Oct 30, 2006
Oct 27, 2006
Young notes that while radio and the telephone run along the same continuum of physics they are separate industries and Bell was smart enough not to build a "radiophone." Internally, we have been thinking the same thing about wildly different features of Odeo for a long time but our phrase was "let's not build a boatcar."
While a car that is also a boat and a phone that delivers radio programs are real products—you can technically listen to a phonecast while taking a Duck Tour—Young's concept is sound. It's nice to know what the most obvious use of your product is so you can design for that.
On the other hand, Liz Gannes of GigaOm summarizes a talk by Jawed Karim that explains how YouTube which does huge deals with the entertainment industry really took off when they added features that allow for social interaction between users. Thus, adding some telephone to that radio.
The key seems to be knowing what you are building and adding various features strategically so that rather than conflicting to confuse the product, they work together to provide the service that users want and use. Seems obvious, doesn't it? Well, obviousness is often more elusive than you would think and it's important to find it over and over again every day.
Oct 26, 2006
Oct 25, 2006
Odeo and Twitter have been acquired by an obvious company. Actually, a company called Obvious—a new company we started to build cool stuff and do business in a different but obvious way. Ev has been the only person to consistently help me get the most out of my own brain and abilities and I'm looking forward to continued growth and challenges at my new company.
Here's to our future selves!
Oct 23, 2006
I love the instructions to his father that he should make a speech at Google to deliver this new information to everyone at work. Drew is funny. Also? He should try soy nuggets because they are yummy.
Oct 22, 2006
Oct 21, 2006
The other kids covered war, hunger, and the like. When it was my turn I said there was nothing wrong with the world because the mix of war, hunger, suffering, peace, joy, and comfort was just right. Before I could get to the second part of his question the teacher abruptly called me a Nihilist and moved to the next student.
Later, I had to look up 'Nihilist' to find out that in this ethical and moral discussion he was using it in a somewhat derogatory way to accuse me of rejecting morality outright. Philosophically speaking, I was. Nevertheless, he didn't let me get to the second part of the question which was more important and dealt with how we kids saw ourselves putting effort into making the world better.
Isn't it possible for someone to philosophize that no individual concept is any more meaningful than another yet still feel strongly about doing their part to make the world a better place? When people use philosophy as an excuse to avoid the effort and argue their way into a weak and selfish existence—that's when they become a fleshy waste of space.
Anyway, it's been sixteen years, so let me take a shot at this answer. Maybe my approach to philanthropy does stem from this so-called Nihilistic idea that no one action is truly preferable to another—a significant percentage of our yearly household income is donated to a diverse portfolio of charitable organizations.
We give to seventeen organizations which mostly seek individually to help humans, animals, and the environment. It seems my approach to making the world better is holistic. The Earth is our home and all the beings on it are fellow earthlings so the money and volunteer time Livy and I spend goes toward that concept.
Volunteer-wise Livy is the master and she works a lot with wildlife—her chosen career since moving to California. I've recently become affiliated with a cultural organization that seeks to strengthen ties between the US and India in a way that hopefully will result in fuller lives for people in the world's biggest democracy as well as the world's richest democracy.
The key with volunteer work seems to be aligning yourself in such a way with organizations so that your interests and talents can really be valuable. Volunteering is also great if you don't have any money but not so great if you're not committed to putting in real effort. When donating money, you have to stay educated about the programs you're getting involved in—just like you would when investing for profit.
Well, that's what I came up with today while I walked home with groceries and remembered that particular class in high school. Maybe my whole theory is flawed but so what—I can blog whatever I want!
So we changed the signup process. Now you can create a free Twitter account with just an email. Then you can use all the web features of Twitter and activate your phone when you feel like it in Settings.
Oct 20, 2006
The social features of Facebook are a natural direction for the Blogger juggernaut to start steering towards. However, if that happens, Blogger competes with Google's social networking service, Orkut, which has been gaining serious ground lately.
The Google Reader team was formed when two Blogger team members Jason Shellen and Chris Wetherell spun off to another building on campus and built a separate product. But reading blogs and writing blogs goes so well together in blogging community sites like LiveJournal and Xanga.
Here's an idea for Google: Merge the Reader and Blogger teams and products. Also, consider assigning employees Jeff Veen and Doug Bowman on overall visual look and feel detail of the newly combined offering to come up with something that's not too heavy UI wise but works and feels right.
Now you have a Blogger positioned firmly as a blogging community which is in the neighborhood of a social network but still different enough that it doesn't have to compete directly with Orkut. In fact, Orkut and Blogger can compliment one another—there's a nice integration opportunity with the unexplored Blogger Profiles feature.
Oct 19, 2006
The concept is to start a company and make it profitable in six weeks. Each week is a checkpoint. Reid's mom said he had to read a book for a half hour before he was allowed to play so I started a candy factory on my own. The first question: Take funding or bootstrap? I chose to use my own money (Reid later told me that this is the best way to go).
