Product & Startup Builder

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I thought bubbles were pretty

Added on by Chris Saad.
Remember when bubbles were a good thing? When you had that bubble gun that you would fill with magic bubble formula, pull the trigger and giggle like a school girl? Maybe that was just me...

It seems now that I'm older (and arguably more mature) bubbles are far more sinister.

In my new reality, there are the sort of bubbles that politicians build for themselves so they can ignore reality and lead the world into disasters and there are the sort of bubbles that burst and ruin the hopes and dreams of young entrepreneurs.

Everyone is deathly afraid of it happening again. In the streets of Silicon Valley and San Francisco people can't mention the buzzword 'Web 2.0' without quickly apologizing and talking about a bubble.

To an outsider one would think that the IT industry had an unhealthy obsession with soapy liquids.

Most people forget, though, that some (very few) companies actually survived the bubble. Why? I can't promise to have the all the answers but I suspect it involved some hard work, sacrifice and a little thing called a 'business model'.

I however, like Michael, feel a sense of optimism around the latest wave of innovation, enthusiasm and investment. In his post "Bubble, Bubble, Bubble" (which further helps confuse people into thinking the tech community seems to like floating balls of soap) he explains the difference between the Web 1.0 house of cards and the normal ebbs and flows of the current Web 2.0 landscape.

As Michael explains it, the fact that we have had some failures is further indication of a healthy market - not a signpost of doom and gloom - or bubbles.

All that being said however, I do feel a sense of dismay at some of the investments being made in silly ideas - seemingly just because of the names and popularity involved.

The comments on the TechCrunch post "Rumor: Slide's Venture Round was $20 Million" shows a slew people who think that the valuation, if true, is a joke. Slide makes slideshows widgets - primarily for myspace and other social networks.

I commented there saying:

...what happens when myspace shuts them down and does their own widget like they have tended to do in the past?

The point is if you are aiming for 10x return it’s a pipe dream - the points of failure are many and highly probable and the revenue or buyout can’t be that high.

I could never stand every widget on any one of my pages (not that I’d use myspace) having an ad. Is it self-expression or advertising central at that point?

Sponsorship? So themed widgets with coke on them? I thought this was self expression not corporate branding?

Freemium? So what, I have to pay photobucket/flickr for archiving, and I have to pay slide or rockyou for display?

I agree with the sentiments above - perhaps consider the idea as well as the team? Look at the roadmap/beta’s a little closer - you might find some surprises.

Traction only gets you so far - if you want to go on adoption rates then maybe Cigarettes are a great business to get into too.


Touchstone/Attention Coverage Grows

Added on by Chris Saad.
It seems like 2007 really is the year of Attention. Everyone's talking about it. And I am very gratified that they think to mention us when they do.

Ian Forrester over at Cubic Garden wrote a wonderful review of the Alpha and APML (not wonderful in that it was all positive, but wonderful in that it was constructive, thoughtful and has helped us identify his personal rough spots). I am very interested in Ian's Pipelines idea as well. As he suggests, Touchstone's architecture could actually be considered a pipeline. We have always thought about it (from the earliest diagrams on napkins) as 'Inputs, Processing, Outputs'.

John Tropea has also posted a review about Touchstone. In typical John fashion he has gone into great depth about the applications and comparisons for the technology. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the RSS/Tools landscape.

Daniella Barbosa from Factiva/Dow Jones is always insightful - from her commentary on enterprise information tools through to great videos about unwrapping presents for Michael Arrington - she always brings a smile to my day.

Her latest post "Standing for Attention in the Enterprise" is no exception. She mentions that in the past year, enterprise users have gone from asking 'What is RSS' to 'How can we handle all this RSS we need to read'.

She goes on to post:

So something that i know i will be talking about in 2007 is... Attention

And i won't be the only one paying attention to 'Attention'i had already started this post on Attention and i remembered that in my inbox was a note from Greg Narian with the subject title 'Continuous Partial Postponement?' that i had seen coming in this morning but had not clicked through before i left for my appointments. It is an interesting look at two sides of the attention theme. The first one Continuous Partial Attention - constantly needing to be connected so we don't miss anything, the second is what we lose when as we constantly postpone one thing to get to the next. Kathy Sierra also has a good post on the problem of continuous partial attention from early December that links to multiple posts she has made about user behavior due to attention issues.

She also kindly mentions Touchstone and APML as key examples of emerging tools to help with the deluge.

Of course there are many others as well... we really appreciate the feedback guys - it keeps us all motivated and focused on making Touchstone as great as possible.

Creating passionate crowds

Added on by Chris Saad.
I've posted before about Digg and its deep underlying philosophical difference to Google. To recap, while Digg uses explicit 'Wisdom of crowds' approaches to generating a front page, Google uses an algorithm (which takes into account implicit votes based on links) to generate its Google News front page.

These are fundamental and philosophical differences and when the issue of Digg gaming came up (and will come up again I'm sure) it was an important discussion to have.

In fact, I recently came across a wonderful article from Kathy Sierra called 'Dumbness of Crowds' where she rightly states that the term 'Wisdom of Crowds' was actually meant in sarcasm. It was supposed to highlight that crowds (read: mobs) are actually quite stupid. Real intelligence comes when measuring individual actions in aggregate (and even then in some applications and not others - e.g. designing by committee produces bland or Frankenstein results) - rather than giving individuals collective and visible control over a process.

As I've stated before, the problem with both Digg and Google is that in an era of hyperchoice and information overload these engines only show 'What's popular' instead of 'What's Personally Relevant',

Today, however, DayLife launched, to a little criticism from one of its investors (who just happens to be Michael Arrington). It has been a long time coming and, as a result, seems to have felt a little 'over anticipation' from some in the community.

Worse still (shock/horror/sarcasm) it does not use the "Wisdom of Crowds" OR a Popularity Algorithm to generate its front page. It in fact proudly and loudly declares that it uses a 3rd, age old technique - human editors.

I'm sure the DayLife founders are very passionate about their company and I wish them best of luck with their plans. Maybe in a noisy media landscape, A site that shows simple, visual and effective headlines on the front page will be a refreshing change?

Personally though I look forward to the 4th 'front page' philosophy/technique. Using a Personal Relevancy engine to generate a front page.