Monday, July 31, 2006

The Mo List -

Shawn and I share an office. It's kind of small and we have this really junkie table piled high with junk and mail on it where we set our laptops and do work when we aren't traveling. The other day Shawn remarked how there isn't anything in the mobile industry like the Pho list. We talked about it for a while and agreed that a Pho list in mobile would be something that would be fun to participate in.

The Pho list, for those of you who don't know was/is a digital music mailing list that was ground zero for digital music discussion during the late 90s through today. I still subscribe although I haven't posted in probably a year. When something ground breaking or controversial was happening in digital music, the discussion happened on Pho. It wasn't always pretty, and there certainly were a variety of characters who either participated or lurked. I recall posting something once and then getting an email from a label executive who told me I should be careful about what I posted because everyone reads the Pho list. I thought that was hilarious but it really spoke to what Jim Griffin and John Parres did in gathering the various tribes that make up digital music.

When we started Intercasting in 2004 the only thing that resembled Pho was the Unwired list that John Parres and Hal Bingham set up. The Unwired list, and I believe the Pho list currently, is a closed list. Although having to read the random postings of everybody and their brother on the Pho list was occasionally annoying, it really created a meeting place for everyone. The Rabble if you will. If you didn't like it you could leave. I personally have been reading the Pho list for I believe 7 years now. Annoying or not. To me it doesn't have the value it once had, but it still has a lot of the people I find interesting and the topics are important to a variety of media types and digital music heads.

I am not sure why but for whatever reason the Unwired list isn't anything like Pho. I suppose that one could argue that the conversations have migrated out to the various mobile blogs and other gathering places but the problem with that is that there isn't a place for a community conversation per se where everyone can speak up etc.

So with great nods to John, Jim and Hal we bought a domain and set up a list server at You can go to that URL and sign up and get yourself added to the mailing list. Alternatively you can send an email to .

It is our hope that we can get some of the various characters, players and geniuses of the mobile world to get together and have some open conversations. And maybe there will be some good heated discussions. And maybe we can get Russell Beattie to sign up so he may occasionally opine on all things mobile since he isn't blogging anymore. At any rate, come on in and check it out. You can always unsubscribe.

US Cyworld is live

I didn't see or hear anything about it until a friend mentioned it today. Sign up at

I haven't spent anytime with it yet so I don't have any feedback.

12th Anniversary

Yesterday my wife Jessica and I celebrated our 12th anniversary. I owe my success to her love and support especially over the last two plus years while we have been getting the company off the ground and juggling the things in life that come when you unexpectedly end up with triplets.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Message from a Rabbler...

While taking a peek at some posts on Rabble earlier today, I ran into the following post that had me laughing really hard. Kind of.

this is a test transmission from the year 3018AD, it is intended to be a warning transmission, due to the intricacies of electronic space time travel, this is a reproduction of 1 trillion messages, and it is hoped that a member of the human population is now reading this,you may see this message elsewhere and in another time, infer only the aforementioned in this case. this message is intended for the whole of the human population, for it is the whole of the human populations existence that is in jeopardy, this messages point of origin is extraterrestrial in nature, we have detected the self inflicted nuclear destruction of your planet, physical laws of the universe bar the possibility of ever being able to transfer mass through time, and as such we will be unable to save you from destruction. it is sincerely hoped that you will receive this transmission, and be able to avert what ever accident has lead to your destruction, with that hope, we look forward to greeting you in the future.

Helio Review

I read a pretty good Helio review in the Washington Post today that you can see here. On whole it appeared pretty balanced but I think he missed the UI of the handset which I think is a big plus.

Quien es mas macho? or Microsoft

Over the weekend when I was reading my clips, I saw a link to this Business Week article that you can read here. While scanning the article I came upon this quote from Greg Wilfahrt (Our former PR guy at until after the Vivendi acquisition):

"Besides, these social networks, typically catering to 18- to 35-year-olds, could make additional money off the ringtones, games, and music downloads this demographic favors. "We could be bigger than Microsoft," contends Greg Wilfahrt, co-founder of Clearly, that's a bit of an overstatement, even if's sales have been growing 50% a quarter for the past two years."

I am betting that Microsoft isn't too concerned about just yet. :-)

Friday, July 21, 2006

NCAA 2007 - OMG

This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen on my PSP. I haven't played with it much but I got some time on the plane. My gaming interests are pretty specific. FPS, football and occasionally some other sports games, and strategy. I haven't had anything yet that blew me away on the PSP. NCAA 2007 does that. I am not sure if Madden 2006 was a bad port of the PS2 to the PSP but it was not a good experience in general. It had lagginess and had that notorious bug that wrecked all your presets. Occasionally I had Japanese characters pop up. How cool. Not.

