de.tech.ting

Should I date Steve Jobs or Eric Schmidt?

Posted by andreaitis on June 9, 2010

Steve Jobs VS Eric Schmidt

Image by Dakiny via Flickr

This is what it’s come down to:

1. The open web is only as open as its benevolent dictators allow it to be.

2.  We are all Sophie and we must make a choice.

3. Poor AOL (er, I mean Aol.) can’t catch a break.  Had a wall when walls were decidedly un-cool.  Tore it down and a few years later walls are all the rage again courtesy of digital overlords  Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg.

As Michael Hirschorn confirms in his latest piece in The Atlantic, the open web is, in fact, an illusion; closed is the harsh reality.

The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995. In the U.S., there are only three major cell-phone networks, a handful of smart-phone makers, and just one Apple, a company that has spent the entire Internet era fighting the idea of open (as anyone who has tried to move legally purchased digital downloads among devices can attest). As far back as the ’80s, when Apple launched the desktop-publishing revolution, the company has always made the case that the bourgeois comforts of an artfully constructed end-to-end solution, despite its limits, were superior to the freedom and danger of the digital badlands.

via Closing the Digital Frontier – The Atlantic

Look, I don’t think the browser is going away any time soon, but someone always has the power in a relationship.  When it comes to technology, media and communication,  it’s not us.  I repeat: We are not running this show.

Which CEO got people to camp out overnight to buy a product sight unseen?  Apple CEO  Steve Jobs.

Which CEO runs a company that was “inadvertently collecting data about people’s online activities from unsecured Wi-Fi networks” over the past four (FOUR!) years?  Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

It’s all coming down to a choice between Apple and Google.  They are already far along the path to dominate our every interaction with media and information.   Sure, Mark Zuckerberg has the big murky moat around Facebook Island, but it’s contained.  We can choose to live with or without Facebook.  With Apple and Google, that choice is not as clear-cut.

Apple and Google both have mobile operating systems — Apple’s iPhone OS 4 vs Google’s Android.  They both develop, build and distribute devices for their own platforms.   They’re both in the advertising business — Apple’s iAd vs Google’s AdMob, to start.    They’re both also in the app-etizing business:

Like Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes App Store and Google’s (GOOG) own Android Market, the Chrome Web Store will showcase free and paid videogames, magazines, productivity apps and the like. As Web applications, they’ll run on most modern browsers. But if you happen to be running Chrome, you can “install” the apps directly in the browser so that they can be accessed via a sort of “super-bookmark.”

via Google’s App Store for the Web – All Things Digital

All this before we even get to TV.   If video killed the radio star, then Apple and Google are going to kill video.  Pay attention, because television as we know it is dead.  The concept of a television set is history;  it’s now just another (bigger) screen in your house.  Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt understand that one of our most important relationships is with the screen — small, medium or large, mobile or docked.  This is the relationship they want to control.  They want to be by our side every time we touch a screen:  anytime, anywhere, any way.

This is why I say it’s pretty clear Apple and Google are courting me.  Obviously they each want to build a future with me.  They’ve both managed to create an experience that strategically leaves me unfulfilled with a simple  flirtation.   Oh, I can have a casual encounter with Apple or Google products and see all the possibilities and potential but I have to actually commit to really get what I need.  They want me to commit, to share my personal information so they can lock me in, take me off the market.   It’s not even dating, really, more like a common-law marriage because once I choose between Apple and Google, that’s it.  I’m in it for the long haul.  Who wants to go through that break-up drama, trying to save and export data,  having to go back into that confusing scene to try to find a better match and then having to start all over again with the settings and preferences and the getting-to-know-you routine.

Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt are the controlling forces here, they are establishing how these relationships work and how they and their respective companies will benefit from consumer acquiescence.   Factor in their personal rivalry, and the stakes are high.  Think about how often you interact with a screen each day.  Google and Apple are truly our significant others.

