching the world on Youtube or from a bus window doesn't work. You have to be in it which is a good thing.

By staying off the bus the tech workers become integrated into their neighborhoods. If they stay off the bus their neighbors might even get to know them.

City or company culture?

Inclusion works better for communities than division. The tech workers might even notice some city problems and come up with an app for that.

Separation works better for establishing company culture and that's why Google and the others do it. It never used to be cool to be seen as a "company man" or woman. Eating at the company store and hanging with the company all day, and only using company services. That's a cultural win for Google et al, because that was not considered remotely cool for many decades.

Can the needs of corporate culture trump community culture? Maybe, but in the long term community needs will always win out over the demands of company culture and that's what city officials will ultimately choose. Because company culture is in its very nature and reason for existence, divisive and not inclusive. That's not a good thing especially for a city, where every kind of people have to live together and learn how to sort out problems together.

[London is an excellent example of how the culture has managed to teach people from so many countries, how to peacefully live together, marry together, and create a future together. The UK media deserves much of the credit.]

Please see:  

San Francisco's Incredible History Of Media Innovation -SVW

 San Francisco's Culture War With Silicon Valley's Cubicle Culture -SVW

San Francisco: An Epicenter Of Creativity -SVW

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CultureWatch: Internet Archive Celebrates Nuala Creed's 100 Ceramic 'Archivists'

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The Internet Archive is housed in a wonderful San Francisco building that used to be a Christian Science church. In the pews along both sides of the large, skylight-lit auditorium, there is always a congregation: half-sized ceramic figures representing 100 "archivists" -- people that contributed at least three years of service to the non-profit organization.  

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Gray Area Arts Finds New Home In Old Mission Theater


I'm a big fan of the Gray Area Foundation For The Arts (GAFFTA) and its projects, which generally try to link the art and tech worlds of San Francisco, along  with an awareness of the challenges facing urban residents of all incomes and backgrounds.  GAFFTA has found a new home (2665 Mission Street, above) after several exhausting short-term moves. Co-founder Peter Hirschberg announced on Facebook:

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Exploratorium Raises $1.5m - Exceeds Goal

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I popped into the Exploratorium's recent fund raising gala and was told the event had raised $1.5 million, $300K more than it expected. Which is fabulous news because there were some job cuts last year.

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You Have To See This: Centro's CEO On The Business Case For Happiness

This video is superb and I can't stop playing it: Shawn Riegsecker, CEO and founder of Centro, explains at a 2013 TechWeek event in Chicago, why he focused his company's culture on the happiness of its employees.

It's working: Centro has become a giant in the hot ad tech sector. With more than 500 staff and over $300m in revenues it is Chicago's fastest growing tech company. 

His staff attrition rate is an unbelievable 4% a year. He has no HR problems. Centro has now won "Best place to work" four years in a row -- no company has ever won the accolade twice in a row, in any city.

Please see: Centro: Chicago's Ad Tech Giant Aims To Revive Journalism -SVW

Celebrating The Life Of Daniel Jabbour: An Intersection Of Psychedelics, Activism And Technology


The Psychedelic Society of San Francisco announced the sudden death of its 30 year old founder, Daniel Jabbour, a well known software engineer and political activist. 

There will be a memorial celebration April 19th at 11.30 AM at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park.

Daniel founded the society in November 2011 and it currently has 1674 members. There's a strong connection between psychedelics and Silicon Valley, please see: The Steve Jobs Way: Intersecting Psychedelics And Technology -SVW

Daniel was a passionate political activist on drug policy and spoke at many events. There are videos of his talks on his channel:  Daniel Jabbour - YouTube

Daniel loved volunteering with “Hack the Future,” an organization that teaches kids to code. Here's an account of Daniel at the most recent Hack the Future event, written by one of his colleagues at Amoeba Consulting, where Daniel worked. 

The event was held in the brand new tech studio, a "hands on" discovery area at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. The event brought together a hundred kids with makers throughout Silicon Valley including programmers, game developers, designers, web developers and engineers.

Amoeboid Daniel Jabbour led the web and javascript table- helping kids to get into programming. He supplied them with some basic project starting points and let them discover for themselves what they could accomplish with programming by designing their own blogs and games such as pong and chess. Daniel commented, "for me, it was so fun to help a table full of kids write pong, in javascript, in an afternoon... sitting a hundred feet away from the creator of Pong, Al Alcorn (another mentor at the event)."

Throughout the day, they guided kids through the design process, and helped with whatever they wanted to design- from defining the problems, thinking about their users, coming up with design goals, ideating, sketching, to rapid prototyping for both product and application designs.

Such a great day...

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CultureWatch: The Fading Fashion Of Google Glass - Too Gauche For Social


Sarah Slocum’s recent experience at Molotov’s, a lower Haight Street bar where an irate drinker snatched her Google Glass off her face, did a lot to boost her popularity as TV and newspapers covered the incident. But the association with someone who called the incident a hate crime,  has not been good for Google Glass.

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To Give Or Not To Give: The Stingiest Gazillionaires - Bezos, Page, Ballmer...

Inside Philanthropy magazine has a fascinating list of the top philanthropists in the tech industry (you'll be surprised at who is at the top: Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, the original founders of Cisco Systems).

It also includes the six "least generous" (a generous way to say, "the couldn't care less ") tech billionaires.

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Commonwealth Club Events: Matt Taibbi, Jared Diamond, Nicholas Carr, Jeremy Rifkin, Evgeny Morozov And Archduke Of Austria!

I’m looking forward to seeing Matt Taibbi, a scathing critic of Wall Street, at The Commonwealth Club April 10 in San Francisco. He recently left Rolling Stone and joined Pierre Omidyar’s $250m media group First Look, which I persist in calling OMG!

There’s lot’s more great events coming up. These caught my eye:

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Is Our Technology Making Us Autistic? Be Here Right Now...


This ad for  Autism Speaks at a San Francisco bus stop reminded me of an excerpt from an article written by Curt Woodward, senior editor at  Xconomy, about the lack of eye-contact within Google’s top echelon:

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The Motorized Standing Desk - The Iconic Symbol Of This Startup Boom

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In the late 1990s , the Herman Miller Aeron chair (below) became the symbol of the startup boom because it seemed that every startup office had them. They weren't cheap, around $900 each, but they were, and still are, very stylish. Nobody knew at the time that chairs were silent killers.

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'Library Of Alexandria 2.0' Asks For Help To Recover From Fire

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The Internet Archive in San Francisco is asking for help in recovering from a two-alarm fire that caused more than $600,000 in damage.

The archive often compares its mission to that of the famous library of Alexandria, Egypt, destroyed by fire more than 2,000 years ago. It underscores that connection with mirror servers located in Alexandria. 

Sarah B. reporting for RichmondSFBlog:

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Are Fabulous Work Perks Needed For Top Talent? Google Says 'No'

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(Above from left) Doug MacMillan, Bloomberg; Melissa Daimler, Twitter; Rowan Trollope, Cisco Systems; and Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google.

There’s enormous competition for software engineers and many companies offer an ever larger array of work perks convinced that it will help them recruit the best.

Kathleen Pender at reports: Tech, social media employers offer perks aplenty 

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The Atlantic's 50 'Greatest Innovations' Misses The Greatest One


Gastronomy at the San Francisco Exploratorium.

The Atlantic’s columnist James Fallows recently listed the top 50 innovations by polling “a panel of 12 scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, historians of technology, and others.”

Strangely, I counted only 11 panelists (math wasn’t on the list), which included Silicon Valley VC John Doerr;  Joi Ito from MIT Media Lab; and the perennial favorite of every editor: whoever happens to be around the office at the time, which in this case was The Atlantic’s senior editor Alexis Madrigal.

 The list starts off with:

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The Loss Of The Unmonitored Self

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Historians will look back at the past 20 years as a unique period, a time when there was great opportunity to see deep into the collective soul of entire societies because people’s online behavior was largely naked of any fears of being judged or monitored.

Novelist Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez wrote: “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” We once had insight into that secret world. 

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Digital Girlfriends Preferred By Japan's 'Herbivore' Millennials

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Japan's plummeting birth rate is being partly blamed on young males called "Otaku" who show far more interest in computers and comic books than sex.

Tokyo's Akihabara district (below) is filled with gadget and manga book stores and is the favorite hangout for Otaku, reports Anita Rani, for the BBC: The Japanese men who prefer virtual girlfriends to sex

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A Simple Way To Hire For Diversity: Blackout Candidate Names

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Krissy Clark reporting for writes about a technique for hiring the best talent and automatically increasing gender and ethnic diversity in staffing.

The procedure is simple and was first used by symphony orchestras in the 1970s to increase the number of female musicians. Auditions were performed behind a screen and chosen for best performance, and magically, more women began to be hired.

The judges were screened from their own biases!

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The Less Sunny Side Of Twitter's Street...

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Twitter's elite staff work in plush surrounds and eat oysters and lamb chops, outside HQ (above) on the south-side of mid-Market Street is San Francisco's poorest neighborhood -- the Tenderloin. 

There was a recent hearing by the city of San Francisco where Twitter was asked what it had done for the community in return for about $22m in tax savings since 2011. Here's an excellent report by Justine Sharrock on Buzzfeed.

"... it gave away $60,000 in promoted tweets."

 I was walking to an event at Moscone and took a few pictures of the neighborhood. 

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1882: When Oscar Wilde Arrived In A Sombrero And A Withered Bouquet And Out-Drank San Francisco

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Oscar Wilde in in America, 1882, 28 years old. 

Gary Kamiya tells stories on, from the history of San Francisco and its newspaper archives. It's a rich history for such a small city,  and it's a strong literary history, too, which is apt with Silicon Valley becoming a Media Valley.

This week Mr. Kamiya tells the story of Oscar Wilde's visit to San Francisco in 1882, as part of strange promotional stunt for a Gilbert & Sullivan opera lampooning the Aesthetes, an English artistic and literary set enamored with  a "Cult of Beauty," a heightened level of sensitivity to the beauty of nature, and in the decor of their surroundings — rooms, furniture, and even wallpaper. 

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Marshall Kirkpatrick: Little Bird On Market Street

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It was great to run into Marshall Kirkpatrick on Market Street. I was passing the busy Powell Street corner and heard "Tom" from somewhere. I usually ignore such voices because I'm not sure if they are external but this one became louder and I turned to see Marshall.

He used to work as a reporter for ReadWriteWeb, which is now just ReadWrite following his departure, (it's missing the "web" and missing his excellent reporting). Marshall said he was in town from Portland for meetings with investors for his startup Little Bird. 

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Businessweek's 'Explosive' Amazon Exposé Is More Burp Than Bomb


You can bet all the Washington Post staff will be reading this edition of Businessweek to figure out the office politics for shmoozing their new boss. The issue is just the start: it contains an excerpt from BusinessWeek reporter Brad Stone's new book: "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

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CERN Open Days: Galbraith On The World After The Web


David Galbraith, co-founder of Yelp and Moreover used to be based in San Francisco and now lives in Switzerland. He recently gave a great talk at CERN's Open Days event, which looks at the cultural impact of the web.

"The web is the most important invention since the Gutenberg press." I certainly agree. Silicon Valley has become a Media Valley, its technologies are media technologies, enabling a giant virtual Gutenberg machine using real-time programmable type, instead of moveable type, and enabling a two-way publishing system in that every computer screen can publish any content -- and publish back.

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Charles DiLisio: Preserving Silicon Valley's Heritage Before It Gets Torn Down


Credit: San Jose Mercury

I had a great conversation with photographer  Charles DiLisio (above), who is a man with a mission: photographing, and tracking down old photos of some of Silicon Valley's most important historical buildings for a project he calls, "Silent Icons of Silicon Valley." 

He was recently featured in the San Jose Mercury by veteran columnist Mike Cassidy:


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Vanity Fair Struggles To Find Silicon Valley's 'Best Dressed'


Vanity Fair struggled to come up with ten examples of stylish Silicon Valley executives for its slideshow: The Top 10 Best-Dressed Execs in Silicon Valley | Vanity Fair

In fact, a couple of them aren't really Silicon Valley based, and spend more time in New York, such as Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (above) and Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable. And there's several on the list that you've probably never heard about - the result of desperate Googling in researching this topic. 

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Our Secret Society Where Everyone Knows Everyone's Business...

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 From Discover magazine 1988.

It's ironic that with all our technologies for keeping things secret our secrets have a way of coming out into the open. We now know so much about the super-secret NSA and its spying activities that it's as if Spy versus Spy had become a comic reality.

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Building A Movement To Fix Work

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Chris Heuer (above) has been asking this question in his salon: Is work broken? It's a good question and very current. The environment of work seems horrid in many organizations and the management unpleasant. 

Cooperation, teamwork, collaboration, and respect -- seem to be on a long list of virtues that are absent from many workplaces.  Can this be changed? Probably, but it might not be worth the effort.

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Daniel Ellsberg Speaks At "Restore the Fourth" in SF

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It was wonderful to see living history, Daniel Ellsberg (above), famed whistle-blower of "Pentagon Papers" speak at a rally for "Restore the Fourth" in San Francisco, Sunday.

The former US military analyst, said that US democracy, with all of its faults, is worth fighting for and devoting lives to preserving.

He spoke about changes in the US towards whistleblowers and that Edward Snowden had to leave the country. He said that he was able to stay in the country when he leaked The Pentagon Papers. In a recent article:

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A Taxing Time For Google's Chairman As UK Tabloid Lists His 'Exotic Lovers'

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Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, recently made a flip comment in the UK in response to news that the tech giant paid just $16m in taxes on $18.5 billion in UK revenues.

Google's Eric Schmidt: change British law and we'd pay more tax.

He said he had a fiduciary duty to his shareholders to pay as little overseas tax as legally possible.

The British hate paying taxes but consider it a social duty for the upkeep of their communities – and everyone is expected to pitch in and pay their fair share. Not understanding the culture, Mr. Schmidt's Ayn Rand-ish comments seemed better suited for Silicon Valley, and did not sit well with the British public. Which now makes him fair game for British newspapers.

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Good Luck With That: YC Founder's Advice To Startups: Go Out And Sell

Y Combinator founder Paul Graham is a deity in Silicon Valley's startup communities and whenever and whatever he writes on his blog is closely scrutinized.

His latest post: Do Things that Don't Scale.

The word "scale" is code for software automation. His post is about startups that believe that all they need to do is launch their web service with sufficient attention and users will sign up and the business will grow (like a hockey stick). 

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San Francisco 'Restore The Fourth' Protest Draws More than 400

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It was a spirited turnout for the Restore the Fourth march and protest attracting more than 400 people in San Francisco. The march and rally ended up at the AT&T building (ahove), which has housed an NSA spy room revealed by a whistle blower in 2006.

More photos and a short video:

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The Shocking Truth About Doug Engelbart: Silicon Valley's Sidelined Genius

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Tributes to the genius of computer pioneer Doug Engelbart are flooding the web following the announcement of his death at the age of 88. Yet in the final four decades of his life no one would fund him and he felt he had wasted the last years of his life.

His work transformed the way people use computers today by making them accessible and "personal." His seminal demo of computer graphical user interfaces using a mouse and keyboard transformed people's careers and changed the course of their lives -- even for those that weren't there but heard about it from others! [Doug Engelbart 1968 Demo]

However, despite all the accolades and testaments to his genius, Silicon Valley largely ignored him and he spent decades trying to find funding for his ideas, and even someone just to listen to him.

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Larry Ellison's Personal Collection Of Historic Japanese Art Draws Rave Reviews At Asian Art Museum

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Today's generation of rich techies isn't known for having much interest in anything outside of their narrow world of tech. But that's not true for the older generation. Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, is well known for his interest in Japanese art and culture. 

Now you can see 64 pieces from his collection in a new exhibit at San Francisco's Asian Art museum called, "In the moment.

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San Francisco's Hipster Versus Hipster Culture Wars

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Food trucks cater to SF tech workers in mid-Market Street.

An endless parade of Google and other corporate buses picking up and dropping off workers in San Francisco is the most visible element of the social friction evident in some neighborhoods -- especially the rapid gentrification of the Mission Street area.

In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate, columnist James Temple attempts a "defense of San Francisco's techies."

Last month, a group of gentrification protesters unleashed their rage on a piñata of a Google Bus... If we blame the wrong things for real problems - like unaffordable housing and gentrification - it's much harder to arrive at the right solutions.




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Bashing Silicon Valley Sells Magazines And Books

Here's Andrew Keen's synopsis on the latest from George Packer, a former New York Times journalist:

… there appears to be more and more criticism of Big Tech from mainstream, heavyweight American journalists like Nicholas Thompson and Paul Krugman. And leading the charge in this Silicon Valley bashing is the New Yorker staff writer and award-winning author George Packer.

In both his new book, The Unwinding, and particularly in his recent New Yorker story “Change The World”, Packer warns that the love affair is over and Silicon Valley has lost its resonance with the rest of America… the “massive wealth” in Mountain View and the rest of Silicon Valley makes it “as far from North Carolina as Burma."

Keen On… Silicon Valley: How We Need To Scale Down Our Self-Regard And Grow Up | TechCrunch

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CultureWatch: Silicon Valley's Connection To Warsaw's Stunning New Museum Of Polish-Jewish History: Philanthropist Extraordinaire Tad Taube


I recently visited the just-opened Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, a stunning $200m project, largely financed by the Warsaw regional and national governments, but with very strong support from the Bay Area's most impressive philanthropist: Tad Taube.

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CultureWatch: The Genius Of Johnny Marr At The Fillmore

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Some days it seems as if the universe is conspiring to provide me with exactly what I need, in the right amounts,  and at the right time. Johnny Marr, the former guitarist of The Smiths, playing just down the street from me at The Fillmore -- was concrete proof of this conspiracy. 

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CultureWatch: Haight-Street Fair Upcoming, And The Remarkable Pablo Heising 'The Mayor Of Haight Street'

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I was walking along Haight Street and spotted a poster competition for the upcoming Haight Street Fair, June 9, which has always been one of the best San Francisco Street Fairs. For a long time it was organized by the wonderful Pablo Heising, a good friend and one of the neighborhoods best community leaders. 

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WeekendWatcher: A Killer Story At The Marsh in Berkeley

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I saw this last Saturday and I highly recommend it. Smart dialogue, excellent musical performance by Allison Lovejoy, and it's  A KILLER STORY @ The Marsh Berkeley.

Pre-show cabaret performance at 7:15pm

Arrive at 7pm and enjoy"Noir Era" food and "Killer Cocktails" in cabaret-style seating.

FRIDAY, May 3 The fabulous Mr. Lucky sings crime songs and more...

Allison Lovejoy is playing the score for this excellent and entertaining "Noir" play at a wonderful venue Friday and Saturday nights through May 18.

The show begins at 8, and we have pre-show cabaret from 7:15-7:50, with great food and cocktails in the Marsh Cafe.

It's on Allston Way, 1/2 block from downtown Berkeley Bart.

Tickets are available on Goldstar for $10.

Discount code on the website is "bourbon"

A Product-Killer Meme: White Geeks Too Self-Conscious To Wear Their Google Glass In Public


The "White Guys wearing Google Glass" is a killer meme, a potential product killer.

A friend who is a prominent geek, always a bit of a rebel and very comfortable with self-promotion,  is very concerned about posting a picture of himself wearing Google Glass.

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Preserving The (French) Web -- Revisiting Its Ideals

CERN, in Switzerland is known for its maniacal obsession with the Higgs boson but it's also where the "Web" was invented.

The Pallab Ghosh, science correspondent for the BBC reports:

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Paris Is Putting "Entrepreneur" Back Into The French Language

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There's a story that George W. Bush once said, "The problem with the French is that they have no word for 'entrepreneur.'"

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Psychedelics And Technology: Albert Hoffman Five Year Anniversary

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Albert Hoffman, the discoverer of LSD died at the age of 102 on this day five years ago. LSD has been more influential in Silicon Valley than Ayn Rand.

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Robert Scoble's Naked Enthusiasm

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I've known Robert for many years and I love his unabashed, and unadorned genuine enthusiasm for many things. And he loves to express himself in authentic ways.

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CultureWatcher: Great Weather For SF's 'How Weird' Festival

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San Francisco's How Weird street fair is always fun and difficult to categorize.  Here's how it describes itself:

The How Weird Street Faire is a world-class music festival, featuring a wide range of electronic dance music. There will be 10 stages of great music, art, and sound systems from Symbiosis, Muti Music, Groove Garden, Enchanted Forest, Opel, Opulent Temple, World Famous Productions, Basscraft Soundsystem, Urge Productions, Pink Mammoth, SF House Music, Temple Nightclub, SWAG, Pulse SF, Space Shaping, PK Sound, The Boombox Affair, Party Babas, Red Marines, Psycircle, Happy Camp, and more.

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WeekendWatcher: De Young's Friday Nights Season Is A Huge Dud

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I'm a big fan of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and I love everything about it. It's been on a roll with great exhibitions and its free "Friday Nights at the de Young" has always been a great way to kick-off the weekend, 6pm to 8.30pm.

But that was last year.

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Google Glass - Innovating A Social Failure?

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I'm not a fan of Google Glass because I am absolutely certain it won't be socially acceptable to be video or audio recording people around you without their permission, or to be online constantly without others knowing. It's just creepy and people won't put up with people that wear them in their company.

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A Tour: New Exploratorium Just Like The Old Exploratorium

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A special exhibit for the opening.

The new $300m revamp of the Exploratorium opens today and I'm glad to report that it looks and feels lot like the old Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts but much larger, more exhibits, and more of everything. Here's a little tour:

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The Exploratorium Celebrates It's Re-Opening April 17!

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I love The Exploratorium and have been bringing my kids to it for nearly two decades. I'm sad that it moved out of its beautiful Palace of Fine Arts location, but I'm excited to visit the new $300m site at Pier 15, which has far more space (three times larger at 330,000 square foot), and far more exhibits.

There's a special celebration tonight in advance of the public opening Wednesday April 17. Here's a preview of what's in store:

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Augmented Realities: Google Glass With See-Through 'X-Ray' Feature

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Surely it is just a matter of time before Google Glass, or other similar walk-and-talk Internet browsers, add a pseudo X-ray feature?

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Yahoo! Home Work Edict Is All About Rebooting Its Notorious Company Culture


There's been much written lately about Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer pulling back workers from their home offices as if it's an attack on telecommuting and the productivity of home-based workers.

It's neither, it's Yahoo! trying to reboot its company culture, which has been kindly described by one observer as, "notoriously dysfunctional and disorganized." It's been going on for years and it's time to press the reboot button.

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Fulfilling Steve Jobs' Dying Wish

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The Los Angeles based Esotouric podcast has a interesting interview with Brian Kaiser, who salvaged rare tile from The Jackling House, a two-storey 18,000 square foot Mansion in Woodside.

Episode #6: Steve Jobs' Great White Whale & Funky Folk Artists of Slab City | Esotouric

He tells a fascinating story (around 28.30 mark) of Steve Jobs determined to demolish the house even though he is terminally ill. There were thousands of very rare Islamic tiles in addition to other unique architectural features.

Steve Jobs had owned the property since 1984. He couldn't get the demolition permit unless he could get the valuable tiles out following a 12 year legal battle trying to prevent the destruction of the historic house.

The #1 environmental history book in the country shows "Daniel Jackling was the man who wired America" and thus Jobs' direct indebtedness to Jackling, compared in the book to Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. 

Friends of the Jackling

Jackling House - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apple CEO Steve Jobs Can Finally Bring The House Down

the #1 environmental history book in the country shows "Daniel Jackling was the man who wired America" and thus Jobs' direct indebtedness to Jackling, compared in the book to Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. 

Disqus: The Importance Of Trolls And Anonymity In Comments

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Daniel Ha  (above) is the CEO and cofounder of Disqus.

By Daniel Ha

To some, the idea of improving internet comments may provoke flashbacks to the war on drugs or overcoming gridlock in Washington. Some problems are too pervasive to fix, so why even bother?

But comments matter for the simple reason that we read them and they shape our perceptions of daily life. And we’re commenting more than ever.

As one of the leading models for large scale discussion, The Huffington Post set a record last year with over 70 million comments.

Our own data at Disqus shows that nearly half of all article page visits include a trip to the comments.And a growing body of research demonstrates that reader comments shape news perception. 

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The Global Gender Gap Inside The Digital Gap - Women Lag By 25%

There's millions of women missing in the online world and it's not necessarily because of poor economic resources. It's also due to cultural biases held by women themselves.

Guest post infographic from Muhammad Saleem, at Consumer Media Network and the former Director of Social Media Strategy at Chicago Media Tribune Group:

Original source:

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Take A Look Into Topix - Mass Bullying Across Thousands Of Small US Towns

By Virginia Hoge

My name is Virginia Olive Hoge and I am in the strange and fated position of being one of the first people who noticed that something very alarming was happening on Over three and a half years ago, I noticed how it was being used as a vehicle for slander, to batter people online.

I was dragged onto Topix when my liberal blog was attacked there. I was slandered in a series of attack threads on the Pasadena, CA, Topix forum, the kind I would soon find out were everywhere.

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To Those That Would Martyr Aaron Swartz: Where Were The Activists When He Needed Them?

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Early this week, Hamish McKenzie attended a memorial for Aaron Swartz, the young activist who committed suicide while being prosecuted for downloading millions of academic papers.

He writes:

Berin Szoka, the president of the group TechFreedom, offered some words that were uncomfortable for some. Speaking of the Internet activist's alleged crime of downloading millions of academic articles, Szoka stepped out of the night's orthodoxy of holding Swartz up as a hero.

"I cannot condone what Aaron did," Szoka started, about to launch into an argument about how Internet freedom should not be a partisan issue. He was cut off before he could go any further.

Foremski's Take: The future of Aaron Swartz has nothing to do with Aaron Swartz and has everything to do with agendas of digital libertarians and related activists.

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Crunchies 2012: Techmeme Wins Award And So Do Other, Mostly Older Startups

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It was good to see Techmeme, the news aggregator, win an award Thursday evening for "Best Bootstrapped Startup." Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera (below).

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Can Pictures Of Cute Animals Calm Legal Threats?

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Here's a hilarious exchange between David Galbraith and the legal eagles representing Lockheed Martin, threatening him over the ownership of a domain name:

I registered, thinking it would be a good name for an Internet product company, not realizing that Skunkworks was a real, trademarked facility run by Lockheed Martin or that you can now threaten to sue people just for registering a domain name.

He received a legal letter demanding he relinquish the domain name. Dave offered a solution:

If you send me a link to a picture of a really cute puppy, I’ll transfer the domain to you.

Read the rest here: David Galbraith’s Blog » Skunk Puppying: dealing with legal threats with cute animals.

Advice To Marketeers And Others Not On Facebook And/Or Twitter

I meet a lot of people in my job, many of them are in communications, marketing, or media, some of them hate Facebook and/or Twitter with passion.

They typically say that they won't join because they don't believe in them. I typically respond that these aren't mythological creatures, Santa Claus, or a God that requires belief.

They don't require a highly emotional response. You don't have to like them. Or hate them. They are what they are. 

I tell them that you should be on them because you work in marketing, communications, or media, you need to know about these media channels.

You can't read about them, you need to be in them to know them, to see how people are using them. 

You need to know what's acceptable in those communities, what people are sharing and not sharing, what events they are going to, what they are saying to each other and how they say it. You need to know these things. 

You should be on them because if you are not then you won't know when things change, and they change constantly.

You don't need to be active on them, you can lurk.

You don't need to share what you had for lunch, or the other inane stuff you complain about that others share, or that you heard they share. Share good stuff or don't. But you need to be on them.

You need to be on them before others find out that you're not.

Aaron Swartz Memorial in SF - Our First Digital Liberties Martyr?

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I attended the Aaron Swartz memorial Thursday evening at the Internet Archive building (above) in San Francisco where several hundred people gathered to mourn his passing.

It was an excellent turnout organized by Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle and supporters. And it was a perfect setting, in a wonderful former Christian Science church (see below). 

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Epic Fail: Massively Multiplayer Online Mysogyny

Standing up to bullies always works, especially the online kind, you know the ones, the ones with no balls and small brains that they keep in their pants.

Brilliant TED video here, hat tip to Beth Rogozinski,  and Rebecca Eisenberg on

When Anita Sarkeesian announced plans to do a video series exploring the portrayal of women in video games, she became the victim of a massive online attack choreographed by members of the gaming community who cast her as the "villain" in their online "game" to ruin her life. It did not go well for them. 

A Bunch Of Sad, Insecure Dudes Attacked A Woman And Everyone Got What They Deserved

TEDxSF: The Challenge Of Healthcare For 7 Billion

'X' marks the spot for TEDxSF at the Mission Bay Conference Center.

The TEDxSF events are among the best of the best TEDx regional events in the country. It's a tremendous amount of work for the organizers, such as Christine Mason McCaull, which is her ninth (and final) TEDx, but its tremendous value for the hundreds that attend.

The event was held at the visually stunning UC Mission Bay conference center, with the theme "7 Billion Well."

The day was filled to the brim with excellent speakers, here are some of them.

A few photos from the event:

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Are Insults Without Pageviews Insulting?

The global protests against the anti-Muslim Innocence of Muslims Youtube clip raises the issue that anyone could post a video insulting to a religion or nation. A small number of extremists on both sides could continuously derail a country's foreign diplomacy. Insults are easily published on the Internet, and easy to find, if that's what you're looking for.

Are we facing years of instability in global hotspots because of extremists hurling insults online?

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The Future Of Tech Journalism In A Post-Technology World

Tech journalists swarmed into Yerba Buena in San Francisco earlier this week to cover the much anticipated Apple iPhone 5 launch. Some news organizations sent multiple reporters, Fortune sent five.