NCAA 2007 is a stand alone kick ass football game. Hands down. If you haven't had the reason to get a PSP yet, and you have any interest whatsoever in sports gaming, you now have a reason. As a side note, that game registration site still isn't letting me in. Frown.

Google WiFi

Been traveling and have been meaning to post but have been too busy. One quick thing though. I was in SF for a couple of days this week and stayed at a hotel overlooking Union Square. Before I fork over my $14 to Starwood for Ethernet, I like to browse the local wi-fi networks. Once in a while you get lucky. This time what to my surprise on the top but Google Wifi. Nice. It had a great signal but for some reason I couldn't connect and Starwood took my money anyways. It got me thinking a lot about how different things will be when there is broad based availability of free wifi to everyone. Lots of implications and opportunities.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

EA - A Little Help With QA on NCAA 2007 Please!

I love EA. I think they are the best publisher of games in the world. Larry Probst was on our board at and I thought he was a great board member. I know a couple of other people there who are super high quality people. Demanding. Winners.

I am so addicted to their football franchise that I went out tonight and grabbed the inaugural version of NCAA 2007 Football for the PSP. I must add that the NCAA Football franchise is without question the BEST football gaming platform ever. Madden may be more well known but NCAA takes the cake hands down.

The packaging for the PSP was great and while flipping through the document I came to the registration page on the back where I was prompted to register and get cheat codes and other stuff. Tired, but eager to make sure that I maximize my game playing experience, I go to the website and run into the screen above. At step 1, I can't register my game. Done. End of story. The game not listed here link is of no help and basically tells me that I might have made a mistake on platform or game name. Or your QA staff or website production staff didn't make the necessary updates. So please fix that, I need some cheats, fast.

I can't wait to see how this year's version plays out!

The Hub - Walmart's Myspace Alike Site

Walmart rolled out The Hub recently, which is a Myspace alike site. Given all the uproar over public safety and profanity, Walmart is uniquely positioned to create a kinder safer Myspace alike given their reach into the pockets of so many Americans. The question is, will the cool kids hang out there?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sidekick III - Review

Actually review is probably the wrong title for this post. It's really more impressions and thoughts.

So my new Sidekick...

Let me start by saying that I think the Sidekick/Hiptop is one of the ultimate devices. I carry around 7 devices in my bag at all times and there are two that I use all day long, the P910 and the Sidekick. The p910 is my primary communication device as well as email. The Sidekick is my mobile web browser and IM client. It may be unique, but that's how I am configured. I say this to illustrate that I am not a typical Sidekick owner and that there are a number of features on the Sidekick III that don't hit my radar. With that in mind let me give the following good/bad and summary.

The Good.

-1.3 Megapixel camera.

-The overall general industrial design is clean and has some wow gadget feel. The previous version looked a bit Fisher Price (Although I admit that I liked it personally).

-Integrated Instant Messaging. All of the Instant Messaging platforms supported are accessed through one place on the device.

-Edge. I have noticed quicker speeds but I have also been having some intermittent connecivity issues that are probably network related.

-Migration. I moved the SIM from one device to the next and everything was there. Email etc. This was very impressive. I have never had a smoother move.

The Bad.

-The keyboard. I have big sausage sized fingers that worked really well with the old device. I haven't had too many problems with the new keyboard but it certainly is not my preference between the two.

-Swivel action. My old device seemed to have a slightly smoother open action. The new device seems like I am going to break something with the "clack"noise it makes when it opens now.


In general the move from the II to the III felt like an incremental upgrade for me. Keep in mind that I am not using it as a phone so Blue Tooth doesn't help me. I am not playing music on it and haven't tried that out yet.

If you are new to the Sidekick I think you are going to dig it. If you are upgrading I think that in general you will be pleased but you will probably have some nits depending on what you do with the device. After waiting a long time for this device I can only say that still it is one of my most favorite devices and I can't wait to see what Danger comes up with next.

Windows Vista Beta 2

At Gnomedex, attendees were given a copy of Windows Vista Beta 2. I generally stay away from Beta versions of Microsoft software but having an old laptop lying around (That has really sound technical specs) I decided to give it a go.

The laptop in question had a bunch of old family stuff on it including pics, music, and most importantly several years worth of emails. The laptop had a power issue that caused the computer to die if you hit the power cord. It didn't happen often, but enough to put some pretty good hurt on the OS. After some massive slowdowns and some OS not found errors (That eventually recovered) I decided to move onto my current laptop.

