Thanks to 9:30 Club mailing list I received the heads up on Wednesday that one of my favorite bands of the last year is coming to D.C.: Broken Social Scene (BSS) @ 9:30, Nov. 7, 2006
You can buy them online now or call Tickets.com at 800-955-5566.
I forgot when I first heard about BSS, probably not as early as some of you out there in the indie mp3 blogosphere, but it was probably the usual culprit, KCRW and Nic Harcourt.
Back in Feb. I saw Jason Collett and Feist at The Black Cat and it was a great show so I'm hoping that they'll both be there. I can't wait for this show and I'm predicting the concert of the year, IMHO. Tickets went on sale yesterday @ 5pm so I hope you bought your tickets because I'd assume these are going to sell out. I have a few extra so let me know if you're interested.
What I find so surprisingly, though, is that neither of the major DC blogs, DCist or FishBowlDC, have yet posted anything about this show. The DC blogs were all over Feist and some other big indie bands coming to town (The Strokes, DCFC, Tapes n' Tapes) so I'm not sure why the BSS show hasn't gotten any buzz around here.
And yes, I missed the Jurassic 5 concert @ 9:30 last Monday. Next time I guess.
A few weeks back, I had the great pleasure of talking with Brad and Fred from Union Square Ventures, which was definitely the highlight of my year. These guys really get it when it comes to the web and invest in entrepreneurs that understand how to leverage web technologies to create truly new, disruptive businesses. I loved talking with them about all of the internet issues that I try to keep up with, the future of the web, new media, copyright and patents, social networking, internet governance, blogging, etc. I could have talked about this stuff for a long time because I really love it.
[ But no one can talk shop forever so we even got into the skiing vs. snowboarding debate, which, as a die-hard snowboarder (who used to be a skier waaay back in the day), I can't resist engaging people in. I always end a skier vs. snowboarder debate with the simple conclusion that nothing beats the feeling of powder on a snowboard. Fat skies can only do so much, as my friend Grant Kaye can attest to (the best damn skier that I've ever ridden with): a snowboard in powder is heaven. ]
One of the subjects that I briefly brought up was Second Life and it's potential to be a major disruptive force. I haven't used it myself but for awhile Adam Curry was praising the gospel of Second Life on every DSC podcast. Now he can get a little excited about things but I think he was being reasonable in his assessment of Second Life being the new great user interface for digital computing or social interaction in the future. Business Week covered Second Life a few months ago and although I haven't seen/read any recent stories, it seems that there's still something important going on with Second Life.
Why the sudden optimism? Mitch Kapor recently stated that
Second Life is a disruptive technology on the level of the personal computer or the Internet. “Everything we can imagine and things that we can’t imagine from the real world will have their in-world counterparts, and it’s a wonderful thing because there are many fewer constraints in Second Life than in real life, and it is, potentially at least, extraordinarily empowering.”
Kapor is famous in the internet world, having been on my radar for being a founder of EFF, so we should take note when he talks about truly disruptive forces.
I suppose the great question is whether we can combine the relatively hands-off governance model of Craigslist with an amazing virtual world like Second Life?
At first blush, the answer may seem obvious because of the stories about Second Life's issues with inflation and monetary policy involving Lindy dollars, but let's take some time analyzing this one. Can we combine the best of both worlds to create a new social networking platform that is self-regulating without needing the heavy hand of a bureaucratic, democratic form of governance?
Brad or Fred, any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear your insights.
Ever since the NYTimes re-designed their website in April, I haven't been able to read the full articles anymore on my smartphone (Audiovox XV6600- Windows PC). Everything worked fine before the re-design, I could browse the front page and then click on headlines to read the full-text articles.
Now when I click on headlines the full-text page loads and then crashed IE on my smartphone and I have to re-launch the browser. I've resorted to only reading the headlines or trying to use the sub-par text-only version of the website. This has pissed me off for some time now and I've just accepted it as the cost of technolofy and gadgets. And since we're on the subject of poor web design platforms, my Google homepage that has become my default RSS reader is also no longer viewable on my smartphone either- arrrggh.
So thank God for Dave Winer's post from yesterday about porting over NYTimes for all of the Blackberry users out there. The site is NYTimesRiver and just as Dave explains, I love that I can read the headlines while on the metro for the 20-minute commute to work in the morning and evening. I'm trying this hack/website tomorrow and will be forever grateful if it works on my smartphone and returns the full-text articles of the NYTimes to my finger-tips during the metro commutes.
Seth Goldstein, who used to work with Fred Wilson, was on the Trust Gang podcast that I discussed yesterday, and he mentioned Fred's A VC blog as the ultimate example of transperency in the blogosphere because he lays it all out there for everyone to see, his music, family info, what he's commenting on, what he's searching, his Feedburner ads, etc. Besides sharing similar tastes in great music (I've probably gotten more leads on great new music from Fred over the last year or so than I have from any other single source) I think that it's his openness, honesty, and breadth of subject areas that have made me a faithful reader.
