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Posts from the ‘The Internets’ Category

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.

Jonathan Harris at PSFK


Fantastic talk given this May on humanizing the web by artist Jonathan Harris.

minimum viable personality


If you work in technology marketing / branding / communications, check this guest post on Fred Wilson’s blog.

Like the best screeds, it doesn’t offer answers. Just provocation.

Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, Hive Mind Edition

Sonic fraternal twin, amazing result. Edited together from separately posted clips, some years old.

h/t @aweissman

The Ludicorp Business Philosophy

Ludicorp created Flickr back in the day. Via Kottke.

“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.”

To which the Ludicorporate added: “The goal is to kick ass.”

Scott Rosenberg on writing in public

Scott is a co-founder of Salon, and this excerpt is from his essay on “Blogging, empowerment, and the ‘adjacent possible.'”

One way to assess the impact of blogging is to say that the number of people who have had the experience of writing in public has skyrocketed over the course of the last decade. Let’s say that, pre-Internet, the universe of people with experience writing in public — journalists, authors, scholars — was, perhaps, 100,000 people. And let’s say that, of the hundreds of millions of blogs reported to date, maybe 10 million of them are sustained enough efforts for us to say that their authors have gained real experience writing in public. I’m pulling these numbers out of a hat, trying to err on the conservative side. We still get an expansion of a hundredfold.

Each of these people now has an entirely new set of ‘adjacent possibilities’ to explore. What they make of those opportunities will shape the next couple of decades in important, and still unpredictable, ways.

Essay Velocity

Much longer than usual quote from the source, but this is dynamic reporting by Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic on the velocity of one essay and the people who accelerated it forward, c. 2010.

Bady’s kept the Zunguzungu blog since March of 2007 when he traveled to Tanzania. He’s averaged 15 or 20 posts a month since, mostly just links and blockquoted excerpts. In May of 2010, he had a big day when he posted about “The Soul of Mark Zuckerberg,” deconstructing one Zuckerberg quote with the help of W.E.B. DuBois. That post ended up linked by Jillian York, who works at Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society. Bady thinks it’s that post that brought his blog to the attention of several in that sphere, including Cambridge resident and ethnomusicologist Wayne Marshall, who just so happens to be giving a talk at Berkman tomorrow. Marshall, in turn, appears to have been the key link between Bady and the world at large. He retweeted Bady’s announcement of his post on November 29. (UPDATE, 8:04 pm: Marshall pointed out to me on Twitter he’s known about Bady since December of 2008, and he’s got a blog post to prove it.)

The next day, the Berkman Center’s Ethan Zuckerman tweeted the post, calling it a useful close reading of Assange’s 2006 essay (which it is). Zuckerman is one of the most respected thinkers and writers on the geopolitical implications of technology and his tweet went far. It was retweeted by 30 people — and more importantly brought the post to the attention of BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin, which sent traffic pouring to the post. The same day, WikiLeaks Twitter feed also linked to the post, saying “Good essay on one of the key ideas behind WikiLeaks.” 90 more people retweeted the post. According to BackType, almost 2,500 people have tweeted the story.

By 12:45 p.m. on the 30th, the post had made Nieman Journalism Lab’s Popular on Twitter list for the day. By 6:39 p.m., the New York Times’ Lede breaking-news blog had linked to Bady’s post. According to traffic logs Bady shared with me, almost 50,000 people visited the post that day, including — no doubt — many of the most influential journalists and opinion leaders. Tens of thousands have visited in the days since. Bady regularly engages in Twitter conversations now with the academics and journalists covering the story. Volunteers translated his story into Spanish, Dutch, and German.

- Alexis Madrigal, “The Unknown Blogger Who Changed WikiLeaks Coverage”

Fall and Winter 2010 Automattic Talks

Belatedly, two talks about Automattic, WordPress.com, and the road ahead for us delivered by Toni and Matt at Web 2.0 Summit and Le Web this year.

A love letter to the post real-time web

In the waning days of Delicious*, I came across this link shared there tonight by Michal Migurski.

It’s a fantastic essay by Matthew Ogle on the recent building of the real-time web, and the opportunities ahead to add meaning to the myriad personal histories now floating in the network.

By providing us with new ways to share what we’re doing right now, the real-time web also captures something we might not have created otherwise: a permanent record of the event. We’ve all been so distracted by The Now that we’ve hardly noticed the beautiful comet tails of personal history trailing in our wake. We’ve all become accidental archivists; our burgeoning digital archives open out of the future.

What were you thinking about on November 23rd, 2009? You probably have no idea, but Twitter might. What was your personal soundtrack to the summer of ’07? Ask Last.fm. Hit up Dopplr to find out how many miles you travelled last year, Foursquare for the Berlin bar that people you know check in to more than any other, or Facebook to see the photos of the last time you hung out with your best friend on the other side of the world.

Without deliberate planning, we have created amazing new tools for remembering. The real-time web might just be the most elaborate and widely-adopted architecture for self-archival ever created.

- Matthew Ogle, “Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web”

* From the archives, the day I figured out how to use del.icio.us

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