I know I can juggle them for only so long, but I am not yet sure who will win my affections.  Apple focuses on fewer things but pays attention to every detail.  Google is more experimental but typically skips the finishing touches, the last 20% that puts some polish on rough edges.  With Apple, you’re in for elegance, style and whimsy.   With Google, you’ll have wide-ranging experiences but have to carry your own bags and at some point end up sleeping in one of those Google Street View cars.

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

And where does Mark Zuckerberg fit into all this?

Seriously, we’re just gonna be friends.

Facebook is the BFF for more than 400 million people around the world.   Zuck’s got his hooks in us and he’s got our data, but he’s platform agnostic so he can play the field with both Google and Apple.

In the end, that may make him the best catch of all.

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Forget Facebook privacy, now charges of Facebook securities fraud

Posted by andreaitis on May 20, 2010

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned 26 last week.  I wonder if anyone got him a bullseye with his picture in the center — because that’s where Zuck lives these days.  People want the underdog to succeed, but once he does he becomes target practice.

The latest unwelcome gift: accusations of securities fraud from former Harvard schoolmates who say he and other Facebook executives tricked them into a supposed $65 million settlement that was actually worth far less.

Judge James Ware of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear those arguments, filed in an appellate brief late last month, in an upcoming court case.

Divya Narendra and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss  contend that they hired Zuckerberg to work on their social network, ConnectU, when they were all students at Harvard, only to have him delay the project and use ConnectU’s code to launch his own project, then called TheFacebook. Their side of the story gained credence after instant messages sent by Zuckerberg bragging about his success in duping them emerged in the press.

via Facebook CEO’s latest woe: accusations of securities fraud | VentureBeat

The battle between ConnectU and Facebook has been raging since they were all in college together at Harvard.  A $65 million settlement was reached in 2008, but Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra filed an appeal.  They claim “the settlement was never finalized and that a judge acted improperly in allowing the settlement to proceed and awarding ownership of ConnectU to Facebook.”

In the midst of the Facebook privacy fiasco, though, the smoking gun — or, in this case, the smoking instant messages — are an ironic twist.   Business Insider walked through the overall timeline and revealed what they believe are the IMs  ConnectU’s creators say support their case.

In January 2004, Mark met with the Winklevoss brothers and Divya Narendra for what would be the last time. The meeting was on January 14, 2004, and it was held at the same place Mark met with the HarvardConnection team for the first time — in the dining hall of Mark’s residence, Kirkland House.

By this point, Mark’s site, thefacebook.com, wasn’t complete, but he was working hard on it. He’d arranged for Eduardo Saverin to pay for his servers. He had already told Adam that “the right thing to do” was to not complete Harvard Connection and build TheFacebook.com instead.  He had registered the domain name.

He therefore had a choice to make: Tell Cameron, Tyler and Divya that he wanted out of their project, or string them along until he was ready to launch thefacebook.com.

Mark sought advice on this decision from his confidants. One friend told him, in so many words, you know me. I don’t ever think anyone should do anything bad to anybody.

Mark and this friend also had the following IM exchange about how Mark planned to resolve the competing projects:

Friend: So have you decided what you’re going to do about the websites?

Zuck: Yeah, I’m going to fuck them

Zuck: Probably in the year

Zuck: *ear

via At Last — The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded – Business Insider

Interesting when juxtaposed against another instant message exchange a 19-year-old Zuckerberg had while in college.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

via Well, These New Zuckerberg IMs Won’t Help Facebook’s Privacy Problems – Business Insider

Notice a pattern?

But the big question:  Is this fancy legal eagle’ing because so much money is on the table, or is there a real case of securities fraud here?   The best answer I found is in an excellent comment on Hacker News by Silicon Valley business lawyer George Grellas.  He says, in part:

This appeal is a testament to what high-priced (and quite excellent) lawyers can do to stir things up when large amounts of money are at stake. I have been involved in countless mediations over the course of a 30-year-plus career and can strongly attest that no one in his right mind (or otherwise) even begins to think that federal securities laws should be taken into account when settling a case by which stock is transferred from one party to another as part of the settlement.