I mention Seth's point because the transperency/disclosure discussion drives at the core of an idea I've been struggling to formalize. I have been prematurely calling the idea the "ah-hah" moments of discovering new knowledge compliments of the internet making connections between seemingly disparate information. If we have true transperency on the internet, to a point where we can track our thoughts, click-streams (see Gillmor and Seth for more info on how they're trying to monetize on this premise), and comments, I think we can formalize the process of acquiring new knowledge, which results from making the connections between those previously disparate ideas of piece of information.
It's making these connections, creating new knowledge by combining what we know already with new building blocks, that is what makes me so excited about the internet and the future of blogging and social media. This is what keeps me energized about the internet and it's a truly defining characteristic of the internet that makes it unique among the more traditional top-down, content-push-only models of mass media like TV or radio.
Lastly, the Engadget guys draw some similarities between the recent TiVo/EchoStar court case with the Research in Motion/NTD (the great Blackberry scare earlier in the year) court case on the 8/22 podcast. What's their conclusion? The patent system needs to be overhauled.
My two-and-half years of living TV-free has now ended (maybe that's why my blogging frequency has been suffering) and most often I find myself wasting time watching nothing of any entertainment or educational merit. There are a few exceptions and they mostly revolve around the Food TV, HBO, or Showtime channels.
Two nights ago, however, was the exception to this rule. I hadn't put the two shows together, I owe the insight to my brother who said, "man, everyone in America should be forced to watch those two shows right in a row." They were powerful shows taken by themselves but combining them into a single experience made for a powerful impact. So I owe this post to my brother's insight.
The first show was Spike Lee's new documentary, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," which I'm embarrassed to admit I hadn't heard anything about. I'm usually on top of these kind of cultural documentaries but this was got by me so I was disappointed to know nothing about it before we started watching one of the episodes. It didn't take much time, though, to understand exactly where this story was going to take you. The images of destruction and death, including the first person interviews and stories brought back all of the feelings of hopelessness and disgust that Americans felt soon after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.
I had the unique pleasure of participating in four-day community service trip in New Orleans during my sophomore year in college. Among the work projects, we painted an elderly couple's house in one of the poor neighborhoods in the city. Unfortunately I can't remember what ward we were in but the street was lined with small houses and located right near a huge cemetery. I didn't think much of it at the time, besides remembering that the elderly couple were extremely nice to all of us, but it hit me a few months later. Not yet home for Christmas, my mom had called me and in passing mentioned that a small note had come from some unknown address in new Orleans. Upon arriving home home, I finally figured out that it had come from that elderly couple in new Orleans whose house we had painted back in September. I don't even remember having given them my address but they took the time to mail each and everyone one of us, probably about 10 college kids, a little thank you note for having helped paint their house.
I was grateful and moved by the gesture and it's one of the reasons that I still believe thank you notes are an extremely important gesture that should never be overlooked, no matter how small the amount of gratitude or hospitality showed by someone. I didn't save that thank you note from the elderly couple, why would I have under normal circumstances, but now I wish that I had kept it or at least written down their names and address. Like i said, I can't remember where we were in New Orleans on that hot day in late September, 1999, painting that elderly couple's house. But I'm pretty sure from what I remember of neighborhood that we were in a poor neighborhood and definitely below sea level. Who knows what happened to that nice couple?
This is what ran through my head as I watched the Spike Lee documentary.
The other show that we watched certainly hadn't planned on the kind of social critique that Spike Lee had intended but it achieved the same level of introspection. It was Tony Bourdain's "No Reservations" show and his recent episode to Beirut. Hopefully you're familiar with Bourdain's book, Kitchen Confidential, or his short-lived TV show based on the book; if not, he's a professional chef in the real sense of the word, no Emeril Lagasse or Wolfgang Puck polish here, Bourdain described the true gritty, sleazy, drug-ridden underbelly of being a chef in a restaurant. it's not for the faint of heart but you'll never order seafood on Sunday nights again or ever order your steak well-done ever again.
He now travels the world on this show looking for exotic food locales and partaking in every epicurean adventure you can imagine (and some you can't even imagine eating). Suddenly the upbeat mood of Beirut turns south and suddenly the show is no longer about food and life but it becomes about just life, or more accurately life in a war zone. I don't think this view of Beirut is a perspective that most have seen before, a truly cosmopolitan city suddenly in upheaval in only 24 hours. Bourdain and his crew spend countless days/weeks trying to get of Beirut and along the way describe a life of monotony only broken by the sharp highs and lows on not knowing anything about what the hell is going during this war being played outside their windows. They watch CNN and then look out the window and they're not sure what to believe because everything seems like a scene from a movie they're watching.
