Random thoughts, a Missive from Mission Street

Having some eggs and coffee on Mission street. In two hours I’ll be locked in a room for 15 straight presentations. Some random thoughts:

  1. Feels like doing the demo dry-run for each of the 40 companies has resulted in–on average–a 20% better presentation. Some folks had fine presentations that we worked to make 5% better, some folks did total reworks that i think will make them 100% better. Most folks, 20% better.
  2. The dry-runs has been the best part of this process for me. Feels like I’m getting a huge education on the marketplace while meeting a whole new crop of up and coming startup execs. It’s like speed dating I guess. Not that I’ve ever done that, thankfully I found the women of my dreams before speed dating took hold. (additionally, and totally off the record, the ladies always seemed to just walk up and ask to buy me a drink back in my New York City days… I’m just saying. :-).
  3. Playing poker has replaced playing videos game for me. It’s much, much more interesting to sit across from a human and try and read them then to see who can type a bunch of keystrokes faster. There is a certain zen to poker I never understood that flipped for me at some point. It’s like sparring in martial arts in many ways. You can be the aggressor, or respond to aggression. You can push or you can deflect. I’ve always found metaphors between Tae Kwon Do and business, and now I find poker between the two.
  4. If you make one trip per month a $50-60 EVDO card is worth it. Two hotels at $15, two airport lounges, and a cafe and you’re in the black. If you’re on the road it’s a must.
  5. Had nice hour-long convo with Nick Denton yesterday. We could be best friends if we lived in the same city–really. The stuff in the press where I dog him, and the stuff on Valleywag where they dog me, it’s all theater. It’s designed for him to get page views, and my reactions are designed to a) keep me laughing and b) keep folks talking. That being said, I would prefer if Owen over at Valleywag would base his missives on facts and give me credit the things I do get right. That’s the balance that little Nicky and big Nicky had at Valleywag that Owen hasn’t learned. You can’t smack down your subject every time–two out of three times? Sure. 🙂 Owen will get there… or Nick will fire him/shut down Valleywag as a dud.
  6. Fred Wilson writes about his former portfolio CEO Seth Godin’s new SquidWho product which is built on Squidoo. I’ve taken a look at the Squidwho product and I typed in a search for Steve Jobs. It gave me back a page with syndicated content from ebay, wikipedia, amazon, flickr, etc. Not very helpful. The tool they use to build pages is very similar to the scraper tools out there for spammers… it lets you create highly targeted pages quickly and publish them on Squidoo even faster. This, my friends, is what got Squidoo into spam trouble with Google last time. I don’t recommend folks create thousands of repetitive pages scraping others content on the internet. Make something unique that adds value where others are not doing something better. That’s what I’ve tried to do. Engadget and Autoblog created content that didn’t exist in other places. Fresh new voices with a specific publishing style. Do something like that if you want to make an impact–don’t scrape content and hit publish over and over again. That’s just adding to the problem. Pick a vertical and do it the best you can–which I think was Seth’s original goal with Squidoo–just hasn’t worked out that way in large part.
  7. Some folks think Squidoo and Mahalo are competitors–which is like saying Google and Blogger are competitors. Squidoo is personal publishing like Geocities on crack, Mahalo is a search service/directory. If you type Paris Hotels into Squidoo you get hundreds of wacky pages (most of which are filled with spam, scraped content, and unlabled advertising). When you type Paris Hotels into Mahalo you get one page that we are going to refine for years to come. That’s the difference… we’re more like Wikipedia’s one page model than the Geocities/Squidoo “everyone go wild” model. Please don’t think I’m bashing them because they are in any way competitive with us–they’re not. If the site had amazing content by real people who were not stealing content and putting unlabeled ads against the pages I wouldn’t say anything. However, I’m fighting index spam and Squidoo is the poster child. It’s not personal–it’s just business.
  8. The folks at the Le Web 3 conference in Paris wanted me to debate someone. Folks said I should debate Andrew Keen, but I have to say I agree with much of what he says (perhaps not how he says it). The fact is, he is right that the “many voices is best view” has taken over the role of experts, reason, and science at some points. The fact is the corruption of “the wisdom of the crowds” is more limited in many was as the bias of the individual. At least with individual bias you know who debate the point with. How do you debate the wisdom of the crowds at digg? You don’t, you get rolled over by it. It’s a mob. Sometimes that mob is smart (i.e. when it comes to technology), many times that mob is worthless (i.e. when it comes to outside voices/perspectives). Of course, the collective of experts, the wisdom of crowds, back by transparency and process i like. It’s not either or. Anyway, if you have an idea of someone to debate let me know (please don’t say “the dude from PayPerPost” because that debate ended when he put CalacanisCast on his forehead :-).
  9. I like my sugar with coffee and cream.
  10. I like my sugar sweet.
  11. New theme song is “Stronger,” backed up by “Can’t tell me Nothing.”
  12. Kanye is right… he should win everthing and they should make a second set of categories for everyone who hasn’t dropped stuff on his level. It’s that simple. Kanye’s going to be the Scorsese if the music biz. Kid is blowing out Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and Casino and you guys can’t get behind that? What a joke.
  13. You didn’t know how deep I am in the rap game did you?
  14. Coffee is starting to kick in obviously.
  15. If Mark Cuban can do dancing with the stars I should be able to do that celebrity rap show with Perez HIlton right? I would tear that up dawg!
  16. The homeless situation in San Francisco is crazy. Like mad crazy. Like “what are you people thinking?!?!” That’s coming from a guy who works in the people’s republic of Santa Monica where being homeless is the second largest profession (right behind “producer”). I was hit up aggressively by 10 folks in under ten minutes outside the Cliff Hotel by Union Square the other day. San Francisco has got to lock this problem down.
  17. Driving around San Francisco at 1AM is like a scene from Night of the Living Dead. I was weaving around mobs of homeless, drunk, and hipsters who at one point I feared would surround the SUV screaming “brains!!!!!” and turn the thing over. Again, San Francisco WTF?!?! How do you people live here? What’s the crime like? All this coming from a New Yorker who’s has been mugged three times (all unsecessful thank you very much–represent).
  18. OK, this is the last time I blog while listening to rap… I’m out dawg! Peace! I love you all…. buy my album when it drops right after the mix tape!

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