[…]

The alleged “fraud” is likely bogus here as well. The theory is that FB did a press release shortly before the settlement touting Microsoft’s $240 million investment and suggesting that, based on that investment, FB had a market cap of $15 billion. The claim is that the ConnectU founders relied on that valuation in determining what the value of the common stock was that they received. Later, supposedly, they discovered that FB had in fact done a 409A valuation of the common stock and that such valuation had placed an approximately $8/sh price on the common stock (in contrast to the $35/sh price placed on the preferred at the time of the Microsoft investment). Thus, the ConnectU founders were supposedly defrauded by having been misled about the value of the FB stock they were receiving to settle their claims (that is, as alleged, they thought they were getting stock worth $35/sh when it was in fact worth no more than $8/sh and, presumably, they would not have settled their claims for this supposedly lower amount had they known the true facts about the 409A appraisal, which facts were not disclosed to them at the time of the mediation). That might sound plausible to someone who knows nothing about startups but it is in fact an absurd argument to anyone who knows even the basics of startup financing. Every startup deal-maker knows that startups value preferred stock at 4 to 5 times higher (it used to be more like 10 times higher) than the common stock. This is vital for keeping employee incentives reasonably priced. Anyone who has been through even a single financing with a startup will know this. Therefore, what are the odds that the ConnectU founders, knowing that the $35/sh price was based on a press release discussing Microsoft’s preferred stock investment, did not immediately know and understand that a startup of this type would be putting a significantly lower price on the common stock at the same time. Thus, the argument strikes me as entirely artificial. It is a lawyer argument, very likely concocted after the fact. Because of this, too, in my judgment, I believe the argument will be rejected on appeal, just as it was by the lower court. If courts were to hold that no stock could be transferred in a settlement effected through mediation unless the parties stopped to comply with federal securities laws, the result would be utter chaos whenever a party sought to transfer equity as part of resolving a dispute.

If you want the nitty gritty, read Grellas’ full comment on Hacker News (yes, there’s more!).

As for Zuckerberg, I’d suggest someone get him a suit of armor as a belated birthday gift.  He’s gonna need it.

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Huge social shift: Cellphones now used more for data than calls

Posted by andreaitis on May 14, 2010

Phone Prop

Image by jennlynndesign via Flickr

We knew it was coming but now the numbers are in and  it’s official.

We’re well on our way to becoming an incredibly disconnected connected society.

Key stats from a New York Times story:

- Almost 90% of US households have a mobile phone

- Number of households eliminating landlines continues to increase

- Number of voice minutes used by consumers is flat

- Number of text messages sent per  user is up by almost 50%

- Thumb voted ‘favorite digit’ as thumb strength in overall US population is increasing (okay, that wasn’t in the NYT but it’s totally true, right?)

Instead of talking on their cellphones, people are making use of all the extras that iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones were also designed to do — browse the Web, listen to music, watch television, play games and send e-mail and text messages.

[…]

And for the first time in the United States, the amount of data in text, e-mail messages, streaming video, music and other services on mobile devices in 2009 surpassed the amount of voice data in cellphone calls, industry executives and analysts say.

Of course, talking on the cellphone isn’t disappearing entirely. “Anytime something is sensitive or is something I don’t want to be forwarded, I pick up the phone rather than put it into a tweet or a text,” said Kristen Kulinowski, a 41-year-old chemistry teacher in Houston. And calling is cheaper than ever because of fierce competition among rival wireless networks.

via Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls – NYTimes.com

That chemistry teacher is onto something.  Don’t you agree, Mark Zuckerberg?

Meanwhile, I’m wondering what we lose by replacing talking with texting.    Is a typed exchange a less connected experience?   Does a verbal discussion translate to a deeper relationship?

We have shorter attention spans.  We consume more, more quickly.   We walk looking at our mobile devices rather than our surroundings.    We don’t make eye contact.   We don’t talk as much.  We hear less.

We are separated by a screen.