That's quite an over kill to cover the launch of a product that turned into an iYawn. The iPhone 5.0 is about 20% thinner and lighter than the previous model, with a slightly larger display.

This small improvement in a mass produced consumer product resulted in a flood of news coverage. Yet just yards from where the legions of the tech press were packed into a dark theater for a very long Apple product pitch, Intel, the world's largest chip company, was holding its Intel Developer Conference (IDF) where it was releasing details of its next generation Haswell microprocessor, and discussing where it sees the future of computing.

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'Seeking Silicon Valley' - Ambitious ZERO1 Arts Festival Starts Today

zero1 curatorsZERO1 Executive Director Joel Slayton and Jaime Austin - Curator and Director of Programs for ZERO1

The ZERO1 Biennial, a three month long festival of art and technology begins today in San Jose with the theme "Seeking Silicon Valley."

This year the festival has expanded from its San Jose base and has events planned in San Francisco and across the Bay Area. There are more than 100 arts installations and 40 arts museums, galleries, and studios taking part.

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Sand Hill Road Vice Scare Vexes VCs

Thursdays at The Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel are well known for being full of VCs and hot women looking to startup a love connection but lately attendance has fallen.

Peter Delevett at The San jose Mercury News reports that it's because of a rumored vice bust by police.

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Eric Berlow: 'Big Data Is Controlled By Big Business' - Making Data Vibrant And Public

Eric Berlow, an ecologist and network scientist, sketches a flowchart to illustrate what happens in the lifecycle of publicly shared data.

By Intel Free Press

Ecologist turned network scientist Eric Berlow is tapping top experts to make public data more useful, meaningful and accessible.

Eric Berlow plans to catalyze and democratize big data.

Berlow is dead serious about it. He believes big data is controlled by big business when it should be openly available to the public.

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There's Gold In Techno-Pessimism

Andrew Keen is probably one of the best known techno-pessimists and his services as a speaker are in high demand.

[I used to work with Mr Keen at Podtech where I was helping develop a range of tech-related video shows.]

Mr Keen has spent many years lamenting the fall in quality of our culture because of amateurs rewriting our encyclopedias (Wikipedia) and competing with high quality TV (Youtube videos of skateboarding cats) and the decline of professional journalists and editors (and the rise of blogs).

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What's Your Best Business Book Of 2012? Mine Is Nearly 150 Years Old

The Financial Times has released a list of 16 business books as part of its for its "Best Business Book of the Year."

Looking for your next read? We've just released the longlist for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.

Check out our special page and tell us which of the 16 books you'd pick if you were on the judging panel.

Would it be Walter Isaacson's life of the late Apple chief executive Steve Jobs? Or maybe William Silber's forthcoming biography of form­er Fed chairman Paul Volcker?

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Has TED 'Become An Insatiable Kingpin Of International Meme Laundering'?

(Gopi Kallayil, head of Google+ speaking at TEDxBerkeley earlier this year.)

TED, the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference, has expanded its brand across the globe over the past two years, with hundreds of local TEDx conferences, and more recently, with its own books imprint, TED Books.

TED organizers always choose their speakers well and there is rarely a dud among them. It is excellent curation under the aegis of "Ideas Worth Spreading."

But choosing which authors to publish under the TED Books brand appears to be more challenging than booking a speaker for a 17 minute talk.

Evgeny Morozov, writing in The New Republic, tears TED Books a new binding with his demolition review of Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization - By Parag Khanna and Ayesha Khanna.

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Competitive Coding And Dreams Of Winning A Medal At The Olympics of Informatics

Hackathons everywhere, most weekends there's probably one near you. Hundreds of app developers competing for cash, trips, and seed capital.

This past weekend, AOL in Palo Alto (above), hosted angelHACK, where several hundred developers, mostly in their mid-to-late twenties, competed in small teams, over a sleepless 48 hours.

But those events are easy-peasy compared with international coding competitions, such as the qualifying rounds for the International Olympiad in Informatics, (IOI). Getting there involves grueling rounds of regional competitions with devilishly hard computational problems. You have to think hard, fast, and creatively. It's an experience that can transform good coders into great coders - or it can send you home feeling beaten and humbled.

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Silicon Valley And Las Vegas Thrive On Failure

Silicon Valley and Las Vegas are similar - both thrive on failure. The difference is that if you fail in Las Vegas you have to leave town. If you fail in Silicon Valley, you can stay and play again -- and with other people's money.

Every country wants to copy Silicon Valley but no one wants to copy its chief characteristic - failure. Massive amounts of it.

Above is an extract of a speech by Jim Breyer from Accel Partners, at the SVForum Visionary Awards, in which he thanks all the failed entrepreneurs. And urges them to come back and try again. And again.

Millennials And The Backlash Against 'Creepy Stalker' Technologies

Melanie Shreffler, editor-in-chief of Ypulse, a youth market research firm, wrote an interesting article recently:

It's Possible There's Too Much Technology In Our Lives, Even For Millennials

We're seeing a little backlash despite all the benefits because technology is becoming something of a creepy stalker.


We noticed this recently in two commercials, one for cable company Optimum in which young parents talk about how their baby was on Facebook before she was even born and how her first steps will be broadcast on YouTube.

In a separate commercial for a Samsung smart TV, a family hangs out in their living room using voice and gesture controls to operate their TV -- at the end, the proud mother is wowed when her toddler learns to say, "Hi TV," speaking to the set to turn it on.

Both commercials cross the creepy line when technology is no longer about enabling our lives but begins to feel like a living, breathing member of the family. Millennials are noticing their own interactions are often filtered through a screen, even when they're in the same room with their friends.

The panelists at the Millennial Mega Mashup described a love/hate relationship with technology for that very reason. They even call their friends out when they see them staring at a screen instead of paying attention to the people they're with, but the behavior persists.

We're even seeing that technology is sometimes getting a bad rap in youth-focused media. In "The Hunger Games," the Capitol uses technology to control the population as they're forced to view the games, and the game designers use it to torment the tributes.


In reality, Millennials wouldn't choose a life without technology (we dare you to try to take a cell phone away from a teenager), but they're conscious of the effect it's having on them and their relationships.

Marketers need to walk a fine line in presenting tech to tweens, teens, and 20-somethings -- it should be shown as improving their communication and relationships, not dictating their lives.

Foremski's Take:

The backlash that Ms Shreffler describes seems very real given my anecdotal experiences with my kids and their friends.

There's huge, sometimes obsessive interest in "Millennials" by the tech industry and marketers but there are a lot of myths about how they behave online, and with each other.

When I look at my kids, just turned 18 year old daughter and 24 year old son -- and their friends, they aren't the share-everything, technophile evangelists that you might expect them to be, or at least those people without kids imagine those generations to be like.

They are extremely careful about what they share online, and they don't jump on every consumer tech bandwagon there is, and they certainly do not believe everything they read online.

For example, my daughter chooses not to have a cell phone, she has a relatively new iMac and an iPod Touch and is quite content. My son is very well equipped with tech stuff, new Macbook Pro, iPhone, etc, but doesn't share much at all online and can even go days without his phone. Their friends seem similar in their attitudes to tech.

And they certainly don't like the way commercial interests portray them in ads, or in the assumptions they make about them. And the more that marketers try to capture the essence of young people, in their seemingly clever ad campaigns, the more they will be pushed away.

That's just the way it is and no amount of market research and study can change that because to them it means that the mainstream has caught up with their sub-cultures and it's time to move on.

Companies that try to be early in spotting and commercializing a youth sub-culture are engaged in a risky strategy. They might win some nods from peers, but in their target groups, they are far more likely to induce feelings of revulsion rather than "Like."

Older generations, such as mine, are probably bigger technophiles, and often seem to be more obsessed with tech gadgets than younger generations; and can be very clueless about what they share online, far more often than you might think.

It often seems as if it's the older generations that are the wanna be "Millennials," as portrayed in the popular mindset, while the real ones are more like what we should be: healthily blasé and selective about tech, and hyper-aware about their online activities and privacy.

Father's Day Thoughts: Startups And Immigrants Have Much In Common

I was thinking about my dad, Jerzy Foremski today (Father's Day in the US), he passed away last year. The photo (above) shows him holding me, (8 months old) and was taken shortly after my parents had escaped Poland and arrived in London.

We lived in Hackney, London's poorest neighborhood, in the heart of the inner city. Hackney, and the neighboring Shoreditch district, are where immigrants to London have, for more than 150 years, made their first start in life.

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Pew Report On Teenage Video Habits

The Pew Research Center recently published a report on teen online video habits. There's a few interesting tidbits, such as that younger teens are less interested in online video than older teens; and teens from lower income homes are more likely to stream video.

Here is an infographic based on the Pew findings from

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Competing With One Arm Tied - Silicon Valley's Gender Gap Handicap

(Sol Tzvi, founder of Genieo, based in Israel.)

Silicon Valley is running hard to maintain its position as the global innovation engine, against competition with dozens of fast growing innovation centers around the world.

Which is why it's puzzling that Silicon Valley has such a large gender gap in key sectors such as angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, engineers, and in senior executive roles.

Why isn't Silicon Valley using all of its people?

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De Young Museum Workers Protest Union Busting And Cuts In Benefits


Workers at the prosperous de Young Fine Arts museum in Golden Gate Park staged a friendly protest Friday evening during the popular "Young at Art" celebration of the talents of students from San Francisco's public schools.

The workers say that the museum is successful and profitable yet they have been called "spoilt" by the head of HR and told to take cuts in benefits.

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Zero1 Launches Ambitious 'Seeking Silicon Valley' Arts Festival

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ZERO1 Executive Director Joel Slayton and Jaime Austin - Curator and Director of Programs for ZERO1

ZERO1, the biennial arts and technology festival, announced a massive expansion in its program this year, with more than 100 arts installations Bay Area wide and 40 arts museums, galleries, and studios taking part. The theme this year is "Searching for Silicon Valley."

The announcement of this year's program was made at SFMOMA, which is one of many arts organizations that will take part in this year's festival.

Jaime Austin, Curator and Director of Programs for ZERO1, said that the idea for the theme "Seeking Silicon Valley" came from her experiences from meeting visiting artists at the airport and their wish to see Silicon Valley.

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Silicon Valley Celebrates Women Of Vision

Several thousand leading professionals from top Silicon Valley companies are gathering in Santa Clara this evening for a banquet honoring this year's Women of Vision award recipients.

The annual event is organized by the Anita Borg Institute, one of Silicon Valley's oldest professional organizations. [Please see my interview with director Telle Whitney.]

The recipients of the 2012 awards are:

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Yahoo! And Silicon Valley's Cult Of The Engineer

The discovery that Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson has been claiming to have a Computer Science degree for years, and did not correct statements that identified him as an "engineer" is not surprising given the strong "cult of the engineer" that is prevalent in Silicon Valley.

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Culture Watch: 'April in Paris' in SF - This Saturday

(Allison Lovejoy - photo - Tom Foremski.)

This Saturday evening is the always excellent "April in Paris" featuring a great lineup of performers for just $10, starting at 8pm - Workspace 2150 Folsom St., San Francisco.

Music by: The Cottontails and The Ronchin Big Band (from France)

There's also a reception for $25 starting at 5pm.

Cheese, bubbly, art & live classical and cabaret music by Allison Lovejoy and maestro accordionist Rob Reich.

CultureWatch: 'Making Scenes' at the de Young

(Photo by Tom Foremski.)

Friday evening April 27 at the de Young in Golden Gate Park: Note - All public programs are free and do not require a ticket.

2012 Artist Fellow Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique) celebrates Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk with Making Scenes.

Jenkinson brings the nightclub to the museum, curating a Friday Night at the de Young packed with the creative energy of San Francisco's club scenes.

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CultureWatch: Traditional Arts + Modern Mix At JapanTown's Cherry Blossom Festival

(Photos by Tom Foremski)

JapanTown's four-day Cherry Blossom finished Sunday with a parade and a prize ceremony for best Manga costume.

It was a lot of fun, and multi-ethnic in procession and in audience, reflecting the diversity of the Fillmore neighborhood.

My Highlight app barely blipped the whole time I was there, which means it was largely geek-free, there were very few starters among the thousands of people. You'd think startups would be interested in the varied culture that's around them, after all, every business is a cultural artifact.

Here are more photos:

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CultureWatch: From The Real Sidewalk .... To Gaultier - de Young

(Photos by Tom Foremski.)

Dan was walking along the sidewalk outside the de Young museum, which is staging "Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" (you can see the white lettering by his shoulder).

I asked him where was going, he said he was marching, on a forced march, you know how it is. I said I did, I said we are all marching, even when we don't want to, the march of time marches us on. He smiled and we passed each other, heading to different destinations even though we all eventually arrive at the same place...

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Offline Tales: Horn Group, Techcrunch, And The Future Of Money

(Offline Tales - a new (ir)regular Friday column.)

Wednesday I was in North Beach heading for the Bubble Lounge and Media Bistro sponsored by the Horn Group.

It was great to catch up briefly with Sabrina Horn, founder of the Horn Group, who tells me that business is booming and the firm is engaged in a broad range of digital communications services and applications.

I had an interesting chat with Tim O'Keeffe, (below) who heads Horn Group's San Francisco operations.

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Culture Watch: The Extraordinary World of Jean Paul Gaultier - at the de Young

(Photos by Tom Foremski.)

Friday evening I was at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate park to see The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

The museum is on a roll with its exhibits of leading fashion designers. The Vivienne Westwood show was fantastic, and the Balenciaga exhibit last year was even better. And this one is extraordinary, the best so far.

It's a superb curation and the presentation the work of designer Jean Paul Gaultier, dubbed "fashion's enfant terrible" is fantastically creative. I've never seen anything like it before.

The mounting, the display, the lighting are superbly tuned to the works displayed -- the de Young's staff should be congratulated for their skill in building this exhibit.

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OffLine: Bollywood Night At Warriors v Mavericks

(The spectacular Oracle Arena.)

It was a dark and stormy evening but it was also Bollywood Night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland and I had two tickets to see the Golden State Warriors play the Dallas Mavericks -- thanks to Tibco Software.

[Vivek Ranadivé, CEO of Tibco, is one of the owners of the Warriors, and the first Indian-American NBA team owner. The scrappy kid from Mumbai has done very well, arriving as a teenager in Silicon Valley many years before the recent waves of Indian engineers.

Vivek Ranadivé is also one of the most interesting personalities in Silicon Valley. I knew him when I worked at the Financial Times and he became one of my most important contacts because of his long history and extensive contacts within the valley. When I left the Financial Times he took a keen interest in my publishing venture. Tibco became a founding sponsor of Silicon Valley Watcher in 2005, and has remained our most loyal supporter. I hope my readers appreciate Tibco's important contribution to SVW.]

I'd never been to an NBA game and was looking forward to it immensely. I set off with my son Matt, and we braved the nasty cats and dogs weather, driving across the bridge to Oakland. And I'm glad we did because we had a brilliant time. Here's a taste of the event:

The Warrior Girls, the Golden State Warriors' cheerleaders got into the Bollywood spirit with colorful costumes.

Sport is theater...

The first person we ran into was Cory (Scoop) Johnson (above with Tim Draper) CNBC's original Silicon Valley reporter. He now works for Bloomberg TV.

Tim Draper, founder of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, is as well known for his eccentric personality as he is for his VC prowess.

Al Seracevic, sports editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, quickly took Matt and I under his wing and gave us for a whirlwind tour of the benches and the media balcony. It great catching up with Al, I hadn't seen him since a very late and very liquid North Beach adventure about a year ago.

It was also good to bump into

Zach Nelson, CEO of Netsuite, who had a great seat down on the court.

Vivek Ranadivé's daughter Anjali (on screen above) sang the national anthem.

The Dallas bench...

Here's where the sports hacks perch.

Elevator to the Grandview Suites.

A very spirited crowd.

The always hardworking Tibco Comms team.

Last Import - 111.jpg

A rainy treck home.

The Science Of Food - Gastronomy Night at The Exploratorium

I love any excuse to go to the Palace of Fine Arts and visit The Exploratorium -- two of my favorite places in San Francisco.

On the first Thursday of every month The Exploratorium hosts its "After Dark" series of unique events. This month the theme was 'Gastronomy' looking at the science and the art of creating food. Several thousand people turned up for lectures, tastings, demonstrations, and to play around with The Exploratorium's marvelous, hands-on science exhibits.

The theme reminded me of the incredible, and very much under-appreciated importance that the invention of gastronomy has had, both on our development as a species and in developing our civilization - no other technology has done the same.

The development of cooking food had a monster effect on our ancestors. Cooking unlocked vast amounts of hidden nutrition in raw foods.

The development of the cooking pot literally blew our minds - our brains jumped in size and our bellies shrank - which made us smarter and much better looking.

All that extra food energy went straight to growing and fueling our brains, which need 24/7 glucose, our highest octane food fuel and burn 25% of our calories.

The cooking pot allowed us to build a Ferrari of a brain, expensive to maintain but incredible in performance. We left the other primates in the dust and now we're on the doorstep of our next big leap, into some sort of mixed biological digital world.

If gastronomy hadn't been invented there would be no civilization, science, arts, building of big things, or development of semiconductor and computer technologies because we wouldn't have the time for it.

It turns out that it's very difficult to digest a full day of energy from raw food. 2500 calories is a shockingly large volume of raw vegetables, salads, berries, fruits, etc.

An experiment at Bristol zoo in the UK, with human volunteers agreeing to eat a raw food diet for the summer, had to be shut down after a few weeks because the people were losing so much weight they were becoming malnourished and it could have led to serious health problems. They simply could not chomp, chew, and swallow enough raw food during the day to meet their nutritional needs.

The evidence is that we evolved alongside the cook pot and we become sickly without it, it's a technology that's absolutely vital to our well being.

Outsourcing our stomachs

The development of gastronomy essentially created an external stomach that helped us to extract the maximum nutrition from what low-energy food. Less time eating raw food left more time for hunting animals, whose rich and highly nutritious flesh and organs further accelerated our brain growth.

It's humbling to think of the enormous effect on our lives and evolution that the simple cooking pot has had. It surely must rank as the single most important technology ever invented.

Today we are in the midst of our next big step - outsourcing some of the work of our brains to external machines. We'll see massive changes and at a faster pace than those from the patient cooking pot.

What will come from our increasing, and ultimately inevitable collision of our biology with our technology?

What new inventions and behaviors will this bio-digital future produce? What types of new cultures and societies will arise? (Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction writer brilliantly explores these types of futures in "Cyberiad" and in many other books.)

What does the economy look like in a future world where manufacturing technologies are 10,000 times more productive at 1,000th of the cost? What happens if only 10 percent of the population working can produce the needs of all 100%? That's where we're headed, and beyond, thanks to the good old cooking pot.


Here are some photos from the Gastronomy evening at The Exploratorium:

(Photos by Tom Foremski.)

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Intel's Ambitious 'Creators Project' - Can Great Curation Build Brand?

(Photos by Tom Foremski)

... Intel teams up with the cool crowd.

I recently attended The Creators Project in San Francisco, a globe-roaming two day free event that celebrates an eclectic mix of avant-garde music and arts installations, and attracted tens of thousands of people.

It could have easily been re-named " The Curators Project" because of the superb collection of bands, artists, installations, and even food trucks -- all carefully selected by a small team of curators.

The event is produced as a partnership between Intel and Vice Media.

I spoke with David Haroldsen, (above) Intel's Creative Director for the project. Here are some of my notes:

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'Dear Instagram...' - Here's How To Apply For A Job At A Hot Startup

Alice Lee just upped the ante by a factor of 100 in what you need to do to get noticed when applying for a job at a hot startup:

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TEDxBerkeley 2012: Inspiring Innovation

TEDxBerkeley 2012 was a Saturday well spent...

I know the people that organize TEDxSF pretty well but this was my first time at TEDxBerkeley, which was held in the Zellerbach auditorium on the University of California campus.

The audience was very young compared with the much older audience for TEDxSF. The two events could maybe trade some attendees, it's always great to see young students.

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Could Buildings Be Improved If They Were Designed Like A Web App?

David Galbraith has embarked on a fascinating journey, exploring the notion that the flow of people and their interactions inside buildings, is similar in design to the flow of data and user interaction of Web apps.

Could best practices in Web app design be applied to architectural design?

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Searching For Race In Social Media - US Government Program Targets Hispanics

Dana Oshiro, publishing analyst at ad network NetShelter, poses an interesting question: "how do you determine race and ethnicity online? "

This question arose from her recent attendance at the White House Hispanic Community Action Summit in San Jose, CA where plans were discussed on how to use social media and online marketing to target the Hispanic population. The goal is to offer programs that will raise the number of Hispanic students in colleges by 4.5 million over the next ten years.

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Lessons From Plancast - When Sharing Doesn't Work

Mark Henderson, founder and CEO of Plancast, has written an excellent article about lessons learned from operating his event planning service -- mostly popular in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco area. It contains a good analysis of the different types of users and what people are willing to share online.

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It's Interesting That Google Hosted Unblocked Wikipedia Pages During SOPA Protest

Wikipedia, which features at the top of many searches, blacked out its English-language site to protest the proposed SOPA legislation but the entire site was readily available on Google.

Visitors to Wikipedia were shown this page:

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Interview: Peter Hirshberg And San Francisco's Innovative Gray Area Foundation For The Arts

I'm a big fan of the Gray Area Foundation For The Arts (GAFFTA), a unique non-profit organization that has a fascinating approach to the arts and technology and its efforts to bridge the culture gap between the geek world and the arts, allied with a very strong civic focus.

It's situated in the historic Warfield building in the heart of the Tenderloin, one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods. Its innovative art exhibitions and educational programs are rooted firmly in the deep cultural traditions of San Francisco, an area that has consistently contributed to leading edge arts, literature, and ideas, nationally and globally.

Yet it seems that very little of that rich culture and diversity of San Francisco and the Bay Area is reflected in our tech communities, which draw in people from all over the world, but then trap them into insular startups and a monotonous always-on cubicle culture. GAFFTA is one of the few bright spots, an organization where "geek" and "art" aren't mutually exclusive terms.

Last month I met with Peter Hirshberg, a co-founder of GAFFTA, at his home in San Francisco, just a few blocks from my apartment near JapanTown. Here are some notes from our conversation:

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The Wicked Hitch Is Dead

The British journalist and author Christopher Hitchens managed to rile people from the Right and the Left, and across the religious spectrum. Erudite and eloquent he honed those skills to call out foreign despots and take on some of the most powerful figures in the US -- he was truly a modern Cato.

The first time I saw Christopher Hitchens was nine years ago smoking a cigarette outside The Commonwealth Club in downtown San Francisco where he was due to speak later that evening.

I pretty sure it was Hitchens even though I had never seen a photo of him. A middle aged man, slightly disheveled in an academic style, and with a pale pallor that suggested a preference for late nights and late conversations. He looked very much in need of a glass of Mr Walker's wonderful restorative. He looked hungover.

However, when it came time for his talk, he was in excellent form. His oratory was extraordinary, I loved it. His effortless narration and the twists and turns of his phrasing was a pure delight. I had forgotten the pleasure of hearing things well said.

He spoke about his recently published book, a biography of George Orwell, and Orwell's huge influence on his life and work.

Orwell became a harsh critic of both capitalism and communism, a similar journey for Hitchens, and his several decades-long transition from Trotskyist activist to Iraq war supporter.

But Hitchens' political transitions were not the cliche of a revolutionary intellectual turned right wing zealot. He views fit best with Libertarianism -- a perfect place from where Hitchens' skillful iconoclasm could range freely and unrestrained by any political loyalties to Republicans or Democrats.

What impressed me the most about Hitchens was his fearlessness in calling out some of the most powerful people around. He did not mince words, he stood by his convictions even if they were unpopular at the time. His remarkable integrity drove him relentlessly, and sometimes that meant changing his views on key issues when faced with evidence from his own eyes, as a journalist and his extensive travels and meetings with foreign leaders and underground activists.

I'm inspired by his muckraking journalism, his unflinching willingness to take on the rich and the powerful when needed. Muckraking journalism used be far more common in the US as newspapers investigated graft in city hall, or uncovered hosts of nefarious activities by politicians and business leaders. Muckraking meant standing up for the public good, pointing out the corrupt and the criminal, campaigning against exploitative industries and organizations, etc.

We need more muckrakers like Hitchens in times like these. But now we have one less.


Here's a quote from a wonderful piece on Hitchens in Slate, written by his friend Jacob Weisberg:

For young D.C. journalists, nothing was headier than Hitchens' boozy instruction in radical politics and literature...

...I learned better than to try to drink like the Hitch. But his example was in every other way an inspiring one.

Like all of us, he was often wrong, but never in the way everyone else was wrong. His originality was a constant, his independence an unstoppable engine.

He loved to argue and debate, not because he was a bully but because he thought it pointed in the direction of truth. And possibly because he was better at it than anyone else. It was moving to see Christopher applying his integrity to the experience of dying. He went out on his own terms, with no sentimentality or regret, telling it straighter than anyone else would dare.

If Steve Jobs Were Looking For Funding Today He Wouldn't Get It -- He's A Marketeer

(From the PBS documentary, "Steve Jobs: One last thing.")

I watched the PBS documentary on Steve Jobs last night,"One last thing" and it was well done, mixing a fair bit of the good, the bad, and the ugly about the life of the man.

And there was a lot of praise for the "marketing genius" of Steve Jobs.

Then it struck me: If Steve Jobs were starting out today in Silicon Valley, he would have trouble getting funding because he's a marketeer — not an engineer. VCs generally won't fund startups without a tech lead.

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On His Deathbed Did Steve Jobs Regret His Time At The Office?

Here is a Pearltree of people's tweets to browse (and add to your collection):

Steve Jobs Regrets For Time At Work? in Tom Foremski (foremski)

Analysis: What If People Stop Sharing? Facebook Has The Answer

I've often wondered if the Facebook "Like" or Google "+1" buttons are the most basic of all social gestures -- the most minimal of user generated content that can be published by social media streams.

I've wondered if these buttons represent the most basic of unit of our social media worlds -- do they represent the least amount of effort that people can make to register a social event and create "news" in their streams?

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There's A Hush In The Air...And A Burn Coming Up

There's been a perceptible hush in the air around San Francisco as people get busy finalizing their Burning Man preparations. You can see cars and vans being packed, bikes being strapped and roof racks piled high.

Burning Man is very much a San Francisco/Silicon Valley festival. It's a type of Dionysian harvest festival where people bring together tremendous creativity and industry and where there's no commercial payoff at all. There's no commerce and there's no advertising and no sponsorships.

Out of a dusty ancient lake bed where nothing can grow, a city of 50,000 people rises, with buildings and structures several stories tall.

A week later it all goes away, back to the bitter alkali dust that is everyone's souvenir of Burning Man because you keep finding it in every nook and cranny.

Burning Man always seems so unique and so fragile, it always seems that it might fall apart, but it hasn't yet.

A core culture...

Burning Man has been around long enough, since 1986, that it is now core to the experience of the culture of the Bay Area. That's why you should plan to go one day.

But a trip to Burning Man is not about throwing a weekend bag into the back of the car. You have to pack everything in and out. There is only ice and coffee that you can buy in the centre camp. You have to bring everything and take everything back out with you.

Also, the environment is hostile. This is where they should test the mars rover because the extremes of temperature, rain, sand storms, freezing wind -- are harsh. This is not a pleasant experience and it's not for the weekend spa goer. Which is why Burning Man attracts a particular type of person.

Playa art...

The best part of Burning Man is the art in the playa -- a truly vast canvas where people create incredible art. Some of it is giant sculptures such as the one above, "Bliss" a 40 foot tall sculpture of a dancing woman built by artist Marco Cochrane, you can see it on Treasure Island.

It's a good example of the huge ambitions of the artists that come together at Burning Man.

It teaches...

The event is important because it teaches a lot of things: town planning, survival in extreme environments, cooperation with others, how to work in teams, how to be productive, and how to be generous. There is no commerce of any type at Burning Man, the art and other projects rarely have any names attached to them.

The entire experience is unmediated, there is no expectation of any kind, it's a meritocracy of in it's truest sense -- there is no history. Each year Burning Man is reborn again, from the same dust but into a totally new world.

Commerce free... mind free

The commerce-free experience is great because it frees up a lot of your mind that you didn't realize was affected. For example, there are dozens of radio stations, several daily newspapers but there's no advertising. Even brand names on the sides of rental vans are blacked out. There is nothing that is "sponsored by Intel" or any visible brands at all. As far as you can see.

It was painful leaving Black Rock City and moving beyond the range of the Burning Man radio stations and having to switch to commercial radio, even PBS. It was so hard having to listen to all those commercials.

Even reading a magazine with adverts was difficult for many days. I realized how much I'm flooded with commercial messages, repeatedly, constantly. It felt very good to be away from all that commerce chatter because it freed up some of my internal dialogue.

That's a great benefit of Burning Man: living for a week in a place where there is no commerce at all. A commerce-free experience -- where else can you get that? Nowhere. Everywhere you go in the world, even remote territories, someone is trying to sell you something -- but not at Burning Man. That's a priceless experience.

All the work that people do to build Black Rock City is donated, there is no commercial intent. To see an entire city functioning, productive, and so innovative -- without any commercial payoff or intent is truly extraordinary. What type of blueprint could it provide for our cities today? [IBM with its Smart Cities program should study Black Rock City.]

Plus, Burning Man can be a great place for networking. Eric Schmidt got his job at Google because he hung out with Larry and Sergey there one year.

Does The Sexuality Of A CEO Matter?

The sexuality of CEOs is a dull subject I have no interest in what they do with their genitalia and I think I'm right in speaking for the majority of people in our Silicon Valley circles.

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The Tamagotchi Nature Of Social Networks...

