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Books & Articles I wrote.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Vidyo Magazine hits the news stands

Get the latest edition :

see how

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WHO: Jim Lussier, Norwest Venture Partners, Palo Alto

WHO HE IS: A former exec at Accenture and Beyond.com, Lussier handles software and services for Norwest, which manages $1.8 billion in venture funds and won big with investments in PeopleSoft (PSFT) and Tivoli Systems. Lussier led recent deals with travel-services company G2 Switchworks and P2P radio broadcaster Mercora.

WHAT HE WANTS: A kind of souped-up Craigslist for every neighborhood, everywhere. Just type in a zip code, and this website will present not just garage sale listings and classified ads, but headlines and photos from dozens of local news sites run by busybodies willing to provide free content and keep it constantly updated.

WHY IT'S SMART: The idea taps into the same social-networking allure that helped make Flickr a $35 million Yahoo (YHOO) acquisition -- that is, user-driven content, organized so that all visitors get a slick stage to showcase their stuff. In this case, the stuff isn't just photos but local knowledge: updates on a rash of burglaries, say, or a ranking of preschools. (The most popular contributors might receive a small percentage of ad revenue.) The site could also offer a marketplace for everything from baby-sitting to tree trimming. Sure, a number of regional websites already offer something similar, but this site would aggregate the content under one umbrella and provide a platform to scale it across the nation. If all goes as planned, Lussier says, paid ads could bring in as much as $100 million a year.

WHAT HE WANTS FROM YOU: A website template finished within six months on a $500,000 budget. (Lussier estimates that a team of two or three can do the job.) If it shows promise, Norwest will provide another $2.5 million to tackle the real challenge: developing a core group of users who can light the viral fire. "Building that community happens when people get value out of the service," Lussier says. "They need to feel compensated for their time by the information they get back out."

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Monday, August 29, 2005


Advanced Programming ...

Just been emailed this... very good :)

auto accident;
register voters;
static electricity;
struct by_lightning;
void *where_prohibited;
char broiled;
short circuit;
short changed;
long johns;
unsigned long letter;
double entendre;

double trouble;
union organizer;
union jack;
float valve;
short pants;
union station;
void check; unsigned check;
struct dumb by[sizeof member];
union onion; /*submitted by srp*/

/*if GCC extensions are allowed -- Dave Gilbert */

long long ago; /* in a galaxy far far away */

/* Submitted by James Buchanan */

const ipated;
case closed:
double or_nothing;
short sighted;
void if_removed; /* warranty */
volatile buggy_code;

unsigned anonymous;
int erbreed; /* duelling banjos */

/* Borland's additional C keywords */:
huge penis;
interrupt ed;
near sighted;
far out;

goto pub;

return pissed;

goto bathroom;
while (1) ;

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Saturday, August 27, 2005


My son Xavier ...

I'd usually put this on my family blog, but as this is his first official online picture, i thought i'd mention my son, Xavier Esteban, who is 2 and a half years old. He was crying 2 seconds before this before i asked him to smile... and then he started crying again.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005


Omidyar Network

Joined the Omidyar Network today.
We believe every individual has the power to make a difference.We exist for one
single purpose:So that more and more people discover their ownpower to make good things happen.

There are some excellent discussions and people involved and some very worthwhile concepts. I don't know much about it yet, but i will find out more.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005


blogging pioneers at businessweek

BusinessWeek have just run an article on something that is of great interest to me - videoblogging.

I have been following the various ingredients of blogging as well as community, social networks and relationships for some time now (e.g. http://taghop.com and http://taghop.org) - in fact SmartMobs sums up what I believe will thrive across the world. Blogging will be one aspect, but with SO MUCH information out there, there are going to have to be ways of filtering it.

We will see a rise is smaller community focuse sites and specialized tools that will likely rise from syndicated content from these main key sites - combinations of feeds from news sites, flickr, vidyo, meefedia, ourmedia and so on. What would i give to save an hour a day just filtering the RSS feeds i get, never mind those that i may be interested in that i haven't yet discovered!

What's REALLY cool about Video Blogging is that people can show and tell you things that saves you having to dream up what they are seeing - one video blog can save hundreds of lines of text (and time). How To's are so much easier to follow when someone is showing you (in real life AND online)! Sure, they'll not be as professional as bigger media productions, but if it's the thing i really need to know, i don't really care how it's presented!

It's what http://vidyo.org and http://vidyo.tv are looking at. There are many, many opportunities here for collaboration!

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Send spam from GMail

Update :: Apparently this feature isn't new and has been around for some time. You need a valid email address as your alternate email address (much like paypal).

Hmm - you can now set your From email address in Google...

Now that should open up a whole new set of rules. SPAM that gets past your rules (surely i'm missing something, having not read a whole loet about it!)

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Vidyo Coming...

The past few days have been pretty hectic with having to write up some ideas on a Semantic Web concept i am working on as well as get Vidyo up and ready.

Well, now it is. I will be approaching some people about being invited to join. I will be starting with invitations to try and avoid SPAM hell. So although I can't tell you too much just now, i CAN tell you we're almost there.

NOW, further blogs for Vidyo will be posted HERE

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Monday, August 22, 2005


chewin the fat

Just rememberd - after a pretty awful football result last Saturday i bought some comedy dvd's. I went into the shop to buy some juice and got speaking to.. Greg, who is one of the comedians in the video.

Weird stuff. Video was also very funny (albeit cryptic for anyone outside Scotland!).

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JSB and Social Ecosystems

John Seely Brown has an interesting speech at SuperNova 2005 on loosely coupled business processes and emerging ecosystems that are based on Toyota's supplier relationships.

He looks at what can be learned from them and how social software techniques can be integrated wit hte end to end process to improve collaboration amonst partners.

This is something i am 100% on - in fact my original venture into Social Software was precisely for that reason - although it had an original intention to enable this at a departmental level between corporate departments (who also have trouble collaborating). At a business level this really is needed. In Scotland we have something called The Stac which was created to try and enable businesses to collaborate.

The problem i have with it is that it really isn't dynamic - sure they allow you to find and suggest collaborative ideas. They don't push techniques TO YOU. So you check "opportunities" and it's empty. They wait on you coming. This to me really misses the social aspect - get an ecosystem and then build it through building a socially aware environment. Get a few players who REALLY are interested in doing business this way and get something happening. Work hard on it, get a buzz and others will follow.Don't just throw a website up and expect this to happen!!!! Very Web 1.0.

I'd love to hear more about experiences anyone has on adopting some of the ideas JSB talks about, so please leave a comment or talk to me.

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Friday, August 19, 2005


RSS hasn't caught on?

I read this :


Don't you think that an Xml format was never meant to "catch on" to everyone that read a blog?
I do think (and always have) that asking people to click to view the RSS Xml is fairly bizarre (and that’s coming from an Xml guy) – you wouldn't have an HTML View Source - but it’s the TOOLS we use to consume the formats which are supposed to understand them. We're still early days there, but things are getting better...

I think 6% is pretty high considering it’s Xml!

I wonder how many already use RSS from moreover (and other places - and have for years no doubt) without knowing it? Far higher than 6%.

steven :: Release 2.0 :: http://stevenR2.com

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Coming Soon ... Vidyo.TV

Almost finished. Contact me if you are interested in video.

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Excellent PodTech Conversations

You have to go listen to some of the great conversations over at PodTech.

