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Revisiting Business Motivation

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Yes to this.

Ludicorp is where Caterina and Stewart started Flickr, on the corpus of an idea for an MMO (aside — origin is recursive, because all old skool Flickr users will tell you Flickr itself is part of the neverending game).

Feeling this, again, as I embark on my startup. Thanks for writing this Ludicorp.

Business owners do not normally work for money either. They work for the enjoyment of their competitive skill, in the context of a life where competing skillfully makes sense. The money they earn supports this way of life. The same is true of their businesses. One might think that they view their businesses as nothing more than machines to produce profits, since they do closely monitor their accounts to keep tabs on those profits.

But this way of thinking replaces the point of the machine’s activity with a diagnostic test of how well it is performing. Normally, one senses whether one is performing skillfully. A basketball player does not need to count baskets to know whether the team as a whole is in flow. Saying that the point of business is to produce profit is like saying that the whole point of playing basketball is to make as many baskets as possible. One could make many more baskets by having no opponent.

The game and styles of playing the game are what matter because they produce identities people care about. Likewise, a business develops an identity by providing a product or a service to people. To do that it needs capital, and it needs to make a profit, but no more than it needs to have competent employees or customers or any other thing that enables production to take place. None of this is the goal of the activity.

The goal is to kick ass.

Nir Eyal: Where is the Web Going?

Content Creation by Nir Eyal

Prescient, from 2012, by Nir Eyal.

The Curated Web is characterized by a fundamentally different value to users than the social web. Whereas Web 1.0 was characterized by content published from one-to-many and social media was about easily creating and sharing content, from many-to-many, the curated web is about capturing and collecting only the content that matters, from many-to-one. Like all successive phases, the curated web is a response to the weaknesses of the previous phase. Users inundated with too much content are looking for solutions to help them make sense of it all. Curated Web companies solve this problem by turning content curation into content creation and, following the predicted trend line, they see unprecedented percentages of user participation. Each re-pin, re-blog, re-tweet, creates a curated, easy-to-use stream for future information to flow.

By designing new interfaces, and suddenly making information accessible, innovative companies have just begun creating the Curated Web. By extrapolating the trend line, we can expect new startups to engage even higher numbers of users in creating content by making creation even easier. As our ability to create content increases, perhaps one day becoming nearly effortless, we are likely to see new interfaces to help us make sense of all the data, and hearkening the next phase of the web.

Charles Bukowski Wrote on a Mac

And he loved it.

Charles Bukowski and the Computer

Charles Bukowski on the Mac II.

Note the beer, foreground.

On Christmas Day, 1990, Charles Bukowski received a Macintosh IIsi computer and a laser printer from his wife, Linda. The computer utilized the 6.0.7 operating system and was installed with the MacWrite II word processing program. By January 18 of the next year, the computer was up and running and so, after a brief period of fumbling and stumbling, was Bukowski. His output of poems doubled in 1991. In letters he remarked that he had more poems than outlets to send them to. The fact that several books of new poems appeared in the years following Bukowski’s death in 1994 can partially be attributed to this amazing burst of creative energy late in life. The Macintosh IIsi helped to enable this creative explosion.

Flying in the face of the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” Bukowski kept an open mind about new technologies. Although he wondered if Dostoevsky would have ever used a computer or if he would lose his soul as a writer, Bukowski quickly realized the substantial benefits of the Macintosh and wondered how he ever wrote without one, considering the typewriter archaic. In correspondence, Bukowski championed his computer to friends, stating that they would never regret getting one for themselves. Linda signed Bukowski up for a computer class, and he went willingly, demonstrating his eagerness to master the new technology. A short time later, Bukowski characteristically claimed that he had a secret, foolproof system for dealing with his computer’s many shutdowns and malfunctions, much like he had a system at the racetrack.

The Gardener’s Rules of Life

Bolinas Beach, California

Bolinas Beach, California

Profoundly moved by this essay. I think I’ve re-read it a dozen times now since last week. Go check it out.

Go create something. But choose carefully. Build something that increases our chances to survive, even by a tiny margin. We desperately need to think not just about a zillionth social sharing gizmo. Maybe you will start building something like that, useful, but a bit futile. That’s ok. You may even get rich. The majority of people are working hard to fulfill other needs, without getting fame or great rewards. If you are reading this, you must already be part of the most privileged people in the world. And so you have a special responsibility. Money will just give you the means to build something bigger, to make a bigger difference for those who don’t have your chance. Keep your eyes on the target.

Look at your life. When you have children, you understand the brevity of life. You can remember vividly your infancy, yet you are not anymore a child, you are a father or a mother. Don’t you want your children to live in a better world ? Not just for the sake of comfort, but because otherwise, what would be the meaning of your life ? Just to reproduce what existed ? What’s the point ?