Status updates and text messages are the new soundbite.  Will that fill us up, or leave us empty?

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College newspaper penis prank leaves nine seniors in graduation limbo

Posted by andreaitis on May 7, 2010

It’s getting harder and harder to make this whole ‘journalist’ gig sound appealing.

Today is graduation day at the University of Utah except for nine seniors from the student newspaper, the  Daily Utah Chronicle.

As a parting gift to the University of Utah, graduating senior writers at the student newspaper decided to leave with a vulgar word, or two.

The starting letters of each of the nine veteran reporters’ and staff members’ editorials, including one written by editor-in-chief Rachel Hanson, spelled out coarse words for male and female reproductive organs in their final printed edition, which hit stands April 28.  Since then, the stunt has gone viral, earning more than 8,400 votes on failblog.org. It has been shared on Facebook and Twitter at least 3,000 times.

“It wasn’t meant to be obscene or pornographic,” Hanson said. “It was in poor taste, I’ll give you that, but it was just supposed to be a silly joke.”

via University of Utah seniors say goodbye with vulgar send off in the Chronicle

It’s more than just a silly joke, though.  It’s a tradition, one that began in the ’80s in fits and starts but has been consistently upheld for the last 12 years.   Since 1999, graduating seniors at the Daily Utah Chronicle write and edit farewell pieces that, with some creative layout and design, reveal unexpected words.  Previous years have included hidden words like “hateu,” “tipsy,” “drunk” and “balls.”   Over the years the words have taken a more graphic turn.  This year, the hidden words were “penis” and “cunt.”

When the Daily Utah Chronicle penis prank landed on failblog.org it received the digital equivalent of a standing ovation.  University of Utah officials, however, were not laughing.  They placed a hold on the academic records and diplomas for the nine graduating seniors.

Editor Rachel Hanson was concerned the administration’s response could impinge on students’ press freedom, as was the paper’s outgoing faculty adviser, Jim Fisher.

“It was childish and stupid, but it’s not a cause for institutional notice,” said Fisher, an associate professor of communication who had long planned to step down as adviser this spring. “It, at the very least, has a chilling effect, and at the most could be censorship. I don’t agree with the behavior at all, but I support their right to be idiots.”

via Outgoing U. columnists in trouble over ‘hidden’ vulgarity – The Salt Lake Tribune

Isn’t that what college is for, to work out your inner idiot so you can successfully mask that part of you when you get a real job?  I remember walking one afternoon  in between classes at Rutgers University, listening to our college radio station WRSU-FM (on my sony walkman, thankyouverymuch).   I was a dj at the radio station, I knew the gang and the drill.  Suddenly, the standard “Some of the music heard on WRSU-FM is provided by Cheap Thrills”  was replaced with “Some of the music heard on WRSU-FM is brought to you by John’s record collection.”

They had stolen the airwaves.  A few of the guys — mostly graduating seniors — stole the airwaves and were broadcasting from their apartment.

I don’t recall why, I just know it was funny.  Then, and still.  It wasn’t so funny, though, when a disciplinary committee was brought in and there was a formal review.  I even had to testify, and while many of the details are now fuzzy I do remember how surreal it all seemed, like the bizarro world.   It was a college prank!  A really funny college prank.  I understand there were some FCC issues but no one was hurt, they switched it all back, let’s laugh, slap a wrist and move on.

Perhaps the University of Utah is using this as a “teaching moment.”  There is a valid point there, one of judgment and lines to be crossed, or not.   How a single decision can have cascading impact.   Match that against the First Amendment and the discussion heats up.  In an email to editor-in-chief Rachel Hanson, Associate Dean of Students Lori McDonald accused the nine graduating seniors of  “[I] intentional disruption or obstruction of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings or other University activities,” stating these offenses could lead to disciplinary action.

Such a charge is without merit, contends the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Student Press Law Center in a joint letter Thursday to U. officials.