I spent today working on the PC and listening to what some of the discussions - they are with some of the top guys in the industry, so they are great for keeping on top of things (especially being some remote from them!).

Anyway - here's what i've listened to:

Startups & Venture Capital with Jeff Clavier
This is a particularly good discussion for me as it's one of the things i'm involved in just now - search. There is huge interest in vertical search at the moment and when you get 250 people to a discussion on this in Silicon Valley, there must be something happening!

Future of the Web & Venture Capital InfoTalk with Andreas Stavropolis of Draper Fisher Jurvetson
I listened to this late last night and Andreas has not only an interesting voice (for that time at night!), but also has some good thoughts on Web 2.0.

Cofounder OurMedia JD Lasica on Hollywood and Media
Interesting discussion here. I'm not 100% a believer in Open Source - for no political reason, more reward orientated reasons (in that the developers often get no reward whilst the companies that use their work do) - however, I do believe the work beingn done in this area by OurMedia is going to be of great benefit in the years to come when you want to find some random video archive. Whether it will work centrally is another quesion. The book discussed over at DarkNet looks very interesting indeed!

Excite CoFounder and Venture Capitalist Ryan McIntyre
I agree 100% with the discussions on collaboration. I also like to hear how much easier it is to just start a business now. Againt the open source should surely be benefiting the people who created it in the first place, but nonetheless things ARE easier (and i was also trying to create things around the same time too - although a poor, bean eating Physics student at the time). Content is huge - getting the content is bigger!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Small World theory works even in Hollywood!

Aint it nice when you get mails back from people you didn't expect.

I mailed Brian Herlinger about a film that has just come out in the States called "My Date with Drew". It is apparently very good and whatmore it uses the concept of Zero Degrees of Separation for the guy to connect with Drew Barrymore. I wanted to know when i gets here - perhaps expecting an automated answer of some type.

Well, about 20 minutes later i got a mail from Jon Gunn, a co-producer of the film. It will be in the UK sometime near the end of the year.

And because I have now made contact with the guy i will be making sure i let other people know about it when it does arrive. Weird what connecting with people (every very briefly) does... seems to work very well! (wonder if it does in the film with Drew...)

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Busy, busy, busy

I've not posted for a few days now, but i've barely left my PC.

I'm working on something that only just ocurred to me last week. I'm not sure whether it will be as big as I hope, but i'm going to get a prototype out and see what you folks think.

Put it this way - for the first time in history I was able to tell my wife and best friend what I planned to do - and they got it. I figured - hell, i better see if anyone else thinks it would be useful.

I wish I could say more, but my old habit of announcing first, fixing later has finally been reversed. If you have a mobile phone anywhere in the world, I'd be interested to hear from you.

I'll be needing some people to test some things out for me.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005


Guy Kawasaki's Entrepreneurial IQ Test

Whilst listening to the Celtic game on the radio i decided to take Guy Kawasaki's Entrepreneurial IQ Test. The result was :
Steven, you scored 90% or more!

Move over, Donald Trump! With a score like that, you're on your way to reaching your entrepreneurial dreams. Whether you want to start a card company, a landscaping business, a consulting firm, or something completely different, you've got the business instincts to make it happen. Some people flail with ideas, others don't have the know-how, and many don't have the guts to try. But you've already shown you've got a real shot at making your dreams a reality.

I got two questions "wrong", although i think the answers to a couple could have fallen either way.

14. Which of the following key assumptions do you have to test when starting a company?

  • Number of sales calls a salesperson can make
  • Conversion rate of prospects to customers
  • Length of sales cycle
  • Amount of technical support needed per unit sold
  • All of the above

When you're starting a company, you need to test all these assumptions because together, they determine the cash flow of your business. Write them down, test them, and monitor them because you don't want surprise your investors or run out of money. They are like the fuel gauge in your car: Don't wait until the warning light comes on. Monitor these key metrics from the very start so you're never in a position of running out of gas.

I went for customer converstion rate as you can make a zillion sales calls a year, but if you can't convert any, what's the point? The answer was all of the above.

15. The reason to put an "out clause" in a partnership agreement is:

In this case i went for allowing parties to work with each other. This time the answer was none of the above.

If you get time, have a go and see how you do.

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Hi Robbie

So, as i was out for a while last night, my wife and son went out to the shops. She is walking along, looks up and whose coming out of the house of a well known Scottish comedians house - none other than Robbie Carlyle (pictured left).

Best known for Trainspotting, The Full Monty, James Bond films and varouis other roles - he's one of the best Scottish actors out there (my personal favourite was for his role in Trainspotting as i had read the book and he fitted the character perfectly - an unusual occurrance!).

He was pleasant enough to say hello and smile and apparently he is smaller than she expected. At least this time she said hello - a few weeks back Michael Stipe passed by and she thought - "That guy looks like Michael Stipe" - erm, 'cause it was - he was staying at the end of the road - and REM were playing here.

I always seem to miss these people.

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Friday, August 12, 2005


Complete Dedication

Well, less that 24 hours after asking for it, my new dedicated server is ready. Enterhost really are outstanding! Logged on via terminal services and looking forward to trying some things out.

However, it's Friday, someone is hammering upstairs, i have a headache and i'm off for a beer - beers are notoriously large in Scotland.

At least i'll have the weekend to fixing things up!

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The Purple Valley

Silicon Valley + Purple Cow = Into the Purple Valley

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Idea virus for taghop?!

Scoble points to Digg as does here and Guardian here in the UK. When i created taghop i had similar ideas - i decided to add communitiesa and had the live feed in there too with a few other features. I removed most to gt back to basic and stuck with communities.

How to start a virus when you have something people seem to want to use? Ideas on a postcard please!!

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Google Toolbar Update

FYI - after removing the Google toolbar i have not had a crash. Tells it's own story. Beware.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005



I just booked myself a dedicated server with Enterhost.

Things are going to be moved across over the next couple of weeks and it will then give me the freedom to get some of my ideas online.

Things should be ok, but worth noting just in case.

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A laugh with Microsoft Office Dictation

Well, as i'm getting everying set upi thought i may as well go the whole way and use the ice features of Office 2003. It was really quite funny, but some cool things came out of it too.

If you haven't tried dictation or voice commands, i suggest you try it. Here is a line written completely by the dictation capabilities of Office (and i mean i put the cursor below this line and spoke everything else!):

this is the Microsoft office duties in a situation

this is the Microsoft office the patient application

this is the Microsoft office dictation application

[back typing again] The first one was done in my broad Scottish accent after some training. It certainly was in a sutuatuation - just don't know what? The second was me with a little bit of an "American accent" (helped along by you guys at IT Conversations) - who i was impersonation i have no idea!

The last one was a very "American accent" - aparently - well it worked. I don't know what an American accent sounds like as everytime i speak with someone in the US it sounds different, but my wife lived 7 years in Canada and i like to copy her sometimes (hey) - so i guess i got it spot on. I know you can train it many times, so i will update my Office install and see what happens.

However, i did like the commands. I said "File, New, Blank Document" and it actually worked each time. Very nice. I then told it to go to dictation, but then couldn't figure out how to tell it to go back to command again - it just wrote the word "command".

I'll play with it in the coming weeks and see if it actually becomes useful. I do like the idea of talking to my blog and it coming out as text. If i could record whilst on the road - say into my PDA or mobile phone - and then feed that through my engine which could write out what i said, then that may be pretty cool! Anyone tried this? After that you talk from your mobile to your blog. Easy stuff :)

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Lots of great comments - and Ajax reply ...