A significant part of my day is spent maintaining my profiles on my social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and now Google+.

Some of my time spent in these networks is genuinely useful but a lot of it is spent in housekeeping chores, I'm constantly peppered with tasks: approve these friends, like these pages, it's Joe Smith's birthday wish him happy birthday, someone commented on a post you commented on, you were tagged in this post/photo...

Sometimes it feels like I should spend my entire life here, tapping and typing all day long, running that hamster wheel.

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SaturdayPost: McLuhan's Relevance In Today's Media Mess Age...

(Portrait of Marshall McLuhan by Yousuf Karsh. Copyright the Estate of Yousuf Karsh.)

You may have noticed that the media loves to cover the media -- it's a narcissism that is not unique to the profession but certainly more visible because of its ready means of expression.

It's partly media's fascination with itself, that there is a lot of media this week about Marshall McLuhan: the philosopher prince of the media world. It's the 100 year anniversary of his birth, July 21.

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We Live In The Age Of Conversation Overload: G+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn...

I can deal with information overload -- if I didn't get to read that special article everyone is sharing then no big deal. But conversation overload is an entirely different thing.

As a journalist I have trouble keeping up with the conversations in my email, yet today I have conversations everywhere and in new places. There's email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my two blogs, then there are SMS messages, voicemail (which I never check) and the latest is: Google Plus.

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MediaWatch: The Strange Joys Of Blogging...

"I am no longer sure if I am in control of my blog, or if the blog could also be described as controlling me."

This line jumped out at me as I was reading Irving Wladawsky-Berger's latest post: The Evolution of My Complex Relationship with Blogging

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Twitter Congratulates Itself For Its Role In The "Renewal" Of San Francisco

After months of negotiations, late last week Twitter said it would stay in San Francisco, thanks to a multi-year cut in its payroll taxes on new hires.

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Do Jerks Do Better In Silicon Valley?

This morning on CNBC, Ryan Tate from Gawker and I, were debating "questionable ethics and jerk behavior by CEOs" it was related to my post last week: Questionable Ethics And The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs; and Ryan's follow up: Why Are Tech Founders Such Assholes?

Ryan made a good point on the show that looking at some of the largest success stories in Silicon Valley right now, such as Facebook and Apple, it appears that you do need to be a jerk to win.

I disagreed. Being a jerk has nothing to do with success. In this business it is teams that win -- not individuals. If you are a jerk it quickly gets around and people will avoid you, they will choose to work elsewhere given the choice.

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Some Thoughts On The Social Distribution Of Mass Media...(SoDOMM)

(Photo shows a meeting of the seminal Homebrew Computing Club - credit: Computer History Museum.)

Earlier this week I pointed out how "social media" has changed from its original promise of challenging the established order of mass media.

Where are the brigades of citizen journalists? What's become of the hope of the grass roots revolt against the gate keepers in our national and local media?

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Techcrunch Attack On SF City Government - Should SF's Tech Stars Avoid Local Taxes?

Mike Arrington at Techcrunch, has attacked San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos for insisting that tech superstar companies such as Twitter pay the city's 1.5% payroll tax.

Mr Arrington resorted to name calling in his post: San Francisco Doing Everything It Can To Drive Zynga And Twitter Away.

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IBM 100 Years: From Cheese Slicers To Supercomputers


Earlier today, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano kicked off the company's celebration of 100 years in business with a speech to students at his alma mater, John Hopkins University.

He spoke about how IBM started,"Making clocks, scales and cheese slicers, in addition to the punched card tabulator. After that, it's a blur: typewriters, vacuum tube calculators, magnetic tape, the first disk drive, the memory chip, FORTRAN, fractals, ATMs, mainframes, mini-computers, personal computers, supercomputers, services, software, analytics..."

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Escaping The Echo Chamber... Paris And London

I'm spending much of December away from Silicon Valley in Paris and in London. I recently returned from the Le Web conference in Paris and am catching up with family and friends in London.

I find it is always useful in escaping Silicon Valley for a good period of time because it reminds me that we are not all obsessed with the constant discussions abut Facebook, Twitter, Android, and all things Apple.

In the outside world people find such subjects interesting but not to the same extent as people seem to do in Silicon Valley. There is a binary mentality to such topics in SIlicon Valley -- everything is couched as one versus the other, as one killing the other.

It's a binary attitude popular in the geek engineering culture yet we know the reality of the world at large is that many things can co-exist without one necessarily "killing" the other.

The real world is not a black and white world it's a spectrum of many things. It's an "and" world: iPhone and Android; Apple and Microsoft; Dell and HP, etc. One can exist and so can the other, and create economies of scale and profit for many developers and value for many users.

When you leave the echo chamber of Silicon Valley you get a glimpse of the reality of the wider world but you can't do this on a flying visit, you need to dig in for a couple of weeks or more, imho.

I'll be posting more on my trip...

TEDxSF: The Edge Of What We Know...

The independent organization TEDxSF put together an excellent program Tuesday evening with a great lineup. Here is what we saw along the theme of "The Edge of What We Know."

- Juan Enriquez spoke about the poverty in the Mexican state of Chiapas and his role as a negotiator between the Mexican government and the indigenous people of Chiapas following an armed insurrection. He said he is angry at the way the people have been treated and the continued poverty.

- Dr. Alex Filippenko, an astronomer, spoke about the discovery of "dark energy" a force that is repulsing galaxies from each other. Very little is known about dark energy and dark matter and his mission is to interest people, especially kids, in these questions so that more people can join in discovery of the universe.

- Dr. Brian Fisher, a scientist at the California Academy of Sciences, (where the event was held) spoke about ants, his specialty. Ants are vital to the vitality of soils on every continent except Antarctica. He said very little is known about ants and that more study is needed. He questioned scientific projects such as searching for life on Mars when there was so little known about life on Earth - only 20% of species on Earth have been identified.

- Colin Weil introduced, which allows people to buy rainforest in Panama for as little as $25. Each person is allocated a small parcel in a large reserve located in the Mamoni Valley.

- Tony Deifell spoke about his life changing experiences in teaching people without sight to take photographs and the beauty on those images.

- Kevin Kelly spoke about "The Technium" and his belief that technology has a life of its own and its own agenda. I think he is confusing capitalism with technology.

- Jaron Lanier gave the best talk of the evening. He spoke about many things, including avatars and about exploring the shape of avatars and what this experience might produce.

- Molly Fisk performed some of her award winning poetry.

- Curt Smith, who used to be part of the duo "Tears for Fears" gave an excellent talk about the changes in the music industry and how there are new rules to be written.

- Julia Query shared an intense and emotional account of raising her son, who seemed normal but then developed autism.

Dr. Ed Moses spoke about his work at the National Ignition Facility on creating power stations fueled by fusion energy, the same energy source used by stars. He believes that this carbon-free from of energy will dominate energy production by the mid-century.

- John Kohler spoke about "smart money" and how mobile phones will become our wallets. This form of currency will be able to distinguish between green and non-green goods and will enable great social changes in the world.

- Ozomatli, the legendary multi-cultural band from Los Angeles finished up the program with a rowsing set and a noisy parade through the halls of the Academy of Sciences.

The organizers: Jason Johnson, Michael Levit, Christine Mason McCaull and a huge team of volunteers, which included publicist Jeanne Alford, did an excellent job, it was the best program so far.

About TEDxSF


Please see:

Captain Of The Sea Shepherd - Paul Watson Stole The Show At TEDxSF...

TEDxSF - Little TED Just Like The Big TED - SVW

Bees Awards: Showcasing Social Media From Around The World

I enjoyed the Bees Awards gala evening at the fabulous Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco. It was well attended and a well dressed crowd, making a nice change from the typical geek events I go to where dressing down is considered dressing up.

Bastien Beauchamp and his team did a good job of presenting the event and keeping things moving along.

There were a lot of awards, 16, in categories such as "Best 140 Characters Message (SMS, Tweet)."

There were a lot of social media campaigns and web sites that I wasn't familiar with but it was good to find out about them. Sometimes it seems as if we live in parallel universes and it is easy to miss things right next door.

Here is the list of winners including "Best Agency" Saatchi & Saatchi LA. This agency seemed a bit over represented in a bunch of categories and also over-represented at the awards with a small army of attendees.

I spoke Leyl Black, from Spark PR, one of the judges. She said she really enjoyed being a judge but that she was the only woman judge out of more than 20 judges.

The next Bees Awards event is May 10, 2011 and you can apply to be a judge.

Tech Awards 2010: Humanitarian Work Around The World

I went to the Tech Awards 2010 gala and there were lots of great, inspiring stories shown via short videos of all the nominees for the five prizes of $50,000 each.

The goal is to highlight the work of groups in the developing world, using technology to making life better for the less privileged.

There were three nominees for each award which means there were 15 short videos shot at great expense. However, NONE of these videos are available for embedding or sharing. I would love to showcase some of the great work being done by some of these groups but that's not possible, which is ridiculous in this day and age.

Why hasn't someone uploaded the videos to YouTube along with a contribution form to raise some additional money?

Ogilvy is the pro bono PR agency for the Tech Awards, why didn't Ogilvy sort out the social media aspect of the event?

Also, some of the winners had nothing much to do with technology, such as the Nokia Health award winner, which went to Micronutrient Initiative, an organization that adds micro-nutrients to salt.

The winner of the Humanitarian Award was Queen Rania of Jordan. I'm sure she is a fine person and she is certainly the most beautiful Queen on the planet but two years ago the winner was Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner. (Let's not mention Al Gore, who won it in 2009 and gave one of the worst speeches I've ever heard.)

It was comical to have the many presenters greet the queen first, and then everyone else. Even more comical was the efforts made by some of the presenters to speak a welcome in Arabic. Not even the great Muhammad Yunus got a greeting in Bengali, but it is clear that royalty takes precedence over commoners, including Nobel Peace prize winners. It all seemed very anachronistic for the Silicon Valley setting.

It was good to see the fine work of the Tech Awards, but overall, it was bit disappointing this year and there was money left on the table...

- - -

Please see:

Tech Awards For Humanity: "Cash Prizes" Galore And Al Gore's Meaningless Speech . . . And Amazing Laureates!

Survey Shows An Always-On Society...

We tend to be canaries-in-a-coal mine here in Silicon Valley as we tend to live the way others will in the near future.

One of those canaries is always working, or at least, always being able to work -- we are always on.

This survey, commissioned by Egnyte, a provider of cloud based file servers, questioned 350 people and found:

- Eight in ten small business professionals say they plan to work during the upcoming holiday season and most plan to do so remotely – from their home office, extended family’s/in-law’s house and even from the road.

-Nearly nine out of ten people will work from their smartphones, with iPhones and Androids leading the pack of the most popular devices.

- Three-fourths of people will use document apps most often.

- 82% plan to work during the holidays

- 73% anticipate doing work over Thanksgiving

- 87% will work during the December holidays (Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza)

- 55% will work on New Year’s Eve/Day

There are many occasions that respondents say they’ll work over the holidays:

- 79% will work when they can get away with it

- 12% on the drive to Grandmother’s house

- 76% will access work data over the holiday season from their personal computer; 89% will work from their smartphones

- 63% predict Apple’s iPhone and iPad will be the biggest winner in the market in 2011; while 34% believe the Android device and tablet will come out on top.

Egnyte has an Android application that provides users the ability to develop, edit, and delete files – and even allows users to share multiple files via links or attachments with a unique expiration feature that can limit link access by date or by the number of clicks. Each time a file is opened, Egnyte creates a local copy on the Android device to ensure that, despite the loss of a network connection, users can continue working on files. It also ensures that all edits will be saved back to the file server.

Jack Porter's "Big Think" Salon And The Future Of Work

I was pleased to be invited to Jack Porter's monthly salon "Big Think" on Thursday evening. It attracts a fascinating group of people.

Mr. Porter is CEO of Forward Innovations, a consultancy that helps large companies innovate. He is extremely well connected and his salons are designed for great conversation.

Also joining us: Fred Davis, co-founder of Wired Magazine; Jeetu Patel, CTO of EMC; Reese Jones, VC; Jim Marggraff, CEO of LiveScribe and inventor of LeapFrog; Tom Niehaus, Pivotal Capital; Ted Vucurevich, Enconcert; Tania Motlagh, and many others.

During dinner Mr Marggraff showed a demo of LiveScribe, which is a digital pen that captures written text but can also perform a wide range of other tasks. Users can also record a conversation as they take notes, and play it back as a "Pencast" and even embed it in a web page; users can also create applications such as a keyboard by drawing it and then playing the keys. It's a very versatile platform.

Sidney Minassian, the founder of Liaise, demonstrated a smart email client based on Outlook that can automatically set dates; remind team members when projects are due; and perform many management action tasks in one or two steps instead of more than a dozen.

We discussed the "future of work" and how the skill sets are changing; how people need to be good at being able to work in virtual companies with teams separated by thousands of miles; and how the educational system needs to change to reflect the new realities of work.

Mr. Porter said he is working on a very interesting project with Accenture, which has said that it will close its offices in 2012. Its staff will have to figure out a way of getting their work done without an office to go to.

I really like these types of gatherings because they aren't too large and everyone can speak and contribute to the discussion. It's one of my favorite ways to spend an evening, in a room full of smart people, and ones that have successfully accomplished a great deal yet are still working on that next project or venture.

- - -

Jack Porter (hightechexec) on Twitter

A Call For Bands! For the 3rd 'Silicon Valley Rocks' Charity Show

"Silicon Valley Rocks!" is always a fun charity event, held at the iconic Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, in early December.

It features many Silicon Valley geek bands and raises money to fund local school music and arts programs.

Alison Murdock and her team always put on a great show. Here is the latest news:

Our call for bands is now OPEN. If you work in the tech community and you have a regular gigging band, please apply to play. Read the FAQs for more information. We have only 6 spots available. Apply here.

Tech professionals by day, rockers by night -- on December 1, 2010 at the Great American Music Hall, they will pick up their instruments, venture onto the big stage, and let their alter egos shine... for a good cause and the love of music. Silicon Valley Rocks 2010 (year 3!) will bring together the Valley's tech community -- from VCs and entrepreneurs to bloggers and software developers -- to raise money for Music in Schools Today (MuST). Last year, we raised over $30,000. This year, our goal is to raise over $50,000.

Registration is now open. Earlybird tickets are on sale for $35 for regular tickets or $50 for VIP tickets (includes free drinks, food, and entry to the upstairs lounge). Tickets can be purchased here.

If you are interested in sponsorship or partnering to promote SVRocks, please contact me.

Rock on!

Alison Murdock


Silicon Valley Rocks!

Eric Schmidt - Google's Chief Lightning Rod

Eric Schmidt has an interesting job at Google. His official position is co-CEO with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin but his job title should be CLR or Chief Lightning Rod because he is often entrusted with announcing unpopular policies or making comments that bring a lot of media attention, more than Messrs. Page and Brin would welcome.

Mr. Schmidt's lightening rod escapades extend to his off-the-cuff remarks. He's not known for his careful consideration of what he is about to say in public forums, probably because of his age, which confers a quality of stubbornness and a lack of tact often seen in older men.

One of Mr. Schmidt's less considered remarks was when he said children should change their names when adults, to protect them from online content that might surface and reveal youthful indiscretions.

He received a lot of criticism for this, but it turns out it was all a joke! That's what he told Stephen Colbert on the TV show "The Colbert Report." Danny Goodwin has more here: Google's Schmidt to Colbert: Comment About Kids Changing Their Identity 'Was a Joke' @SEWatch

I have a better idea. Everybody should change their name to the same name and use nicknames between themselves. When everyone is called I.M. Spartacus we won't have to worry about any unwelcome Google revelations.

- - -

Silicon Valley's Techno-Arts Festival Starts Thursday

San Jose's fabulous Zero1 (SJ01) Biennial festival starts on Thursday running for four days. The organization's theme is "Build your own world" with a focus on "The future is what matters, not what's next."

There are hundreds of artworks, films, outdoor exhibits, parades, performances and a host of interactive arts projects. I visited the preview for some of the projects in the cavernous South Hall (above).

The future is not just about what's next. It's also about what we can build to ensure that what's next matters. How can we, as resourceful, innovative, and knowledgeable local and global citizens build and participate in a desirable future in the face of global climate change, economic meltdown, political instability, and cultural divisiveness?

Zero1 Green Prix coming to San Jose | Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition

ZER01 invites public participation in the Green Prix Parade. The Green Prix parade will be an eclectic, artistic eco-motion procession beginning in the South Hall (San Jose Convention Center) parking lot and proceeding down South 1st Street through the SoFA district. A parade of human-powered, electric, solar and many other sustainable locomotive projects will cascade down the street displaying an array of artistic mobility.

Green Prix Festival

Following the Parade, there will be an all day festival on South 1st Street where parade entries will be on display and available for visitors to interact with and possibly even test out. The Festival will be filled with "green" creations, parade projects, family oriented do-it-yourself workshops, demonstrations, local galleries and music performances.

- Survival Research Labs will be at the festival with its signature fire spewing robots.

- Retro Tech

San Jose Museum of Art
Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00 am-5:00 pm

Extended hours on September 16, 2010

The artists represented in this exhibition grapple with the potential of technology as they "build their own world." They re-purpose and manipulate technologies of the past and present in ways that range from playful to ironic to analytical. As these artists explore the 'craft' of technology, they often investigate the very notion of obsolescence. Here, with the benefit of our 21st-century hindsight, the historical course of technology becomes a vehicle for understanding both our present context and our visions for an augmented future.

Artists include:

Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla

Katya Bonnenfant

Tim Hawkinson

Aleksandra Mir


Camille Scherrer

Victoria Scott & Scott Kildall

MadeIn (Xu Zhen)

Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga

- Become someone else in A Machine To See With - ZER01 Blog

If you're headed to the 01SJ Biennial, and I know you are, you MUST participate in Blast Theory's A Machine To See With, a work for pedestrians and their mobile phones placing participants inside a movie as they walk through the city streets of downtown San Jose.

Internationally renowned artists who brought Ulrike and Eamon Compliant to the 53rd Venice Biennale are here in San Jose mixing documentary material and stolen thriller cliches inviting you to become someone else in this once in a lifetime cinematic experience.

- Crossing the Deadline - MISSION ETERNITY

MISSION ETERNITY is a metaphysical adventure: an arcane network of computers, mortal remains, emotions, cargo containers, scientists, artists and hackers - a technical as well as a legal, an organizational and an economic night mare. MISSION ETERNITY is as much about loss than it is about conservation of information. MISSION ETERNITY is hybrid art. read more »»

- The Empire Drive-In. Watch movies sitting inside junked cars.

- Artist talks:

Thursday, 9/16/10, 12-1:00pm
Eyebeam, Ali Momeni & Minneapolis Art on Wheels (MAW)

Friday, 9/17/10, 2-3pm:
Tiffany Holmes, Nancy Nowacek

Friday, 9/17/10, 6-7pm:
LAB at Rockwell Group, Christopher Baker

Saturday, 9/18/10, 12-2pm:
Stephanie Rothenberg, Laetitia Sonami & SUE-C, Zoë Keating

Saturday, 9/18/10, 3-4pm:
Rigo 23, Todd Chandler & Jeff Stark

Sunday, 9/19/10, 1-2:30pm:
Chris Chafe, Greg Niemeyer, Sasha Leitman, & Curtis Tamm, Benoit Maubrey,fabric | ch

Sunday, 9/19/10, 2:30-3:30pm:
Brody Condon

- Do You have your 01SJ Biennial iPhone APP? - ZER01 Blog

See you there...

Loren Feldman - The Jester In The Court Of Web 2.0

[From left to right: Loren Feldman with Mike Arrington, Loic LeMeur, Robert Scoble during happier times - photo from Loic LeMeur]

Loren Feldman is the New York City based publisher of, a fascinating, irreverent and funny critic of the West Coast tech scene.

Loren used to be an insider, a close friend of the princes of the Web 2.0 world: Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, Loic LeMeur, and others. But Loren has managed to upset all those people, and more; and so have I simply by retweeting some of his comic puppetry.

(I've been blocked and called names because of my re-tweets of Loren's material but that won't stop me. It's a guy with a sock (puppet) on his hand -- people need to lighten up.)

Loren's puppets are hilarious. He has puppets representing Robert Scoble, Loic LeMeur, Shel Israel, Peter Cashmore, Dave Winer, Mark Zuckerberg, Gary Vee, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Steve Ballmer, and more.

Here is an example of Loren Feldman's puppetry: Steve Ballmer's iPad review.

Loren often hits the nail on the head and says things that I hear others saying privately. When he talks about how the West Coast tech scene is so fixated on incremental additions to operating systems; the obsession with the iPhone, iPad; the fact that we have enough technology and not enough useful applications of technology; and the overbearing shouting of some of our leading Web 2.0 evangelists.

The things he says are things that many would love to say but they have to live here, and they don't have a sock puppet to say things for them. Many of the things he says are funny and true.

Truth can be uncomfortable, which is why I get into trouble retweeting his work, and I know people who have gotten in trouble simply for retweeting my retweets of Loren's material (wow).

Court jester...

In my opinion, Loren is playing a key role, the role of the court jester. It's a vital role that keeps influential people humble, honest, and a reminder not to smoke too much of their own stash, drink their own koolaid, etc.

From: Fooling Around the World: The History of the Jester

Irreverent, libertine, self-indulgent, witty, clever, roguish, he is the fool as court jester, the fool as companion, the fool as goad to the wise and challenge to the virtuous, the fool as critic of the world.

The court jester is a universal phenomenon. He crops up in every court worth its salt in medieval and Renaissance Europe, in China, India, Japan, Russia, America and Africa.

Instead of getting mad at Loren we should be seeking out more like him. People get surrounded by minions who agree with everything they say -- that's not a good thing. We get caught up in our own echo chamber and it takes a court jester to pop our balloons, wake us up, slap us in the face metaphorically.

Jesters used to be prized by royalty and they would compete for the best jesters. Queen Elizabeth I of England once threatened her jester because he wasn't harsh enough with her.

Loren can seem to be pretty harsh but that's a subjective reaction; his nature is that he keeps it real. And that used to be a key quality of bloggers -- keeping it real, keeping things authentic. These days such qualities are rare and becoming rarer as commercial interests can take precedence over authenticity.

Loren Feldman is a big critic of many of the things the Web 2.0 crowd finds dear, such as Twitter, which he says is one long river of advertisements as people promote their own work time and again (true - I do it all the time).

Harsh truths aren't pleasant but truth is not harsh it is simply the truth.

The point is not to kill the jester but to celebrate the jester. That's why we need Loren Feldman and 1938media, imho.

Silicon Valley Culture And Burning Man...

{Rebecca Kaplan and team built the above 20-ft metal sculpture for Burning Man which travelled to San Francisco.)

There's a strange hush around San Francisco and the Bay Area. There's fewer people around, there's a little less traffic, and there are parking spots where there are normally none.

This week is the week of the Burning Man festival -- a celebration of abundance, creativity, the arts -- set within one of the most inhospitable places on earth, a place where NASA might test its Mars Rover because of the extremes of temperature, wind, solar radiation and dust storms.

About two hours drive outside of Reno, Nevada, a city of about 50,000 rises up from the bed of an ancient alkali lake where nothing grows. For about a week it is one of the largest cities in Nevada, and then it disappears, leaving no trace.

Residents of what is known as Black Rock City build incredible buildings and art installations. The creativity and ambition of many of the projects is breathtaking. Yet there is no commercial involvement or commerce allowed at the event beyond being able to purchase ice and coffee from a central location.

There are several daily newspapers, several dozen radio stations, and hundreds of theme camps that offer experiences of many kinds, or simply a shady place to escape the sun or the dust storms.

Despite the grandeur of so many installations there is nothing labelled "Sponsored by Google" or "Intel" or "Oracle" yet there are many people from those companies and more, attending every year.

Burning Man's culture of openness, creativity, self-organization, sharing, and innovation plays a key influence in SIlicon Valley's culture, and one has influenced the other, countless times. The idea for the open source movement could very easily have come from the open collaboration that Burning Man started. There is a lot of common culture between the geek engineer community and Burning Man.

Burning Man is part of the mythology of Silicon Valley, for example, it is how Eric Schmidt got his job at Google, by showing up one year and impressing founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both avid "Burners."

Beach party...

Burning Man grew from humble origins. It started as a beach party in San Francisco in 1986 and then moved to the remote and desolate high desert of Nevada.

The early days were wilder than today, there were no rules. People would set up crazy things such as a drive-by shooting gallery. These days each ticket to the event warns in large letters that participants face possible death but there are lots of rules to prevent death and injury.

But despite some rules, it is still an open event where much of anything goes. And people do die in unfortunate accidents.

A blank canvas...

The vast expanse of the playa -- the empty space at the heart of Burning Man, acts as a canvas for spectacular art projects. My favorite part of the Burning Man experience is cycling across the playa and discovering new art seemingly coming out of nowhere overnight.

The huge playa is like the Internet, a massive blank canvas, a platform for people's creativity. And like the Internet, you often don't know who is behind the projects, or even like some of the projects...

The event is not a weekend getaway. Don't think you can throw a bag in the back of the car and head off to party for a few days because you will likely run into serious problems. Even a little alcohol starts to dehydrate your body very quickly. And many people are hospitalized for thinking Burning Man is just another party town.

If you plan and pace yourself then the experience can be transforming. You spend the day sheltering from the sun and the heat and the dust, and then Black Rock City comes to life as the afternoon sun wanes. The temperature cools and its night becomes as glittering and bright as Reno or Las Vegas.

It has been about 5 years since I last visited Black Rock City and each time it feels very fragile as if it might not be there again next year.

One of the most striking aspects is the lack of commercial messages for an entire week. You only notice it once you leave: the ads in magazines; the advertising on the radio; even the brand advertising on the side of trucks becomes very noticeable and oppressive after a week away...

If you ever get the chance to go, you should take it. The event's temporary nature and spectacle are a good metaphor for our times. And "leave no trace" is a great lesson we can learn from Burning Man.

- - -
Please see:

Burning Man - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Burning Man: What is Burning Man?

If you are headed to Black Rock City this year you should check out "Burning Man Now" and watch for your tweets, photos, etc, showing up on the site.

Upcoming: San Jose's Zero1 Techno-Arts Festival- The Future Is About What Matters... Not What's Next

This is an event well worth catching, it gets better each time: The 2010 01SJ festival is September 16-19.

Steve Dietz, the artistic director, and Jaime Austin, Assistant Curator, write:

The future is not just about what's next. It's also about what we can build to ensure that what's next matters.

How can we, as resourceful, innovative, and knowledgeable local and global citizens build and participate in a desirable future in the face of global climate change, economic meltdown, political instability, and cultural divisiveness?

The 2010 01SJ Biennial is predicated on the notion that as artists, designers, engineers, architects, marketers, corporations and citizens we have the tools to (re)build the world, conceptually and actually, virtually and physically, poorly and better, aesthetically and pragmatically, in both large and small ways. 01SJ is about how powerful ideas and innovative individuals from around the world can make a difference and come together to build a unique and distributed city-wide platform for creative solutions and public engagement.

Under the theme "Build Your Own World," ZER01, in collaboration with dozens of partners, will present over the course of 4 days, from September 16-19, hundreds of artworks, performances, events, and artist talks, which not only imagine the future of the world) but begin to build it.

Here is an extract of my interview with Steve Dietz from the prior 01SJ:

The goal of the festival is to change people's perception of San Jose by establishing a festival that showcases digital arts and that will one day rank alongside Sundance and Austin's South by South West festivals. "Those festivals took 20 years and we're just starting," said Steve Dietz, creative director of Zero One.

And here is a video SVW commissioned from a prior 01SJ:

Cisco Old Spice Parody Update...

Cisco's Old Spice parody has resulted in just 2 videos over a 3 hour period so far... The goal:

Beginning at 7:00 AM PST/10:00 AM EST, you can tune in for a series of Cisco parodies of the online Old Spice campaign.

We will be creating a series of short videos based on real-time suggestions received via Twitter using the #CiscoSPice tag. We encourage you to tweet your own ideas and recommendations. These will run all day long, with the last video to post at 5 pm PST.

If you'd like to give Cisco a hand you can visit: SP360 blog

Here's the first one, it references my story yesterday:

IBM Study: Millennials And The New Corporate Leaders - Social Responsibility Is Essential

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a former senior executive at IBM, responsible for strategy, reports on two recent studies: 1500 face-to-face interviews with CEOs: 2010 Global CEO Study; and 3,600 mostly 20 to 25 year old undergraduates and graduates in 40 countries: Inheriting a Complex World: Future Leaders Envision Sharing the Planet.

The students were asked many of the same questions as the CEOs.

This made it easier to look for commonalities and differences between these two generations - one at the top of their careers, the other about to start out on theirs.

The students are from a much different world than the CEOs.

These students have no nostalgia for a simpler era, because they never knew one. They grew up in a complex world. They intuitively understand the tenets of globalization.
. . .
More than 90 percent of the students we surveyed were born after 1980, so for them, games, music, mail and data have almost always been digital. They came of age in a world of interconnections, even hyperconnections.
. . .
They understand implicitly and intuitively that economies, societies, governments and organizations are made up of interconnecting networks. Once viewed as discrete and independent, it is clear now that these spheres - both manmade and natural - connect in a myriad of ways. We may not have even needed to define complexity: they seemed so familiar with the term for an interconnected, multifaceted environment."

There were some similarities between the responses of both groups:

"Overall, creativity was the leadership quality most frequently selected by both groups. Students and CEOs alike viewed creative leadership in terms of disrupting the status quo and taking bold rather than incremental steps.

But there were also strong differences...

