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The Phenomenon of Combustion

By Robert Scoble

I imagine the idea of a dress
was stolen from a flower
in the year fire was discovered.
But no one is positively sure.

So desire is a controlled explosion
in which need is faster than light
and more precise than fire.

If that sets a dress on fire
or flowers explode, who cares?
It’s Spring and this is just
an idea for a love poem.

Although I’ve never seen her,
I make pieces of devotion
fill the darkness of her sleep.
She smiles to herself, I think.
It’s an eclipse. But who hasn’t been
blinded by someone lifting up her dress?

Such great danger and awe of beauty.
I’m unsure, the way children are
in the presence of a candle.
Intuitively they whisper, then-
well, I don’t wish to blow it out.

All our lives, wet logs in a fire,
desire is under control.
I’ve allowed myself to ask for beauty
and like beauty it’s unfair.
Good, we’re even.

The phenomenon of combustion means
no one is positively sure.

-Jack Myers from the volume “I’m Amazed That You’re Still Singing”

Businesses: Destroy Your “Us Versus Them” Mentality

I wrote this comment tonight on a very intriguing blog post by Robert Scoble entitled “Exploring the 2010 Web” All businesses and organizations should read this post and follow Scoble in general and Chris Brogan to learn how to apply Social Media effectively and to take your business into this next age of the “Telecosm” as George Gilder labeled it, in other words the Telecommunications Revolution. There is reason to be hopeful. Businesses embraced the “Microcosm” or the Micro Electronics Revolution beginning the 70’s, and this lead to the 80’s and 90’s being one of the greatest legal creations of wealth in the history of the World. The Wealth of the country as measured by the value of the Nation’s Capital stock, increased some 20 times. The productivity increases of the Telecom revolution will be of a magnitude 10 times larger. The Bandwidth revolution is indeed infinite because the number of colors of light are infinite, and each color can carry an infinite amount of data at wirespeed. The Exobyte floods are coming. Question is, will you and your business be riding it or fighting it?

This is interesting and comes to the heart of the matter. I think the crux of the matter psychologically is that businesses and organizations have to “tear down” “destroy” this “Us against Them” mentality. Not only Us against our Competitors but Us against our Customers. I owned and ran a furniture store for a number of years so I have some knowledge of this. When you have a store and a staff of employees there’s this tendency to see and treat the guy walking in off the street, a potential customer, as separate, somebody you don’t trust and who doesn’t trust you. That’s a normal initial, almost lizard part of the brain, reaction. But the trick is to break past that, and to really “schmooze” with people, not in a fake, acting kind of way, but being really interested in who they are, what they like, etc.
And one of the best features of these social media tools is a way to engage, to build that level of trust. I read a lot of books back then on sales and the best ones taught me this principle, and when I applied it, the sales just seem to come effortlessly, almost as an aftermath of a real connection being made.
And you see this everywhere. Business websites, especially large corporations, give off this impression of such intimidation, they almost act as a wall between the business and the potential customer, the exact opposite intention of the site.
Amazon is a great example of a great, maybe the best business site. It feels like it wants you there. Very inviting, very warm, very personalized. Heck they even want you to be an associate right on the spot.
The NYtimes on the other hand feels like this wall or veil. There’s so many new exciting things they could be doing with this new media, to make it fun, engaging, making you want to be there. But they remain huddled up, preaching down to us.
People have to want to be doing what they are doing. If they are doing it just for money, they’re not going to have happiness, and usually not money either because they aren’t going to be interesting enough, cutting edge enough. You get the sense that most businesses are just plodding along doing it this way because “this is the way we’ve always done it” kind of mentality.

The Future of the News? A Video Camera

Today, Robert Scoble just did his second live broadcast of an event he participated in, a distinguished panel discussing the future of traditional media. OK, I know you are already asleep. Only the truly geeky, geeky, longest of long tails, C-Spaners would watch such a thing. Right? Probably. But you must admit that it is an important topic. Almost a day doesn’t go by that we don’t hear about a newspaper in some city or other that is going broke. But here’s what I found most interesting about the event:

At an invent about the future of journalism, in our new media world, Scoble, laptop camera and mic pointed at the room, was THE ONLY PERSON JOURNALIZING! And he was journalizing LIVE!

Attention traditional media: HELLO?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

The future of news is a Video Camera. And two hands carrying it that are halfway interested enough in the subject actually be there. It’s not that hard. Really. Except no one’s doing it.

If an event or piece of news that you are interested in is happening, which would be your first choice, to see it or to read about it? And if you had the choice of seeing it in real time or recorded which, again, would you choose? You may not trust Wikipedia, but I do think you trust your own eyes and ears.

Perfectionism is the Enemy of Progress

OK, I can’t take credit for that line. Should I take it down? I actually learned it last week while watching Jason Calacanisfirst episode of his new show This Week in Startups, or #TWIST as I think he refers to it when you are Twittering.