This is in reference to some comments on my earlier post.

Hi Thomas - love the resume site btw! I really just wanted to get some comments on the blog so i thought i'd be controversial :)

To answer your question:

I wonder, in the purest curiosity, how you were able to modify the web page
display in 1999. I did an Ajax-ish thing shortly after that and had to use (to
learn a little) Java to generate a decent display.

There were a few ways. Here is a great article that outlines some ideas back in Januaray 1998. It does focus on one browser and Xml was missing, but is we are to ignore the underlying parts of Ajax, the actual concept worked fine.

A common way which i wrote about in the old Active Web Magazine (from Pinnacle) a long time ago (it seems) is to use XHTML, CSS, DOM, XML, XSLT (a lot!) adn Javascript, with the XmlHttpRequest being one of Remote Scripting [1], RDS [2] and even fiddles of IFrames, hidden frames and such (granted this part is less than standard!). Here's an example from 2002 using Xml Request [3]. There are earlier examples around (we used them!).

Combined with Xml Rpc on the client (and server), you could make web apps and even Office apps much smarter. In fact Xml Rpc from the client (and later the IE Soap client) allowed you to do pretty much anything you want (bet you'll pull my up on cross-browser!! ;))

Michael Cornig of Microsoft (you still around??) even wrote Jsml (once found at jsml.net) which i saw demoed at Chris Sells Web Services DevCon in Boston some time back. This used the Ajax type concept to relay information back and from the server(s) using these techniques (and a MVC type model for the web). I don't know that it really took off, but it was certainly the start of some great thinking.

The POINT is that i love that this stuff is happening. Heck i used Xslt on the client when it was in the old working draft format - it was great! We then ended up at a point where there was little client work done at all (in fact even .Net 1.0 pushed this concept) but now we are moving back towards a smarter client that does more than just business validation (i've not read enough about how Ajax concepts will affect postback - or work with it - pointers anyone?).

I was just a little confused over why it was such a big deal. I guess what i take away from it is that a LOT of people are now doing this and as James points out in an mail he sent, there are some great ideas around it now - that is the real point.

In any case, i hope it continues. I'll be making sure more of it goes into my work. The old problem of working on other browsers is not a big issue. My biggest worry is that as we move to more ubiquitous devices (pda's etc) where there is limited support for these technologies, there may be some snags. But until then....

[1] http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/rmscpt/Html/rmscpt.asp

[2] http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/workshop/author/databind/datasources.asp

[3] http://jibbering.com/2002/4/httprequest.html

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hey, I'm a movie star

This morning i took our Sony Video Cam and linked it to the PC. Been testing some audio and video blogs to see how quality etc was - none public yet. I discovered a load of software that came with my Dell PC which i never had time to look at before. Some very cool stuff by Creative for capturing into an MP3 format. Ideal.

I will likely post an audio blog soon - maybe an introduction of who i am. If anyone understands my accent you will win some kind of prize. As for a video blog - thinking about that one - i looked at Vimeo a while ago. Again maybe an introduction, but the chances you want to look at my face are pretty low (no idea how i managed to slip "pretty" in there!) - what i will maybe try and do is capture some of where i live and put it someplace.

I'm thinking of hitting the road and talking with some people about things that interest me. No idea what format it will take, but it may be interesting. I don't wanna do something no-one is ever gonna want to hear or see so maybe i'll try a few things (ideas?).

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Complaint Virus - 1&1 admit to my email

Can i create a complaint virus??

If you had read the previous post about 1and.com, then you will maybe like to know how things are proceeding. Yesterday i received an email saying:
-----Original Message-----From: debt@1and1.co.uk [mailto:debt@1and1.co.uk] Sent: 10 August 2005 16:59
To: Steven Livingstone
Subject: C37344737 Your account

Dear Steven Livingstone, (Cust: 6989205)

Thank you for your email dated 10.08.2005.

We have received no other correspondence from you this is the only email we have received to date.

I would just like to inform you that no refund will be issued.

If an invoice has been raised for domain names before you terminate it will need to be settled even if you no longer require the domains. No refund will be raised for domain names as they have automatically been renewed under your name as they were still active at the time the invoice is raised.

If you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards
Farah Mir

Accounts Department
1&1 Internet Ltd.

What made me almost lose the plot was the part where they said i had not contacted them. I wrote a pretty off the wall email back to them which i won't preint to protect the young and innocent, but i told them i HAD emailed them, wasn't my fault if they contact management was awful and they were acting in a fraudulent manner by (a) charging me extra for a delayed payment which was their own fault and (b) holding information about me which i couldn't get access to (you now legally have to provide access to it when asked).

To my utter shock, i got this back:

-----Original Message-----From: debt@1and1.co.uk [mailto:debt@1and1.co.uk]
Sent: 11 August 2005 11:26To: Steven LivingstoneSubject: C37344737 your

Dear Steven Livingstone, (Cust: 6989205)

you for your email dated 10.08.2005.

Regarding your

I do appologise for any confusion caused I have looked into
your case. On 10.02.2005 you sent this:
> Hi - my domain name -
"googil.net" expires at the end of the week and the email address i used when i
registered is no longer my email.

Can you help me ensure that the
domain will be renewed and change my email address. Also i don't have an account
number of customer number, so how can i login??

A colleague
informed you of the setps and procedures, of how to change your email address,
how to receive your password online. Stiil if you had difficulties to fax
our techincal support team.

We received no reposne after

Regarding your other query:

>it is the
fraudulent way you charged my an extra £15. It is a drop in the ocean, but on
principle i will do what i can about this.

Please refer tou our
terms and conditions section 5.15
Customer accounts that are not settled by
20 days after due date will be passed to a debt recovery agency and will incur
an administration fee of £15.00.

If you would like to terminate
your account then please follow the steps and procedures below:

order to process a cancellation we require a signed document.
Please go to
http://contract.oneandone.co.uk and log in with your customer id and password,
when you are within here select the package that you would like to close, or
contains the domain name to close, and then follow the on screen steps.

At the end of the process a form is given to you, this form needs
to be signed and returned to the number 08450762206 WITHIN 7 DAYS, when we have
processed the fax we will send you an email for your confirmation that the
instructions have taken place.
Should the customer not receive email
confirmation of their termination within 14 days of their request date the
customer is responsible for contacting the company to ensure the termination has
been received

PLEASE NOTE. If an invoice has been raised for
domain names before you terminate it will need to be settled even if you no
longer require the domains. No refund will be raised for domain names as
they have automatically been renewed under your name as they were still active
at the time the invoice is raised. Any unused hosting charges will be refunded
but a charge will stand from the date the invoice is raised until the date of

If you have any further questions do not
hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards

Accounts Department
1&1 Internet

You can also contact us via phone at 08708
from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday

So, not only is apologize spelled incorrectly, but they are now ADMITTING i emailed them, but saying they got back in touch with ME - oh no reference to any email, time etc. In fact he says they had said i could FAX them - i haven't used a flamin fax machine for years, so i wouldn't have wanted this as advice in any case.

So now i've got back to them asking them to send me the email they sent me - which i never received. But i'm being quasi-nice about it all.

Farah - can you forward me the mail from the colleague who advised me. I
can assure you I never received such information. As I had said, I sent you an
email. You said I had not :

" We have received no other
correspondence from you this is the only email we have received to

Now after looking into your records, you see that in fact I
did send you such a mail.