“While the content in question might offend members of the campus community, it is unquestionably protected expression under the First Amendment,” the letter states, urging the U. to lift the hold on the students’ records and allow them to graduate today.

via Outgoing U. columnists in trouble over ‘hidden’ vulgarity – The Salt Lake Tribune

Are the students graduating today?  They were told they could participate in the ceremony, but that their diplomas are on hold pending a post-graduation meeting.   I went searching for the latest update on the Daily Utah Chronicle’s website but — surprise — there’s no coverage of their very own breaking story. Not on their newspaper site, and not on their @thechrony twitter feed.   Is that the result of all this?  That student journalists are intimidated into hiding?  They’re not covering their very own story for fear of recriminations from the University.  Journalists need to be fearless.  They need to learn to make good decisions, to chase stories, to follow their instincts, to not back down when the story is out there.   I understand it’s scary, taking on the administration.  Did you make a mistake?  Was it a bad judgment call?   Most will say okay on “penis,” but  “cunt” went too far.   So, you learn from your mistakes.  Trust me, every journalist has at least one big mistake they never ever forget.   Thanks to this mishap, future employers will have their eyes on all nine of you now.  Forget resumes, writing samples, cover letters.     What are you going to show them, right now, right this minute?  Turn #peniscuntgate into an opportunity.   And for Pulitzer’s sake, cover your own story.

courtesy of Salt Lake's cityweekly.net/utah

Posted in Strange, technology, U.S. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Lost iPhone 4G, Gray Powell, Jason Chen and Gizmodo immortalized in Hitler meme [VIDEO]

Posted by andreaitis on April 20, 2010

If there was a Webby Award for all of the Hitler meme videos out there, this one would hands-down win.  It brings together all the elements in an inspiring takeoff of the iPhone 4G takedown.

Hitler shows his frustration for the lost iPhone 4G that wound up in the hands of @Gizmodo

via Michael’s Posterous

Some quick background, for those lagging behind.

What’s with the Hitler meme?

“The Hitler Meme” or “Hitler finds out” is a video meme involving the addition of new subititles to the dramatic scene of Hitler’s final meltdown from the German movie Downfall directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. The subtitles are often anachronistically altered with humerous English subtitles surrounding current events.

via Know Your Meme

What’s with the lost iPhone 4G?

Apple software engineer Gray Powell drinks beer.  Loses never-before-seen-next-gen  iPhone 4G.   Gizmodo’s Jason Chen and Jesus Diaz acquire never-before-seen-next-gen  iPhone 4G.  Write blockbuster expose posts.  Apple asks Gizmodo to please return  now-seen-but-still-next-gen iPhone 4G.

1. How Apple lost the next iPhone

2. All the details about the device

3. And finally, how Apple asked for their phone back

via Gizmodo

What’s with the lost iPhone 4G Hitler video? Behold, while you can.   Just like the iPhone 4G, Hitler meme videos are disappearing.

Constantin Film is the German film production and distribution company behind the film Downfall (Der Untergang in German). The uploader of one of the Hilter parodies notes in the comments of his video that, “Constatin Films has filed a copyright infringement claim against this video, right before it was about to reach 500,000 views! Even though it falls under Fair Use, I suspect this video will be taken down soon. Sad face.

via Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies – TechCrunch

Since we found a blogger who still has the video up — watch it quickly one more time before it’s just a memory, like Gray Powell’s life before that ill-fated German beer bash.

The Webby acceptance speeches are traditionally only five words. After watching this video I think we all agree:

Gray loses iPhone.  We win.

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Gray Powell, Steve Jobs and the silver lining in Apple's lost iPhone fiasco

Posted by andreaitis on April 19, 2010

You are about to forever know the name Gray Powell.

Gizmodo posted this story Monday morning:

This Is Apple's Next  iPhone
You are looking at Apple’s next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It’s the real thing, and here are all the details.
via Gizmodo

They published all those details — and pictures — while shockwaves rocked the interwebs richter scale.  Gizmodo’s Jason Chen and Jesus Diaz reported what’s new: “Front-facing video chat camera.”  They documented what’s changed: “The back is entirely flat, made of either glass (more likely) or ceramic or shiny plastic in order for the cell signal to poke through.”  They solidified their place in Apple history and Steve Jobs’ long-term memory.   The story received 6,485 diggs, and was  retwittered 27, 096 times.  Colossal.