Finally, look beyond this small planet: life is rare, intelligence is rare. You have a responsibility to preserve it and make sure it will expand through the inert and indifferent universe. Not to conquer it, but to make it flourish. We all should be the gardeners of this universe, because we don’t know if we are the only ones to be able to. And obviously we have to respect our own planet, it’s the bare minimum we can do. Would you start by burning a garden when you’re supposed to grow other ones ?
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Hunter S. Thompson on Halloween

gonzo1

Amazing writing (voice, pace, narrative) as usual from the dear departed Gonzo.

There’s a lot more than the excerpt below from the early 2000s over at ESPN, where HST had a columnist gig for a while:

Getting weird for Devil’s Day
By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

Hot damn, it is Halloween again, and I am ready to get weird in public. Nevermind anthrax for today. The Yankees won, but so what? That’s what I said to that fruitbag who claimed to be Sean Penn when he called earlier. “Screw you,” I said. He was drunk, so I knew right away that it wasn’t Sean Penn. “Get out of my face!” I screamed at him. “You are the same squalid freak who called here a few days ago and said he was Muhammad Ali. What’s wrong with you?”

“I need advice,” said the voice. “Should I jump into the Honolulu Marathon this year? I desperately need a Personal Challenge to conquer. My blood is filling up with some kind of poison.”

“Nonsense,” I said. “You are just another jackass looking for attention. I’ll give your lame ass a beating if I ever catch you sneaking around My house, you sleazy little Freak!”

I didn’t care who he was, by then. He was just another geek in a Halloween parade, to my way of thinking. And for all I knew he was dangerous — maybe some kind of murderous off-duty cop with two guns and a bottle of whiskey in his pocket. I wanted no part of him, especially not on a day like Halloween.

But why not humor him? I thought. Nobody needs this kind of Foul Ball drunk coming into his yard at night. So I lowered my voice and gave him a break. “OK,” I said. “I will help you, just don’t come anywhere near me.”

“I am Sean Penn,” the voice said calmly. “Should I or should I not enter the Honolulu Marathon in December? That’s all I need to know.”

“Yes,” I said. “You should definitely enter it. I will go with you, if necessary. But don’t call them today. Do it tomorrow, not today. Nobody will believe a thing you say on a horrible day like Halloween. … And don’t use the damn telephone anymore! They’ll hunt you down and dice you up like a squid — just go to bed and stay out of sight until noon. That is when the bogeyman sleeps, and so do I. So get out of my face and never call me again!” Then I howled in a low animal voice and hung up the phone.

“These freaks should all be put to sleep,” I said to Anita. “Let’s go out on the town and get weird.”

If you liked this excerpt, get a visual and quote snapshot of HST at The Selvedge Yard. Leaving you with this koan from the master:

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

- Hunter S. Thompson

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in San Francisco

Rivera-the-arsenal

My friend Ben lives in North Beach and told me the other day that Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived on Francisco Street near the wharf for a few years, in the 1930’s.

I loved learning this slice of history.

Our conversation triggered some waking deja vu. I spent the summer of 1996 on Francisco Street with Erin Potts, Andrew Bryson and Adam Yauch of Milarepa when we and many others worked on the first Tibetan Freedom Concert at Golden Gate Park that June.

Francisco Street is part of a pocket of San Francisco that mixes together cable cars and the water, North Beach vibes, and the old days of the city as a fishing port. Salt in the air; seagulls; espressos and Marlboros on the streets and roofs. Milarepa was in the upstairs of a two story building owned by architects. I remember so many lunch runs to Taqueria San Jose for amazing, still memorable burritos all summer long.

I loved finding out this week, seventeen years on, that Frida and Diego were there first.

Launching Klout Experts

Yesterday Klout launched Experts, a brand new way for influencers to share their expertise and help others along the way. Our CEO and co-founder Joe Fernandez has much more to say about the significance of the Experts launch as a marker along the path of Klout’s growth.

For me, it’s been gratifying to see how serious Joe and the rest of Klout are about extending the definition of influence to encompass the sharing of the knowledge each one of us has about specific topics. While the Klout Score has been an effective initial basis for introducing Klout and the concept of influence to the world, Experts massively expands the scope of influence. For the first time, our influencers now have the ability to directly share their knowledge and passions on Klout — the taste and wisdom they have built up about the things they care about in life.

Here’s a sample answer from PR insider Peter Shankman on pursuing a career in public relations:

Klout Experts

And another answer from Circa founder and mobile entrepreneur Matt Galligan on the qualities of a great app:Klout Experts

These contributions will meaningfully help other people through our partnerships with Bing and others to come, by delivering high quality answers to everyday questions at the point of need, all backed by the trust and topical authority the Klout Score provides.

The initial press coverage for the announcement yesterday has been strong:

We also launched a redesign of Klout.com (which looks just beautiful, thanks to our amazing creative team). The brief for the redesign was to humanize and warm up both the voice and the look of the site and I think they nailed both.