This in fact is the basis of the problem
- now whose statements hold more ground? If you can send me the email, with date
and time, which was sent to me and I can match it to my archives then I will
accept full responsibility.

This is irrespective of terms and
conditions as you now admit I did in fact try to contact you to resolve this
situation. At least now we are moving.

Best Regards,
steven :: Release 2.0 ::

They are still coming out with the bullshit that it was up to me. Well, BT merged with Yahoo and my email account got screwed due to some obscure merging of account information. So then i contact them to tell them so and then they say i had never sent such a mail, only for them to uncover it when they actually have a look!

It's pointless to me as i've paid the money, but for YOU and any of their future customers, people MUST know that this company is conning people. Even the fact that to cancel i must now send in written notice is a joke - why could they not have contacted me with written notice to renew the domain? I would happily have signed. End of story.

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Google Freezing Browser?

Nathan Weinberg pointed to a few hugely useful discussions on the possibility that the new Google toolbar may be breaking stuff. See his blog for the links, but i have DEFINITELY noticed this. I have been doing a lot of research lately and when i write an email or go post something i find all my browser sessions freeze and so all windows close.

I get round this by open a new IE instance from the desktop and this launches a new process (i'm sure you used to be able to state this in the options, but i can't find it now?).

However, this has lost me a few hours over the last 2 weeks - i had assumed it was my gant disrespect of the OS by installing whatever new thing came to my attention. But I haven't installed anything significant that would affect the browser since the Google toolbar - and the crashing was almost immediate.

Anyone else experiencing this? Help!?

 @ 9.15 AM : Unistalled the Google Toolbar. Will try without it for a few hours as the crashing happens at least twice an hour.

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Google Maps and Local Information

Brad Feld posted about judysbook.com so I went to have a look. It is yet another move in the direction of localized information and combined with a collaborative Wiki type environment as something like Dan Gillmor's Bayosphere, there seems to be a huge move towards people taking control of their own cities/towns/regions and so on.

Certainly the Wisdom of Crowds seems to indicate this will only benefit everyone. I do have two questions:

1. Can a site that incorporates so many of these features in the one place work better than an collaborative view that integrates multiple providers? So i see reviews, articles, forums, friends and so on all of which you could argue already exist (the articles could be a Bayosphere equivalent). Perhaps this feature rich environment will work better in a localized environment than it does on the web. I find it hard to focus on exactly what i want to get out of something when i see a bunch of disparate features, but perhaps because this is localized it will work better. You can zoom in on the things related to where you are.

2. Can Google maps scale? Technically, i don't doubt it. Apparently they developed some kind of search engine that scales pretty well. However, when i look at a map i see a bunch of baloons everywhere (much like my old graduation photo:)) - it makes me kinda dizzy and clicking on any one of them is tricky as they overlap. As more people come on board you can imagine this getting out of control. I wonder what kind of filters people will start to apply to make these maps readable.

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StartUp in Africa

First of all, thanks for mentions from Dave and Nelson. Nice to get my 15 hyperseconds of fame.

I read Business 2.0 "A Real Angel Investor" the other day and just remembed to check out Village Enterprise Fund. In short :
Village Enterprise Fund (VEF)is an international development organization that
provides permanent seed capital in $100 increments to business start-ups in the
developing world. We are currently active in Africa, in Kenya, Tanzania and
Uganda, where we have country offices and a talented African management team.

This is a fantastic idea. If you read the story and check their site you'll see the success they can achieve. I also wonder whether they could take it one step further. Whether they could build a community of people who not only donate a little money, but actually work in a community environment to help businesses. So you become a consultant (for free) for a set of businesses based on your experience. You get a profile of the business, regular updates and are there to help with business questions. I'm not suggesting for a minute there aren't people there who could do this - more that as a global community this would work even better - and all for a good cause.

In fact, taking the next step would allow some of these businesses to expand/partner into other countries via the network of resources that could be tapped.

I think it's a great idea and hope it accomplishes its goals!

 read 1 comments | 

Ajax - am i missing something?

I have seen zillions of articles, chats and so on surfacing on Ajax and to be honest i haven't really looked into it much other than reading some overviews.

I DID read something saying it was a "new way of programming" - in fact i have read that a few times. Then this is quoted:

HUH? New? I have just left an application that puts £110 Million per year through it and has been using "Ajax" since 1999. In fact the early work i did when Dave Winer was created XML RPC which was a pre-cursor to SOAP also used these techniques. There was also the possibility to do this with Remote Scripting which we used since '97 and passed around structures (later moving to Xml).

Seriously, am i missing something? If so tell me. Otherwise it seems to me that people are just discover something i have assumed they all knew???

Maybe this starts to make me understand Dare and Tim Bray when they say there are some weird fekin things happening out there!!

 read 8 comments | 

todays taghop linkblogs

All blogged at http://taghop.com

"last.fm" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=449
"Barbelith" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=448
"UpMyStreet" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=447
"EveryHit" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=446
"Ten Hour Takeover" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=445
"Wikicities" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=444
"Kijiji" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=443
"Meetro" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=442
"YouTube" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=441
"Peekaboom" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=440
"UCINET 6" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=439
"Pic2Vid" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=438
"Veoh Networks" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=437
"ONTV" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=436
"Simply Hired" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=435
"Yahoo Audio Search" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=434
"Ta-da List" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=433
"Supr.c.ilio.us" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=432
"IT Conversations" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=431
"You’re It!" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=430

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Jimmy Wales on Collaboration

Spot On!

"Software that enables collaboration is the future of the net."

Jimmy Wales
President & Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Source : ETech 2005 Chat

 read 0 comments | 

Late night listening

Well it's late here and i can't sleep, so popped over to IT Conversations to continue my listening on ETech 2005.

Excellent content - hopefully i can get my PocketPC working again so i can get these on the move!

 read 0 comments | 

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Ibrahim Ferrer Dies

I've have my head in applications, blogs and books the last few days that i missed that Ibrahim Ferrer had died. It was a post by Steve Gillmor on zdnet that i heard.

He holds a special place for myself and my wife as Bajo Un Palmar, a song he dueted with Omara Portuondo was the first song we heard. We actually met online in 2000, so it was actually the first (of many years) of sounds that we passed by each other.

It was also his song Como Fue which was the first song at our wedding.

I was a big fan of Buena Vista and watched the video many times here and in Chile. Ironically the omly time he played here in Glasgow, i'd just left for Chile.

If you don't know the story, get the video. It is an inspiration. It means I have another 60 years before i really have to get my start up off the ground!

Gracias para tu musica Ibrahim. Descanse en Paz.

- Steven y Loreto.

 read 0 comments | 

Read That - book summaries and formal blogs

I remember something i was working on a while back and a post by Chris Anderson, editor at Wired where he mentioned Morris Rosenthal over at Foner books, reminded me of a email chat i had with Morris.

Around 15 months ago i had created readthat.com which was inteneded to allow YOU to create quality summaries of books and formal blogs that could tghen be sold through the community to peolpe who were interested in them.

Things got in the way and this morning i managed to hack my way through the code and got it all working again (to some degree).

I have put it back up to find out whether there would be a real need for it and if so more time and resource can be put into making it more like you want. Its ultra early stage, but i'd love to hear back from you if you try it out.