... that were entirely consistent with students' values about sharing the earth. Among the nine leadership traits CEOs and students could choose from, students placed a higher emphasis on only two leadership qualities - global thinking and a focus on sustainability. Students were 46 percent more likely than CEOs to view global thinking as a top leadership quality. And they were 35 percent more likely to include sustainability in the top three."
Beliefs about globalization and sustainability were even more defining. We found students were much more concerned with these issues than CEOs, and most importantly, saw them as inherently connected."
Based on their comments, it was clear that students view globalization and sustainability as intertwined themes. They believe that a global citizen has responsibilities to others in the world, and that an emphasis on sustainability makes one better appreciate the impact of globalization.

"Students' views were stronger than CEOs on every one of the ten questions relating to these topics, and, as their comments made clear, called for bold and immediate action. They spoke about a new relationship among societies and business, economies and governments, and the need for a new definition of 'value' on what they see as a shared planet."

When asked for the top three factors that will impact organizations, 23 percent of CEOs mentioned globalization and 21 percent environmental issues, ranking them number 6 and 7 among their top issues.
For students, globalization was the highest ranked issue, voted on by 55 percent. Environmental issues were voted on by 42 percent of students and ranked fourth.

The IBM study concluded that universities are behind the times in educating "students in the wider meaning of sustainability, to reflect not just environmental concerns but also the economic, social and cultural implications."

And companies "need to be very sensitive to the increased expectations in corporate social responsibility of this new generation."

More here: Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Growing Up in a Complex World

Women Are In Control - HerWay.Com Dating Site

This strikes me as a very good idea, an online dating site where the women are in control:

According to HerWay, it is at least five times more likely that online daters will successfully connect when a woman initiates contact. By letting women make the initial connection with their potential suitors, HerWay creates an environment where women's intuition rules and connections therefore have a much better chance of turning into love. This concept is mutually beneficial as it also relieves men of the pressure of having to compete for a woman's attention, allowing them to sit back and let the ladies come to them.

For the men, they are offered tips on how to make themselves more appealing to women, how to behave on dates, and personal hygiene tips (OK, I added that one :)

Since men love statistics, the site offers "detailed profile performance reports that illustrate how their profile success rates stack up as compared to other men on the site."

Here's how it works:

The HerWay registration process takes less than a minute as users build full profiles and post pictures of themselves. Once their profile is built, female users can search the entire database of male profiles on the site and are encouraged to send free invitations to connect with men they find appealing. A woman's profile is only revealed to the man of her choosing after she has shown interest in him with a connection invitation. Once the connection is established, the male user can view, flirt and message his match.

Is "The Singularity" The Elite Geeks' Version Of "The Rapture"?


The Singularity is a belief that our technology will inevitably collide with our biology, and that this will give us mastery over our mortality.

We will be able to cure diseases, stop our aging, and also control our senses with augmented created experiences. The resolution of those augmented experiences would be indistinguishable from the natural world.

We will be able to create a reality that is indistinguishable from our "natural" reality. We will be able to choose the "matrix" as Hollywood knows it (Singularitans hate that term).

. . .

Ashlee Vance in the The New York Times wrote an interesting report today on The Singularity Movement:

In the Singularity Movement, Humans Are So Yesterday -

The article points to how much support there is from Google founders and others, such as top investor Peter Thiel.

"Some of Silicon Valley's smartest and wealthiest people have embraced the Singularity. They believe that technology may be the only way to solve the world's ills, while also allowing people to seize control of the evolutionary process. For those who haven't noticed, the Valley's most-celebrated company -- Google -- works daily on building a giant brain that harnesses the thinking power of humans in order to surpass the thinking power of humans. "

"Larry Page, Google's other co-founder, helped set up Singularity University in 2008, and the company has supported it with more than $250,000 in donations. Some of Google's earliest employees are, thanks to personal donations of $100,000 each, among the university's "founding circle." (Mr. Page did not respond to interview requests.) "

. . ."We will transcend all of the limitations of our biology," says Raymond Kurzweil, the inventor and businessman who is the Singularity's most ubiquitous spokesman and boasts that he intends to live for hundreds of years and resurrect the dead, including his own father."

. . ." Peter A. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and a major investor in Facebook, is a Singularity devotee who offers a "Singularity or bust" scenario."

As in the Christian Rapture, only a few will get there:

..."Andrew Orlowski, a British journalist who has written extensively on techno-utopianism. "It is rich people building a lifeboat and getting off the ship."

It's a vision of a select few living forever in an utopian paradise free of mortal concerns. Is "The Singularity" the uber-geeks' version of "The Rapture"? It certainly shares key themes and beliefs.

- - -

Ray Kurzweil is the chief spokesperson for The Singularity movement. I went to see him speak at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco a few years ago.

Mr. Kurzweil had to take a break from ingesting more than 350 micro-nutrients a-day. He takes these to help him stay alive until we reach the early stages of the Singularity - that's one micro-nutrient every 3 minutes.

He spoke for about an hour, or rather, he showed graphs for about an hour. Most of his graphs were logarithmic scale and all his graphs went up. They showed the inevitable progress of technology and science. And all of them converged in about 15 to 20 years, the point of The Singularity.

He said that if we can avoid encountering our mortal nature over the coming ten years or so, we will probably make it to The Singularity.

- - -

As far as my personal choice of "raptures" I'll go with RK's secular "The Singularity" I think we will get there faster than the Christians with their tech-free approach to salvation. Jewish people are still waiting and they are next in line.

- - -

BTW: There is an unique web service for Christians:

Rapture Letters

"The rapture: When all the believers in Jesus Christ, who have been born again, are taken up to heaven.

After the rapture, there will be a lot of speculation as to why millions of people have just disappeared.

... We have written a computer program to do just that. It will send an Electronic Message (e-mail) to whomever you want after the rapture has taken place, and you and I have been taken to heaven."

The Singularity geeks will send out their own emails. And there will also be a Google alert.

Who Will Be The First "Fair Trade" Tech Company? It's The New "Green"...

There's a tremendous opportunity waiting to be grabbed. There's a Wikipedia page waiting to be written.

"The first Fair Trade tech company was ..."

I'm certain that the Fair Trade concept will be applied to electronics, and it's just a matter of when that will happen. I'm convinced it will happen not because it's a good idea but that it's a potentially profitable idea.

Let me explain my thinking. Our digital gadgets and gizmos are becoming very cheap, almost disposable - yet the working conditions for millions of workers in the global electronics industries are deplorable. Even though they often work in bunny suits, in super clean, well lighted work places, those jobs are highly stressful and often unhealthy.

Lets not forgot that those bright, sanitized work places, those clean work clothes, and filtered air conditioning, is not for the workers, it's to protect the electronics from the humans. The wages are poor and the work is grueling.

Fair Trade electronics could help tens of millions of people around the world without making much difference to our wallets. We could easily alleviate a lot of suffering without much suffering on our part, we could afford to pay a bit extra.

Noble goals are important but what will drive the growth of Fair Trade electronics is that it will be an excellent way to make money. It's a great way for companies to differentiate themselves in the market place.

Consider this: All technology products trend towards becoming commoditized - that's just how things work. How do companies fight commoditization? It's done through differentiation.

- Companies such as Apple do it through design. Take a commodity product, say an MP3 music player, and apply a great design. Design drives sales and it is a high profit value add.

- A lot of computer companies these days proclaim how green they are, how eco aware they are, and how their products use less energy, carbon, etc. "Green" drives sales and it's a high profit value-add.

- Fair Trade electronics is another way companies will be able to differentiate themselves from competitors. Fair Trade will drive sales and it is a high profit value add.

Yes, companies will be able to make money out of Fair Trade electronics and make a difference in the world- it's one of the wonders of capitalism.

Fair Trade applied to the electronics industry will also be incredibly transformative because the supply chains are huge.

Think of a laptop and how many companies were involved in the sourcing of the components of a hard drive, the motherboard, making the chips, the glass for the screen, the plastic for the keyboard, the springs in the keys, the capacitors, the resistors, and on and on...

To make a Fair Trade laptop would require hundreds if not thousands of companies in the supply chain to have Fair Trade certified work places. So, if a company such as Dell or HP were able to build just one electronics product, a Fair Trade laptop, it would revolutionize a massive sector of the world's electronics industry.

And once a supplier has a Fair Trade manufacturing facility it can then also supply Fair Trade components for a vast array of other Fair Trade electronics products.

The first Fair Trade tech company will revolutionize the entire industry. Who will it be?

Foxconn Suicides: Is It Time For "Fair Trade" Electronics? Would You Buy A "Fair Trade" iPhone?

The suicides at Foxconn have highlighted the issue of highly stressful working conditions in the global electronics industry. Foxconn has responded with psychologists, punch bags, swimming pools, and asking employees to promise not to kill themselves.

But these moves do nothing to change the actual working conditions. Suicide numbers are a big red herring because even if they go down, huge numbers of workers will still suffer from low wages, long hours, and many other tough and unhealthy working conditions.

A recent BBC documentary series, "Blood, Sweat and Luxuries" took six young British consumers and placed them exotic locations working in the same jobs as locals, and having to survive on the same wages.

It's an eye opening series because it showed the horrible work conditions that billions of people face daily, every week, for years, and decades. These were strong, healthy, young British adults, yet they would pass out from the back breaking work, suffer panic attacks, and many other maladies, after just a few hours on the job.

They carried huge amounts of dirt in Ghana's gold fields; they processed leather in stinking abattoirs in Ethiopia; they dug deep holes in coffee plantations; and they had to work in an electronics factory in the Philippines where workers prepared tiny components for disk drives, processing one component every 3 seconds.

If they even took a moment to glance up from their tasks, or be distracted, they would fall behind in their quota and have their wages docked. It was incredible how much work had to be done for so little money by so many people. And the reason they were paid so little is that the electronics factory had to accept tiny profit margins in order to win its contracts.

All the large tech companies such as Apple, Nokia, Dell, etc have agreements with their suppliers that they do not employ children, and that they will abide by certain standards to protect workers. But it's not clear how these are monitored, enforced, or how much in common they share across the electronics industry.

What is common across the electronics industry is a relentless focus on reducing manufacturing costs, and the largest manufacturing cost is labor; which is why employees are pushed to work faster, while maintaining high quality work, and at the lowest wages acceptable.

We reap the benefits in the form of cheap digital gadgets, gizmos, and computers. We have absolutely no idea about all the blood, sweat, and human suffering that went into creating our digital devices.

For the six young Brits that took part in that five week program, the experience was life changing. On their return they made big changes in their life styles, some changed their diets, and they all changed their buying habits. Some raised money and collected clothes and books for the families they met during their stay. And they found a new respect for Fair Trade goods.

One of them said that she used to dismiss Fair Trade coffee as some kind of marketing ploy, a trendy fashion. Now she doesn't, and is happy to pay extra because she knows it does make a difference in the lives of many people.

Would you buy a Fair Trade iPhone or Android smartphone? Would you buy a Fair Trade Dell or HP PC if there were such choices? And how much extra would you be willing to pay?

And more importantly, what would it take for you to be assured that the Fair Trade premium was making a difference in the lives of electronics workers?

It wasn't that long ago when PCs typically cost $5,000 and lots of people paid it willingly. These days you can pick up powerful notebooks for under $1000, and netbooks for under $400. And a $100 smartphone is more powerful than PCs from just a few years ago.

Surely, we should be able to afford to pay a Fair Trade premium on electronics without too much suffering on our part.

And hopefully, the global media attention on the Foxconn suicides will result in improved working conditions for millions of electronics workers, and Fair Trade electronics goods will become commonplace.

Suicides At France Telecom Are 5 Times Higher Than At Foxconn -The Human Cost Of Cheap Bandwidth And Gadgets?

Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of electronics products for Apple and many others, has reported 9 suicides among its workforce and is fighting allegations of being a sweatshop.

It's not the only tech company with a suicide problem, France Telecom's is much higher, with 46 suicides, and now a government investigation.

Both sets of suicides are blamed on work place stress.

The Real Truth Behind Foxconn's Suicide Cluster » M.I.C Gadget

The Foxconn suicide mess is all started from job stress. Within half a year, there are 9 suicides with 7 confirmed-deaths in Foxconn's factory of China, Shenzhen. In order to find out what's really going on in that factory, the Southern Weekly, described by The New York Times as China's most influential liberal newspaper, has sent an amateur reporter to slip into Foxconn's factory to pretend as a worker and the mission is to find out the truth of the suicide cluster. / UK - Fresh probe on France Telecom suicides

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into allegations of "workplace harassment" at France Telecom following a spate of suicides at the company, it emerged yesterday.

The former monopoly is also being investigated for failing to document properly the health risks facing its employees.

...In 2008 and 2009, 35 of the company's employees committed suicide, laying bare a deep crisis in morale among its 100,000-strong French workforce. The crisis has continued, with a further 11 employees taking their own lives since the beginning of 2010.

Stéphane Richard, France Telecom's new chief executive, told the Financial Times last month that there would probably be further suicides.

Is this the price of progress? Will we see suicides increase at other companies too?

The global work force, whether in China or France ... or in the US, is under ever increasing pressure to become more productive, and companies are forced to get rid of workers that can't keep up with the pace of production.

Laws that protect employees from losing their jobs aren't a good solution, as shown in France. French employers will sometimes make life unpleasant for staff, hoping they will leave.

I met with France Telecom executives in December in Paris. They showed me an impressive number of gadgets and services, including a 3-in-1 plan that included landline phone, cable TV, and mobile phone -- for 30 Euros a month, about $36!

I said it is impossible for me to get just one of those services for that price in the US. It just shows the intense competition for business in France.

It raises the question whether cheap bandwidth and low cost gadgets are the worth the cost in human lives--not to mention the huge amount of suffering in these work places that goes unreported.

Retreevo Study: Online Regrets...

Online electronics store Retreevo, published a study that found 32 per cent of people had posted something that they later regretted. But the damage done was relatively small:

- Of that 32%: 3% say it ruined their marriage or relationship with someone. 6% of them said it caused problems at work or home.

- Of that 32%: 13% were able to remove the offending post.

It seems iPhone users are particulary prone to inappropriate postings, followed by people under 25.

- 59% of iPhone users have posted something online they regretted.

- 54% of people under 25 years old have posted something online they regretted.

- Only 27% of people over age 25 have posted something online they regretted.

Retrevo Study: Two-Thirds Of Parents Allow Kids To Text At Meal Times's latest Gadgetology study highlights some interesting findings about parents and their attitude towards social media:

- 29% of all parents don't allow texting during family meals. 36% of parents of teenagers don't allow texting during family meals.

- 30% of parents think 13 - 15 years old is the right age to get a social media page

- 36% of parents think 16 - 18 is the right age to get a social media page

- 26% of parents say over 18 is the right age to get a social media page

- 8% of parents are okay with kids under 12 having a social media page.

- Only 12% of parents ban social media as a form of punishment. 18% ban all internet usage. 47% talk with their kids as a form of discipline.

- 48% of parents on Facebook are "friends" with their kids. 52% are not.

Andrew Eisner, director of content at Retrevo adds, "It looks like more parents with teenage children are more likely to be friends with their kids, although many admit it can be awkward at times but they say they do learn a lot about their teenagers, which is probably why children are so hesitant to friend their parents to begin with."

The study questioned 1,000 people across gender, age, income and location.

Captain Of The Sea Shepherd - Paul Watson Stole The Show At TEDxSF...

TEDxSF, one of the local TED conference communities, held an event Tuesday evening at the California Academy of Sciences, in the planetarium auditorium.

About 350 people watched live presentations and many more were in a lounge watching the live stream of the event on monitors. The theme was courage and resilience.

First up was Dr John Gray, the relationship expert known for his best seller "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus." He was very good, sharing some research on how women experience stress and the hormones needed to deal with stress.

He said that women in the workplace experience twice as much stress as men and they need the hormone oxytocin to deal with the stress, and that comes from doing nurturing tasks. Often, working women aren't able to do enough nurturing tasks to deal with their stress because work based tasks generate testosterone.

Men perform work tasks that generate testosterone, which is used to deal with their stress. When a man is sitting on a couch, he is regenerating testosterone.

Because women are suffering from stress at much higher levels in the workplace, and they are unable to deal with the stress well, they will start dying earlier than men, he predicted.

Jonathan Abrams, the founder of Friendster, ran through his history as an entrepreneur. He said it was a roller coaster lifestyle. He said he did it for the oxycotin boost. It was a content-lite presentation.

Ultimate Fighter Champion Nate Quarry was up next. He delivered an inspirational story of how he overcame many personal challenges to win his championship. Afterwards during the break, there was a crowd of people around him wanting to hear more.

Charles Huang, co-founder of Red Octane, the company behind Guitar Hero, the fastest video game to reach $1 billion in sales, praised his wife for allowing him to take out a second mortgage to finance Guitar Hero. He was turned down by most retailers and all the VCs.

Julianne Wurm told a harrowing tale of being kidnapped by a Latino gang member in Houston and then left for dead in a remote rural location. She made a miraculous recovery and then went on to teach in the largest Latino high school in Los Angeles. She gave everyone a lottery ticket to demonstrate the odds of this happening to anyone.

Celina Realuyo, a former US diplomat, spoke about risk and the need to prepare. It almost got interesting at one point.

Captain Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was great. He spoke about his life on the high seas, harassing and sometimes sinking, whaling ships. He told of his encounter with a sperm whale and how its eye communicated a message to him about the insanity of human exploitation of the oceans.

He said he had never been charged with any illegal acts. He also said that he doesn't save whales on behalf of any movement, or care about the criticism he receives as an "eco terrorist," he does what he does for the whales. He enforces international laws because countries lack the will or resources to enforce existing laws.

He once said that worms are more important than humans, deliberately, to point out that worms can survive without humans but humanity could not survive without worms and the rest of our finely tuned ecological habitat.

David Shenks, an author of science books spoke about how environment affects our gene expression. Genes are turned on and off by environmental factors. I think most people already knew this.

The lineup at the prior TEDxSF was a bit more interesting, but it was good to spend some time with the TEDxSF community and the organizers did another excellent job of curating a (mostly) interesting evening.

It would be excellent in future TEDXSF events to see the "x" stand for experimental. I'd love to see what could be done in the 18 minute TED presentation slot that isn't like all other TED presentations.

It would be great to have an interactive experience because all you do is sit there and watch -- and you can do that at home. I'd love to be able to interact with people at the event, not just at the break and the reception .

One of my suggestions is to askso everyone that attends to prepare a five minute talk, that they can be randomly asked to stand up and present it. It could be about the topic of the meeting, or something about them. Only about half-a-dozen people might be chosen but I know that people would rise to the occasion.

Many eople are terrified of public speaking but this would be amongst a very friendly and encouraging group. And like many of the TED speakers, who often share stories of things happening to them out of the blue and how they dealt with it -- how to deal with being randomly chosen to give a five minute talk would certainly get the blood flowing. Plus it is something to chat about during the social part of the evening...

I love how the organizers scheduled musical performances. I'd love to see this at the regular conferences that I go to all the time. (Contact me for suggestions of local concert pianists, opera, and other performers)

Loop!Station kicked off the event (below) and Bhi Bhiman performed in the second half, plus poetry by Michael Warr closed the event.

- - -

Please see:

TEDxSF - Little TED Just Like The Big TED - SVW

Here is a PearlTree related to the event:

Geo Loco And Privacy - And Commuter FasTrak Lanes...

Geo-location based companies are hot, and FourSquare is the leader, it's been reported that four VC firms are battling to lead its next investment round.

A buddy of mine uses FourSquare, he's constantly checking into various bars around the East Bay, or bars at airports. Some of my Twitter and Facebook contacts also seem to like it, even though sometimes their FourSquare checkins to restaurants seem sad -- as if they are lonely or they don't want to spend all that time with just their companions.

But what happens if companies start sifting through all that location based data? And they will, ostensibly to bring you personalized commercial messages and services that will improve your life.

But there's other, more lucrative forms of data mining. What if all those bar, diner, ice cream parlor check-ins were compared with your gym check-ins? You could also use other data to see how much you walked versus drove, or used public transport.

There's a ton of health related lifestyle data ready to be mined and risk analyzed. Life insurance companies will be able to greatly improve their actuarial tables, they'll be much better at disallowing insurance or raising rates.

Geo loco could become the straw that broke the camel's back when it comes to user privacy. So far, people have had a cavalier attitude towards their data privacy and the mountain of data collected by thousands of firms. These firms privately say that people give away their privacy rights very cheaply.

But that's because people don't have a feedback loop, they don't directly see how they are affected by their low concern over their data privacy. But once they do have that feedback loop, once their insurance rates go up, or they are rejected for insurance, they will try to gain back their privacy. They will not be enthusiastic users of geo-location based services.

And people really do care about their privacy and will seek to protect it when there is a clear choice. For example, whenever I take the Bay Bridge from the East Bay into San Francisco, I'm always amazed at how few people use the FasTrak lanes -- which use an electronic transponder to wirelessly pay your toll at a discount -- you don't even have to stop.

Yet tens of thousands of people prefer to pay a dollar extra, and wait in long lines to pay their toll. Why? Because they don't want someone keeping track of their trip, they don't want to be tagged.

All this enthusiasm over geo-location based services is misplaced, imho. They will have a place in people's daily lives but they will be constrained by many user concerns over privacy.

Be Careful Of "Dark Territorial Atavism" When Making Changes To Your Web Site

Sometimes some people hate change and the most trivial changes can set them off in ways unimagined.

That's a lesson Richard Dawkins, author, scientist, and professional atheist, learned recently when he made some changes to his site Here is an extract from his letter to his forum members:

Dear forum members,

We wanted you all to know at the earliest opportunity about our new website currently in development. will have a new look and feel, improved security, and much more. Visits to the site have really grown over the past 3 1/2 years, and this update gives us an opportunity to address several issues. Over the years we've become one of the world's leading resources for breaking rational and scientific news from all over the net and creating original content. We are focusing on quality content distribution, and will be bringing more original articles, video and other content as we grow...

The reaction from some of his forum members was spectacular. Overnight, he became the target of "personal vilification on an unprecedented scale."

The name calling was over the top, ranging from the relatively mild "utter twat" to a "suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat's rectum. A suppurating rat's rectum inside a dead skunk that's been shoved up a week-old dead rhino's twat."

And worse... "a sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails down your throat" and more...

Mr Dawkins wondered "what do you have to do to earn vitriol like that? Eat a baby? Gas a trainload of harmless and defenceless people? Rape an altar boy? Tip an old lady out of her wheel chair and kick her in the teeth before running off with her handbag?"

No, it was to write a letter explaining the changes to the forum on his website.

"Surely there has to be something wrong with people who can resort to such over-the-top language, over-reacting so spectacularly to something so trivial. Even some of those with more temperate language are responding to the proposed changes in a way that is little short of hysterical. ... Have we stumbled on some dark, territorial atavism?"

"...what this remarkable bile suggests to me is that there is something rotten in the Internet culture that can vent it."

There certainly is something rotten and good luck trying to root it out.

You can read the entire post here: Forum • View topic - Outrage

(Hat tip Chris Dymond.

Read This And Earn 500 Points: The Reverse Virtual Reality World Of The Future...

I don't pay much attention to games. I used to play games as a kid, and I used to play Halo as an adult. But that was years ago.

Today there are games everywhere, Farmville on Facebook, games at fast food places, games based on watching TV shows. I've managed to avoid all those too.

But I'm probably in the minority. Because games have become one of the most lucrative commercial endeavors, which means lots of people are playing. And game culture is having an effect on our broader culture -- especially the game culture of earning points.

Kevin Kelly points to a fascinating talk by Jesse Schell, a games designer. In "Design outside the box" Mr Schell starts by explaining out how much money is made by very simple games, such as Farmville and Club Penguin.

But its the latter part of his talk that is even more interesting, when he predicts how games will be embedded into our reality. With the use of wireless sensors, a lot of real world game play is possible.

For example:

- people will be rewarded with points by their insurance companies for walking.

- kids will get points for doing well at their music lessons.

- people will use public transport to earn points that are redeemable through tax credits; and so on...

Kevin Kelly notes:

On second viewing I realized that Schell had also outlined a version of an attention economy -- where points are distributed for paying attention -- to ads, or other activities, or other people. Some aspect of his vision seems pretty inevitable.

Foremski's Take: I agree with Kevin Kelly and Jesse Schell that the intrusion of games into our society is inevitable. But It's a scary future.

I can imagine people doing all sorts of weird things because some advertiser pays them points, for say, shouting out their name at noon: "JACK IN THE BOX!" and monitors it via a cell phone, and its GPS location, for extra points in an urban area. And there will be even weirder, crazier stuff going on, as games becoming ever more embedded into our reality.

Foursquare already gives us a tiny glimpse of a world where games are embedded into reality -- its a form of what could be called a 'reverse virtual reality.'

And 'points' are a perfect example of a reverse virtual reality (RVR), they are a virtual currency with real benefits.

The opportunities for abuse, in constructing points based RVR game play, are huge. Yes, people will be encouraged into healthier behaviors but they will also be taken advantage of by their willingness to do things for points.

We won't need to fear subtle mind control by governments, or a Big Brother, people will do and say all manner of things, not because they love their Dear Leader, but because they earn points.

- Monitoring of behavior, and the scoring of points, will be carried out by cheap sensors networked together through the ever spreading wireless communications layer that will soon be ubiquitous, even in remote rural areas.

- Collation and redemption of points will be in online worlds where even more points can be earned, by taking part in immersive experiences that strengthen brand association and loyalty. Scary, very scary.

- And of course, the tax man will take his share. How, I'm not sure, but there will be a way. And since government will benefit, it benefits the government to regulate it and encourage it.

But what if you don't want to participate in the brave new RVR world?

Of course, you won't have to, there's nothing that says that you must, no laws can compel you, in fact, there will be laws that protect you from discrimination through having to have RVR points, in housing, employment, and education.

However, we are social animals, we are very social animals. Monkey see, monkey do. Peer pressure will compel us into RVR game play to an enormous degree. Decrees against RVR game play will find few takers.

And as the real world becomes ever more tied to the virtual world, outcasts from this RVR society, like outcasts have always done, will once again form communes in the woods and remote areas of the world. Will you be one of them?

I'd like to think I'll be one of them, but then I'd have to walk away from all those points I've accumulated over so many years...

Take a look at the video - it's really worth it.

DICE 2010: "Design Outside the Box" Presentation Videos -

The Sexual Energy In Oracle...

Oracle president Charles Philips has been embarrassed by his ex-girlfriend who put up billboards of them together.

The New York Post reported:

The spurned squeeze, YaVaughnie Wilkins, went nuclear after she learned that Charles E. Phillips -- president of tech conglomerate Oracle and a member of Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board -- reconciled with his wife despite his lengthy affair with Wilkins.

Billboards appeared in San Francisco, New York, and Atlanta.

To some long-time Oracle watchers, and ex-Oracle staff, the fact that Oracle execs have an exuberant enthusiasm for the opposite sex isn't surprising.

Co-founder Larry Ellison set the pace with a bachelor billionaire lifestyle that made him the envy of many men half-his age. Leadership comes from the top.

One ex-Oracler told me, "One of my friends at Oracle was asked by one of the VPs if she would like to be his 'Tuesday girl.'' Apparently he had a vacancy."

Another ex-staff member told me: "Larry would sometimes date employees. You knew when the relationship was over because they would show up with a brand new Mercedes in the parking lot. That was his parting gift, he was a real gentleman. He owns a Mercedes dealership, or at least he used to. I guess he could get them at dealer cost."

I've no idea if the stories are true because I can't verify them. I'm only reporting them. For entertainment purposes only!

There's A Killer In Your Office: Your Chair - Studies Show Sitting Hastens Death

There is a killer right under your nose. Or rather, right under your butt -- your chair.

You might be pleased with that cool looking Aeron chair your buns are nestled in — but it's nothing but a stylish killer.

Recent studies have shown that the amount of time you spend sitting is related to a raised risk of dying. Sit more, die sooner.

An Australian study of 8,800 people over a six year period found that for each hour spent sitting increased the risk of death from heart disease by one-fifth. They were studying TV watching but it's not the TV that can kill you -- that's just a lure for sitting -- which can kill you.

It won't be long before US lawyers begin filing class-action lawsuits against well-heeled chair makers, for not warning innocent sitters that they are risking their lives.

In the near future, you might even be required to sign wavers that you understand the risks before being able to buy a chair, or sit in an office chair.

Exercise doesn't protect...

It seems that exercise doesn't help. Take a look at this Canadian study:

. . .a study published last year that tracked more than 17,000 Canadians for about a dozen years, researchers found people who sat more had a higher death risk, independently of whether or not they exercised.

Sitting might even lead to other diseases...

"After four hours of sitting, the body starts to send harmful signals," Ekblom-Bak said. She explained that genes regulating the amount of glucose and fat in the body start to shut down.

But is it fair to blame the chair?

Yes, because how else would you sit? Without a chair or its equivalent in a stool, or couch, or easy chair — you'd have to squat. People have been squatting since year dot and we're still here. It's the chair that's at fault.

I'm looking at getting a desk at which you can stand and still get your work done.

No one yet has made a desk at which you can squat but dibs on that idea. An office full of 'squatters' might look strange but it'll be a healthy office.

In the meantime, here is some good advice:

"We don't have enough evidence yet to say how much sitting is bad," said Peter Katzmarzyk of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, who led the Canadian study. "But it seems the more you can get up and interrupt this sedentary behavior, the better."

2010Watch - There's Curation And There's Prospecting...

Curation is today's buzzword, you see it everywhere. A couple of years ago only very few people were using it, mostly David Galbraith, founder of Curations - a network of sites: Wists Oobject Cribcandy Popgloss Yokiddo Smashingtelly.

Curation is a valuable service and it helps to organize a set of 'things.'