It was followed by another story: How Apple lost the Next iPhone.  And, more specifically, who lost the next iPhone.  Enter Gray Powell.

The 27-year-old Powell—a North Carolina State University 2006 graduate and talented amateur photographer—is an Apple Software Engineer working on the iPhone Baseband Software, the little program that enables the iPhone to make calls.

On the night of March 18, he was enjoying the fine imported ales at Gourmet Haus Staudt, a nice German beer garden in Redwood City, California. He was happy. The place was great. The beer was excellent. “I underestimated how good German beer is,” he typed into the next-generation iPhone he was testing on the field, cleverly disguised as an iPhone 3GS. It was his last Facebook update from the secret iPhone. It was the last time he ever saw the iPhone, right before he abandoned it on bar stool, leaving to go home.
via Gizmodo

Steve Jobs was already having a tough week.  Self-proclaimed nerd Paul Shadwell was frustrated by a  delay in the iPad’s international release.  He sent an email to Steve Jobs expressing his concern and overall Apple anxiety.  Not only did Steve Jobs respond to the email, he got right to the point.

“deliberately pulling the wool over the rest of the worlds eyes”

Are you nuts? We are doing the best we can. We need enough units to have a responsible and great launch.

via A Letter to Steve Jobs

On top of that there’s a Steve Jobs backlash brewing over Apple’s walled garden and rigid guidelines for developers.  Plus,  the Off-Broadway show Notes Toward the Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs premieres on April 22 for a one-night-only run.  So, really, did Steve Jobs need this lost-and-found-and-bought-by-Gizmodo-for-$5-to-$10K iPhone drama?  Hardly.

Still, as the sun sets on this day in iPhone history, there is a silver lining.  It comes to us not through Apple but a different kind of next-gen tech:  Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.  You see, Gray Powell now has a Facebook Fan Page. On it he says:  “Hi, my name’s Gray and I work for Apple.  I also like beer.”    Under Phone he doesn’t list his number.  Nope, our Gray enters:  “Lost it.  :(

Turns out Gray Powell is one  unlucky but funny and likable guy.  We all wondered, will Gray would be reprimanded or even fired?  Will Steve call him directly, yell at him, tell him how disappointed he is in his beer-goggled goof?   Will he survive this horrid embarrassment or will he shatter like an iPhone screen when you accidentally drop it on the cold, hard, unforgiving sidewalk of life?

Seems Gray Powell bounces.  And  instead of ruining Steve Jobs’ week he may have saved it.   I don’t know how the Facebook Page came to be, if it was created by Gray or (god forbid) a brilliant Apple marketing move.  Either way, a PR disaster is now a quirky and personable mistake.  Through Gray Powell Apple can be human, Steve Jobs can be kind and forgiving.   It wasn’t so long ago the interwebs was on high-alert,  in single-minded support as Steve Jobs battled cancer.   But public opinion is like that volcano over in Iceland.  Once it starts spewing, it takes a while for the ash cloud to lift.   What lesson do we learn?  Things happen. Sometimes people across the country wait in line all night long to be the first to buy a brand new sight-unseen device.  And, once in a while, a next-gen iPhone gets left on a bar stool after too many beers.  There but for the grace of Jobs…

You go, Gray.

Gray "iPhone Loser" Powell

Update:  Sadly, it’s beginning to look like the Facebook page is actually a poorly executed stunt.

This is Gray’s new status update:

Sounds like a marketing person trying to sound like a guy who drinks German beer and builds iPhones.   Meanwhile, I posted a question directly on the Facebook page:  “hey gray – did you create this page on your own or is it an apple marketing effort?”

No answer.

Ah, Gray, you’re in a tough spot.    Did you happen to build an app for that?