Just register at http://readthat.com

 read 0 comments | 

Friends on Google Maps

Tell me where you are on my personal guestmap - a touch of Google and a nice idea.

Where are you? Zoom in, zoon out, choose your location, click the map and up should pop a dialog window for you to add your name and choose an icon - cool heh?

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Dave Winer always has something interesting to say :

"... create tools for the people with the ideas and then get out of their way."

As always, it's the simple stuff that works!

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When 1 & 1 makes 3

Here is an email i send to the UK based subsidiary 1&1. These halfwits are part of a larger German company and are impossible to get in contact with. I tried every form of communication and even mailed their German guys with no success. I STRONGLY suggest you stay away from them! Here is my letter:

I am extremely angry by the "demand to pay" letter i was sent by your debt
collection agency for my domain name "googil.net" which you "manage" for me. I
knew prior to the payment that my card was going to expire, however i didn't
have the logon details for the site.

I tried to contact you on NUMEROUS occassions (at info@1and1.co.uk) to get this fixed as the email address it was sending my forgotton details to has been expired for almost a year at the time. I received no reply to my emails and the only addresses i could find for you related to a parent German company - oh, who also never got back to me. The guy from the agency i spoke with suggested that it was up to me to keep this up to date, however i never foresaw the manager of my email changing their policy and so my email address had to change. It was then suggested by him that as you are an "online comany" you operate only through email (despite having a number that you can't get through to!). So i asked what happened if you email changes? He was a little confused and no wonder.

You are a registered limited company in the UK with MY information and if i wish to contact you about that in ANY way you are now legally bound to do so. I am extremely angry that you were so difficult to contact which has now cost me money, which i would like returned. I also hope - and would like confirmed - that no mark against my company will exist because of your actions.

Steven Livingstone

 read 1 comments | 

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Managing Categories in taghop.ORG

Just blogged some details on taghop.ORG and my initial thoughts on tag and category management.

 read 0 comments | 

Collaboration in many forms

Sharp president Katsuhiko Machida :

"When you get employees headed in the same direction, they
demonstrate power you can't even imagine."

Source : Business 2.0

 read 0 comments | 

Monday, August 08, 2005


taghop.ORG continues

For those of you who have emailed me and blogged about taghop.ORG in the last 2 weeks, the news is that after leaving my job and finishing the urgent reading I had to do, i'm back on the case.

I intend to improve the interface and general functionality and make it much easier to work with, whilst being more focused. I don't yet know where it is going to go, but i assume from the registrations there has been that there is interest (despite it not being easy to use).

So i will hopefully put something live later today, let those registered know and we can take it from there.

 read 0 comments | 

Google AutoFill Confusion

Workign on one of my web pages for taghop.ORG, I found this irritating yellow background appear on some, but not all of my fields. Now I often use a yellow background on my fields and after checking the code, the stylesheet and near everything else, i couldn't figure out where this was coming from.

Eventually, something clicked (perhaps it was my son whacking me in the head with Buzz Lightyear), but i realized one of my toolbars was maybe doing this. Sure enough, Google's AutoFill, which i haven't ever used, paints the background of the boxes yellow. Uncheck that option and i'm back to normal.

Would be nice is Google added something to their stylesheet so that some very light background text saying "autfill by google" appeared - i remember doing something like this a few years back and it allows you to type in the textbox, with a semi-transparent background text which gets hidden as you type. Very easy to do and would help us know what all these applications are doing when working with our forms!!

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Sunday, August 07, 2005


Disrupting Amazon

If you have kids, you'll know the half life of DVD's is pretty small. After a few weeks they get scratched and become useless. Maybe you go onto your PC and burn a copy.

I'd like to see (if this does not already exist!!) a company (like Amazon) store the fact you have purchased a DVD and be prepared to send you a backed-up copy on request. So when it gets scratched, I go back onto "my purchases" and click "order new copy". Sure they could limit this to say 5 over a period of years, but it would seriously be of use! At least until this can be downloaded direct from the web. Are DVDs possible the most unfriendly medium for kids films there has EVER been?? All the old video tapes we have are fine!

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Semantic Spiders

So, i've got some ideas written down and i'm talking them out loud to my wife to get some general feedback on whether they make any sense. My 2 year old is playing in the background.

I mentioned "web resources" and he comes up to me with huge eyes and says "Web Resources" - well something that sounds much like it. I've no idea what he thinks i was talking about... only that i can assure him it's much less exciting (for him) than he thinks.

Then I say "Semantic Web" and he now thinks that daddy is building a "Spiders Web". He was so excited about it that i didn't have the heart to say otherwise.

Maybe i've gotta think how to combine "Web Resources" and "Spiders Web" - if a 2 year old gets excited about it, then I must be onto something!?

 read 0 comments | 

Wisdom of Crowds

When i read the reviews for this book, there was a mixture of excellent and provoking to confusing and lack of substance. My view is that it is somewhere between the two, perhaps deliberately.

I actually see this book from two angles. The first is as the framework or basis of an idea that can be currently understood and which you may even start to take advantage of in your products, services and everyday politics and so on. The second is as a basis for research into the area of collective intelligence as laid out in the book.

If you want answers, then this book may well prove to be confusing as sometimes i got the idea he had some concept of what could be true, had some ideas on where the answers could emerge from, but ultimately decended into some confusing and contradictory stories that sometimes could be a little confusing. However, from a research point of view, which to be honest is half what i expected from it, it makes YOU start to think about the implications of some of his discussions.

However, some of the basic ideas are excellent and i felt the first half of the book was excellent reading and the second half had some useful ideas and stories that often helped solidify the ideas of how crowds work. Some of it is really hard to believe at times, but the back up of research, experiments and even thoughts on past events make it much more believable. In fact the fact you DO find it hard to believe is possibly part of the point of the book - sometimes our individual biases contribute to negative individual decisions, which can be balanced out across a crowd of independent thinkers!

Also, he puts significant emphasis on aggregation which is something I am in complete agreement on. You can have as many independent thinkers in a crowd, but if there net views cannot be aggregates, then no real answer an be given. He does cite Google as a positive example which is where i have a slight difference in opinion - i don't believe Google aggregates distributed independent thinking. Half the time you get spam link, or the information you want is 25 pages from the start. However, I believe what something like Google will become, whereby true aggregation of real independent views is done, could be very successful. Wikis are maybe a starting point in this sense!

If i had a single negative thing to say it would be that the book doesn't finish very strongly or really offer "take away" conclusions - instead you get a chapter on US democracy which for me in the UK wasn't particularly interesting - even putting myself in the shoes of someone who lived in the States, i feel it would be a very small minority who read that chapter who may find it useful (rather than a little confusing and haphazard).

All in all, i'd say make sure you read this one. Don't look for answers, look for ideas. It has got me thinking and i expect it will change how some of my product ideas and the things that go on around me are perceived.

Now onto Blink.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005


Art of the Start Read; Tipping Point : How kids understand

I've finished the Art of the Start - will blog crib notes in the next few days. Hugely interesting book and well written by Guy Kawasaki. In a few days once i have let it settle in, i'll go back and write more of it up.

Now, Tipping Point is fascinating reading. In particular I was very interested in the discussion about how kids may find trouble understanding that an object can have two meanings - e.g. that an "Oak" is both an "Oak" and a "Tree", rather than a tree being a collection of Oaks and so on.