Prospecting is the next stage. Prospecting means discovering value where there seemed to be none. Digging through tons of dirt to find a rich seam of great stuff.

Prospecting will be increasingly important in 2010 because there will be millions of tons of 'dirt' produced. The noise level in the online media world will grow exponentially. 2010 will be a hockey stick year for dross media.

Prospecting will be increasingly important and I hope to do my share by finding rich viens of great content, great media, and great ideas.

Here is an example: a rich vein of original research from Hewlett-Packard's Social Computing Lab. This is an incredible treasure trove of scientific research - not some social media maven's hunch but repeatable research on the bahvior of very large numbers of people. It's pure gold.

Here's a list:

»Feedback loops of attention in peer production
Fang Wu, Dennis M. Wilkinson and Bernardo Huberman
Why does the distribution of user contributions obey a power law?

»Stochastic Models of User-Contributory Web Sites
Tad Hogg and Kristina Lerman
Fans, the law of web surfing and users' interests combine to promote and rate stories on Digg.

»A Persistence Paradox
Fang Wu and Bernardo Huberman
How persistence does not lead to success

»Effects of feedback and peer pressure on contributions to enterprise social media
Michael J. Brzozowski, Thomas Sandholm, and Tad Hogg
Attention matters in motivating contributions to enterprise social media. But some types of attention matter more.

»Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope
Bernardo A. Huberman, Daniel M. Romero and Fang Wu
the social network that matters is not the one you declare.

»Predicting the popularity of online content
Gabor Szabo and Bernardo A. Huberman
popularity, youtube, digg, attention, predicting future downloads.

»Social network collaborative filtering
Rong Zheng, Dennis M. Wilkinson and Foster Provost
User-generated social networking links can be as predictive as algorithmically identified "neighbors" in recommender systems

»Crowdsourcing, Attention and Productivity
Bernardo A. Huberman, Daniel M. Romero and Fang Wu
How to solve the digital commons dilemma.

»How public opinion forms
Fang Wu and Bernardo A. Huberman
How web discourse evolves. To appear in the Proceedings of the Workshop on Internet and Network Economics-2008

»How Do People Respond to Reputation: Ostracize, Price Discriminate or Punish?
Kay-Yut Chen, Scott Golder, Tad Hogg and Cecilia Zenteno
How people use reputation information.

»Popularity, novelty and attention
Fang Wu and Bernardo A. Huberman
Whether to use popularity or novelty to elicit attention

»Novelty and Collective Attention
Fang Wu and Bernardo A. Huberman
How does novelty affect the attention of large groups

»Comparative Advantage and Efficient Advertising in the Attention Economy
Bernardo A. Huberman and Fang Wu
Comparative advantage in the attention economy can be used to maximize the revenues a company gets from advertising.

»The Economics of Attention: Maximizing User Value in Information-Rich Environments
Bernardo A. Huberman and Fang Wu
Deciding what to display.

»Bootstrapping the Long Tail in Peer to Peer Systems
Bernardo A. Huberman and Fang Wu
How to provide any content over the web while avoiding free riding.

»The Dynamics of Viral Marketing
Jure Leskovec, Lada A. Adamic and Bernardo A. Huberman
How effective is viral marketing?

»Management Fads, Pedagogies and Soft Technologies
Jonathan Bendor, Bernardo A. Huberman and Fang Wu
What makes fads come and go?

»Social Structure and Opinion Formation
Fang Wu and Bernardo A. Huberman
How do opinions form?

»The Dynamics of Reputations
Bernardo A. Huberman and Fang Wu
How reputations get established, grow and decay.

»Status as a Valued Resource
Bernardo A. Huberman, Christoph Loch and Ayse Onculer
Why do we seek status?

»Competitive Dynamics of Web Sites
Sebastian M. Maurer and Bernardo A. Huberman
Competitive dynamics on the web unfold in surprising ways, leading to a sudden transition to winner-take-all markets.

»The Economics of Surfing
Eytan Adar and Bernardo A. Huberman
Information providers can exploit the differences in surfing behavior exhibited by web users.

Happy prospecting!

Silicon Valley Geeks Can Learn From European Geeks...

Silicon Valley Geeks and Parisian Geeks have a lot in common: lots of passion, great ideas and they speak the lingua franca of "geek."

But there is an important difference, as Beth Blecherman at Techmamas recently found on a visit to LeWeb:

While Silicon Valley geeks put on a clean tee shirt for tech conferences, European geekstake it up a notch. Here is a random geek waiting in line for LeWeb. I told him I was chronicling European Geek Chic. He looked confused but smiled for the camera. To top it off, he and many other Euro-geeks paired the geek uniform of jeans with a nice pair of (non-sneaker) shoes.
Just to keep up with the style, I put on every black and stylish piece of clothing I had. If I had time, I would of shopped from the assortment of beautiful french scarves to take my outfit up a notch.

Please see the full post, where Beth also looks for European girl geeks, which are even rarer than here:

Techmamas: Geek is a Global Language - But Twitter is Not (yet)

CultureWatch: Shyness Is The New (Social) Digital Divide

In this increasingly social media world you will be increasingly judged on how well you do in it.

Your job will depend on it, your future job will depend upon it, and also, if Microsoft has its way -- how much, or how much less you pay for goods and services will depend on how "social" you are, and how many people you count in your network.

Take a look at this, posted by kdawson on Slashdot:

In the world envisioned by Microsoft's just-published patent application for Social Marketing, monopolists will maximize revenue by charging prices inversely related to the perceived influence an individual has on others. Microsoft gives an example of a pricing model that charges different people $0, $5, $10, $20, or $25 for the identical item based on the influence the purchaser wields. A presentation describing the revenue optimization scheme earned one of the three inventors applause (MS-Research video), and the so-called 'influence and exploit' strategies were also featured at WWW 2008 (PDF). The invention jibes nicely with Bill Gates's pending patents for identifying influencers. Welcome to the brave new world of analytics.

To become an influencer requires building a reasonably large social network, or a small network of large influencers.

Either way, it requires good communications skills, a willingness to share part of yourself, and to spend a lot of time engaged in sharing. In other words, you can't be shy, a wilting violet.

So what happens if you are shy? What happens if you don't have a Twitter account and Twitt incessantly? or spend hours sharing on Facebook or LinkedIn, or blog? You might not have much of a viable future...

If companies such as Microsoft have their way, they will target the influencers with great deals, with information, with whatever is needed to keep them sweet, to keep them engaged with their brand, so that those people can influence their networks of networks.

It'll be a lot cheaper than the scattershot approach of today's marketing. And whatever they lose through discounts and giveaways to the influencers, they can make it back up on the backs of the shy, the people with no networks, the ones that prefer to keep their lives private, the ones that will be paying full retail price.

Will it work? We don't know. But either way, being shy won't work in today's increasingly social media world, (and likely you won't work).

Shyness in the online world seems to be becoming the new digital divide.

- - -

Please see:

There's Social . . . And There's Hyper-Social - What Happens In Social Media If You Are Shy? . . . And The Cuckoo Strategy Of Success

In this social media whirl of a world what happens if you are shy?

A job advertisement from the future . . . - SVW - Feb 2006

Paris Diary: Putting "French" Back Into Entrepreneur

The quality of the French startups we have been meeting with all week, has been very good.

It seems as if the French can once again claim back 'entrepreneur' instead of it being sometimes derisively labelled as an oxymoron in the French context.

But it seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon and one that relies on a compelling mix of government programs and tax breaks. While many countries have tried to encourage the formation of startups through various incentives, the French appear to have gotten the mix just right.

It wouldn't surprise me if in the near future, some US startups might choose Paris as a headquarters because of some of the advantages they can gain here, compared with an indifferent US government.

Kemal El Moujahid, CEO and Founder of Paris-based Teacheo, which provides a platform for online tutoring and collaborative tools, is a good example of a top quality French startup, of a type that we've (Traveling Geeks) I've been meeting with over the past three days.

Mr El Moujahid was born in Morocco, studied Information Technology in Paris, and has an MBA from Stanford university. He says that the French government has done a lot over the past few years to encourage entrepreneurs.

"There are a lot of programs that help startups raise funding, find office space, help hire people, and also fund research and development," he says.

About four years ago the French government began a series of programs to encourage innovation.

Here are some of the things it did:

- There is a French tax that is levied on wealthy individuals based on their net wealth, it is separate from tax on income. However, if they invest in a startup, they will receive a 75% tax credit. "That means that an investment of 100,000 euros costs them just 25,000 euros," says Mr El Moujahid. Because there is very little VC activity in France, this has become the main source of funds for startups.

- There are many government and city-run incubators. We visited the Paris Reunion Incubator, which specializes in digital media companies. It has 20,000 square feet of space housing 25 startups, fully wired with lots of shared office support services.

Startups pay just 500 euros per month for a 4-year lease. (I have a video interview with Martin Geurin, the manager (Chef de Projet) of the Reunion Incubator that I will post later.)

- France has the best research tax credit in Europe. Companies receive a 50% tax credit in their first year, and 40% in their second year.

- It is very easy to start a company. There is an 'auto entrepreneur' web site, and an almost one-click process that handles the paperwork and issues tax id numbers, etc.

- There are many government agencies that provide a variety of services to startups, such as HR.

But there are still some archaic obstacles in various sectors that seem to punish online companies, says Mr El Moujahid. For example, there is a 50% tax credit offered to parents that hire a tutor for their children but this does not apply to online tutors.

Also, there are cultural issues that can make it difficult to hire people, says Mr El Moujahid. He explained some of the issues:

- Top graduates tend to want to find a job with a large company rather than a startup. There is considerably less status in working for a startup. This is changing to some degree especially because of the slow economy.

- Hiring can be tough. Some candidates want to be paid considerably more than they would be paid at an equivalent job at a large company because of the risk in working at a startup, and they don't see much value in stock options. "Those candidates eliminate themselves," says Mr El Moujahid.

- Firing people is near impossible. They can sue their employer and always win a favorable judgement. "The best way is to negotiate a departure. You can tell them they have permission to apply for jobs while still working for you." This also works both ways, it is difficult to leave an employer in the lurch and take IP with them to a competitor, he says.

- Being fired from a job can be a good thing for an entrepreneur because they can receive two to three years unemployment at almost full salary and they are allowed to build a business during that time.

- Identifying yourself as an 'entrepreneur' doesn't have a great standing in some circles. But that is changing and the poor economy is creating new entrepreneurs across all age groups as conventional jobs dry up.

Mr El Moujahid says that he misses the 'can-do' attitude of SIlicon Valley. "Every US startup wants to takeover the world and they tend to be much more optimistic than in France. Sometimes that optimism is misplaced, they want to fight Godzilla with a plastic spoon - but the enthusiasm is great. In France, people are less ambitious and they focus on more modest goals."

He adds that sometimes there is distrust of the ambitions of entrepreneurs, a pursuit of money is viewed with suspicion.

Also, there isn't much room for failure. Unlike in the US, where entrepreneurs can fail many times and be concerned better for the lessons learned, French society is much less forgiving.

Is it easier to build a startup in the US?

"This is a question I often discuss with my American and French friends. I'm not sure. There are a lot of government programs and tax credits that make things easier here. But the US offers a larger market, access to capital, and a much more supportive culture for entrepreneurs."

"I think that learning how to build a startup is what's important and that that experience can be applied anywhere. At some point I know I will return to the US and apply what I have learned here."

[I'm in Paris all this week as part of the Traveling Geeks, a collection of journalists, bloggers, and PR people meeting with French startups and also attending LeWeb, France's premier Web 2.0 developer and business conference.]

CultureWatch: Should Cafes Become Cheap Office Spaces Or Places For Community Interaction?

Most of the cafes in my San Francisco neighborhood have people staring into their laptops, they are like libraries with piped music. Yet for hundreds of years cafes used to be centers of debate and interaction.

Some of the first newspapers grew out of the newsletters associated with cafes.

Today there is little conversation in cafes and when I do chat with friends or business contacts, I feel self-conscious, I feel I'm disturbing the screen focused concentration of other patrons.

It's largely because many cafes are being used as cheap office space. Our modern workforce is rapidly turning into independent "consultants" and contractors performing digital work. But cafes weren't designed for such uses.

If they are to be used as an office space why not have an area set up as a meeting room that could be rented by the hour? Or small booths for meetings? Why not have a fax and a printer available?

These days cafes seem caught in a limbo, they are neither good office spaces or good at fulfilling their traditional neighborhood roles.

But things could be changing. Some cafe owners are discouraging the laptop crowd by turning off the Wi-Fi and blocking power outlets.

Margaret Rosas pointed me to a Santa Cruz cafe whose owner has done just that and caused a local controversy.

Alan Hawrylyshen posted the owner's (Manthri Srinath) reasons for the change:

Our perspective after doing this a quarter-century, is that we operate coffeehouses with a view to creating a space for community to gather. We have only accidentally become a "WiFi cafe", by virtue of the fact that we haven't done anything to dispel the notion that we are. Now that we are doing so, it is understandable that some of our clients are surprised and upset. For this, I apologize.

Internet use results in a disconnect between the user and ones' physical surroundings, similar to watching television. No moral judgement here. I do it too. In a coffeehouse however, this results in rooms full of solitary people with no connection to the space or the people around them and has the unfortunate effect of crowding out any other sort of activity. Which of course is how we come to the misconception that we are a "WiFi cafe".

... we have also come to the realization that the use of our space, "the Commons" if you will, is something of a zero-sum proposition. We can either have rooms full of laptop users or rooms half-full of folks having a cup of coffee with a friend. Not both.

We have chosen to return to our roots as a coffeehouse where folks can come to converse with friends, read books, hold meetings and religious studies, listen to live music and generally have an experience that transcends Explorer or - if you're a bit more savvy - Firefox. We regretfully realize that this means that people who "must" have Internet access will be unable to use our space, at least for now, unless they bring in wireless cards or tethering capability. Of course, on the flip side, it's been nice to see a new clientele who want something different from a coffeehouse.

... I'm sure there are ways for us to solve everyone's connectivity issues, but this really is not our charter. There are many things we could do to make money. Selling umbrellas and offering/charging for WiFi access are two of them. We're in neither business.

We're old-style coffeehouse operators who came to this pass by accident. We were pioneers in offering WiFi when hardly anyone knew what it was, and we will be pioneers in moving beyond it. We're comfortable in that space. It's largely been why we operate the busiest cafes in town.

You can read the full post and discussion here: Geek Friendly Cafe - Santa Cruz Geeks | Google Groups

It's refreshing to see this type of thing. And its good to see a cafe owner bringing back discussion and debate to cafes, although it's ironic that the subject is his cafe. Maybe this will encourage other cafes to follow or even become more specialized.

Some cafes could focus on offering great wifi and office-like facilities. Others would be more traditional. Others more like restaurants and bars.

I can see myself working in one cafe, strolling over to another one for lunch, maybe a late-afternoon meeting with friends at another, then catching an early evening lecture or performance at another cafe.

Each one would be set up for such activities instead of each cafe trying to become a hybrid space that doesn't fully satisfy either type of customer.

Since there are so many cafes these days, creating differentiation would be a prudent survival strategy.

- - -
Please see:

Wallace Baine: Free Wi-Fi and the 'tragedy of the commons" - Santa Cruz Sentinel

Burning Man And Its Radical Links To Silicon Valley And Geek Culture

This week is Burning Man week, and in many ways, this is Silicon Valley's unofficial alternative festival in that there are tremendous numbers of people from the Bay Area attending.

This is where Silicon Valley blows off steam. Yet Burning Man is far from a relaxing place. It is located in one of the most inhospitable places in the world, a huge dried out lake bed two hours drive outside Reno, Nevada.

Nothing grows here. This could be the surface of Mars. The temperatures at this time of year range from scorching hot, to teeth chattering freezing. Dust storms can leave you chocking on alkali dust and disoriented. And sudden rainstorms will leave you waddling through mud.

Yet out of this hellish place rises Black Rock City, which for about a week, it becomes one of the largest cities in Nevada. It has multi-story buildings, daily newspapers, dozens of radio stations, and an entire infrastructure of people and services.

And then it disappears leaving no trace at all.

It is born out of nothing, yet out of this emptiness sprout amazing art projects, theme camps, and so much more, more things than you can imagine.

Last year about 50,000 people took part. And "took part" is key to understanding Burning Man. Participation is expected of everyone, spectators are discouraged.

In one way it is a blank canvas similar to the Internet. You can build anything at Black Rock City as you can build anything on the Internet. The only bounds are safety, your imagination, and your resources. People will band together to create immensely intricate structures and theme camps.

No sponsors

Importantly, there is no commercial activity at all. You can buy ice and coffee at the central camp and that is all. You have to bring everything you need with you, and you have to bring everything out.

No commercial messages are allowed. There is no such thing as "This theme camp sponsored by Microsoft." The radio stations have no advertisements. People cover up the brand names on moving vans.

Being away from commercial messages for a week is quite an experience -- as soon as you leave you start noticing how many commercial messages we are bombarded with every minute--it's extraordinary how painful it becomes.

In many ways, the Burning Man culture mirrors the proto-communist, Digger-like cultures of the geek software engineering community and its celebration of open-source, sharing, and distrust of leaders.

Critics and naked hippies

The most vocal critics of Burning Man are always those people who have never been there. They are the ones that know all about Burning Man and they will tell you everything you need to know. To them it is just naked hippies taking drugs in the desert.

Sure, there is some nudity, but there's so much more. The amount of creativity that people bring to Burning Man is jaw dropping.

The vast expanse of the playa -- the empty space at the heart of Burning Man, acts as a canvas for spectacular art projects. My favorite part of the Burning Man experience is cycling across the playa and discovering new art.

Good for job hunting

There are a lot of Silicon Valley people that come here. This is a favorite place for Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. [It's one reason that Eric Schmidt got his job at Google, because he had been to Burning Man.]

It's been a few years since my last trip. I've been three times and each time it seemed so fragile as if it could easily be ruined by the next year. Yet it continues to survive and continues to change.

Its culture has spilled out into many regional festivals around the US and the world. And its message of "leave no trace" becomes ever more important as we grow to understand our fragile global environment.

If you get a chance to go please take it. You won't find anything like it anywhere.

- - -
Please see:
Burning Man: A temporary world blooms in the desert

Today's Burning Man: Anarchy? Not so much

Silicon Valley's festival of Dionysus...
- - -

Advert: It's time to get a Kindle and discover why people rave about it!

TrendWatch: One Ring To Bind Them All - The Quest And The Folly

There is much discussion lately about the need to upgrade our publishing/conversational platforms to bring together all the places where our content is published, and the responses to that content -- one place where it can all be regarded and archived.

One thing is for certain, what we have right now isn't cutting it.

Om Malik wrote a thoughtful piece last week: The Evolution Blogging. After a long preamble he eventually got to his point:

...blogging platforms need to evolve from the hierarchical content-management systems of today to more fluid, free-flowing, more socially relevant and real-time lifestreaming systems.

Story continues...

Delete The Hate: The Problem Is The Nasty Content Not The Anonymity

There's been a fair amount of discussion of online anonymity lately. Paul Carr, a columnist at wrote that there is no place for anonymous comments on the Internet. ['Rascal! Your name!': Schopenhauer vs the Internet trolls]

I'm in no doubt that if we forced everyone who wanted to respond to a blog post or online article to use their real name, the Internet would be transformed.

Andrew Keen, also writing at, is also a supporter of banning anonymity and pseudonyms. [Punishing anonymity]

Not for the first (or last) time, I'm in 110% agreement with Carr. Anonymity is indeed killing our online culture and making it, in Carr's words, "a cesspool of trollery and abuse".

Story continues...

TrendWatch: Younger People Abandoning Facebook


I have two kids, Matt, 21, and Sarah, who just turned 15. I often ask them about their online habits and those of their friends.

Matt and his friends aren't all that keen on Facebook, they are spending a lot less time there. Where are they going? It's not clear they are going anywhere else. Also, a lot of them use Youtube as a free streaming music service. Twitter hardly registers at all with this group.

Sarah and friends spend a lot of time on MySpace, which is also where they find new music. Music is one of the key draws for Sarah. Texting is a big deal in this group, much more than making cell phone calls. But texting programs are expensive unless you can get onto an all-you-can-eat plan. T-Mobile is very popular in this group.

Story continues...

Bitten and Smitten: Why Journalism Is Like Falling For The Wrong Person

I was at an event this evening and I met a journalist who was new to the profession. She had been in IT and now was working for a San Francisco newspaper. She asked if I had any words of advice for a new journalist.

I said welcome. But be careful it doesn't get under your skin because if it does, it will become a problem. It'll be very difficult to leave.

In many ways,  being bitten by journalism is similar to being smitten. It's similar to falling for the wrong person.

Story continues...

Do Be Do - Slave Girl's Mid- Year Performance Review . . .

On Sand Hill Slave, Slave Girl gets her mid-year performance review . . .

In my case, partners always catch me for the review when I’m in the middle of something that has my complete and undivided attention.

Partner: I have time for that review now.

SlaveGirl: Okay, can you give me a few minutes? I’m wrapping something up...

Partner: Well, I’ve only got a few minutes-

Sensing his tone, I immediately close out my YouTube window and scamper into his office.

Continues . . .

Sand Hill Slave: Even Though I Walk Through the Valley in the Shadow of Tech, I will fear no VC...

Vive La Difference! French Versus US Tech Workplace Habits - Which Is Best?

On my ZDNet column I recently wrote about a Silicon Valley and French based startup that had contacted me on a Friday to introduce me to its new service. I noticed that there was a problem with the javascript for its widget.

They were very glad that I had spotted the bug and promised to get back to me toot suite. They did. They said their French developer team had gone home and they wouldn't be able to fix the problem until Monday.

[Please see: Where are the French code warriors when it's "Le Weekend?"]

They did fix it on Monday. But is the French way of keeping work and non-work balance right?

This startup is launching its service and its developer team is MIA - it could have been a simple fix that took just minutes instead of nearly 3 days. Potential customers/users these days won't take a second bite at the cherry -- why risk the launch? Why not insist the team be 24/7 on this important occasion?!

I'm all about the work and non-work balance thing . . . but times have changed and it is now all grouped into Life whether we like it that way or not.

But it must be said that France, despite its 37 hour week and its stalwart support of "Le Weekend" has not yet sank and vanished below the waves. So, is the US or French work place attitude the right one?

Here are some responses to my original post (I love the last one.):

Story continues...

Twitter and Facebook In Corporations: Set The Users Free!

[This is an excellent comment that I'm republishing as a guest post. It is in response to Twitter and Facebook In Corporations: IT Professionals Are Often The Most Reactionary To Change]

By Gary Wilson

Set the users free! Let them do their stuff and take accountability for it. When it all goes bottoms up and the branch or department go offline, then they will wise up.

Story continues...

Responses to "What's up with people that love to hate Twitter, Facebook but not even on it?"

Last night I asked on Facebook: "What's up with people that love to hate Twitter, Facebook but not even on it? You've got to be in it to know it/hate it."

It got some interesting replies on my public page: Facebook | Tom Foremski

Story continues...

South Korea Could Be Showing Us A Sneak Peak Into Our Future

Lately, I've been writing about the new laws in South Korea that impose requirements on web sites to verify the real names of users. It was an issue that hadn't been reported much by the US media until just this week. And there is lots more Korean legislation in the pipeline that is jaw dropping in its ambitions to use the Internet and mobile phone technologies to monitor Korean citizens.

For example, the government is trying to pass a bill that would give Korea's spy agency real-time monitoring of all Internet and mobile communications, and real-time access to every cell phone's GPS location data.

The government says measures like these are needed for a variety of reasons. Critics of the measures see a government hitting back in retaliation because of several embarrasing online incidents. Such as the bungled prosecution of a blogger over his economic predictions.

The Korean people have a strong culture of fighting injustice and the excesses of government. It's a culture that readily takes to the streets in demonstrations and protests. And not surprisingly, this is reflected in its online communities, where there is a sophisticated society of Internet users using their online skills to organize resistance to government policies.

To fight back, and to try to dampen the spirit of its digital opposition, the government has passed laws such as the one that requires web sites to verify the real name of any Korean citizen, before allowing them to upload files or leave comments. And it is seeking even greater powers of regulation.

These are interesting developments because they could very well be providing us with a sneak preview into our future. South Korea is several years ahead of the US in terms of how much time its population spends online and its relatively long history of access to high speed Internet services.

The Koreans are dealing with many issues that result from living in a society that lives far more in an online world than we do. It will take the US several years to catch up.  

Hopefully, the Koreans can figure out how to deal with Big Brother governments and other societal issues, before we get to the same stage.

. . .

Please see:

The Korea Times: Is Korea Turning Into Internet Police State?

"According to the draft, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the country's spy agency, gets expanded surveillance power that allows real-time interception of mobile phone and Internet communication, compared to current law that limits monitoring to fixed-line telephone calls.

All communication operators, including telephony carriers and Internet companies, will be required to operate surveillance equipment and save call recordings and log-on records of their users.

The bill also enables law enforcement authorities to collect and monitor location-based information, or Global Positioning System (GPS) records, of civilians. Considering that GPS capabilities are increasingly included in the latest mobile phones and portable Internet devices, a fast-growing number of people would be susceptible to investigators tracking their real-time movements..."

The Hankyoreh: "[Analysis] Google chooses its credibility over profit in South Korea

"Some analysts have suggested that it would be too burdensome for Google to challenge South Korea’s Internet policies because the government had promised 1.2 billion won (911,200 dollars) in research and development support, and the possibility of more through online advertising business."

Korean Presidential Office Bypasses Real Name Law - Posts Videos On Foreign YouTube

"Google managed to avoid this law by disabling uploads and comments on its Korean version of YouTube, while at the same time telling people that they could continue anonymous uploads and commentary by accessing other countries' YouTube sites.

It seems that this is the preferred method for the Presidential office of South Korea, the Cheong Wa Dae.

The Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh reports that the Presidential office, of South Korea, the Cheong Wa Dae, has been using this loophole to post PR videos of President Lee Myung-bak."

Google Tests The Limits Of Governments - Bars Korean Users From Uploading Videos And Leaving Comments

"Rachel Whetstone, vice president of Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google, offered in a statement posted on Google Korea's Website the reason why the company has refused to comply to the real-name system. In a statement titled, "Freedom of Expression on the Internet," Whetstone said, "Google thinks the freedom of expression is most important value to uphold on the internet." Whetstone continued to say, "We concluded in the end that it is impossible to provide benefits to internet users while observing this country's law because the law does not fall in line with Google's principles.""

Updated: Google Says It Is Still Examining Korea's Real-Name Verification Law

"Google wouldn't have much to lose if it stood up to the Korean government. It's YouTube business isn't profitable, so no shareholders would be hurt. It could argue that its servers aren't housed in South Korea and therefore it doesn't have to comply with the local law.It would be a bold statement and it would focus world attention on the South Korean government and its efforts to curb its citizens from using the Internet to criticize politicians. A bold stand from Google might even discourage other governments from following with similar laws."

Korean Presidential Office Bypasses Real Name Law - Posts Videos On Foreign YouTube

[Hat tip Korean reporter Koo bonkwon, who works for The Hankeoreh.]

South Korea is one of the most "online" societies in the world. So it is very interesting to see how the population and the government are dealing with the issues that the Internet brings, such as the power of bloggers, and the power of anonymous commentary because these things are waiting for us in our future.

The government has attempted to deal with some very embarrassing online incidents by forcing Korean web sites to verify the real name of anyone that uploads files or leaves comments.

Google managed to avoid this law by disabling uploads and comments on its Korean version of YouTube, while at the same time telling people that they could continue anonymous uploads and commentary by accessing other countries' YouTube sites.

It seems that this is the preferred method for the Presidential office of South Korea, the Cheong Wa Dae.

The Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh reports that the Presidential office, of South Korea, the Cheong Wa Dae, has been using this loophole to post PR videos of President Lee Myung-bak.

While YouTube has restricted South Korean users from uploading video clips and posting comments on its Korean-version of its Web site since April 9, the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) keeps posting public relations (PR) videos of President Lee Myung-bak on the site by registering its ID as a foreign user from another country. Internet users criticize the Cheong Wa Dae of undermining the intention of its real-name system.

Cheong Wa Dae bypasses YouTube Korea's upload limitations

- - -

Please see:

Google Tests The Limits Of Governments - Bars Korean Users From Uploading Videos And Leaving Comments

YouTube User Needs Real-Name

Apples To Oranges: Virgin Megastore Closing


I covered the opening of the Apple's San Francisco retail store in February, 2004. It was Apple's seventh store and its first flagship store, the first to feature a very modern design.

The building was a minimalist cube and inside were two floors of stunning decor and a centerpiece glass staircase. We were told Steve Jobs was involved in every aspect of the design, down to choosing the seats in the upstairs theater.

It was impressive, but what was more striking to me was its location: Across the street sat a huge Virgin Megastore, 6 floors of music and movies.

Megastore. It sounded so 1980s. Two floors versus six floors. It was an apt metaphor for the changing landscape in commerce.

I walked past the San Francisco Virgin Megastore yesterday and it was festooned with colorful banners. It's closing. A mega sale at the megastore. I pulled out my iPhone and snapped a picture.

- - -

Please see:

It's official: All U.S. Virgin Megastores closing down : Ben Patterson : Yahoo! Tech

Hippies And Geeks Drop-In For Tim Leary Archive Project

It was a rainy Sunday evening but the 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco was full of people that had come out to support a project to house and digitize the the archives of Timothy Leary -- a Harvard lecturer in psychology turned counter-culture hero.

Mr Leary is best known for his enthusiasm for LSD, a drug that influenced the 1960s and much of his life. "Turn on, tune in, drop out" is his most famous maxim.