So I started off by renting a few different candy machines and placing them in my factory. Then I ran a cheap marketing campaign and tried to figure out how to keep up with this game. After three weeks I was hemorrhaging cash and placing dead last in the game.
Thankfully, Reid was now able to come help me out. He showed me how to take an overview of how my candy machines were performing with regard to consumer demand. Gummy bears and chocolate were killing but I was in the red on lollypops and taffy. We fired taffy and lollypops and doubled up on chocolate and gummies. We also tried chocolate milk.
With Reid on my advisory board business started picking up. Then two news stories broke. One was a scary piece on the health concerns of milk and the other told of a new schoolgirl fad: Crafting necklaces made with gummy candies. Out went the chocolate milk and we rented more gummy machines. Now were were filling orders like crazy and we spent money on a celebrity ad campaign to add to the momentum.
By week five we were mad profitable and in second place. Then Reid showed me how to earn extra points by keeping the factory clean between filling orders and advised against taking an opportunity to install vending machines in schools—that turned out to be a good call because a news story broke about shameless profiteering by some candy companies at the expense of kids' health.
The goal of the game was to earn $2,000 in six weeks. With Reid's expert guidance, Bizcandy, Inc made almost $12,000 and came in first place! I was really amazed that a ten year old boy has the patience to play a game that involves math, marketing, and choices like wether or not to take funding.
When Reid told me he always starts with his own money I joked that there are probably startups in the Bay Area taking millions in funding right now with less savvy than him. In fact, I think the next app TechCrunch launches should be a Web 2.0 version of Hot Shot Business. It could be a seriously helpful tool—and fun too.
Oct 18, 2006
Oct 17, 2006
Oct 12, 2006
New Palm device is unveiled: "Palm also announced partnerships with Yahoo Music and Google, which is producing a version of its Google Maps for the Treo. The Treo 680 will also feature a tool for bloggers on the go."It will come in four colors too. Sounds good!
Oct 9, 2006
Oct 8, 2006
Somebody should design an amazing golf course that is entirely native to its geographic locale with flora and fauna that belongs in the area. When it's not being played, the course could be both a sanctuary for wildlife and a eco-tourism attraction for walking groups.
Plus, if it were somewhere like Arizona, the golf game would be more interesting because you'd have rattlesnakes and other other animals to bring a little danger and excitement to the event.
Oct 6, 2006
The blog, Pink Tentacle where I saw this post is also super cool.
Oct 5, 2006
Lots of folks didn't realize that Audioblogger, although made to look simliar in design to Blogger, was actually provided by Odeo for Google under contract. Google paid us a monthly fee and we hooked them up with our sweet technology.
Nevertheless, Odeo is a small company and we can only work on so many projects. We decided that supporting a feature for one of Google's many fine products was stretching our own human resources to thin.
Maybe Google will decide to build their own phone posting tool completely integrated into Blogger. That would be sweet!
Until then, there are other free services that do exactly what Audioblogger does so folks who enjoy audio blogging to their Blogger blogs can keep on doing that. We sent out an email today with links to Gabcast, Hipcast, and Gcast.
All the media created through Odeo's phone posting tool will continue to be hosted and playable, we're just not accepting new calls beginning November 1, 2006.
Oct 2, 2006
Oct 1, 2006
We hiked for almost three hours and my legs got kinda shaky. Then I walked across a dangerous broken tree high over the water so I could read the sign on the other side. It said, "Bridge out do not attempt to cross." Still, Livy found time to snuggle up to a mossy tree and I snapped this photo.
Secondly, Anil thinks I was a little too mean in my overview of the situation especially by pointing out remarks made by the representative I referred to as rahaeli to the point where it seemed like I don't like LiveJournal or the folks who work there--especially since I have been and will again be on the receiving end of posts just like this at some point. Anil is chivalrous and of course he's right about the difficulty of communicating these kind of top-down decisions to millions of passionate users.
When I decide to publish a real post about something big my thinking is that it should be bold and pick a side of the fence. People don't need to read that something wasn't done well but was also sort of done pretty well too if you look at it sideways. How the hell was is done? What are you trying to tell me? Anil says I missed a chance to educate but he's wrong: I just nailed it Colbert style.
Communicating big decisions to people who use your software in a way that transcends computing and becomes a basic function like eating, sleeping, or talking is difficult so pay attention and learn from mistakes.When you have developed software as integral to people's lives as LiveJournal has become you need to approach change like a naturalist dealing with an ecosystem, not like George Bush, "The Decider." That's why I mentioned the amazing work that Dogster is doing with regard to constant community communication. My post was academic, not intentionally antagonistic and will serve as a reminder to myself. Nevertheless, I'm glad Anil was fired up enough to comment. Blogging is awesome.