I did all the usual backup things and somewhere on a hard drive I have pretty much all of the stuff that was there in the past. With that in mind I felt it was safe to proceed. Note I didn't have everything but let's just say 90%.

I started on the upgrade path for Vista. I will spare you the details but will give some highlights:

-Lots of drivers don't work (This wasn't a surprise)

-The UI is beautiful and it seems like in general the OS is more responsive than XP

-I lost everything (As I said before I had it backed up but I would occasionally pull the beast out to find an old email address. That won't be happening ever again)

-The OS diagnoses problems and in fact claims that there is a bunch wrong with my current installation that includes both driver issues as well as OS issues. That's kind of funny, sort of like Windows telling on itself. I like that concept.

As I did with XP, I won't install Vista on any device that doesn't come pre-installed. I will probably upgrade devices sometime within 6 months after Vista goes live though. It looks like there are a lot of cool new features especially around collaboration that I look forward to using. I am trying to get my head around the Windows Live stuff but have to admit that I am a bit put off by the credit card requirement no matter what version you are using. I may break down and give them one this week but in general find that a more intimate relationship than I would care to have with a software vendor.

Friday, July 14, 2006

PSP Software Upgrade 2.71

I just noticed that PSP software Upgrade 2.71 became available. The two main features are Game Demo downloads and improved video display on Location Free. NCAA 2007 is coming out for the PSP in 5 days. I can't wait! Football season must be on the way.

Twttr launches, wither Odeo?

A couple of days ago Twttr launched. I have been playing with it a bunch. There are some similar services out there but this one is pretty cool because of their use of shortcodes and there is a public area where you can see the overall flow of posts through SMS that is broadcast out to others. People who are your friends essentially subscribe to your messages and whenever you update them, all your friends get the update. It's very bloglike in my opinion in that it is subscription based pull messaging. I like how they have put the pieces together but wonder how you avoid it becoming spammy.

The bigger question to me is how this fits in with Odeo. It appears that a number of the Odeo team are working on this which makes one wonder what's going on with Odeo?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Media, Users and Attention

As I have mentioned or hinted at in previous posts over the last week or two, I walked away from the Gnomedex conference with one idea that has stuck in my head since I encountered it. That idea is centered around what Steve Gilmor unveiled as the Attention Trust or what can more broadly be described as the Attention Economy. This idea was certainly not new as I believe that Michael Goldhaber has been writing about it for a number of years and the topic has been given new prominence recently by Tim O'reilly and others. The presentation that Steve laid out was brief and it had the taste of an academic topic but I wanted to share some of my thoughts as it relates to my personal journey around media and user created content and why I think this is an extremely big and powerful idea. Hopefully I can do that in a way that is accessible. I find myself grappling with how to portray this to people I discuss the topic with without sounding confused.

By way of background, my time prior to's acquisition by Vivendi and during my tenure as President of their Internet Music Group, we spent a lot of effort trying to find meaning in the data that was generated by our detailed user tracking. The main byproduct of that was described in this blog post here where we identified up and coming bands and held out the theory that a quantitative approach can be applied to identify likely content producers that would be of interest to major record labels. In retrospect we were harvesting the attention of our users to identify trends in content consumption or consumer taste with respect to music.

For me, I walked way with the intention to focus my professional efforts on opportunities that platformed what I would describe as edge of the network media. Some of the background that builds on the previous post can be found in this post from earlier this year. My general theory was that there are a number of trends that are creating a fundamental shift in what we think of as media. In this presentation I gave to some SDSU students back in early 2004, pages 16-18 highlight what I thought were the important pieces/trends that related to this shift in media.

One of the important trends on that slide was the decrease in cost for people to create content. This is seen in many areas such as blogging, podcasting, fantasy sports, and mobile devices. Some of this thinking contributed to what we have done so far with Rabble. One of the key ideas that was present at both and with Rabble was the use of stats for users. Stats to us are a proxy for fame or in the language of Goldhaber attention. People wanting to capture other people's attention.

My personal belief based on my experiences over the last 7 years or so with media produced outside the center of the network has been that there is a fundamental shift away from centralized media and a passive entertainment experience to an interactive content creator model that is embraced by the youth culture in specific, but also is broadly beginning to disseminate out to a broader audience. This idea is described in a large number of places including most famously by Chris Anderson in The Long Tail.

So what was the big deal for me in hearing Steve Gilmor talk about Attention Trust? A couple of things. The idea that your attention is something that you can control, although on some level an obvious statement, isn't that powerful if you can't actually document what you are paying attention to. I can see what people are paying attention to on this blog by looking at my Sitemeter reports or by looking at my reports on Urchin. What I see in that case is maybe a navigation flow, or a referral track from a search engine. In general though I don't have much insight into who the person is viewing my pages, or why they are here or what they are hoping to gain.