The phrase came to him in the shower one day after Marshall McLuhan suggested to Leary that he come up with "something snappy" to promote the benefits of LSD.

Joi Ito, venture capitalist and CEO of Creative Commons, was one of the speakers. Wikipedia reports:

Ito was one of Timothy Leary's so-called "God Sons" - a close non-traditional family-like relationship said to have been conceived by Leary for a few of his friends.

Some other guests Sunday evening:

Ralph Metzner (Colleague of Tim's at Harvard and co-author of "The Psychedelic Experience"), Joi Ito (Tim's Godson, CEO Creative Commons), Denis Berry (Futique Trust Trustee), RU Sirius (Collaborator, Author), John Perry Barlow (Friend of Tim, EFF Co-Founder, Grateful Dead Lyricist), Michael Horowitz (Tim's Personal Archivist), Lisa Ferguson (Grew up at Millbrook, Director of "Children of the Revolution"), Zach Leary (Tim's Stepson,, Joey Cavella (, Retinalogic), Chris Graves (, Retinalogic) . . .

Brewster Kahle will also be on hand to give a little tour of the Internet Archive's recently launched Timothy Leary Video Collection:

The goal was to raise money to build a museum to house about 400 boxes of his archives, and enlist volunteers to help Lisa Rein digitize those materials. The event premiered the film "The Terrestials."

"The Terrestrials," Directed by filmmaker Rene Daalder, is a feature-length scifi documentary that follows 6 students of UC Santa Cruz as they digitize Tim's video archives.

Here is a brief video of the event:

Here is a CNET story by Daniel Terdiman about the Leary archives.

Timothy Leary's archives: Bridge from '60s to '90s | Geek Gestalt - CNET News

Timothy Leary Archives

Lunarr's Inspirational Elements

Lunarr, in Portland, Oregon has launched an interesting site called Lunarr elements. It is based on the Japanese concept of 一期一会 “ichi-go ichi-e” or "one chance, one meeting." It is the central concept on which the Japanese tea ceremony is based, the idea that you interact with others as if it is the last time you will see them.

Lunarr elements displays inspirational images or quotes. The viewer is asked to quickly vote if they like it, or to "cast" it to others, or simply continue exploring the database of elements. The goal is not to think about it too much, to decide in a split second.

Users can upload their own images and quotes, and also follow other users. I recommend you try it, it's a great way to spend a few minutes and take a refreshing break from your daily tasks. And it might help provide a creative spark for whatever project you are working on.

Here is an example of an element.


Life Without Social Media . . .

[I got this note from Adrian Chan recently and I asked his permission to share it on SVW. I'm a big proponent of "turning offline," it is the only antidote to ADD and it helps me think and get some work done. I spend large blocks of time every day not checking email, facebook, twitter, sms, voicemail, etc.

Ad hoc greetings to you all, and a happy new year!

I want to apologize for missing out on communication for the past couple wks. I did something I havent done since the new millenium -- I was off the computer for 2 wks. Well, with a couple teeny tiny exceptions to download email and use google maps. I turned off my phone, hauled out a couple dozen books of philosophy and theory, and sat down for a good old-fashioned reading vacation at home.

I can tell you, it was interesting. It took a day to forget about twitter. Two days to forget about facebook. Three days to forget about At three days one's ability to read without distraction really picks up, and by the end of the first wk I could sit without moving for several hours, and read 50 plus pages easily without so much as getting up to stretch.

Constant and daily use of tools like twitter definitely has consequences for the mind! I'm communication sensitive, meaning that as soon as I see a message, I begin to answer or respond or comment on it, in my mind, and so being offline was a real treat. Eliminating the phone seals the experience -- it's strange how aware one is of the possibility that somebody may call, and even turning off the phone didn't get rid of that entirely. But I'm not joking that by the end of the 2 wks I was pretty ambivalent about turning everything back on again... We're not aware of what social media do until we take them away.

On that note, I'm back now and looking forward to a productive -- and hopefully inspiring -- year with you all!


- - -Please see:
Adrian Chan's blog:
A Social Interaction Design (SxD) blog on Web 2.0 and Social Media

Maladies of Internet 2.0: Conversation Overload is Worse than Information Overload

Culture Watch: The Simpsons Takes On (M)Apple

Is it TV sweeps week? Usually taunting the Apple community is a surefire way to to get a traffic spike as the faithful rush to defend their choice of computer. (Fair disclosure: I use a Mac and have had one since they first came out :-)

Here is a very funny episode of The Simpsons: "Mypods and Boomsticks," courtesy of Hulu (my apologies to my non-US readers - you would need a US proxy to view the episode.)

Weekend Watcher: Hornucopia - a Celebration of all Things Horny . . . and the Importance of Culture

It is difficult to escape our day-to-day lives but it is important that we do. I love spending time in environments where people just know me as Tom rather than in my professional roles.

The geek-life is fun but it's not enough. Understanding the culture of our times is important to every business, to every startup--but you won't get it unless you go out and get it. No TechCrunch, no Giga, no Twitter, know tech-nothing--just getting out into a wider culture is important.

Here is one way to do that...

Here is an event, the 11 day Hornucopia music festival in San Francisco, a celebration of any music with horns-- that deserves support--especially the upcoming Saturday show with the Jazz Mafia Summit at the Rickshaw Stop in Hayes Valley.

Allison Lovejoy from Lovejoy Lowdown has the details . . . She interviews Sol Crawford, one of the more interesting of San Francisco's young music promoters. He is a co-partner at Amnesia, which has earned a stellar reputation as one of the best live performance rooms in the Mission district.

Video thumbnail. Click to play

The Hornucopia Festival is also a non-profit effort to benefit community organizations through a free music workshop, an educational presentation on the provocative history of brass and horn music, and as a fundraiser for two worthy causes: delivering new instruments into the hands of beleaguered youth second line bands in New Orleans and raising money for a humanitarian circus that presents free shows and workshops to refugee children in Kosovo.

Wanted: CMO for Startup - Must Have a Good PageRank

This is the type of job advert we will soon be seeing:

"Wanted: Chief Marketing Officer for a Web 2.0 startup based in San Francisco. Candidate must have a blog with a PageRank of at least 5 and/or at least 800 followers on Twitter and/or 1500 friends on FaceBook or LinkedIn. Competitive salary, benefits and stock options."

You can fill in the job title for various professions and fiddle with the numbers of friends/pagerank etc, but the message is clear: self-publishing through a blog, Twit-stream, or FriendFeed is going to be good for your career. And it is going to be great for getting that next job.

And you can't fake this stuff, at least, not for long. And you have to do it and keep doing it, which isn't for everyone.

Think about two equally educated candidates with similar experience but one candidate doesn't have the same social or professional footprint in the mediasphere as the other. Which one gets the job?

This is how software engineers get their jobs. This is how many other professionals will get their next jobs too.

Let me know if it's worked for you.

Tokyo Diary Day 2 - Meeting Top Web 2.0 Entrepreneurs . . .

We visit Cybozu Labs, created by Cybozu, a very successful Japanese software company founded by Toru Takasuka, from Lunarr. Cybozu Labs tries to offer a US-like environment to incubate new ventures.

This work environment is far different from that in other Japanese companies, which one person described as "jail" with very little space per person because of the high costs of office space. This is part of Cybozu Lab's efforts to attract top talent away from the large companies.


We see presentations from Yuichi Kawasaki, from Hatena; Shimizu Ryou from Ubiquitous Entertainment; Tom Sonoda from Utagoe; and Ken Suzuki from Sargasso. We also have a discussion about the differences between markets in Japan and in the US.

One of them asks how do you take a product out of the geek community and into the consumer markets? I said that this is a problem in the US too, there are a myriad web 2 applications popular in the geek communities but are completely unknown in consumer markets. Education needs to happen buy that's a slow process.

Story continues...

Tokyo Diary Day 2 - A Japanese Garage Startup . . .

We walk down a narrow alley and squeeze into a narrow room to meet with Mr Banganji and Mr Shimachi from a "garage" based Web 2.0 startup called Rinen. Their place seems more like a closet than a garage.

We hear about several projects they are working on. We also hear about their challenges, especially in finding VCs willing to invest in early stage companies.


One of their projects is called OpenTrace, a wiki-like database to calculate the carbon footprint of everything. This value could then be represented on the packaging of anything and help consumers make better decisions.


[I'm on my first trip to Japan as a guest of Lunarr - a Portland based tech start-up founded by two Japanese entrepreneurs Toru Takasuka and Hideshi Hamaguchi. On the trip with me is Marshall Kirkpatrick from Read Write Web, Bob Walsh from 47Hats, and Kristen Nicole from Mashable.]

Coming up on Tokyo Diary: Pitches from top Japanese Web 2.0 Entrepreneurs . . . and French Maids - Maidols

[I'm a little behind on my Tokyo Diary because of celebrating my daughter's graduation from middle school and her 14th birthday. But here is a taste of what is still in store...]

Meetings with some of Japan's savviest young entrepreneurs . . .


A visit to a Tokyo "garage" based startup - more like a closet than a garage. . .


And an introduction to the French maid subculture: Maidol . . .

Latest SVW Tokyo Diary:
- Tokyo Diary: Arrival and Immersion...

- Tokyo Diary Day 1: Ancient Temples and Traditions ...

- Tokyo Diary Day 1 - Journey to Top of Tokyo and Dinner with Japan's Top VC

- Tokyo Diary Day 2: American Japanese Blogger Association gets a Shinto Blessing....Meeting With METI Officials

Tokyo Diary Day 2: American Japanese Blogger Association gets a Shinto Blessing....Meeting With METI Officials

It's raining. But we have umbrellas as we make our way to the Kanda Myojin shrine where many businessmen go to receive a good luck ritual blessing from the priests.


There are quite a few IT companies in the area and this shrine has a special talisman that is in the shape of a microchip.


We created the American Japanese Bloggers Association (AJBA) for the purpose of the ritual blessing and I was appointed chairman. The ritual consisted of prayers, drums, and the swishing of branches. I sit on a stool and am handed a small branch with leaves attached. I recieve it with both hands and place it on a small altar with the end pointing to the back of the shrine. I bow twice, and clap my hands twice, I bow again and sit down.

If you ask Japanese people which religion they belong to, 90 per cent say Budhist, and 90 per cent say Shinto. They combine the two. Shinto celebrates nature and it belives that there is a god in everything, a stone, a tree. In Shinto there are 8 million gods. I much prefer this form of pantheism to the monotheism of Christianity with its angry and evangelical "sky-god" as Gore Vidal terms it. [Please see the excellent: Gore Vidal Monotheism and Its Discontents]

Story continues...

Tokyo Diary Day 1 - Journey to Top of Tokyo and Dinner with Japan's Top VC

After the tea ceremony we walked out from what seemed like a small teahouse built next to a peaceful garden into a hotel hallway. A jarring transition.

We then take a stroll through the high-end Ginza shopping district, where a square meter of land retails for about $100,000. It's one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world.

It is late afternoon by the time we head over to the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower for a 360 degree view of Tokyo from the 54th floor. The 333m tall red Tokyo Radio Tower dominates the landscape, especially at twilight.

Story continues...

Tokyo Diary Day 1: Ancient Temples and Traditions ...

In the morning we meet up again with Hisashi Katsuya, from IBM Japan Venture Capital Group, and meet his colleague Tsutomu Kodama. These two will be our constant companions and guides throughout our entire trip.

They used term Deep Dive into Tokyo to describe our trip because it was designed to immerse us in the old and modern cultures, in and around, Tokyo.

This morning our first stop is the Asakusa (old town) district to visit one of the oldest temples Sensoji, built more than 1,000 years ago. At the entrance gate is a huge lantern.

[Kristen Nicole and Tsutomu Kodama in photo.]


Story continues...

Tokyo Diary: Arrival and Immersion...

The flight from SFO to Tokyo Narita airport is just about the right length of time: 9 to 10 hours depending on direction and how the jet stream blows. Enough time to watch a movie, eat dinner, and wake up for the snack 90 minutes from deplaning.

I had barely slept the night before because I felt like a kid again and waiting for Christmas, my first trip to Tokyo. And I didn't feel tired at all when we landed and got onto the bus for the Tokyo Dome Hotel.

After a quick shower we were in the lobby and meeting with Hisashi Katsuya, an executive with IBM Japan. Mr Katsuya is a human social network, a central connector for the Japanese VC and startup communities. He works with IBM venture capital group and is often described as the most connected person in the Japanese VC community. He knows all the startups that are worth knowing.

He is also a native of Tokyo's labyrinth of streets, and knows its narrow alleyways and hidden gems very well. He guided us past ancient temples and down narrow alleys with cobblestones, and then into a tiny restaurant that could have been someone's living room that served superb food.

Here is a quick account:

More essays on Tokyo every day all this week . . .

_ _ _

Related Stories:

Lunarr: A Once in a Blue Moon Company with a Unique Collaborative App

Lunarr Launches Thought Provoking Collaboration Tool - ReadWriteWeb

San Jose's Answer to South by South West: Zero One Digital Arts Festival Opens Wednesday

. . . a global festival of art on the edge.

The Biennial 01SJ arts festival opens this Wednesday evening and runs through Sunday evening. Here is a taste of what you can see, hear, and do - a video commissioned by 01SJ and created by SVW's Arts & Culture editor Lucaso, aided by Laura.

I recently interviewed Steve Dietz, the creative director:

The goal of the festival is to change people's perception of San Jose by establishing a festival that showcases digital arts and that will one day rank alongside Sundance and Austin's South by South West festivals. "Those festivals took 20 years and we're just starting," said Steve Diez, creative director of Zero One.

"We learned a lot from the feedback in 2006. Things were spread out quite a bit so this year we have concentrated on fewer events but with much more focus. So for example, Friday night we've got lots of outdoor music events and with DJs flown in from Spain. You'll want to be on First Street on Friday. Every day there will be a focus on a specific part of San Jose."

There will also be a contribution from the Burning Man organization. "It'll be interesting to see a Burning Man installation in an urban setting," said Mr Dietz.

The annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert typically commissions huge art installations. Here is one, a 30 foot tall mother and child sculpture created by a friend of mine, Rebecca Kaplan and her colleagues. It was the star of the 2005 Burning Man festival. In 2007 it was shown in San Francisco on the Embarcadero, with the Bay Bridge in the background.


Zero One commissions many of its arts installations. "Our goal is to change the perception people have of San Jose by providing them with a remarkable experience through the use of technology in compelling ways."

That's not easy but that's the promise. I thought it was very good in 2006 and 2008 is looking even better.


Here is a very small taste of what you'll see at this year's 01SJ:

One exhibit is Superlight.

Steve Dietz explains:

The future will undoubtedly have a significant technological quotient. It must also have an ethical framework. The supercharged collision between innovation, the way things are now, and an irrepressible need to re-imagine what matters next is what compels the artists in Superlight.

The artists in Superlight lighten but do not make light of the seemingly intractable problems facing us. They use the tools at hand, especially contemporary technology, popular culture, and the hybrid, virtual reality that we increasingly inhabit, to aerate and illuminate. They enlighten without getting heavy. They practice levity without making fun.

Some of the art:

Memories I'll Never Have - Brendan Lott

Self-proclaimed “instigator” Brendan Lott culls photographs from internet sharing networks and then sends jpegs to China where they are reproduced as oil paintings. According to Lott, "it all happens because everybody's got a cheap digital camera, broadband, and in most cases, too much to drink."


There is also a film festival. It includes:

SPECTROPIA: A highly imaginative interactive cinema event, a “scratchable” movie performed by video DJs playing a movie “instrument”. Toni Dove’s sci-fi hybrid, features time travel, telepathy, and elements of film noir in a drama set in England, 2099 and in New York City, 1931, following the Great Crash. Spectropia, a young woman, lives in the salvage district of an urban center of the future, a black market hub of retro object barter.


Here is one of the commissioned works:


Ryoji Ikeda’s datamatics was co-commissioned by ZERO1 | ISEA2006 with the AV Festival 06. [ver 2.0] of datamatics the new, full-length version of Ryoji Ikeda’s acclaimed audiovisual concert is being presented at YCAM.

“Ikeda has significantly developed the earlier version of this piece (premiered in March 2006), adding a newly commissioned second part. Driven by the primary principles of datamatics, but objectively deconstructing its original elements - sound, visuals and even source codes - this new work creates a kind of meta-datamatics. Ikeda employs real-time programme computations and data scanning to create an extended new sequence that is a further abstraction of the original work. The technical dynamics of the piece, such as its extremely fast frame rates and variable bit depths, continue to challenge and explore the thresholds of our perceptions.”

Here are the events:


Here is a list of exhibitions.

Here is the 01SJ Blog.

See you there!

- - -

BTW here is a Silicon Valley Watcher taste of the 2006 festival by Lucaso:

This week: Tokyo Diary - My Deep Dive into the Mashup Culture of Japan

lunarr1.jpgI just got back from my first trip to Japan as a guest of Lunarr - a Portland based tech start-up founded by two leading Japanese entrepreneurs Toru Takasuka and Hideshi Hamaguchi.

It was an incredible immersion into the many traditional, modern, and futuristic cultures of Tokyo. Every moment of the trip was accounted for, leaving hardly anytime to blog, email, or Twitter - but it was worth it.

I met with top government ministry officials; I met leaders of the Japanese startup community; I met Japan's top venture capitalist (who never talks to the media); I met with "Maidols" French maid-costumed guides to Japan's many subcultures; I took part in traditional Japanese ceremonies; I ran into my former boss at the FT Paul Abrahams on a subway platform; and I was one of the founders of the American-Japanese Bloggers Association (AJBA) and became the organization's first chairman.

I have many photos, videos, and insights to share with you as part of a week long series of essays here on Silicon Valley Watcher, so please tune in daily!

- - -


Travelling from the US with me: the incredible Marshall Kirkpatrick from Read-Write Web, the irrepressible Bob Walsh from 47hats; and the charming and talented Kristen Nicole from Mashable, and the mastermind (inspirationator) of this trip - Hideshi Hamaguchi.

Related stories:

Lunarr: A Once in a Blue Moon Company with a Unique Collaborative App

Lunarr Launches Thought Provoking Collaboration Tool - ReadWriteWeb

Twitt Or Tweet? Which Should It Be?

Since the lexicon is still very young on many of these new types of media technologies, I would like to suggest the use of Twitt instead of Tweet to designate a post in your Twitter stream.

For example: "Did you see my Twitt about Tweets?"

Tweet sounds too sweet. Twitt sounds more self-effacing--more apt for the Twitterati-- so that they/we aren't seen or seem to be so pretentious, n'est pas?

Yea or nay in the comments please . . . and vote with the daily use of your choice!

Craigslist v EBay: A Fascinating Tale Of Moral Compasses And Sheep In Wolf's Clothing

Craigslist is one of my district neighbors, I often see CEO Jim Buckmaster and his partner Susan Best, and of course, founder Craig Newmark. Cragslist is not only a San Francisco institution, it is one of the top ten largest web sites in the world, providing a mostly free classifieds ad service for millions of people in 567 cities.

It's an amazingly useful social service provided by a private company that happened to reluctantly acquire EBay as a minority shareholder in November 2004 when an early shareholder sold his shares to the online auction giant.

Initially Mr Newmark and Mr Buckmaster agreed to the sale because they were impressed by EBay's stated common values. They were also impressed by Ebay's founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar and his widely publicized philanthropic activities and they asked for him to be Ebay's representative on the Craigslist board believing he had " a moral compass similar to its own."

Things started falling apart very quickly as Ebay demanded more control over Craigslist and access to competitive information. The falling out between the two companies is now the subject of of two lawsuits filed against each other. Ebay has complained that Craigslist illegally reduced its minority holding and this week Craigslist complained that Ebay stole proprietary information and engaged in other nefarious activities.

On the Craigslist blog:

We filed a complaint in California today, charging eBay with unlawful and unfair competition, misappropriation of proprietary information, deceptive passing-off, business interference, false advertising, phishing attacks, free-riding, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and breaches of fiduciary duty.

We respectfully ask the Superior Court in San Francisco to enjoin this conduct and order eBay to (1) make full restitution to craigslist, (2) disgorge their related profits (3) restore to craigslist all shares of the company acquired by means of, or for the purpose of unfair competition, and (4) pay punitive damages for their malicious behavior.

The text of Craigslist's complaint makes for fascinating reading and provides an inside peak into a very private company.

Full text of the complaint

Reuters story by Eric Auchard: Craigslist sues eBay, alleges corporate spy plan

Know Any Silicon Valley Bachelors?

The producers of The Bachelor on ABC contacted me today for some recommendations for the next show. Let me know in the comments section or email me tom (at) who you would recommend. Send some links to pics too if possible.

Here are the parameters:

  • Age 27 to 36
  • Handsome
  • At least 6'0" (the women are requesting taller guys I was told.)
  • Charming (that's a tough one around here :-)
  • An "All-American look" - we've got a multi-national community here.

I recommended Mike Arrington but not sure if he fits all the categories. He's tall...

BTW I've had a several women offering to filter the candidates :-)

US = Five Percent Global Population And 25 Percent Global Prison Population - More Than China

This is astonishing. Somebody should raise this issue during this political campaign.

Adam Liptak reporting in the New York Times April 23 2008. (What a great intro...)

- Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations’ - New York Times

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

. . . Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

. . . The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London. China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison.

. . . It [US] has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.

Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations’ - New York Times

Hat Tip Dave Galbraigh's Smashing Telly - My number one fave 2008Watch Web Site.

Hipsters: Do You Know The Way To San Jose's Zero One Digital Arts Festival? Our Very Own SXSW...

The biennial San Jose digital arts festival Zero One is coming up June 4 to 8. The first one was in 2006 and did quite well with lots of people, mostly locals coming to gaze at some stunning urban art installations. And 2008 is shaping up to be even more interesting.

[BTW here is a taste of the 2006 festival. Silicon Valley Watcher was there for part of it. Lucaso is your host.]

The goal of the festival is to change people's perception of San Jose by establishing a festival that showcases digital arts and that will one day rank alongside Sundance and Austin's South by South West festivals. "Those festivals took 20 years and we're just starting," said Steve Diez, creative director of Zero One.

The city of San Jose is keen to change the perception that it is a dull town. It has tried to revitalize its downtown center many times with redevelopment, and by encouraging a night life with theater and clubs, but with mixed results.

The downtown area is very pleasant, with broad pedestrian areas, There are some nice restaurants, and the weather is good for much of the year. Plus there are cultural attractions such as the impressive Tech Museum and a good modern art museum.

But despite the broad boulevards and the warm evenings this isn't a West Coast Paris. It closes down very early.

After the office workers leave, the downtown area is sparsely populated with a few street people and some suits from local conventions. Locals don't venture into San Jose that much for entertainment, which is a shame because it is a nice space and it is one of the safest cities in the Bay Area.

With a budget of about $1.8 million, of which $1.5 million comes from sponsors such as Adobe and Cisco Systems, the Zero One festival will again this year, seek to change people's impression of San Jose.

For this year's festival Zero One hired branding agency Liquid.

Liquid came up with new look for the festival's branding. So that when you think of San Jose you should think of "a hip and techno-centric city."

The 2006 festival featured a flock of pigeons with cell phones, and the pigeon was a prominent image used in the 2006 festival publicity.

Liquid dismissed the pigeon and went for a look that is far less hippy and far more hipster:

2006: ZER01_2.jpg
2008: ZER01_3.jpg

Liquid also uses 01SJ to designate Zero One and the tag line is - a global festival of art on the edge.

Will clever marketing change San Jose into a hipster destination? No, it'll be the work of people such as Steve Dietz, the creative director, to bring in the right artists, performers, and film makers.

"We learned a lot from the feedback in 2006. Things were spread out quite a bit so this year we have concentrated on fewer events but with much more focus. So for example, Friday night we've got lots of outdoor music events and with DJs flown in from Spain. You'll want to be on First Street on Friday. Every day there will be a focus on a specific part of San Jose."

There will also be a contribution from the Burning Man organization. "It'll be interesting to see a Burning Man installation in an urban setting," said Mr Dietz.

The annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert typically commissions huge art installations. Here is one, a 30 foot tall mother and child sculpture created by a friend of mine, Rebecca Kaplan and her colleagues. It was the star of the 2005 Burning Man festival. In 2007 it was shown in San Francisco on the Embarcadero, with the Bay Bridge in the background.


Zero One commissions many of its arts installations. "Our goal is to change the perception people have of San Jose by providing them with a remarkable experience through the use of technology in compelling ways."

That's not easy but that's the promise. I thought it was very good in 2006 and 2008 is looking even better.

Here is a very small taste of what you'll see at this year's 01SJ:

One exhibit is Superlight.

Steve Dietz explains:

The future will undoubtedly have a significant technological quotient. It must also have an ethical framework. The supercharged collision between innovation, the way things are now, and an irrepressible need to re-imagine what matters next is what compels the artists in Superlight.

The artists in Superlight lighten but do not make light of the seemingly intractable problems facing us. They use the tools at hand, especially contemporary technology, popular culture, and the hybrid, virtual reality that we increasingly inhabit, to aerate and illuminate. They enlighten without getting heavy. They practice levity without making fun.

Some of the art:

Memories I'll Never Have - Brendan Lott

Self-proclaimed “instigator” Brendan Lott culls photographs from internet sharing networks and then sends jpegs to China where they are reproduced as oil paintings. According to Lott, "it all happens because everybody's got a cheap digital camera, broadband, and in most cases, too much to drink."


There is also a film festival. It includes:

SPECTROPIA: A highly imaginative interactive cinema event, a “scratchable” movie performed by video DJs playing a movie “instrument”. Toni Dove’s sci-fi hybrid, features time travel, telepathy, and elements of film noir in a drama set in England, 2099 and in New York City, 1931, following the Great Crash. Spectropia, a young woman, lives in the salvage district of an urban center of the future, a black market hub of retro object barter.


Here is one of the commissioned works:


Ryoji Ikeda’s datamatics was co-commissioned by ZERO1 | ISEA2006 with the AV Festival 06. [ver 2.0] of datamatics the new, full-length version of Ryoji Ikeda’s acclaimed audiovisual concert is being presented at YCAM.

“Ikeda has significantly developed the earlier version of this piece (premiered in March 2006), adding a newly commissioned second part. Driven by the primary principles of datamatics, but objectively deconstructing its original elements - sound, visuals and even source codes - this new work creates a kind of meta-datamatics. Ikeda employs real-time programme computations and data scanning to create an extended new sequence that is a further abstraction of the original work. The technical dynamics of the piece, such as its extremely fast frame rates and variable bit depths, continue to challenge and explore the thresholds of our perceptions.”

Here are the events:


Here is a list of exhibitions.

Here is the 01SJ Blog.

See you there.

Silicon Valley Is More Social But With Shorter Attention Spans

A pitch is really important in Silicon Valley, not just for raising VC money but in communicating ideas, opinions, and who you are. It's even more important these days because it is a much more social place.

Pitch.jpgSilicon Valley has many evening party events and salons compared with five years ago. It's an engaging social world but one with a short attention span. People suffer from ADD more than ever these days, online and offline.

That's why everybody needs to master a sub-minute pitch, a Silicon Valley minute, and have several ready for some basic questions. It's handy to have a package of Silicon Valley minutes - who are you, do you have a great idea, do you have an opinion? Do you have a company pitch?

You can always follow up with a longer conversation but its great to be able to communicate clearly and briefly with people you meet.

I've set up Silicon Valley Minute a web site collecting short video pitches, from companies, book authors, people with ideas, opinions.

Most of the Silicon Valley Minutes will be company pitches because they are the most valuable-and difficult to do well. But all other types of Silicon Valley Minutes are welcome.

Take a look and send me a Silicon Valley Minute - I'll post it!

[Send your embedd video code and text description with links, to: publish(at)]

Tim Ferriss and the 4-Hour Work Week Come To London . . .

Tim Ferris is launching his popular book The 4-Hour Work Weekin London this week at an event at The Chandos in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday April 2nd from 6pm to 9pm. Check here for any last minute event change and a 30 per cent discount.

I first met Tim at a lunchtime event I was speaking at. He wanted some advice on how best to market his book online, which was just a couple of months from publication. He took to the online world of blogging and online marketing like a duck to water. His is a perfect case study of how to launch a book and make it popular without the endless rounds of book tours.

Obviously, you have to start with great content. Here is a Silicon Valley Minute pitch from Tim:

The 4-Hour Work Week Please see: Just Say No To Our Digital Leashes

I Was Troll Baiting Over At ZDNet...

Over on my column/blog at ZDNet: Tom Foremski: IMHO, I asked:

Are trolls the rednecks of the social media world?

The topic of trolls, people who take time to leave inane, usually abusive comments, that kill conversation on blogs, and forums, and other types of social media is interesting.

Although I haven't snagged any trolls yet, (I've got an upcoming post that I'm sure will reap a harvest) I did get some excellent comments:

Calling a troll a 'redneck' would be entirely too gracious

While one can make the argument that trolls and rednecks might not "know no better" when it comes to minding their manners, I have a troll who deliberately visits to make pointed comments that show he's stalking my blog and collecting data on me before launching a nasty comment-missile. Trolls are, to me, the Debbie Downers and Grim Reapers of the social media space.

Posted by: dcwriterdawn

RE: Are trolls the rednecks of the social media world?

Sometimes those at enmity with us can be spun to the good.

Our friends will often spare us, cause they love us, while our enemies are often fiendishly foot loose and fancy free, savagely unfettered from any such fine sensibilities. The same trappings of civilization that most of us deliberately cultivate. Because we know where to go for the real gold. Riches still reside in the golden rule. Corny as that may or may not sound.

Slashing, sniping and shoulding on us is their standard schlock. They're happily or not mostly unmoved by the need of normative social constraints of the civil.

