As I sit in on the BlogHer '08 panel entitled "Pursuing Your Passion Never Gets Old", I'm struck by how much the bloghersphere has changed in the scarce three years since the first BlogHer gathering. Then, it was a room full of techies, early adopters, and activists, with vehement discussion around establishing a voice for women in the blogosphere.
A quick, fun snippet for the day: Thanks to Doug Dockery for passing along this great science fiction spoof on digital rights management issues. True to the best SF, it ports real-world issues into an alternate reality context: if DRM legislation and technology take the more conservative path, have we established barriers to artificial intelligence? How will Cylons think, create, and communicate?
Following this BSG line brings up more science-fanciful food for thought: What intersection will emerge between DRM and gene mapping? As genetic sequences are copyrighted (or patented), what limitations might DRM place upon one's ability to reproduce? Submit your novellas now.
Something strange crept up on me over the last several months: I slowly stopped reading blogs. Part of this was due to spending more of my limited social media budget on Seesmic, Twitter, and Facebook, which sites tend to expose a certain amount of blog content. (e.g., clicking through to new posts shared in Twitter streams.) And part of this behavioral change was driven by the incredible failings of Google Reader.
Interesting snippet of the day: Auren Hoffman recently blogged about the growing imbalance between male and female participation in social networks. To boil it down, the most popular social networking sites - Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Plaxo, and Hi5 - are roughly 60:40 female:male. Auren theorizes that the sole exception, LinkedIn (61% male) has the reverse skew because it is highly transactional, unlike the other networks. I can see his point.
Though I don't normally pass on 'press release' type news, I'm making an exception today. As a common shareholder and advisor to Mission Research, I'm thrilled to disclose that the company has closed on its Series B financing, led by TBL Capital. Mission Research launched as a vendor of customer relationship management software for nonprofits (GiftWorks), and is now entering the small business market with SalesWorks. Congratulations to Charlie Crystle and team!
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a surprisingly interesting keynote interview today at SXSW 2008. (Photo by skidder.) Not only because interviewer Sarah Lacy drew Zuckerberg out from his normally quiet shell, but also because it caused the SXSW crowd to turn on Lacy for too much pedantry.
A quick tangent on the hubbub: The audience grew frustrated with Lacy's decision to storytell rather than to interview. The audience members that I spoke to also wanted her to dig into new, interesting topics that hadn't already been beaten to death in the mainstream and tech press. e.g., tell us more about how Facebook is supporting the guerrilla government revolt in Columbia? The best snippet may be that Lacy told Zuckerberg that if he wanted to know the real story behind his company, he needed to read her upcoming book of Silicon Valley startup lore. No doubt, the strange interactions will be called out in depth on the gossip sites, and there's a good deal of commentary on twitter.
This being said, let's get back to the details of the Zuckerberg interview. Lacy's drawing-out of Zuckerberg is what made the SXSW crowd warm up to him. Here's the gist of the discussion:
Fresh and cool from today's inbox: Electrical engineers from Stanford and Toshiba are the first to use nanotubes to wire a silicon chip that can run at commercial processing speeds of 800 megahertz. (For comparison, the typical iPhone runs at 700 megahertz, while PCs run at 2 to 3 gigahertz.) Some signals going through the integrated circuit reached speeds of 1 Ghz.
While there's still more work to do before creating commercial products, this breakthrough provides a way for Moore's Law of ever-doubling processing power to continue, despite our reaching the physical limits of how thin we can slice a copper conduit. Star Trek, here we come.
Yahoo! opened up the beta of Live, its new personal broadcast video service, on Thursday night. I haven't yet run a live test of the Christine channel, but I'm looking forward to trying it out after a day on the Tahoe slopes today. I'm a huge fan of Seesmic's conversational video community, so I'm happy to see that Yahoo! appears to be going for a broadcast approach rather than competing directly. (Essentially, Yahoo! is providing Justin.tv in a box.) Go ahead and get your own name before someone else nabs it.
An impressive lineup of mission- and consumer-critical online services discussed scalability today at Customer Service is the New Marketing. Marc Hedlund of Wesabe encouraged these market leaders to trot out their own best practices and practical suggestions for handling success. The conversation boiled down to two recommendations: #1: Get your community involved. #2: Integrate your community's voice into your internal operations.
As DEMO 08 Executive Producer Chris Shipley dryly noted today, "service and support is still a complex area." During today's DEMO presentations, it became evident the lines between consumer and enterprise support are blurring. Business IT tools are becoming more granular, and consumers are realizing more transparent access to experts while gaining control over rules-based systems for the home. Given that the average household spends one weekend day per month fixing home computer issues (per Support.com), the need is compelling.
Search engine optimization for Christine.net has lingered on my to-do list for quite some time. By moving up just a couple of spots on the Google search for "christine", I would not only pop up from the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, but also be the link for surfers entering "christine" into their address bar. Not that most people would notice, but how obscurely fun would that be?
Shannon and I are signed up for 6Mbps Comcast High-Speed Internet service at our home in San Francisco. We had a great experience four months ago with installation and initial performance. In early December, however, our connection became sluggish on and off. When we called customer service, we were told that it looked fine, and since we had no warning lights on the cable modem, there was nothing Comcast could do. This frustrating initial response did nothing to address the worsening problem. (See video rant #1.)
Six finalists made it to the Web 2.0 Summit Launch Pad today, and promoted their startup in front of an onstage VC panel. My personal favorite was CleverSet, which won Best in Show from the Web 2.0 audience. Other finalists (in descending order of my own 'investibility' ranking) included Tripit, ClickForensics, Spiceworks, Realius, and G.ho.st. Here's a rundown of each finalist and its secret sauce:
Several successful Facebook app developers shared their experiences at the recent Community Next gathering. After listening to the early F8 cohort, here are the strategic lessons that stand out:
Dart-throwing for the day: Social communities - is there really a choice of reach vs. niche? Author Sarah Lacy (and as a panel moderator at today's Momentum Growth Conference, the one who posed the question) firmly believes that companies must choose one over the other as they grow. More of interest to startup communities, Lacy posits that acquisition values will be based on either one or the other.