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Ode to True/Slant: First year of a news startup in rhyme

Posted by andreaitis on April 8, 2010

One single year has come and gone
Since the Alpha launch of trueslant.com
Launches tend to be crazy, that’s the default
Ours was no exception courtesy of Mossberg-comma-Walt

But let me back up, start with some history
Of how True/Slant first came to be
LD had the idea, he needed a check
He got the first round with a powerpoint deck

Whiteboard'ing

We sat in an office;  year 2008, month July
Just three of us then: Lewis, Coates and I
In the back right corner we commandeered our space
Our office christened once the whiteboard was in place

We talked, we drew, we diagrammed and graphed
We walked to the corner for lunch at ‘Wich Craft
We posted on Techcrunch for a CTO
Enter SMcNally; he had us at “Hello”

Like speed-dating we interviewed for UI and Design
Surely we met with at least eight or nine
Then James rolled in, the last one to show
With his Williamsburg skinny jeans and glasses; he had us at “No”

He was smart and clear but he did not hob-nob
J argued back.  As LD says, “That’s what got you the job.”
With the Athletes on board we could really begin
The beat was on: No Sleep Til Brooklyn

During this time I came to realize
A VC’s Fred Wilson was very nearby
Up one floor, in fact, and me a big fan
That’s how my Fred Wilson Watch began

Read the rest of this entry »

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Just can't get enough? Follow True/Slant on Facebook and Twitter

Posted by andreaitis on April 5, 2010

Here we are on Facebook:

Friend us.


And don’t miss  all of our Twitterage:

Follow us.

Why?

Every time I think of you I know we have to meet.
And I just can’t get enough.  I just can’t get enough.

[youtubevid id=”1WQRUTITwS4″]

(thank you, everyone)

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Today's celebrity Twitter fight: Kara Swisher vs Joshua Topolsky

Posted by andreaitis on March 25, 2010

It’s not Sandra Bullock vs Jesse James or House minority leader John Boehner vs Healthcare Reform, but in tech/media circles, this is a big f’cking deal.  A Twitter rumble that roared.

In one corner: Kara Swisher, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-producer and co-host (along with Walt Mossberg) of the website and conference for D: All Things Digital.

In another corner: Joshua Topolsky, Editor-in-Chief of Engadget.com, which he leads with a self-described “firm yet awesome hand.”

It all started when Josh fired the first shot  yesterday at Walt Mossberg.  In addition to All Things D, Mossberg is the principal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal.  In 2004, a Wired magazine profile referred to him as  “The  Kingmaker,” noting that few reviewers “have held so much power to shape an industry’s successes and failures.”

Being both awesome and firm, Josh was not intimidated.   What he was, actually, was Howard Beale.

A few hours later, Kara Swisher fired back.

At issue:  Walt Mossberg’s review of the new Tivo Premiere.

I have been testing the new Premiere, and it worked as advertised, with conventional cable programming and with the available Internet sources TiVo (TIVO) supports. But, in my tests, it showed some flaws and, in my view, it doesn’t go nearly far enough in tapping the Internet.

via New TiVo Mixes TV and Internet, but Falls Short

Walt published his review yesterday.  According to Topolsky’s twitter rant, there was an embargo on this story. That means that Tivo and their public relations department told journalists they could not publish any information about the Tivo Premiere until a certain day and time.  In his twitter tirade, Topolsky makes two charges:

1. Walt Mossberg broke the Tivo embargo.

2. Walt Mossberg (and Kara Swisher) get too many exclusives, preventing Topolsky from participating on a level playing field.

Disclosure:  Walt Mossberg reviewed True/Slant when we first launched our alpha site, on April 8th of  2009 —  a T/S text review and a video review.

Fact:  From that experience I know that Mossberg typically posts his reviews on allthingsd.com on Wednesday nights around 8 pm, and then later on wsj.com.   Engadget’s review of Tivo Premiere was posted at 9:57 pm on Wednesday.