I've gained a lot sometimes from harsh, hateful unrelenting, unsparing, marauding, murderous criticism. I figure that where there's smoke, there's usually a fire.

Some of these storm clouds huffing and puffing impending doom have silver linings, quite contrary to the uncouth and nefarious stuff they spew and spray.

Sometimes I find it easy to love my enemies for the kindness they certainly didn't intend to do my way.

Posted by: preachjohn

RE: Are trolls the rednecks .... Oh Yes but

I think they should be called childish rednecks.

Of all the sites I read, there seems to be an inordinate amount of trolls in Zdnet.

Critism is fine, trolling is not.

I think a lot of misinformed posters "troll" in error due to their lack of knowledge and then end up defending the themselves against the trollish anti-trolls.

But then again, some bloggers write "troll" blogs as well due to their own bias.

Posted by: rtfa

Network Solutions Denies It Censored Site Critical Of Koran

Jeff Nolan, over at Venture Chronicles took on Network Solutions, one of the largest US web hosting companies over its closure of a controversial web site.

Reuters reported: "A U.S.-based web service, which Islam critic and Dutch right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders planned to use to show his film critical of the Koran, said on Saturday that it had inactivated the site due to complaints."

Jeff Nolan took a look at Network Solutions' Acceptable Use Policy in his post "Network Solutions’ Double Standard"

I don’t imagine Network Solutions would be so quick to shut down a website critical of the Bible or the Torah. Even so, since when is Network Solutions chartered with monitoring speech on the Web? I looked up their Acceptable Use Policy and it’s a stretch to suggest that this film or any other could fit one of the specific sections.

The truth is more like Network Solutions simply caving to extremist pressure.

It wasn't long before a Network Solutions representative left a response:

Hi Jeff,

I am the Network Solutions Listening post in the Social media. I saw the Link to this post on Twitter and wanted to point you the clarification we posted :

Hope it explains the action.



[It's interesting that Twitter is already being monitored by corporations.]

Jeff Nolan replied:

Shashi, With all due respect, this explains nothing.

1) What were the nature of the complaints?

2) What were the statements the domain owner made that suggested they would violate your use policy?

3) What makes Network Solutions believe that they should be in the business of reviewing lawful content?

4) Do you suspend every site while investigating a complaint?

5) How many sites have you suspended under similar circumstances?

This posted statement only makes Network Solutions appear to be on even softer ground. Having said all that, I appreciate you taking the initiative to post a comment.

It is now 24 hours later and still no follow up from Network Solutions. It's incredible that it can take such actions and get away with it. I wonder if other ISPs would have done the same, I wonder how many times this type of thing happens.

Log Off And Tune In - Guide To Startup Success...

We spend way too much time inside our small Silicon Valley worlds. It often feels as if I constantly see the 400 or so people that run this place, and that drive the main conversations here, it is like a high school cafeteria.

I liked it a lot last year, I still like the life here, but increasingly I think the best advice is to get out into the real world occasionally. Yet I know plenty of people that hardly ever, except for family occasions, spend any time outside of the closeted worlds of Silicon Valley.

And I know plenty more that would love to step outside of their geek worlds but don't know how, they don't have the contacts.

I think that's a big mistake. A business will only succeed if it understands the culture of its broader society, and that means getting outside of Silicon Valley's debates on tech esoterica. Do us a favor, figure out which end of the egg we should crack and send us an email, because the world outside doesn't care.

Heck, most of my friends on the East Coast barely will touch Facebook, let alone Twitter. Yet these are just two of our current fascinations.

I spent much of December in London and New York and I learned a lot. I recommend it.

Log off and tune in - is my new recipe for success.

Here is more at my ZDNet column In My Humble Opinion:

The key rule to startup success…

If you spend less time in the the geek world you will get a better perspective on the culture around you. The more you understand that culture the more successful will be your business.

Businesses need to become a part of their broader culture, yet I come across many that aren’t, and don’t understand this point, or understand it only intellectually. That’s why Silicon Valley Watcher reports on the business and culture of Silicon Valley because culture is important to business and vice versa. And there are plenty of interesting stories to tell too.

Geek feast fatigue…and the key rule for startup success

Culture Watch: de Young Museum Features 8 Jazz Ensembles This Friday

This Friday, Jan 18, at the superb de Young museum in Golden Gate Park from 6.30pm to 10 pm, eight jazz ensembles perform original works inspired by the museum's permanent collection.

Live music by eight ensembles (listed with the art that inspired their works): The Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra (The Peaceable Kingdom, by Edward Hicks)

Erik Jekabson's "West Coast" Quartet + Strings (Anti-Mass, by Cornelia Parker)

Howard Wiley and the Angola Project (Cotton Picker, by Robert Gwathmey)

The Kasey Knudsen Group (Cowgirl, by Deborah Oropallo, from the temporary exhibition Guise)

Angela Wellman's New Roots (Imunu figures in the Jolika Collection of New Guinea art)

The Ben Goldberg Quintet (A Bermuda Window in a Semi-tropic Character, by Marsden Hartley)

The Babatunde Lea Quartet (Hovor II, by El Anatsui)

Mitch Marcus Quintet + 13 (Lake Basin in High Sierra, by Chiura Obata)

More info...

The event is a joint production with Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco's oldest nonprofit alternative arts organization, now in its 43rd year.

Here is Allison Lovejoy, composer, concert pianist, and cabaret performer, interviewing Marcus Shelby, San Francisco's leading jazz composer and performer. They discuss his composition inspired by Edward Hick's "The Peaceable Kingdom" following rehearsals.

December 12: Come Join A Massed Citizen Choir Singing Handel's Messiah!

Monday evening was fun. I was at the San Francisco Community Music Center with my friend Allison Lovejoy as she interviewed conductor Urs Leonhardt Steiner. It is part of a series of interviews with local composers, musicians, conductors, and singers that are part of the rich cultural scene of San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

She spoke with him during a break in rehearsals for the "Sing it yourself Messiah" upcoming on Wednesday, December 12 at 8pm, at Davies Symphony Hall.

At this event the audience are the performers, singing Handel's Messiah and everyone is welcome. It is now in its 29th year and has become a much-loved holiday tradition for many people.

Allison is a wonderful friend because she helps me to escape the geek world and peek into her world, that of a classical pianist, cabaret performer, and educator. If she can help me escape occasionally, then maybe she can do the same for some of my readers too :-)

"Sing it yourself Messiah" is at Davies Symphony Hall, December 12, 2007. Tickets: 415 401 9229 or

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Here is Allison Lovejoy performing Bartok:

YouTube - Allison Lovejoy plays Bartok

Weekend Watcher: Marcus Shelby & Company - Jazz From North Beach


A few weeks back I was in North Beach at Pearl's jazz club with friends Allison Lovejoy and her sister Erika. It was a Tuesday night and there were just a dozen people in the place, a lucky dozen because the Marcus Shelby experience works on small and large groups.

Here is Marcus Shelby and company, (almost) live from North Beach, San Francisco:

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Please see:

San Francisco Chronicle: Marcus Shelby marries lyrical life of Harriet Tubman with jazz

CNN:The coolest and hottest of San Francisco's music scene

Marcus Shelby profile

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I'm completely burned out . . .

I'm completely burned out on conferences and event parties, and things ain't slowing down... It is during such times that I enjoy spending time with friends that don't really know what I do, that aren't from my day-to-day world.


Wednesday evening, in between the usual line up of conference events, (this week it is CTIA), my friends Uwe Maurer and Heddi Cundle (. . . we do Barmitvahs), got to go to SF MOMA and the superb Olafur Eliasson opening. I am definitely going back to see it again. And the great thing about art openings, it is not about the art, it is about the art goers. We had a great time talking with people who knew nothing of our alternate lives, and vice-versa too, I'm sure.


Thursday at 7pm I'm about to head off to an evening of startup launches, conference networking events, and PR cocktail parties. Fortunately, I'm rescued at the last moment by my friend Allison Lovejoy, inviting me to a 7.30 pm performance of the San Francisco Opera and Mozart's Magic Flute.

Geeks versus Mozart? I'm pretty sure I made the same choice any one of my readers would have made.

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Please see Allison Lovejoy performing Bartok:

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Culture Clash: MySpace at SF MOMA - Southern California Comes to Silicon Valley

I popped into the MySpace party to celebrate the opening of its San Francisco office. Rupert Murdoch had already left the SF Museum of Modern Art, just a few minutes before I got there, which was about 11pm.

I turned up fashionably late because the start time was 9.30pm, about the time when most Silicon Valley parties end. Even though Mr Murdoch was gone, there were a lot of people still there.

It was a crowd with very few geeks. I spotted Brian Solis but very few of the usual crowd--which was nice.

It was a very SoCal scene, which I liked. I got to chat with Chris DeWolfe, the CEO of MySpace, who is very rock star in his manners and his looks.

I said that this is a very grand office opening party, what are you trying to say with this event? He said that this shows that MySpace has landed in San Francisco and that we are going to take developers seriously.

I said good, because we are all obsessed with FaceBook. FaceBook has taken up so much of our mind space right now. He promised that would change. Interesting.

Have you seen Arrington?

In the early hour of the next day, the party is still going strong. Suddenly Jason Calacanis appears out of nowhere and asks me "Have you seen Arrington?" I said no, I haven't. And then he disappeared as quickly as he had appeared . . .

Apart from that brief, ghostly appearance from Calacanis, I didn't see any of the Web 2.0/Geek crowd at all, which was very refreshing.

Culture Clash?

It'll be interesting to see how MySpace will interface with Silicon Valley compared with FaceBook. The culture of the two organizations is very different.

FaceBook is a very Geek culture, it is all about developers and APIs, and social graphs, and lots of guys in T-shirts.

The MySpace culture is very SoCal, lots of women, lots of smartly dressed people, very sales/advertising focused. . . very alien to the tech community of Palo Alto/Silicon Valley.

But maybe not to the tech community of San Francisco/Silicon Valley. There is a difference.

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Weekend Watcher: Allison Lovejoy Interviews SF Composer; A Korean Band in NY; Jay Smooth's Hip-Hop Rash

Allison Lovejoy interviews Daniel David Feinsmith, a prominent Bay Area composer and performer. Mr Feinsmith is a student of Terry Riley and composes in classical styles. His Feinsmith Quartet performs Oct 18 at the Jewish Cultural Center in San Francisco.

A New York Music Moment... A Korean rock band in Union Square. From TechOne.

Jay Smooth: Hip-Hop Is Giving Me A Rash. From TechOne.

Corporate Social Responsibility = Community Responsibility

Public_Schools-Emb.jpgIn Silicon Valley there is tremendous competition for talent and companies have to offer more than just a salary. Increasingly, companies have to show that they have a higher purpose too, and show that they have a corporate social responsibility.

Companies such as Google and have established large foundations. And there are many other companies that encourage their employees to engage in community and charity projects. Microsoft's Silicon Valley employees for example, are the area's largest contributors to the United Way.

As our work life and personal life blurs, companies will have to provide a way for people to express their desire to give back, to be engaged in their communities and local charities. Otherwise they won't be able to attract the talent they need to be successful.

Choosing between two companies offering similar salaries and benefits, people will select the one that also has a visible and vibrant social responsibility role.

And when it comes to Silicon Valley, we should look to our schools, these are the heart of any community.

How can Silicon Valley say to the world "we are inventing the future" yet our schools are struggling. Our schools are basket cases when they should be showcases.

Within walking distance of any Bay Area school there are tremendous resources, world class talent, world class technologies. Yet all of that seems to matter little in terms of making a difference in the very communities where they are created. It's embarrassing. It has to change.

RossellaDerickson-KristaHenley01-big.jpgComing up on October 19th is the Take Action on Corporate Responsibility Conference organized by Rossella Derickson and Krista Henley. They will be debuting their book: Awakening Social Responsibility, A Call to Action. I'll be at the conference and moderating a panel. Please join me in Santa Clara.

SBODN is pleased to announce the upcoming CSR Conference. We are excited to have attendance from Nokia, The Gap, Intel, Sonic Wall, Genentech, Cisco, Shaklee, NVIDIA, KLA-Tencor, Xylinx, Intuit, Calypso, Adobe, Sun, Symantec, and many others.

Who should attend? Executives, Leaders, and OD/HR professionals that want to understand the role they can play in CSR to create a strong, healthy work environment that contributes to the bottom line.

Join us on October 19th to learn:

* Innovative ideas for sustainable business practices
* How CSR can be a key ingredient in attracting and retaining a workforce
* Ways to align corporate culture to socially responsible business plans

Presentations include:

* Jim O'Toole on Useful Lessons from 40 Years of CSR
* Christine Arena on Developing Your Business Case for CSR
* Sun on Eco-Responsibility and Adobe on CSR and Branding
* Symantec on Cyber Awareness and Education
* Gap on Ethical Sourcing From Suppliers and Kiva on Micro-loans
* Entrepreneurs Foundation for Startup Company Equity Donation
* David Batstone on Socially Responsible Mutual Funds

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The Holy Trinity - the Future of Media

images.jpg For a couple of years I've been working on this idea of a Holy Trinity of media. This is my model of how the media industry is transforming itself, and also how it is being disrupted.

The Holy Trinity of media is my way of forecasting the 3 key characteristics of all future media companies. But it is not a precise prediction.

The interesting aspect is that right now, there is no media company out there that is taking advantage of all three components. Which means that there is a very good business opportunity here.

The Holy Trinity of media is represented by the combination of: professional media; citizen media, and smart machine media.

The combination of professional journalists working within their communities to bring out the citizen stories, combined with savvy algorithms harvesting Internet content, will produce very successful media companies.

This Holy Trinity of professionals, plus citizens, plus machine collected media a la Google, will become the model for every future media company.

But it is not that simple. What is the killer formula?

Is it 30 per cent professionally produced media, 30 per cent citizen/blogger media, and 40 per cent machine media such as Google News? Or as my friend Tom Abate over at the SF Chronicle points out, is the formula for a media company different in different industry sectors? We don't know, which is great because we can figure this stuff out, and in the process, figure out new types of media businesses.

A related metaphor for what is going on in the media industry is gunpowder. It consists of three simple components, each one is stable and inert on its own: Charcoal, sulphur and potassium nitrate. If you get the formula wrong, it fizzles, when you get it right it is explosive.

If you can get the 3 components of media just right, you can build very valuable media companies very quickly.

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How to lose a Blackberry, and other stories of Monday evening . . .

This week is so busy with conferences: Salesforce's Dreamforce conference. TechCrunch40, Intel Developer Forum, and all in San Francisco, all within a block or two of each other.

I got to stay at home Monday and wrote five posts. Why go to events that are being covered live by dozens of journalists and bloggers? That's the beauty of blogging - if someone else is covering the event you don't need to. There is no sense in adding to the noise, it is better to concentrate on original, exclusive stories, imho. (But I did have my colleagues at TechOne covering a lot of the shows plus I'm at Intel Developer Forum Tuesday speaking on a panel.)

Beware the cyclists in SF

I was waiting to cross the street over to Saleforce's party Monday evening. The guy in front of me suddenly yelled, "Hey, he's got my Blackberry!" just as a cyclist swept past us and continued along the street, without speeding up, but moving fast enough that discouraged pursuit.

Watch what you hold in your hand as you cross the streets in San Francisco.

TechCrunch Party

The TechCrunch40 conference party was at Fluid. I was surprised at how crowded it got because it didn't start until 9.30p. Usually conference parties start at 6 and end by 9pm, so it was a grueling long day for a lot of people. Especially Mike Arrington, I told him to go home, he was really dragging.

I got to meet Don Dodge, which was a real treat, and also Denise Howell, another favorite blogger of mine. Also local lads: Brian Solis, Chris Heuer, and Gabe Rivera.

And Pat Phelan, from Cubic was there too, and very happy with his presentation. I think Pat's company Cubic Telecom is outstanding. Please see SVW: The Man Who Broke the Telco Cartel . . . and Bridged the Global "Voice Divide"

don_dodge_web.jpg Here is some of Don's coverage of TechCrunch40:

dhowell_105x110.jpg And here is Denise Howell:

IP and the user generated economy at TechCrunch40

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Why We Need a ChristMeme

Gabe_Rivera.jpg I ran into Gabe Rivera Wednesday evening at the fun charity benefit organized by Voce Communications at the Rockit Room and featuring Don Clark's "Off the Record" band.

Gabe runs TechMeme which aggregates the most pressing subjects roiling the mediasphere. It is like Google News but much better. Gabe also has similar "meme" aggregators focused on politics, celebrities and sports.

Thursday I was trying to convince Gabe to launch a ChristMeme because it would be good to know what conversations are happening in the Christian fundamentalist communities. There are certainly plenty of web sites, radio stations, magazines etc in that community and it would be good to know more about what is going on in those groups.

Michael Weinstein, a former senior executive at EDS, a top IT services company, recently gave up his job to focus on the issue of Christian fundamentalists infiltrating the US military, from the trenches to the senior ranks. It's a fascinating story.

His book: "With God on our side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military.

You can also view Michael Weinstein on CSPAN's BookTV:

By the way...

If you Google Michael Weinstein, Google leads you to a page dominated by an image of his book's cover.

Google's contextual ads show this:

20 Honest People Needed Work From Home - Christian Company Earn $500 to $8,000 per month

The AntiChrist: Free Book Discover What the Early Church Knew About Rapture, Revelation, 666, ...

Google needs to learn cultural contextual ads imho...


Interesting social engineering, bad social network app. Avoid, it will spam your address book. My apologies to my address book...

Maladies of Internet 2.0: Conversation Overload is Worse than Information Overload

[Here in Silicon Valley it sometimes feels as if we are canaries in a coal mine...]

By Tom Foremski

With the first phase of the Internet a common issue was one of "information overload."

In this second phase of the Internet, which is marked by the use of two-way media technologies such as blogging, the issue will be one of "conversation overload."

I can deal with information overload—I've resigned myself to the fact that I can/will never be able to read/know all the things I think I should read/know. I can live with that.

But, conversation overload is different, because I *want* to have all these conversations. They are important to me.

These conversations are in email; they are in the comments written by readers of SVW and left on this and other sites; there are phone conversations to respond to; there are conversations with my kids, with my family, with my friends. With my business partners, with my colleagues, with my peers. And the conversations I have with myself.

All are important. Yet most seem started and rarely finished.

Or is it just me? I think this could become a much more common issue in this Internet 2.0 phase.

Published on SVW: 2005-08-01 06:36:1

I wanted to republish this because I see so many people suffering from conversation overload these days because we have fragmented our communications channels. Now we have to keep up with SMS, Facebook messages, LinkedIn messages, and many more.

How do you deal with it?

I think there are two ways:
-You can realize you cannot deal with it all and just do your best.
-Try to deal with it and suffer the consequences of social media burnout, maybe even nervous breakdown.

Facebook gossip...

My Facebook home page reports:

"Michael Arrington is no longer single."

I wonder who's the lucky lady?

"Sam Whitmore went from engaged to married"

Congrats to Sam and Christy!

Send me a friend request...I promise not to spill all the gossip :-)

Will Social Networks Turn Journalists into Social Pariahs?

I've been thinking about journalist sources. I know some of mine are among my FaceBook and LinkedIn friends. Could that become a problem in the future?

What if I write about Apple and Steve Jobs thinks it has been leaked and sacks a friend who works at Apple, because he can see my social network even though that's not my source. What about a two degree separation? A friend of a friend...could that still cause a problem?

Should I keep my network private?

426,000 Cell Phones Trashed Every Day

It's often difficult to imagine large numbers. Chris Jordan is an artist who helps us see the scale of things. His current project: "Running the Numbers - An American Self-Portrait" is a stunning photographic record of our mass consumer society.

Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs.

Running the Numbers

Chris has been selected as a recipient of the 2007 Green Leaf Award given by the Natural World Museum and the United Nations Environment Programme. He will receive the award at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, on June 5th, at the opening of the World Environment Day Conference.

chris jordan photography

(Hat Tip to Daniel Goldman)

The 4 Hour-A-Week Startup

Being an entrepreneur is hard work but it needn't be time consuming. Last November I met with Timothy Ferriss (Just Say No To Our Digital Leashes) who is a successful entrepreneur and an advocate of a life style that features a 4 hour work week.

Is it possible? Probably. I've bumped into Mr Ferriss at plenty of parties and events since then, and he always looks relaxed and prosperous.

His book, "The 4-Hour Workweek"  launched this week and is already at #10 on Amazon.

Here is a brief description from Mr Ferriss:

Based largely on guest lectures I've given at Princeton since 2003 (high-tech entrepreneurship), it explains how I tested the extremes of outsourcing and automating life in a digital world over the last two years: virtualizing my businesses 100%, checking e-mail once every 10-14 days, even offshoring my online dating as a social experiment. It also includes case studies of people who have found similar "lifehacks" in more than 20 countries.

A 4-hour work week means local entrepreneurs could probably run 20 startups apiece. It could be a tremendous productivity boost to Silicon Valley's innovation (and disruption!)

. . .

Just Say No to our Digital Leashes

Tim's upcoming book has lots of great tips on this and many other subjects related to our ... I recently met Timothy Ferriss, a kindred intellect. T...

- The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

... Tim Ferriss. Home. Book. About. Contact. The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim ... Silicon Valley Watcher. Trend Hunter. ZUG - Brilliant Corporate and Office...

Fake Steve Jobs blog taken down

I'm sad to hear that the fake Steve Jobs blog is being taken down for legal reasons, enjoy it while you can:

Well my friggin lawyers are advising me that I will have to shut down this scandalous old blog. Details not worth going into here. Someday I'll be able to explain. Maybe I'll write a book or something. Maybe a really beautiful e-Book that you can carry in your pocket and which will be sleek and elegant and shiny, with rounded corners and an extremely hi-res touch screen and only one button. Anyhoo, I've really enjoyed having this naked conversation with you, and I hope I've managed to restore a sense of childlike wonder to your life.


At least we have the fake Robert Scoble blog! (Hat tip to Fake Steve!)

There’s a new sort of social networking event that a few people have tipped me off about. It’ s kind of like LinkedIn, except that you meet offline in small groups of about 6 people. You eat food and drink alcohol while talking IRL about the latest great Gunjian technology.

I think this “dinner party” network could be the next Orkut.

Scoobietron - Pro Dork Blogger

Silicon Valley secrets . . . from a Silicon Valley mom

Kate Sanford writes on the excellent group blog Silicon Valley Moms Blog. This post is a great description of the type of secrets that Silicon Valley citizens try to keep. It's all very much a part of the Silicon Valley culture.

Here are some extracts from: Silicon Valley Moms Blog Silicon Valley Secrets

A few months ago I was interviewed by a 19 year old intern who asked me why people blog in the silicon valley. "Because of the secrets," I said. "It's such a secretive place that we're bursting at the seams."

. . .

Picture an enormous elephant with blonde hair and boobs, lounging in the middle of the living room. Dressed in the finest Fendi wear. Buffing its toenails, with huge clanking bracelets sliding up and down its forelegs. THAT's technology in the valley. The coolest new product - awesome!  Oooh, check it out.  And <insert name here> just started a new company with <insert name here> making <oops, can't tell you> and funded by <insert name here.>  What fun!

. . .

Here are some typical (and real) valley secrets and situations. Do any sound familiar to you?

  • In your startup, your working-from-home, equity-paid engineers have stolen the source code and are holding it hostage until you renegotiate their contract, giving them the ability to license it.
  • Your best programmer is manic depressive and "codes better" without his meds.
  • The president of your company has disappeared and it later comes to light that he's been murdered by a woman who works on the assembly line.
  • Your ex-boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse is being investigated for something which you can totally believe and which tickles you mightily.
  • One of your executives has a collection of knives, which he likes to play with and often leaves lying around the office.
  • One of your coders is having a sex change.
  • Things suck and you don't want people to know.
  • You're in talks to sell your company for millions of dollars and terrified that information will leak and the deal won't go through.
  • The deal went through just as your best friend's company tanks and he loses everything.
  • Your best friend's company just sold and your company is tanking.  (What do you talk about over dinner?)
  • You went through negotiations and hired a top-level, very well-known firm to prepare the paperwork - they screwed it up and the deal is off. 
  • You find out that a competitor’s CEO was part of the swinger’s scene several years ago.
  • In a period of insanity, you founded your company yourself. It's three years later, you have maxed out three credit cards, your employees are furious at you, and you're looking as good as you can while you're praying that someone will buy you.
  • You are now worth a hundred million dollars and all of your friends are having a hard time financially (as many are in the valley.)


Silicon Valley Moms Blog Silicon Valley Secrets

Getting the CSS Internet 2.0 religion . . . . . . . . . (don't mention the sin of tables)

The past few days I've been working on my CSS skills--the media technology that lies at the heart of this next phase of  the Internet. I don't mind learning some Geek, in fact I speak a little Geek, I used to be a software engineer for a very short time a long time ago.

I'm of the opinion that these days, I should be a "technology enabled" journalist and I encourage my media colleagues to do the same. I should know how these technologies such as CSS, RSS, XML, HTML, PHP, JavaScript, (not PERL) Ruby on Rails, do what they do.

I don't need to be proficient in these computer languages, but I should know enougth to be able to do basic things with these tools, because there is an opportunity for journalists to become "media engineers." By knowing something about these technologies--which are all essentially publishing technologies--journalists can craft new types of media, and CSS is a key enabling technology.

When I worked as a mainstream journalist, we didn't have to learn an alphabet soup of new skills all the time. Software engineers and web site developers have to constantly update their personal bag of skills.

Our main requirement as journalists was to meet deadlines, we didn't need exotic skills such as typing or spelling. Most of us type fairly fast using just two fingers.

Being good at spelling is nice but not a deal breaker, the spell checker catches most spelling mistakes, and the subs (sub-editors) catch the rest. (The little known secret of the newspaper world is that the sub-editors make the news stories look great... Journalism is about team work and not about "standalone journalism" as blogger journalism is sometimes called.)

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)  can deconstruct the media world on the fly... CSS manages to separate content from its form and function, while at the same time providing great control over each one of those elements.

CSS makes visible Marshall McLuhan's famous and confusing insight: "The medium is the message" plain to see.

For those unfamiliar with CSS, it is a style sheet for the web. It tells a web browser how to display text, where to place an image, what color to make the headings, etc.

The beauty of CSS is that by making one change in the style sheet, you can change the look of hundreds of thousands of pages on a web site. Otherwise, you'd have to change each web page by hand or by batch tools.

CSS has become somewhat of a "religion" in the sense that there is a large community of web site developers that strives for  a pure, "validated"  CSS way to do things. And if your web site doesn't validate, that's not good--(and don't tell anybody that you use html tables on your site!)

diggrz: electric biorhytms, tribal tourism, and hands-free-photoblogging

[diggrz: an SVW tag for arts, culture, trends, and events in and around Silicon Valley- new from SVW] -

 By Lucaso for Silicon Valley Watcher


Biorhythms are hot.

Ever since I witnessed Pimp My Heart at Zero One, I've been fascinated by technology that reacts to the body.

Phillips Designs is exploring how technology can be woven into our clothes to react to our personalities and emotions.

And artist Suzi Weber is creating electricskin.

Tribal Tourism

If you've ever wished you could chuck your laptop in the bay and move to a tech-free, REAL tribal community on a tropical Fijian island of Vorovor, then this is your chance to join a tribe. And, yes, there are still quite a few openings on Vorovoro.

Hands-free PhotoBlogging

Tired of pushing the shutter button on the camera?

Waymarkr documents your life continuously and effortlessly by taking random photos from your phone and sending them to a remote server so your phone never runs out of space.

Of course, it helps if you wear the phone around your neck. But then again (if you have a flash), it might be more interesting to see what's in your pocket!

[diggrz refers to a nomadic lifestyle made possible by mobile digital technologies and gadgets - a "nomadig" culture. The diggrz name also salutes some of the ideas of the Diggers, a democratic group that arose in 1649, out of the English revolution .

The Diggers were a radical group that cultivated and protected common lands, and sought to create egalitarian, self-sustaining communities. The Diggers would have found kindred spirits in today's software engineer culture and its focus on commonly owned technologies created through egalitarian open source community projects. - Tom Foremski]

diggrz: DJs spin not speak; Musical dating; Bake a cake for Amanda she's coming this way . . .

[diggrz: a tag for arts and culture trends and events - in and around Silicon Valley  - a new feature from Silicon Valley Watcher]

By Lucaso for Silicon Valley Watcher
Lately, I've been deleting music podcasts because I'm tired of hearing a DJ's voice, even for the track listing.

If I wanted to know the track info, I'd look it up on the chapter list in iTunes or read the playlist. Save the chatter for the new Skype wi-fi cellie and let the music of the podcast speak for itself, dig?

If a picture is worth a thousand words than a song is worth at least 999. So, with that in mind . . . here are two of my new favorite podcasts: BetterPropoganda and Memekast.

BetterPropoganda is an established digital music portal and  Memekast features guest DJs doing live mixes. Both are electronic/breakbeat/dance focused, and even if you're only dancing in your chair, they're still hot.These two podcasts have taken over my iPod by giving me 30-40 minute sessions that are mixed live and uninterrupted... perfect for repeat play.

Music to meet people by . . .  Similar to, Mog lets you discover "people through music and music through people."

Not enough video sharing sites . . .    Dabble lets you search, collect and organize your favorite web videos. What's different about Dabble and other video sharing sites? Hmmm ... the UI?, another video sharing beta. The difference with is that you can create an entire broadcasting channel to put it anywhere on the web.

Amanda is heading this way. . . Yes, old Rocketboom anchor and videoblog actress Amanda Congdon is headed west. You can check out her trip across the states at Amanda Across America.

. . .

Come back to Silicon Valley Watcher for more diggrz: arts and culture and events posts throughout the week.