My question is how this relates to language (any answers??). We teach my 2 year old English and Spanish all the time. Does he know that a translated word for something is STILL that something? He knows what a spide is - he also sometimes calls is araña. Does he know the two are the same? Or does he just choose the one that comes first. My reading this far would indicate he would be confused by the same object having two words (rather than one of the words applying to some other attribute of the spider).

Back to my sticky book. If you haven't read this book, you should do. If you have kids it beings a few fascinating insights!

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Orange gives me the Blues

My mobile hasn't been charging up for 3 weeks now so i took i back to the Orange shop i bought it from.

So I go in and as what they can do for me and I am then told that my contract expired in May. So now i'm on the usual rates for everything - no savings are all. I tell her that last year I was told before this - a month or so by letter and a phone call also.

She casually replies "No, we don't do that all that often. Only every once in a while. It's actually up to the CUSTOMER to come back to us. There are TOO MANY CUSTOMERS [huh?? wish we all had that problem] for us to manage. You also have to give them 30 days notice." So it's up to us to remember some end 30 days before it happens in one the the 600 contracts we have and get back to them - otherwise you start getting penalized (and if i had a larger company...).
So at this point i apply some logic. "Couldn't you just have something do this automatically?". Seems to work ok for my bill [never missed a call never mind a monthly bill]. At this point confusion sets in - we're back in the bad services loop. So i'm cancelling the contract.

The thing about it was, any help at all and i was ready to move to a bigger account, better, cooler phone and get one for my wife too. All i wanted to know was whether the phone was so broken that i wouldn't get my pictures back! If not, i'll happily accept it. I'll not accept paying people for nothing.

THIS IS A STORY OF DISRUPTION as i see it. Someone just needs to disrupt current services in Scotland and that wouldn't be hard - the disruptive part? Actually providing them - not only that, but being outstanding at doing ONLY that - the rest of the stuff sells itself. If someone can do this and do it well, there is huge opportunity for closing down these kind of shops and buying these kinds of things online. They offer no value otherwise.
Worse/Better services story? Ping me and let me know.

 read 0 comments | 

Getting your plan to a VC

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I'll waste no time reading it. "
- Moses Hadas

Noted on page 120, The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.

Find a way of Getting Noticed. Is there someone, or something you can use to get yourself noticed?

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Start of the Art of the Start

Crib notes from "The Art of the Start" by Guy Kawasaki.

Getting Going.Do 5 things right away:

1. MAKE MEANING by creating something that makes the world a better places or changes it for the better.

2. MAKE MANTRA and avoid long mission statements. Max. 3 words that ARE your business to YOU.

3. GET GOING and start your product or service NOW. Don't spend months writing huge business plans before you understand your product and market (which often in new markets even the experts don't predict right) - my personal favourite!

4. DEFINE A BUSINESS MODEL as you will need to make money. Figure this out early.

5. MAT is your milestones, assumptions and tasks.


Do you want to do something dramatic to the world. Something that changes it somehow?

Q. If your organization never existed, the world would be worse off because:

The Mantra is for YOU (not your customers). It should motivate you.

Your MANTRA is _____________
Do not go longer than the line available!

Get Going
Get your product out there - in prototype. Customers will accept it is a prototype (note: this was first said to me only last week by a sucessful Scottish entrepreneur who lives in the US and sells software). Do plans later. When your bigger and can afford it.

1. Think Big - why not flip your chosen area on its head. Disrupt the whole existing concept?!

2. Soulmates - get a team. At least 2 (note: this means i gotta find someone!!). Together make history.

3. Some should LOVE it. Some should HATE it. It's a good sign!

4. Design and think different. Maybe you WANT one, it may be possible or you just know there's a better way to do it. Think and Accomplish.

5. Prototype and get market feedback. If they love it and need it, they'll probably help you build it! If they love it, change it to make them love it more.

Business Model
Who has money and how do you get it from their pocket to your pocket?

BE SPECIFIC and target a specific market. If it works, you can grow.
SIMPLICITY means your business model should be a single sentence ("Selling Subscriptions").
COPY those who have been successful. Don't go inventing new models.

1. What's the monthly costs?
2. What's your gross profit per unit?
3. Divide 1 by 2
4. Can you sell that many units?

This quickly tells you what you're missing.

Add your Milestones to the following standards ones.
  1. Proof of Concept
  2. Complete design
  3. Prototype
  4. Capital
  5. Test
  6. Final Version
  7. Breakeven

What Assumptions are you making?

  1. Service performance metrics
  2. market size
  3. gross margin
  4. sales call success
  5. customer conversion rate
  6. sales cycle duration
  7. ROI for customer
  8. tech support costs
  9. payment cycle
  10. compensation
  11. parts & supply costs
  12. customer ROI

Tasks are what you have to do to BUILD the venture.

  1. advice
  2. travel (conferences and such)
  3. office space
  4. vendors
  5. accounts
  6. legal stuff
  7. insurance

Finally: be scared; share your ideas and get feedback; tell everyone you can; listen to what people tell you; get a mentor or experienced partner; cards and letterheads immediately; a web site.

 read 0 comments | 

The hard work zone

I got the title from NESTA. I have never read/listened/emailed so much in my life. 4 Am yesterday 'til 11 and then 5 AM this morning and late tonight (well, there is a small matter of a football match!). I have been through all this many times since '97 and it hasn't worked out - i kept trying though and the net result is that i feel confident i have something. I don't know what the hell it is yet, but i feel i am dancing around something big. BUT, can't touch that until i have read more. I want to make sure i approach things correctly; know the right people.

The hardest part? Staying away from technology. I write code. Well, i create ideas by writing code - a move on from 5 years ago when i just wrote code that became an idea. Now I am working out how to manage the idea before i decide exactly what it will be - and it's working.

Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki - thanks guys! I am getting it now. The good thing is that what Seth is telling me i had started to figure out - I just never knew exactly how to phrase it - he does. Guy says prototype - the last year that's all i have been doing. Get the ideas i have and see what you say - it's been interesting but even more so because as a real user of my apps (i use taghop constantly!!) i can see a bigger picture emerging. I think.

I can contrast the last few years with what i am learning now and the important thing is that i can see where i was going wrong. All i gotta do now if make sure the technology (or rather its implementation and how it is perceived) is world class - but then that's something I'm confident is within my grasp.

 read 0 comments | 

Books Arrived

My books just arrived. All three and it took 3 working days with the supersaver delivery.

Cool. Now just figure out what one to start with!?

 read 0 comments | 

AO2005 - The Start

This morning I have started to listen to the archive of AO2005.

There's quite alot to catch up on, but I have promised myself I will spend the next week or so just reading, listening, recording and so on so i really get where everyone is coming at with the lists of next big things.

Tony Perkins and Tom Byers over at STVP, along with Peter Hirshberg, and Michael Markman kicked off the presentation, with a key focus on blogs. Some funny stuff too - although the street interviews are perhaps the most important as we get to see what people really do think about this stuff!

It is true that blogs have gone off the scale - question is to *where*? There is really NO TIME to read all the stuff i want to - or rather there is no time to KNOW what i should be reading. I know i'm onto something, but figuring out where it's going is the exciting part (assuming i get it right!).

 read 0 comments | 

Monday, August 01, 2005


Quote of the century?

"Look, if this Google thing pans out, then great. If not, you can return to
graduate school and finish your thesis." He chuckles, then adds: "I said, 'Yeah,
OK, why not? I'll just give it a try.'"