Without being able to pinch themselves and wake up to realize that this trip has been just a terrible nightmare, they realize that it's truly a nightmare that they can't wake up from. Bourdain and his crew finally do get out of Beirut but he describes how empty he feels about it because he realizes all of the people surrounding him on the U.S. Marine ship may be leaving their homes and lives behind, rather than just leaving a vacation spot or location for your TV show. And there's all of the people that weren't evacuated and were left behind in the chaos of not knowing what would happen next.
Regardless of your views on either the Hurricane Katrina tragedy or the recent Israeli-Lebanon War (is there an official name, I haven't been watching enough TV to know what the 24-hour cable news shows have been calling this war), I encourage you watch both shows. You don't have to watch them right after one another but think about what you see and take pause to contemplate your life and the word around us for second.
The blogging has been few and far between lately so I have a ton of built-up posts ready to unleash to my legions of readers. The fact that I even need to address the dearth of recent posts is embarrassing for any blog. As Sifry or Scoble has said (one of those two I'm sure) ave pointed out, if you want to be a well-read blogger, post early and often.
Here's a preview of things To Be Posted (TBP):
The last two topics are compliments of Techmeme and from the techie/Web2.0 chatter on the blogosphere, both of those last two articles are getting traction. Blogging as a business is a topic that I've been thinking about recently, especially as I decided to become more serious about my blogging by migrating to Typepad (and am now plunking down cold hard cash for a communication method/medium usually thought of as free). I'm hoping by tomorrow morning that Fred will have read the VC & blogging post and given his insight on the subject. I have a feeling on where he'll come down on this subject so I'll be interested to read his thoughts on the subject.
endless dedication to reading, studying, and posting, and yet the most rewarding experience ever. It's a very appealing lifestyle from the outside and many have tried after having only sipped the blogging Kool-Aid, not many of these professionals will actually survive on blogging alone.
Kottke, a long-time blogger (as in blogging before it was cool, perhaps before we even called it blogging) tried the experiment of working full-time as a blogger and using reader donations to support himself and it didn't work out in the end. I don't know all of Jason's results and conclusions on the subject but take a look at what he did and you realize that if he couldn't make it work, it makes the odds seem downright horrifying for the rest of us.
On a more positive note, Rafat of PaidContent (who I first discovered probably 2-3 years ago and have been subscribe too since) left Calacanis' Silicon Alley Report to make a go of blogging full-time. He described the new platform/career as more intense and longer work-days than when he was a more traditional journalist but found the rewards all the more gratifying. And it seems to be working. PaidContent is still on my radar for good content, especially the MocoNews (covering the mobile content industry) emails that I receive but don't always have time to read, consistently gets scoops and posts at Techmeme, and received a round of financing a couple of months ago.
Not that all of us want blogging to be our full-time work/joy in life but many are dreaming about it and these two recent stories show that the MS is paying attention.
Currently Playing: (songs that have been keeping me going over the last few weeks)
Having just watched Arrington's What is Web 2.0 video, what were the takeaway?
Maybe it's because this was the last question and therefore I remember it more, but I found this browser question to be the most illustrative of Web2.0's potential Achilles heel. It wasn't the actual responses to the question (Firefox of course) but Jotspot's Joe Kraus follow-up on having to use Firefox and IE. Although the blogosphere and Web2.0 world may be Firefox die-hards the rest of the internet community is primarily using IE so Kraus tells his people and developers that they have to use IE when working on Jotspot. "We used to develop it for Firefox and then make it work in IE and now we develop it for IE and then make it work in Firefox."
That's a paraphrase but you get the point and it's an important point as well, one that I think is often overlooked in the blogosphere. The insight is beyond just forgetting/ignoring which browser the mainstream internet user has but the is in thinking about our audience and their user experience. Rather than pretending that Firefox has taken over the browser world or wanting to beat up on IE by not developing for it, the Web2.0 and blogosphere can alienate the mainstream through Firefox elitism.
We can argue that the Web2.0 audience is still indeed the early adopter, techie crowd that understands the high-falutin intricacies of the Web2.0/blogosphere but the web services of the future that we want to go more mainstream depend on reaching a tipping point with the average internet user. YouTube is the fastest growing website in the history of the web, beating out even MySpace, and it's because the interface is so simple and easy to use and embed within your blog or profile. I don't want to take the pessimistic view on Web2.0, because I do believe in it, but forgetting what the mainstream person actually uses on the internet, whether it's their browser or OS is dangerous and symptomatic of bubble-tendencies.
I'm advocating humility, plain and simple.
I'm a little too busy to compose a meaningful post at the moment so whet your appetite on a few posts that perked my interest (in no particular order):