[diggrz refers to the nomadic lifestyle offered by mobile digital technologies and gadgets - creating a "nomadig" culture. The diggrz name is also a tip-of-the-hat to some of the ideas of the Diggers, a democratic group that arose in 1649, out of the English revolution .

The Diggers were a radical group that cultivated and protected common lands, and sought to create egalitarian, self-sustaining communities. The Diggers would have found  kindred spirits in today's software engineer culture,  and the focus on creating  commonly owned technologies through egalitarian open source community projects. - Tom Foremski]

Tag: diggrz

Cooling Man: A cheap shot at a carbon-spewing Burning Man?

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article on, created to calculate the carbon/pollution emissions of those going to the annual Burning Man arts and culture festival 2hours out of Reno, Nevada.

Add up your car mileage to get there and back, plus electric generators and anything else, and you get a total in carbon/pollution emissions.

Then, like corporate America, artists will be directed to mitigate their pollution by purchasing greenhouse gas "credits," or "offsets," by investing in alternative energy that doesn't use fossil fuels: solar or wind power, methane capture from landfills and livestock. Tree planting also qualifies.

Burners are asked to pay $5 to $10 per ton of personal pollution to the nonprofit Trust for Conservation Innovation in San Francisco, which parcels the donations among various renewable-energy projects nationwide.

The money collected from 65 Burning Man participants so far -- $1,000 -- will help pay for a wind turbine that powers a casino on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota. It's the first American Indian-owned wind power plant in the nation.

Whoopee! Pay for electricity for a casino...!

IMHO, could be used as a cheap shot at the Burning Man community. It's not as if Burning Man goers have a choice of vehicles to get there, there are no electric cars or other more fuel efficient ways of getting there. Same goes for most other activities that would be done anyway, anywhere else, and that don't have easily available green alternatives.

And buying "offsets" makes it seem as if everything is OK. It can offset actual measures being taken to reduce emmissions at the festival. If a yellow smog sits above Black Rock City is everything cool even if it were *all* offset? Clearly not because Burning Man should be a showcase and an example of doing things the right way.

It is safe to say that the people that go to Burning Man are much more aware of the environment than most other groups that I can think of as a group. The policy of leave no trace, for example,  is something which is practiced every year.

Burning Man's Black Rock City becomes one of Nevada's largest cities for one week a year, with more than 30,000 people living on harsh desert plateau on which nothing grows. It comes out of nothing and goes away to nothing.

And in that week it becomes a festival of creativity and abundance. There are several daily newspapers, more than fifty radio stations. If you go, you will see structures, art, and performances that you cannot see anywhere else in the world at the same time.

There is no commerce--except for coffee and ice that can be bought in center camp. There is nothing that is "sponsored by Microsoft" or any commercial message at all. Just being away from the constant commercial tugs at your mind is incredibly refreshing.

Most that go there, are working in groups throughout the year on ambitious projects, theme camps, and welding/building incredible structures.

These activities teach teamwork, they teach how to collaborate, how to deal with difficult people.  And to work without any payment or even named credit--but contributing sweat, time, and money towards a common group goal.

Although it attracts people from around the world, Burning Man is very much a San Francisco Bay Area/Southern California festival.

And as such, the people that go there are living in an area that has great sway on technology, culture and the arts worldwide. Thus the influence of the Burning Man awareness of how we damage the environment becomes translated on a global scale.

Cooling Man could be used as a cheap shot to point to the carbon-release of activities that make Burning Man happen--without recognizing the positive effects on the environment that this community creates through their daily practice of awareness.



. . .

Burning Man Bingo (Thanks Kat!)

reMix Culture: music Splice(d), imeem

By Lucaso for Silicon Valley Watcher.

I keep running into great, web-based, media editing and sharing applications. And it makes sense: its more fun to share the process of creative collaboration than to edit by yourself! But I wonder how many of these will be around in a year? Or pehaps they will become more localized and we'll see more apps with less users.

Splice is a new online music editing applicaiton and social media sharing site. From Splice:

"Splice gives anyone, anywhere the ability to collaborate on music right through a web browser. Users can upload or record sounds, make songs, listen to other user's songs, make remixes, make friends and a whole lot more."

I also recently signed up for imeem. imeem is another social media sharing site where users gather around(you guessed it) a meme. What's great about imeem is they also have built in IM and a more powerful software download available.

Deep in the betterprop cut... The clef of your dreams... Whadda ya mean I don't need the code?... New kids on the block(from ole parents)... N a bit of psycedelic sheep!

By Lucaso for Silicon Valley Watcher.

Betterpropoganda is a hot site and an even hotter podcast! August's mix features a killer live cut by DJ Olive. Yea... and Sept is only a few days away!

Alright, this is a little freaky but totally makes sense. Take a quick music quiz and find the partner of your dreams based on your musical "personality." Is there a Gogol Bordello--Django Reindhardt--Bassnectar--Seu Jorge--Dangermouse--eDit-- sweetheart out there for me? Ahh... a sound match.

Back in the day(uh, yea, like last year), ZigZag and I were wondering why the hell there wasn't a site like this already. (You mean we really have to learn code?) Now, Piczo is here... and forget about coding your mainspace page(well... you used a profile generator anyways, didn't you?) Piczo is drag and drop, ajax friendly and hot, hot, hot...Ooooo.... and the kiddies are luving it!

Speaking of kiddies, good ole SixApart's got a new one called Vox. They're taking web publishing to another level with their latest web app in invitation-only beta right now. Imagine typepad, youtube, flickr, music sharing and (fill in the blank) social network in one UI.

Ok, and if its time to dust off the ole screen saver and load up some thing a bit more psychedelic and interactive, check out electric sheep. This screen saver lets everyone round the world vote on which sheep gets to sleep and which get to dance. BBBAAAAHHHHHHdddd ass!

Promonet lets bloggers/podcasters use licensed music for trade

By Lucaso for Silicon Valey Watcher

Recently, I've been helping out at IODA, a hip music company in the SOMA area of San Francisco. IODA(i.e. Independent Online Distribution Alliance) distributes indie(and not so indie) music across the web to a host of service providers... itunes, rhapsody, etc.

Their catalog is massive and growing (about 2,500 labels and close to 200,000 tracks) and they've recently begun a promotional service that allows bloggers/podcasters to use their music in trade for including a sales link to the artists' commerce site.

Promonet allows you to preview tracks, download artist's information, and generate HTML code for your blog/podcast. It's a great way to use licensed music in exchange for promoting your favorite artists(always a good thing!).

I created this podcast using Promonet. Enjoy!

Oh... and if you sign up for Promonet, tell them Lucaso sent you! ;)

Get the podcast feed here

produced by Lucaso using cleared music from Promonet

Story continues...

The future transparency of our lives and poisoning the database

Anybody who runs a blog or a web site usually peeks at the search terms that visitors input. It's fascinating stuff because sometimes you can find clues to breaking stories or emerging issues/trends.

And looking at the AOL search term database that was recently released, you can see how people use the search box to make statements, as much as ask questions. The AOL search information is fascinating reading because it represents unguarded thoughts and feelings that could not be collected in any other way.

However, I find it hard to belive that AOL believed it was innocently providing the world with behavioral data and protecting users from being identified. Yes, AOL assigned a numeric code to each user accounts search history, rather than user names. But there is plenty of information in the search terms to identify some of the users.

Now, people will be far more guarded in their use of online services. Surely AOL knew that the data could identify some users. Anybody, even the newest of newbies could look at the search data and see how it could be used to identify people. Yet AOL went ahead and released the information.

Maybe some at AOL wanted to warn others that even if a company says it is not collecting identifiable data on its users, it is not true. People ego surf, they Google their dates, they check up on colleagues and ex-lovers online, they search on phone numbers, etc.

The AOL incident has placed Internet users on notice that their lives are transparent, even in unguarded moments, even when searching for something, anything, even when companies say they are not collecting identifiable data.

One response is to be very careful what you search for. Another response is to poison the database, to create a smokescreen, to use aliases/avatars, to make sure that the data collected online contains only a sliver of the real person.

Yes, it is more work, but you can never know how such information could be used in the future. You can never know if the political climate changes, and some people become persecuted for their past search terms.

And this data never goes away. Google, for example, keeps every search term, keeps a copy of every web site it ever indexed--it never throws away a single byte of data it encounters. And others are doing the same thing, and others have to comply with government regulations in keeping data for many years.

Your every click and keystroke online is being collected by many different organisations, and that means that at some point it will be possible to track it all, and identify most of it. Welcome to the future transparency of your life.

The unguarded thoughts of the digital haves...

The most compelling content on the Internet, by far, is AOL's release of search terms linked to individual users. This is a glimpse into the human condition that goes way beyond anything else we have seen, beyond Dostoevsky, Dickens, Balzac, Melville or anybody else.

AOL apologized for releasing the data into the public domain--a huge database of 21m search terms with each search term linked to a unique numeric code representing a specific user account, along with the date of each search. The result is a narrative that tells stories that are unguarded, and are sometimes truly disturbing.

Over the past few days, several web sites, such as and, have sprung up and hundreds of volunteers have begun to catalog the data and flag some of the more extreme search terms, along with the users who query them. There are sometimes violent and sexually extreme terms and phrases. But also, there are the many mundane search terms, that reflect an ordinary life, occasionally punctuated with extreme drama...

It all makes for incredibly compelling reading. These are the thoughts of people when they feel safe there is nobody looking over their shoulders.

In one instance, it looks as if a wife and a husband are using the same computer, each hiding their extramarital affairs from the other, then later looking for help online to deal with the pain of failed relationships.

These are real soap operas, tracked over a period of months... from the excitement of first meetings:

"how to get rid of nervousness of meeting a blind date 23 Apr, 12:27"

Then disaster:

"if your spouse has an affair should you contact the other person's spouse and let them know : 07 May, 09:58"

And the same user account asks:

"i had sex with my best friend and now he treats me differently :26 May, 13:58"

Even though AOL used numeric codes for each user, discovering the identity of some users wouldn't be hard--if someone wanted to try. That's because people search on their own names (ego surfing) and also search telephone numbers, social security numbers, . . . and names of (ex)loved ones.

There is a tremendous amount of rage in some of the search terms, a search for revenge when relationships fail that can be disturbing to read. And so are some of the searches for underage sexual images.

Are these the musings of an idle brain, maybe a drunken brain that searches for things it wouldn't under sober circumstances? Are searches for under-age sex, or how to murder someone in a gruesome manner, just fantasies expressed within a search box? Or are they plans waiting to be executed?

Most probably they are fantasies because otherwise we would be awash in blood, dealing with a Sodom and Gomorrah of cinematic proportions every day. Yet our daily experience shows us that the vile fantasies expressed in some AOL searches, are rare in reality.

What the AOL data shows us, is that the search box has become a collector of the only true expression of whatever is happening in our heads--at the very moment of creation, at that specific point in time ...(within the heads of the Internet-enabled population).

Has the search box become a modern age confessional box--yet without the promise of redemption?

The unfortunate thing is that now, everyone will be on guard. All will think twice and thrice about what is typed into the search box. Because it could all come out into the open.

AOL's data shows us something else: Google (and YHOO, MSN, etc) has a treasure trove of search data, all linked to millions of users, much larger than AOL's database. Google saves every piece of data it comes across and puts it all on backup tapes and stores it in a very secure facility inside a mountain. A Google senior executive told me this more than two years ago. When I asked, "what will you do with the data?" I was told, "we don't know."

Google's search data can be seen as a chronicle of the human condition over a period of time, within different societies. Google has a collection of billions of thoughts collected from millions of people at (nearly) the exact moment of thought-creation, all pegged in place and in time.

Google's search term database is eaily the world's largest repository of the unguarded thoughts of the citizens of the rich, developed world. It contains information that could not be gained in any other way.

No survey of people's thinking could uncover such content because people answer questions according to what they believe they should say.

GOOG has the means to gain an incredible insight into the human condition. Can it keep the data safe from being released into the wild? Maybe. .. If it can keep the data from others, it can mine that database to its advantage--an extremely powerful, competitive advantage.

- - -
Please see SVW: The Future Transparency of the Past or why you should get used to living in a glass house... for a community approach to document some of the personalities of AOL users.


News.Com: AOL apologizes for release of user search data

AOL's disturbing glimpse into users' lives

Om My God! Mighty fun evening with GigaOm and Sharpcast

The place to be Wednesday evening was the GigaOm and Sharpcast launch party. Renee Blodgett did a great job in getting the in-crowd to turn up at club Mighty. I got there late and found the place hopping. The band was too loud for me (the marketing manager's band, not a good idea, if I'd wanted to see a band I'd pay ten bucks) but I had fun hanging outside. Lots of great conversations...

Update: Apologies directly from the Sharpcast guys, from Allen, “We did get the message to turn down, though not until the end of the first set (from on stage you really have no idea how loud it is in the house) - but we did come down in volume considerably at their request and we didn't get any more complaints after that. We certainly weren't going for ear-shattering volumes! Apologies….”

Now I feel like an old codger... :-)

Sharpcast is a cool application, I just signed up for the beta. It gives you access to your photos from any computer or mobile phone and keeps everything synced up automatically. Sounds useful. I wonder how long it will take Yahoo's Flickr to offer such a feature?

Here are some photos courtesy of the indefatigable Dan Farber, senior VP at Cnet/ZDnet and one of the best journalists/editors covering Silicon Valley and beyond.



More of his Om-ness...

Story continues...

Marketing or Representing? Which term is less loaded?


The term "marketing" is broadly used but it carries a lot of baggage such as "spin" and "selling."

Yes, marketing means so much more than the commonly understood term--it is how product development is monetized. But in many uses of the term "marketing" there is an uncomfortable implication that there is some kind of persuasion or manipulation going on, to sell something for which there might very well be no actual need.

"Selling refrigerators to Eskimos," or "taking coals to Newcastle," are examples of sayings that describe this issue. Marketing often seems to be about the use of persuasive marketing/selling techniques rather than the meeting of real needs--not that the two never coincide.

That's why some people are uneasy about doing "marketing" or "selling" because of cultural associations that seem to be more about smoke and mirrors rather than creating value. For example, many times I have had people tell me that the iPod is rubbish because it is "just marketing." As if "just marketing" can be applied by anybody, as if it can be bought off-the-shelf. Clearly, that is not the case, but that sentiment serves as an example of a less than positive attitude towards the term marketing.

Also, the term marketing doesn't seem to fit easily within the culture of the emerging generation of Silicon Valley Web 2.0/Internet 2.0 startups, (and older companies too). Those companies constantly talk about communities: customers, developers, consumers, etc.

But, do you apply "marketing" to those communities...? Within such a context, the term "marketing" feels uncomfortable, awkward, and even inaccurate.

Story continues...

Why is there no British Google? A top British politician asks...

A reader ( writes:

Belated congratulations from over the pond. Bloggers in the UK do not have sponsors but advertisers, what advice would you give to them about this? I would like to write a post about it tomorrow, so a response would be appreciated.

Also, what are your views about this story in The Times about why the UK cannot develop the Yahoos and Googles cyberspace company. I think you will find this of interest.,,6-2222386,00.html

Osborne.jpgThank you Ellee. Let me address the article in the Times, written by George Osborne, a British [politician and shadow chancellor, which means he is in the Conservative party and part of the "shadow cabinet" of senior Tory politicians.

Here is the intro:

We may have invented the internet but it's the Americans who have colonised it. It's time to stake our claim WHY IS THERE no British Yahoo! or Google? Why are we not home to fast-growing community websites such as MySpace, the fifth most visited site on the world wide web? The internet may have been invented by a Briton, but it is a sad truth that not one of the leading internet companies is British. I am in Silicon Valley to find out why, meeting not just the people who run these internet giants, but also the venture capitalists who turn their bright ideas into great businesses. I want to know what we can do to make sure Britain has a slice of the future.

There was nothing pre-ordained about America dominating the online world. Many of my contemporaries at university packed in traditional jobs in the 1990s to launch start-up companies and claim their stake in the internet boom. Now almost all have gone back to careers they left behind.

Story continues...

Hot new vidstars mix with hipsters and geeks at vidblogging fest

By Lucaso for Silicon Valley Watcher

All right, so Vloggercon in San Francisco this past weekend was hot... and not just 'cause RocketBoom's Amanda Congdon was there, dig? Either the geeks are getting hip or the hipsters are going geek... either way, a new era of media is taking Hollywood and traditional video media by storm.

And why not? You've got a camera... you've got a story to tell... you're a superstar! And, now, the tools to distribute your video are here, such as YouTube and a hundred more free vidhosts.

New media superstars, like Congdon, are well on their way to becoming international celebrities (Rocketboom's audience is as large as some small cable channels after only a year and a half) while Hollywood scrapes to understand what's going on.

We've seen the blogging phenomenon put a dent in traditional print media. Now, imagine that same dent in traditional television media. That's what's happenin', dig?

Lucaso in the balcony at Vloggercon. Photo by Scott Beale of Laughing Squid.

Ok, so back to Vloggercon...

Hot 'cause we're now seeing some cultural integration, as evident by the crook in every geek's neck when 88slide's host Rachel walked into the conference hall (look out Amanda!). A new age of diversity is coming to geekland and we'll be seeing more young, new-media superstars popping up on the radar over the next year as well as some old school geeks stepping into celebrity roles.

I overheard Stowe Boyd chatting with a friend as he left the conference: "... one of the weird things is having all these people I don't know come up to me and talk to me like they know me."

Hot 'cause vloggers are working together as a community, sharing media and ideas for the good of the whole. Despite the integration of Hollywood energy, the overall vibe of Vloggercon was one of collaboration, passion, and love (yes, there was a hug fest in the closing session).

And one of the main concerns of this community is how to balance the incoming Hollywood energy with the grassroots nature of videoblogging. A token capitalist in the room asked how we're going to make money through video blogging, while the token socialist asked how videoblogging would help non-profits reach larger audiences.

At any rate, the money is coming. Rocket Boom's recent Ebay advertising success is a testament to sustainable new media ventures. Look for new video blogs, and new media superstars, to have a huge impact in the year to come.

Here's a few folks from the conference I dig:

- Noah and the 88slide crew are doing a great job with their daily quiz show.

- Jumpcut is making headway by allowing users to re-edit the trailer of the new Linklater film, "A Scanner Darkly." rocknrolltv.jpg

- And for a little sex, drugs, peace, n rock n roll(and yes, you can swear on video blogs), check out RocknRolltv.

(Note: I also chatted with Amanda Congdon at Vloggercon... look for the interview coming soon.)

Lucaso is Silicon Valley Watcher's roving culture editor - reporting on the culture of the emerging communities.

MingleNow - social networking that mingles online and offline

I just got an early briefing on an interesting idea for social networking coming out of BlueLithium, the online advertising agency headquartered in San Jose, CA. It's an idea developed in Blue Lithium Labs, the R&D component of the business, to solve some social networking problems of their own.

"We've earned a reputation for hosting some great parties and we wanted to put some of that experience to work in this venture," says Dakota Sullivan, chief marketing officer at BlueLithium.

This is the overview: people register with MingleNow and say where they hang out, which bars, restaurants, clubs, etc. The site will have a very large national database of nearly every social place. Users will also be able to create their own places such as a corner of a college campus, or a camp at Burningman.

"There will be a page for every place that exists in the real world and you'll be able to see pictures of the people that go to that place," says Mr Sullivan.

Story continues...

Dressing and driving right, to make the right deals...

Lucaso pointed this out, a great article from the San Jose Mercury about Silicon Valley and Hollywood:

When he's in the Bay Area, Tom McInerney, the 33-year-old co-founder of San Francisco online video site Guba, zips around in his ``low-end'' 325i BMW, the 2003 version. In Hollywood, he powers up a Porsche 911, the 40th anniversary model. His home in San Francisco is a Victorian. His L.A. digs are a bit splashier: a Beverly Hills penthouse perched across the street from the William Morris Agency.

From: To win deals, tech firms go Hollywood
By John Boudreau

Welcome to the Conversation Age! All conversations may be monitored...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

(From my ZDNet blog post: Nakedness, overload and other maladies of the Conversation Age .)


Conversations are good, they are good for your company's bottom-line if you become involved in those conversations. And monitoring the conversations in the blogosphere and selling the results to corporations, as companies such as Technorati do, is a great way to figure out who is bad-mouthing your company and also, it is the cheapest and most effective market research you can buy.

The involvement of many tens of millions of people in the blogosphere, all involved in online group discussions from just a couple of people, to many tens of thousands--is a marketers' gold mine. All those conversations that might have happened over the garden fence, or in the cafe, are now public and searchable.

And Technorati and many others, will analyze the links, the authority of a site, and report to their corporate customers on the "conversations" around a product, service, company or individual.

This is not a bad thing if it leads to highly hyper-personalised marketing. That way, I would be targeted with what I needed--say new shoes. And I would be subject to fewer advertisements littering my psyche.

But this will never happen. Fewer adverts because of better targeting would be a false promise, it is like the promise of the paperless office, or the Leisure Society from labor-saving devices. So therefore, naked conversations are a bad thing--(let's go semi-private pronto).

Story continues...

Concerts by the Sea in Pacifica this Sunday

Silicon Valley works too hard and works all the time, it is Always On. We must remember to take some time out and enjoy our existence as social and cultural beings.

So please mark your calendar for the following event on January 29, Sunday at 5pm at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall in Pacifica.

Allison Lovejoy and colleagues will be performing classical works as part of a competition organized by the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra. Doors open at 4.30pm and tickets are just $10. Bring the kids, everyone under 18 is free.

Updated with more comments! The most important rules for today's workforce bar none

By Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher

My three rules of today's workforce:

--Carry and use your own cell phone/number for business

The workforce now is mobile and temporary even if you have a salaried job. You need to be in control of the center of communications: you.

--Carry and use your own email address even at work

Otherwise your contacts and the relationships you build can be severed when you leave a job, and that is an investment that you have a right to maintain--as does your employer.

--Carry and use your own health insurance

Because otherwise, you will be stuck in a job that makes you sick just to keep the health insurance.

[I've followed these three rules for years...]

From Mitch Ratcliffe: Ratcliffe Blog

To Tom's rules, I'd add:

Incorporate and work on contract rather than as an employee.

This allows you to negotiate the same kind of stock compensation while allowing you to keep your business costs, even the ones you can't get compensated for at work, on your own taxes while increasing the flexibility you have as a working person.

Carry and use your own hardware, building tech expenses into your compensation.

This prevents lock-in to a job through access to technology. Sure, you may have to work with a less impressive laptop, but you're also forced to think more like the people who really buy computers, software, services and so forth.

Update #2 thanks to Neville Hobson at NevOn, via David Newberger-The Geek Guy Rants

Create a blog and establish your personal presence in the new marketplace

In this new age of global inter-connectivity, linking and influence, a blog is a prerequisite if you want to build your own credibility, be found easily and connect with others. Forget the static website. Forget the fancy brochure. Do a blog. It works - I speak from personal experience.

Join a business network like LinkedIn or OpenBC
However you actively use these or not, they can help establish your individual credibility and provide avenues of contact with others for mutual benefit.

Anybody have any more?

Runnin' the Corridor: 2 Weeks On the Digital (and REAL) Highway

by lucaso
[email protected]

Loco_Meter-6.gifDamn. Weekly column and I already skipped my second week! I’ll try to make up for it by sharing some of the primo spice from my amazing two weeks of nomadic adventure. (yea, I shoulda been mobloggin’, but I’m not hooked up like that yet) .

The west coast corridor is bad ass. The beauty of the tribes matches the beauty of the landscape. Having grown up in the east, I’m blown away by it all. I still love a stint in NYC, DC, New England and, of course, Philly. But, really now, ain’t no Catskill, Blue Ridge, or Whitey gonna stand a chance next to the mighty Shasta, Hood, or Whitney.

Anyways, two weeks of travel through my network of digital tribes (and REAL mountains) begins now:

REWIND. San Fran two weeks ago for Web 2.0.

I walked into the hotel lobby at the end of the day to see the post-show deals being worked out. Folks were hunched over cocktail tables conversing in hushed tones, the glow of laptops reflectin’ in countless pairs of eyeglasses. Yea, not exactly my scene (where’s the DJ? Yes, we CAN close deals while listenin to killa’ grooves, y’all).

My one question: where’s web culture 2.0? Ya know, the stuff that happens when you’re not geeking out? This is the leadership of the next generation of innovation. Where is the creative culture that goes with that innovation? What is the culture of our creative class?

BOOM! Off to the afterparties.

First stop: Yahoo RSS party (As an RSS guy, I had to get the new RSS metrics in person) Nothin’ too funky, of course (it’s yahoo afterall), but the numbers were good to see. Bottom line: lose the RSS! It’s time to stress what this technology can do for people, not what it’s called. Leave the geekspeak to the geeks and let’s cross the chasm and get people using these amazing, emerging technologies. Yea, old topic

MOVING ON: Time to shake the tech off and get physical. Off to the SF BM decompression party to get down with the cutie from Santa Cruz, dancing the night away with Ka’nal.

HOME for a little biz in God’s country: Portland, OR:

I got to sit in on the FreeRange board meeting (damn, they got vision... and its MOBILE. Bad ass!) I ended up betting the new head of Apple Germany that Apple’s big announcement would be the vidpod (and, thanks to Tom, I won! Heeheehee… now I have a sponser!). Then it was back to the arts world to start rehearsals for a performance piece I wrote, “Under the Harmony of Heaven” (based on Maxim Gorky’s “The Lower Depths”) We will perform it Nov 4th for “Suono Angelica: The Language of Harmonics.”

Whew… breathe….

BAM! On the road again:

This time travelin south to LA for the Beverly Hills art fair with my good friend (and amazing sculptor)Taji. We were very blessed to be accompanied by the beautiful, sassy, and sultry painter Lily Noches. Taji rocked the show, earning third prize in sculpture and selling four sculptures, while Lily kept me sharp as I interviewed some of the more striking artists there: John Hung Ha and Gabe Leonard

And if all that wasn’t enough, I still found time to stroll Venice, boulder Joshua Tree, and party with a super lawyer who sues giant corporations for posioning you and your children. Yea, bad ass.


A stop at the Light Space Gallery in Venice to visit with the lovely and talented Star Simone and have a chat with gallery head and uber-talented artist Dean Chamberlain.


Two weeks of a vagabond existence, filled with incredible inspiration and amazing encounters, and now it's time to get home. Autumn in the NW is divine and I'm looking forward to soaking up the earth energy before headin' out again, next time makin' dat mobloggin’ thang happen!

Holla'atcha next week (or two ; ) !

[email protected]

Loco Luco and the Bassnectar beat of the digital tribes

“Loco Luco”
[email protected]

Loco_Meter-6.gifUn-digitize, people, it’s time for some spice! Lucaso here to give you the low down on what’s hot ‘cross my network. And it’s not just hot, it’s bad ass (and pssst… cool was so, like, 1993)!

Just recently back from the land of burning art and desert star beams, I start this weekly column with a run down of the network that helps continue the vibes of Burningman year round:

When I should be checking my feeds and getting caught up on the tech world, I’m usually off surfing the tribe network. There’s nothing new, per se, going on within the architecture (P-Air, tribe’s biz dev guy, told me about a few new tribe mobile ideas in the works, but only ‘cause I asked about kite surfin’ first ;). Other than new advertising in the tribe threads, it’s pretty much the same as it’s been since they launched the new profiles six months ago.

Werd. So what’s the deal on tribe? What makes it so bad ass? Number one: real world crossover. This network isn’t confined to the online world. It has moved so far beyond the need to be jacked-in in order to access it, that its presence is felt at parties, clubs, restaurants, businesses, etc., all over town. You name the place, I guarantee tribe has come up in conversation and the “network” has been accessed (this is where tribe mobile would come in handy).

Last night at a street fair I had a conversation with a wicked juggler, an amazing vocalist, a delicious designer, and a cutie from Santa Cruz. Today, I’m linked to all of them: the juggler is down with a performance gig I’m thowin’ next month, the singer wants to play a holiday show together in December, the designer is making a pair of superstar ‘lucaso’ wristbands for me, and let’s just say I’ll be visiting Santa Cruz in the very near future.

The tribe network makes those little creative brainstorms that come up in conversation a reality. The community and network exist outside the matrix, and tribe is the tool that connects the community and helps to organize those creative ideas. Yea… the damn thing works for us, we don’t work for it. oh, yea, and it’s free.

It is community without borders. Your people. Your Family. It’s like a family reunion that you want to go to. It’s the power of creation; creation of identity, of community. You can create your own tribe or join others. It’s opening the newspaper and all the news is written by your friends. It’s your PR and word of mouth campaign to the tenth power.

Yea… that’d be one stop shoppin’.

Here’s your spice:

-Profiles (you are encouraged to shamelessly promote yourself too): Ali*kat, ZigZag, Dee, Astrogirl, Buddhamonkey, Argon: on and off the grid, that’s who they are (yes, some of their mothers even call them that now too). They are the creation of themselves, independently and creatively designing their own identity/brand/business and doing it in super star fashion. Yea… that’s bad ass.
-Tribes (groups with threads): “West Coast NYers,” where you can rag on all those softy west coast, new-agers while simultaneously praising the west,“Wireless Future” and “Social Software Intellectuals,” where you can debate and share tech ideas or show off your latest find, “Travesty Revue,” where you can keep up with your favorite debaucherous cabaret act and all the gals. And, of course, if you’re feeling a bit lonely, you can always hit the “Flirting Shamelessly” tribe, for, ya know, flirtin’.

Werd. I gotta split. Astrogirl just tribe-mailed me a hot tip: Bassnectar’s new CD is out and it’s bad ass. Check the Bassnectar tribe ( for more details.