Sergey Brin [co-founder of Google] talking with his advisor, reluctant to leave Stanford as he wanted to finish his PhD.

This should be printed on every software start-ups front door.

I read as much as a can about these guys and guys like them. It reminds me that luck and timing comes to everyone. They worked hard for it too.

Get ready for this : The Search

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We Are the Web

The case for taghop

"The Netscape IPO wasn't really about dot-commerce. At its heart was a new
cultural force based on mass collaboration. Blogs, Wikipedia, open source,
peer-to-peer - behold the power of the people."

"... impulse for participation has upended the economy and is steadily turning the sphere of social networking - smart mobs, hive minds, and collaborative action - into the main event."

"What happens when the data flow is asymmetrical - but in favor of creators? What happens when everyone is uploading far more than they download? If everyone is busy making, altering, mixing, and mashing, who will have time to sit back and veg out? Who will be a consumer?"

"What matters is the network of social creation, the community of collaborative interaction that futurist Alvin Toffler called prosumption. As with blogging and BitTorrent, prosumers produce and consume at once."

"We think we are merely wasting time when we surf mindlessly or blog an item, but each time we click a link we strengthen a node somewhere in the Web OS, thereby programming the Machine by using it."

Kevin Kelly at Wired.

I believe this will return - in force. We just have to make it easy to be as passively active as possible. What can we learn from what you do, where you do it and so on - without you having to tell us.

 read 7 comments | 

Email to James Surowiecki and Malcolm Gladwell

James, Malcolm - i just read the email to-and-thro between each of you [1].

I had ordered both books as well before i read those emails (doing some background reading!).
I do have a quick question that I am itching to ask before these books arrive based on what you both discussed.

In the most common sense, I do agree that a merging of both ideas (from what I have read from your mails) satifies some of the things that come to mind when i consider each concept. So, my general understanding is that the crowds can be averaged to provide a better (or at least as good) answer than the individual expert. What happens online (or even offline) when the "crowd" doesn't just have its own opinions and ideas, but when part of the crowd is altogether disruptive. Consider spammers on the web, identity theft and such. You see I am working on a concept [2] and the main problem i have relative to crowds - and in relation to your ideas - is that part of that crowd can be deliberately disruptive. I also assume that is they are VERY disruptive then the net effect can be quite large (unless you were to assume you have a VERY proactive person on the other side, which is probably unlikely).
Considering Malcolm's ideas, the result of the expert is Boolean. If he really is the expert then his advice is true (whether it is correct or not is another question - it IS his - or her - advice). If he is not the expert then the advice can be disgarded (would you trust advice from someone you can't trust).

My issue is that there is a real common ground between the two ideas - one that is behind spam, identity theft and one that really will effect the net effect of your ideas. It is identity. There are a load of things i could have off that (relative trust, privacy and so on), but if you can identify someone then they can realistically be built into both ideas. If you cannot then you may have a problem (which exists online and even offline today).

Had you considered these ideas in your thoughts. It may be more appropriate for me to read the books first, but this way I will be able to understand your points of view rather than miss them.

I have also blogged this at [3].

Best Regards,
steven :: Release 2.0 :: http://stevenR2.com

[1] http://slate.msn.com/id/2111894/entry/0/
[2] http://taghop.com/
[3] http://stevenr2.blogspot.com/2005/08/email-to-james-surowiecki-and-malcolm.html

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Leaving Wishes

It's unusual when you leave for anyone other than your friends to send you a mail. I did however get an email from one of the directors of the company i used to consult with. It said:
I will certainly miss your input at meetings which were both informative and
entertaining - fairly rare in my experience of meetings with IT developers - so
I do hope we get the opportunity to work together again in the future. Very best
wishes in your next endeavours and new projects.

The part I am most probably pleased about is that I was entertaining. I am pretty direct. I like to ask questions that others tend to avoid. I tend to say things in the same way. I don't go for drama - I just call things the way I see them. The last 6 months were difficult as I was amongst the last guys at a huge project that had been decided to be outsourced (for reasons that made no real sense). However, what I learned very quickly was that treating the customers as friends, while being direct, blunt and truthful actually got us through quite a few holes - nice/blunt/truthful seem to balance each other out quite well. I made friends rather than pissed off customers (to a level anyway). It worked and the transformation has been fairly successful (the transformation - the outsourcing itself is far from being proven).

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Y Combinator

What a great idea (fixedpointcombinator.com rolls less off the tongue). This is almost exactly why I started Venture Together sometime back (in 1999). Key difference is they already have the cash and connections to get it going. I didn't - i just had the idea and a few connections. I also missed a lot of things back then. Hang on, if they had taken me on then would that have been a Y Combinator?

Basically they take on your idea, give you some cash, give you connections and advice (the most important part!!) and let you run the business. A summer job working for your own start-up.

Seems to be for younger student types - (alas i am 30!) - so no chance of a place. Thing to take :
It's to your advantage to be candid about risks and uncertainties. This is
seed funding; we expect risk. At this stage, if you're not worried, you
lack imagination.

However, even if you don't intend to apply - read and answer the questions they ask. This is will tell you the kinds of things people who are going to invest in your idea will actually ask. After that read all of Paul Grahams articles. He writes to the point - very useful stuff!

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We won't all blog, but maybe we will all linkblog together

I keep running into blogs that haven't been updated for 2 years. I know its not deliberate that people stop updating their blogs, but it IS frustrating. It's like writing a book. You may want to start writing a book. Once you start though you realise it's pretty tough and can be a long process - see Seth's blog on this. You start a blog, but after a while you start to realize that unless you really offer something unique (and that can be as long tailish as you like) or say it in a new way, there is just too much for people to read and so you will be ignored.

However, what you DO see in almost all of these blogs is people's favourite links. In fact many blogs are now becoming some links with a few comments on them. This is cool, but how long will it take anyone to find it and would you really be interested in reading a comment or rating on some isolated web site? I'm looking into collaborative linkblogs in taghop. ITS NOT LIKE DELICIOUS ! If i can ask my friends about somewhere to go i will. If i don't know anyone who knows about that, then i want to find the people everyone else says i should listen to. What do they say? What are they reading/listening to/watching and so on?

I don't just want ratings. I want to know what they are saying. Sure, Seth Godin may be rated 10, but what is your personal experience of him or his books? How are you related to me? Personally and professionally? Sum together experiences of the entrepreneurs like me and then tell me what i should be doing. How do i stay with the buzz? Linkblogging on taghop is going to change a hell of a lot. Should be interesting.

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An end to being closed

I'm a big sports fan and when i read Ross Mayfield's blog on Always On (also here) and in particular that a particular newspaper doesn't recognize open letters i got me thinking about how this relates to what happens here in Scotland and the UK in general (heck include most web sites in that.

Again back to sport. We pay for their newspaper. They write a bunch of made up stories and no-one really get any say in them. Not us who paid good money - why not make up our own stories? Nor those they made the story up about. This is an endless cycle here in Scotland, particularly as the focus is typically on one of two football teams (this year may be a little different).

The point is that no matter how hard I try or how strong my opinion is on yet another piece of bad journalism, it's up to the guy who wrote it or one of his friends to decide whether anyone else gets to hear about it. Sure "I disagree" may get some airtime, but "2 weeks ago you said the EXACT opposite of what you are saying today", typically doesn't. It's as though it never happened - and it wastes my time.