Fact:  Companies do often designate exclusives, so one source will ‘break’ the story first.  Walt Mossberg has worked as a reporter for 40 years.  Forty years!!  He gets exclusives because he’s earned them.  I don’t know that he had an exclusive with Tivo, but it would not surprise me and should not surprise you.

Fact:  Topolsky contradicts himself in the Twitter rampage, saying first:

“Work  should be judged on work, not timeliness.”

And then:

“You and Walt are used to special arrangements. That’s nice but not fair, and not how I feel like playing.”

Which leaves me thinking: If you want to be judged on the work, then any special arrangements should not matter.

The level playing field is the interwebs,  where all of the Tivo Premiere reviews are readily available.  There’s not going to be a coalition of journalists who decide to ban exclusives.  Seriously, Josh, would you turn down an exclusive?

The bigger question in all this is whether embargoes matter anymore.   It’s the second time this week I’ve been talking about embargoes.  A few days ago a former co-worker pinged to ask how to handle embargoes with journalists, knowing they are rarely respected these days.  It’s too easy to break an embargo, the pressure to be first too great, the ability to publish or tweet too tempting.   When the world was  on a limited publishing cycle with print, an embargo made more of a difference.  I could only get the story — tangibly get the story — from a particular source.  Now, it’s much more about the journalist, the reviewer.   The credibility and brand of the reporter is paramount, much more important than the date of publication.   Timeliness and relevance are still important, of course, but a few hours don’t make a difference in most cases.   Except for the Google juice.   And that’s, perhaps, the substance of Josh’s complaint.    Walt Mossberg is a brand unto himself.   Walt Mossberg + wsj.com?  Super-big brand.  Engadget is a brand as well, but likely wants and needs SEO traffic more than Mossberg.

Exlcusives won’t go away.   Embargoes?  Maybe, if brands stop trying to control journalists and start taking control of their own messaging and interaction with consumers  (see T/S Ad Slants).

Josh, you’re passionate about what you do.  You get extra bonus points for being Jimmy Fallon’s resident tech-expert. You’ve got cool glasses.   But you also have bitter trousers.   That’s right, bitter trousers.

Still, I agree with your point.  It’s the work that matters.  These days, I think that’s more true (true-er?) than ever.  So let it go and do the work.  Oh, and start prepping for your Webby acceptance speech.

Here’s the in-your-face exchange.  Read it and I’m sure you’ll agree we’ve all learned something from this:  Tivo’s the big winner here with more press than they anticipated, and we totally need more info about the alleged “lesbian collective.”

UPDATE!!
Last night, Josh Topolsky spoke with Walt “The Kingmaker” Mossberg and then issued this apology on twitter:

To which Kara Swisher replied:

So we wake to another day, and all is well in Twitterland.   Walt Mossberg gets exclusives, Josh Topolsky rants about them (though perhaps only in his head from now on) then comes to his senses with class and grace, and Kara Swisher proves the depths and bounds of loyalty.

More Twitter Fights:
*  Celebrity Twitter Fight!  Steve Case vs Sarah Silverman
* Clerks, Cop Out director Kevin Smith vs Southwest Airlines in ‘too fat to fly’ Twitter rant

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The end of the publishing industry as we know it [VIDEO]

Posted by andreaitis on March 16, 2010

This video is from the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books, a publisher that prides itself on creating “beautiful books.”  The video was used for an internal sales conference, and was such a hit that they posted it on YouTube.

Watch through to the end.  You’ll feel fine.*

[youtubevid id=”Weq_sHxghcg”]

* You’ll feel fine for at least five minutes, when we remember that emotion and nostalgia won’t change the fact that it is, really, the end of the publishing industry as we know it.   It’s also, though,  the beginning of a new publishing industry with a different shape and feel, a model that will shift and change as we navigate to we-don’t-know-what-yet, a journey we take with trepidation and excitement and anticipation, knowing that – like newspapers –  it’s the words and images that deliver.  On paper, on screen, on device.  It’s the words and images that deliver.

Posted in Business, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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