The use of the Attention Recorder plugin or Firefox allows us to keep track of all the places we go to the Internet. This combined with the various devices like the Root vault allows us to create a record of our activity and share it with others. So who cares where I surf on the web? Well Google and Yahoo certainly do. They use this data to determine what sort of ads to serve us. What if based on what I am paying attention to there was someone or some company out there that has a product that I am looking for? Would I mind being told that there are a number of books that I am waiting to buy that I just haven't gotten around to ordering at a great discount? Certainly.

In general I am still trying to get myself up to speed with the concepts. The piece I am currently digesting that you can find here is from Michael Godhaber in the First Monday journal. It is really good stuff.

There are two specific things that are of interest to me that I am still trying to crystallize in my mind. The first one is that this sort of infrastructure or platform can really drive expressive behavior down to a really low level that makes sharing your thoughts/ideas/activities very easy. If you don't want to blog or create a podcast, how about sharing with others the clikstream of the sites you are visiting. Certainly there are a lot of my friends whose clicktream I would find fascinating. It would be a way to keep up with what they are doing when I don't have the time or ability to reach out. Knowing what they are surfing would give me some insight into what they are up to.

The second one is the one I touched on previously, which is the marketplace idea that Root and some others like Meople are working on. Mathcing your attention with the creators of products or services you are looking for.

There are certainly challenges for the widespread adoption of these ideas and principles but the ideas are extremely powerful when one considers the shift from passive consumer of content/media to an engaged creator or arbitrator of our own attention. The implications are profound. I am sure that I will be spending some of my free waking hours noodling on this for a long time.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Rabble Launches on Verizon Puerto Rico and Cricket

While I was on the road we added a couple of new carriers. Rabble launched several weeks ago on Verizon Puerto Rico. Last week Rabble rolled out on Cricket as well.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Gnomedex Revisited - Themes

I want to distill some of my general observations about Gnomedex down to a couple of themes that upon reflection were the main takeaways for me.

Geek Social Networking - The attendees at Gnomedex were very high on the geek quotient. By geek I mean less Dungeons and Dragons than I mean really smart people. Although certainly there was a D&D feel without the chain mail. The first night party felt like there was a club of power geeks and some other tribes in attendance although they felt smaller. There were certainly a handful of media tribe types, most of whom I know from previous functions and interactions.

Although I felt that the first night was going to be a pre-cursor to an us and them conference dominated by the geeks, it was very open and cool and ultimately I think that anybody present was having a good time and enjoyed the interactions. I know I did. The only thing that I would add is that I think more diversity is better. There was a mortgage business person who made some comments on the last day that showed a big disconnect between the super brains in the conference and real/normal/smart people who aren't developers. I think bringing those two groups to the table would be a good thing.

What I find when I hear some of the great ideas presented, and when I see the products that rollout (Share Your OPML, People Aggregator) is that the ideas are extremely powerful but that the products aren't broadly adoptable by normal people. At least in my opinion. It's like that Myspace thing. What an ugly site that 10s of millions of people use. :-)

Open Everything and Users in Control - This was a big theme across many areas. Canter talked about the ability to move your data between social networking and other community sites. Making it easy for users to move things around as a benefit and not some artificial lock in. I though that his comments to Jeremy Zawodny were spot on as I have said in previous posts here.

Steve Gilmor talked about the Attention trust and taking control of our click data and using that to our own benefit. I think this was the most powerful idea presented although some people made some snarky comments about the discussion. I hope to do a long post about this shortly.

Kaliya/Identity Woman did a session on Open Spaces which as a discussion made sense but I didn't understand or was familiar with the overall meme. The idea of empowering non-corporate users with social tools is a good idea and it's good to see people focused on mainstream users.

Orthodoxy - There was an overall feeling that there had to be orthodoxy around certain ideas or points of view. It is probably because the audience was homogeneous in general. Examples to me were that it was assumed that nobody has a contrary position on network neutrality. Certainly there were no wireless carriers or telco people in the room, or at least none that spoke up.

It was generally assumed that everyone was on the progressive side of the political spectrum. In chats at the table there was some Republican grumbling regarding the Edwards non-political appearance and it has to be said that I think that it is very rare that you will find a politician who in a public setting would conduct themselves as anything other than a politician. I don't think that is necessarily bad, but it is the way they are wired in my opinion.