This is what excites me about the potential of collaborative journalism. Not just that you get your say, but you get to be the source as well. Of course what you arguably get is some quality assurance when you buy a newspaper - I'd argue that around 50% of the time you don't even get that. I'd rather hear about what my friend read, or wrote. Sure it may be made up, but at least I have a say about it. Maybe we can have a laugh about it. Maybe it is actually true and YOU can become the source of a new breaking piece of information. Whatever - the difference is that over time a set of reliable sources will be build up - new world journalists like me and you - whose reputation is out there. If you talk rubbish you better be funny or noone will listen. Bring it on!

BTW - interesting that Always On never got my ping as they don't support trackback and want me to write for them. I also wonder whether Ross copies his blog posts or has some way or write-once, run-anywhere so it gets reproduced!?

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It's good to talk

Today i start the transition. August 1 2005. It's me on my own. Or with you. If you help me i'll be sure and return the favour.

However, i'm used to a building with 1000 people. 95% seem to ask me something every day. Well 10. I like to talk. If i don't learn from those i talk to, i learn from what i tell them. How i tell them. Or even how i didn't tell them. Maybe i confused them. Maybe I'm not used to this type of question from that type of person.

So, send me an email. Say "Hi". Can we have an office like that? Can we learn from what each other says in passing. Bounce things off each other? Hell go and SPAM ME - people in the office do that anyway with abstract talk that wanders across the office!

Click the phone to connect.

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Today is the first day of my new 2.0. I have left work and I am going it alone - or at least with you folks for company. Now ...

There's something quite worrying when i read a book written by Seth Godin. For one, it looks out of place amonst the 400 page books that typically sit next to it. I bought Idea Virus a couple of year ago. Yesterday I bought Purple Cow. On both occassions i thought "Compared to the other books, so few pages but around the same price". On both occassions i bought them. What's worrying is that I have to read it all as quickly as possible.

I got the book at 4pm yesterday. I finished it 10 minutes ago (6.45 AM). I got up at 4 AM this morning as some idiot was discussing "team players" on his mobile phone with some other idiot at the top of his voice. Yes, i did see the irony in having a mobile when you talk as loud as that. I like his books for two reasons - they tell you what you should know - or at least what you need to learn. Secondly I have contacted him on a number of occassions and every time he gets back to me. Others often don't and by him taking the time not only to reply, but to actually comment on something i point him at, tells me he's in touch with what's going on. He's not passive. He's active. I want to be more like that. More connected with what is actually going on. Now, rather than just saving a link, i go to it. TagHop has helped me do that of course - rather than just throwing a link in my favourites, if i'm prepared to save it to taghop, i may as well thing about it a bit more - and it's paying off! It has also been my desire to follow a bit about what is going on - at least to know about it even if i can't delve into it all.

Back to Purple Cow. It has made me change how taghop will go on from now. I am going for an extreme - yet to be determined. What market really, REALLY, REALLY needs something like taghop? GOT AN IDEA? Tell me.

So, milking the cow. Here are my cribs. They may not be 100% as they are sometimes my interpretation, but they should point you in the right direction.

Customers rely on true and tried suppliers and their network of trusted friends.

There are more choices available, but less time.

All the obvious markets have gone.

Customers ignore you.

Satisfied customers won't usually tell their friends.

Interrupting media is fading (tv, magazines, newspapers).

OLD RULE : "Create safe ordinary products and combine them with great marketing."

NEW RULE : "Create remarkable products that the right people seek out."

Awareness is not the point - just being known doesn't translate into sales.

Try to change how customers use your product rather than trying to adapt the standard product.

If a product has no future, then rather than investing in the dying product, drop it, move on and invest in something new.

Sell ONLY to innovators and early adopters. Ignore the rest. Build a trust circle around your product.

The product must be remarkable enough to get the attention of early adopters, but flexible enough to be speard through the majority.

Find sneezers, who are early adopters who are often experts and can spread the name of your product.

CREATE A PRODUCT THAT FOCUSES ON A NICHE MARKET. Overwhelm a small market section, dominate the niche and then diffuse to the rest of the market.

Develop products/services/techniques that the market will actively seek out.

Figure out who is listening and use the right combination of Ps to overwhelm them with the rightness of the offer.


Differentiate customers. find the most profitable; the most likely to spread the idea and develop/advertise/reward either group. Ignore the rest. Cater toward the customers you would choose - IF YOU COULD.

Make a list of the competitors who are NOT trying to be everything to everyone.

If you can't catch up by being the same, how can you catch up by being different?

Solving problems and having the allure of cool pays off.

Innovators and early adopters get bored by mass marketed products and ignore them.
The majority are unlikely to listen or say to anyone else even if they do.

Don't make the product BORING.

Make sure you measure so you know what works and doesn't work. Don't ignore.

Once you get the purple cow, (1) milk it for all you can; and (2) reinvest to create the next cow.

How can you make something that is "VERY GOOD", "REMARKABLE"?

Can your product become collectible?

OTAKU is the desrire to learn and stay ahead - not just a requirement. It is a grou who have more than an interest - they have a drive for the product.

Find the market niche and make the product remarkable. Do deal - get in their heads - make partnerships and the rest will follow.

Go to the EDGE. Which edge will deliver the best return? Review the Ps and target this edge.

Can the marketing BE the product rather than ABOUT the product ("leaning tower of Pisa")?

The best products are "too *" for many people but just right for others.

Get permission from the people who you impressed and tell them when the next cow arrives.
Create tools and stories for your sneezers to use.
Once you have gone from remarkable to profitable, get as much as you can.
Reinvest and create new Purple Cows over and over. And Fail over and over.

Find out about the remarkable products in your industry and model them.

The easiest way to know a purple cow is to be an Otaku of the product.

Learn about "projecting" - how can you get inside the heads of the people who may buy your product and what do they need?

Learn the science of projecting. Launching, Watching, Measuring, Learning and Repeating.

Is there a company you can learn from that repeatedly create remarkable products?

AGGRESSIVELY create cheap prototypes (avoid focus groups!).

Every so often, but outrageous - but not always.

If you weren't scared of failing, what's the most audacious thing you would do?

Figure out what people really want and then figure out how to make money from it.

Can and exclusive club and points combination make things seem more unique?

Become irresistable to a small set of people (South Park).

"the people i like and trust"
sneezers are your best form of advertising
keep things simple - simple decisions
Once you've gone through the pain of learning and the associated expense, you're much less
likely to leave it.
Go for individual personalization where possible.
Make dramatic stories that sell.
Very expensive and very customized is remarkable.
You might annoy some, but please others who have that need.
Sometimes the more complex and unique an item, the more relative expense can be added to it.
People may switch for assurance and trust.
Is your product the BEST at anything measurable? Even is that thing being measured will never
be used!
Can you look after your customers in a remarkable way?
People are willing to pay above the odds for better features.
Can you create market beating quality and price? (IKEA)
Look and Sounds unique. How can you differentiate?
Don't put them off before they have started - allow them to control the process.

If there is a limit, test it (cheapest, fastest, slowest, loudest and so on)

Come up with 10 ways to improve a product to target a specific market niche.
Think of a very small niche and overwhlem it.
Copy from remarkable companies in other industries.
Find out who is AT THE EDGE and OUTDO THEM.
Find things that just aren't being done yet and DO THEM.
Ask "why not" for something that isn't being done yet.

So there you have it. My cribs. Read them, get the book, write your own and tell me.

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