Klout Experts

Sarah Lacy very clearly surfaces the potential for Klout Experts and its future impact when she writes:

Rather than just bragging about a score, they can actually show off how influential they are and get pretty massive distribution if they answer a question well … Klout Experts helps put more content and value around influence, allowing people who truly possess influence around a certain topic to share it. But it’s a big step in an algorithm-centric company becoming more human powered. A tacit admission that not everything can be boiled down to a number.

Launching is just the first step on this next phase of Klout’s journey. Experts is a great opportunity for us to follow through on achieving our mission of helping everyone realize their influence — and it will be exciting to see how our influencers respond to this with their answers, passion and creativity.

Building Klout

Building something completely new is hard. It takes vision. A willingness to suspend disbelief. If you're lucky, you'll find fellow travelers to work on it together. And when you do, the experience will change your world. At Klout, we are building something amazing. Something that helps everyone understand how their ideas and passions impact others. We are looking for an equally amazing community manager to join us, and help tell our story to the world. Is it you? (We hope so...)

The official job description and application is here.

These are some of the people you’ll be working with. They are this lovely IRL.

This is us. And this is also us, on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube.

Inside Klout

It’s been an awesome first two months for me here at Klout. Since I started I’ve had the opportunity to get to know people from across the company, and I’m struck by the blend of intelligence, passion, hard work and humor my colleagues bring every day. This is a special group that is working to create not just a long-lasting company but a whole new way for everyone to benefit from the rise of social media.

Just to illustrate my point and show how much I love the folks here :) — some personal impressions since starting in May:

  • Our engineers are up there with the best that I’ve worked with, and they celebrate wins in style. First startup I’ve worked at where API status is routinely reported as “SEXY!
  • Our copywriter runs to and from the office every day as part of his training regimen for the SF Marathon. In fact, marathon training has gone viral and there is a weekly class.
  • Two-year anniversaries can be dangerous. We reenacted The Hunger Games for a recent two-year celebration. Complete with Hillbilly Margaritas.
  • Members Only jackets are back. It took 30 years, but they’re a thing again now. Separately, I’ve been introduced to summer denim colors but will need to work my way up to pink jeans.
  • The marketing team started and runs a program for nonprofits called Klout for Good that’s helped connect thousands of people with causes from UNICEF to the SF AIDS Walk.
  • People are serious about their food. It’s a tossup but I’m going to say that our finance team wins for the greatest number of delicious looking restaurants visited.
  • Our new COO loves to engage in thoughtful and complex discussions about the world. Not only is he a successful startup guru (at tellme.com), he also served as a White House fellow doing some very high-level international policy work.

These vignettes are just a glimpse of what the people and life at Klout are like. The consistent thread across my interactions is that this team is genuinely motivated to follow through on our mission of democratizing influence. And to do it Klout-style, which means with fun and a lot of swagger.

Great culture comes from great people. It’s a credit to our humble (and wicked smart :) ) founder and original Kloutlaw, Joe Fernandez, that the people here built this culture alongside a company and technology platform.

The bigger picture is that we’re on the cusp of introducing something new on the product side that I’m very excited to see go live. All totally exhilarating, which wears on my not so young anymore body, but I couldn’t imagine a better place to be than Klout as we roll these updates out later this year and start to really fulfill the vision.

How Do You Harness Your Klout?

There was a torrential downpour in Austin that March evening as we hustled from our hotel to a friend’s party. In line for wristbands, we amused ourselves by sending our first tweets together, only appreciating in retrospect, thousands of miles away and weeks later, the beginnings of something vibrant and new.

Five years later, the torrent’s a flood. The proclamations of the move to a web of people, not pages, have come to pass. Everyone’s got a profile, a camera, and a filter, and I’m sharing this because I just started working for a company that has a vision for helping people ride this flow in a new way.

I joined Klout because of the mission: to empower everyone by unlocking their influence. When Joe Fernandez first shared the vision for Klout with me, what stood out for me was that what most people love about Klout — being able to up your visibility on the social web, connecting with like-minded people, and all the awesome free stuff — were just the most obvious benefits. And at the core, Klout is about the power every individual now has to impact the world just by sharing their knowledge, passion and inspiration. How great is that?

It’s an optimistic perspective that recognizes each one of us has an important voice that can bring positive changes into the world. And it’s profoundly democratic because it embodies the belief that everyone can meaningfully participate. (Our Klout for Good program puts this belief into action for projects like UNICEF and (RED).)

Don’t misunderstand. I still love the great perks Klout provides, and I’d love to tap my Klout to share some lovely backstage passes with you or, at the minimum, a free pizza. But I believe what’s even more awesome will be working with everyone here to help you realize and share your own personal influence, and to connect with others to amplify that positive impact in the world.

What you see with Klout now is just the beginning of what Klout will become, as we build more tools to help everyone experience the web of people.

Feel free to check Klout out here.

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