There was a heated exchange between Winer and Blake Ross that was resolved later offline but I was struck by one particular comment that Dave made that really embodied the orthodoxy and made me think of this as a big item. Dave commented that back in March he had blogged about his concerns about how Firefox would avoid becoming evil. There was an exchange in the session and Dave said that Blake should have commented on his post or sent him an email. There is an underlying assumption that Blake does/should read Dave's blog. This may or may not be the case, but the assumption that anyone should have to respond to something other than a direct conversation with that person was very surprising to me and felt like something that normal people would find fascinating.

Media - I won't say much about this but media was certainly a big and recurring theme as evidence by the session by Dave Dederer and Ethan Kaplan. Both very good sessions that covered territory that us media whores know well. The only comment that I will make though is that I find it really funny who people demonize the large content companies for exercising their rights with respect to copyright would be enraged if people took their blogs and other related IP and did what they wanted with it. There, I said it yet again. The good news is that as people learn more I think the anger has gone down from a boil to a simmer.

Good times - The balance of sessions and breaks combined with evening functions made this an excellent experience. On the one hand I would encourage any of the non-geeks I know to make the trip next year as I think it would be very rewarding, although on the other hand, I would be worried that a conference of this type has to by it's nature remain as small as possible. I am certainly going again next year provided it doesn't occur over a holiday weekend.

Gnomedex Revisited - Applications

There were a number of applications/products that were announced or demo'd at Gnomedex. The most noteworthy ones to me were the following:

Mindjet Mindmanager - This was a tool used to document the sessions. I really liked being able to go back to their blog which you can find here to look at the outline of the session and discussion. It would be great if tools like this were used at all conferences. It really was a nice way to review what was said.

Farecast - When should I book one of my many flights? Farecast allows you to do predictive modeling for airfare rates between cities to determine the right time to buy the best priced ticket. Only in Boston and Seattle but coming to you soon.

People Aggregator - Marc Canter unveiled his new meta social networking platform. I played around with it a bit but don't have much real feedback. Conceptually I totally get it and would argue that we embrace the same vision but ultimately it comes down to execution. Is this it? It's not obvious to me right now but it definitely warrants some more time.

What Day Is It? What City Am I In?

The last week has been a blur. I spent a bunch of time in Seattle for business and then Gnomedex. I did the holiday thing at home and hand a really nice time with the whole family. Somewhere along the way I forgot what day it was and then before I knew it, I was on a plane to NYC where I am now. I have a backlog of posts that I am going to rip through today in between meetings.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Chris Pirillo - Strike a Pose

Chris Pirillo - Strike a Pose
Chris Pirillo - Strike a Pose,
originally uploaded by JoshB.
The host of Gnomedex, while trying to strike a Michael Jackson pose, was unaware of the headline projected onto the back of the auditorium that was for the next presentation. It really was a perfect storm that Chris will be living for many years to come. There were calls for Tshirts. I am sure that they will be coming out quickly.

Sidekick III In My Office

My new Sidekick arrived in the office yesterday. The bad news is I am in Seattle...until tonight. I can't wait to get my hands on it. A detailed review will certainly follow.

Rabble In PC Magazine

Josh just pointed out that Rabble was mentioned in a PC Magazine article here about Mobile Social Networking sites.

Rabble Mentioned In Reuters Article

Reuters wrote about social networks and mobile devices in this article here. One of our activity community members, Amazonian was quoted towards the end of the story.

Gnomedex Day 1 Wrap

The afternoon sessions were really good for me and several things were of particular interest.

Steve Rubel lead a session on marketing and PR that was definitely enjoyable. The highlight to me was a discussion on blogging about toilet paper which Steve made light of but the audience came back at him on the topic including Werner Vogels who said there are tons of reviews on Amazon of products. Ok. Toilet paper? I think the point was good though.

Marc Canter talked about open source and our right to take our data where we want when we go from one site to the next. We totally buy into that as we have extended our support of a ton of different APIs. We need to get our API out there for anyone to develop against...

Marc is a nut. It's been fun seeing him in action.

Susan Mernit, whose blog I enjoy, led a session around sex and real life blogging. Although the topic is certainly worth a good discussion, I would venture that the audience lacked the diversity to really do the topic justice. As some other people posted elsewhere, it just felt out of place. Nevertheless, Susan did a great job with a difficult topic.

I skipped the Bloglines commercial piece although I am a devoted Bloglines user. That one wasn't working for me.

Steve Gilmor was amazing. His discussion of Attention Trust was profound. I want to post something about that later today hopefully.

The dinner and party were nice with lots of socializing opportunities but ultimately the long day had me back at the hotel kind of early. I am looking forward to several things today but may try to get home a little earlier than planned.