As an example of this idea, he told the story of Microsoft Word. Word 1.0 basically sucked. But the key is they put it out there, and it was “good enough” to get some traction in the market. And then as each successive version came out, it got a little better and better, they fixed things, added things, and pretty soon, maybe it was a number of years, but by the time the PC revolution was reaching its crescendo, it was the best and dominant Word Processing program on the market and a cornerstone to their Amazingly successful Office Suite. I know its in vogue to hate Microsoft now a days, and maybe rightfully so, but no one can argue that its one of the greatest business success stories in American history.

The point is, if they hadn’t put it out there until it was “perfect” oh this is too ironic, you can’t make this stuff up, “WordPerfect” by Corel which then was the market leader might have continued on in first place.

I was thinking of all the amazing opportunities we have in this Telecommunications Revolution World we live in, specifically tonight of alternative bands that may have a small but devoted following sprawled out all over the world. I was thinking while I was watching Robert Scoble do a live video of a panel discussion he was on concerning Real Time Web Search. You see, Robert, or the Scobleizer, as he is known does a lot of these “off the cuff” videos live with just his Macbook and a Kyte.tv account and channel. Many are just in his house. No pretense about a studio, etc, but so many times he is interviewing somebody really smart and interesting and I take away a lot of value from it. He even did a live video of a Facebook press conference a few weeks ago when they announced their intention to open up. That was a BIG DEAL, and as far as I know, no one else, no major or minor TV station was broadcasting it. Only Scoble and his little Macbook, this time pumped through Leo Laporte’s This Week in Technology (Twit) Network, which is another amazing story in and of itself.

I digress. I was thinking tonight that bands that fly under the radar, lets say they are playing a club in Ireland with just 50 people in the audience. Maybe they have dates all over Europe this summer like that, small venues, but enthusiastic loyal followers. But they have those same “long tail” loyal followers back in America and perhaps on every continent. Now with just a Macbook and Kyte or many other such services they can broadcast even their small club shows to a WORLD WIDE AUDIENCE. That is big. Think of how that would energize their fans, how it would engage their fans, who otherwise would be watching another band, or engaging in some other activity.

But they don’t do it. Why? Oh the quality isn’t perfect. But that’s missing the point. The “Long-Tail” audience will get an endorphin rush from the shear “aesthetic arrest” in what is happening, of how “cool” it is (the medium is the message) and forgive the low quality. The low quality might even intimate them more emotionally to the artist, and besides like Word 1.0, the quality is going to get here, soon, very, very soon. The Fiber backbone on the Continents and even under the seas connecting them has enough capacity for everyone on the planet to have a peer to peer HD connection, in real time, AT THE SAME TIME. The problem is only in the “Last Mile” which we can think the Telecom Act of 1996, at least in part for, if not all by privatizing the risks of the Telcos and socializing their profits. There you have it. Government regulation, not “de regulation” caused both the internet bust and the recent financial crisis. Yeah for big Government! Whatever, I digress again. Even Big Government(s) can’t stop the Exobyte floods that are coming, and the individual, whether he be an artist, business person, or practically any field (even politics!) will be the beneficiary of a much higher standard of living and a planet that has no limits of what it can do or where it can go. Star Trek just came out this week. Perfect, oops I said it, timing.

The “fire theft” motif of many Mythologies, most famously that of Perseus’ theft of the Sacred flame from Zeus, is a metaphor for Technology. We are stealing fire from the Gods. The fire is trapped inside those nanobits, or even deeper in 11 dimensional “strings” that literally transcend time and space. But if Perseus had waited until he was perfectly ready, no fire would have been stolen, and we wouldn’t even have a story to inspire, much less the technology all around us that was built, in part by the inspiration.

The “force” is the mysterious spontaneity of life itself, including the power that makes a flower blossom and the Earth to hurl around the Sun. The only way to harness that force is to let go of the desire to control it, which is the feeling of the Mind as being above nature: the heart of “perfectionism” itself.

*Update: I just began listen to TWIST #3, and the first caller who called in worked on a product for two years before he released, but by then it was too late, and Google had already come out with a similar product for free, yada, yada, yada. So another example. Jason just said, “You wanna’ get the product out there, you wanna’ iterate, you want to LEARN FROM YOUR AUDIENCE.” I love that last part. Something about it just seems to ring so true.

Set List

Working up ideas for a set list if I start doing coffee house gigs with just the acoustic and a harmonica. Every time I think of a song, I’ve been texting them in to Twitter. Here’s the list I’ve built so far:

  1. Quiet TownJosh Rouse
  2. Stop Breaking Down – The Rolling Stones
  3. Simplesmente – Bebel Gilberto
  4. Loving Cup – The Stones
  5. Horsin’ Around – Prefab Sprout
  6. Eu Nao Existe Sem Voce – Tom Jobim
  7. Disco Apocalypse – Jackson Browne
  8. Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before – The Smiths
  9. Ventilator Blues – The Stones
  10. Inanna – Stephen Pickering
  11. Aquarella do Brasil – Gal Costa
  12. Ciranda – Marcio Faraco
  13. Heart of Snow – Greta Gaines
  14. Ugly Stories – Josh Rouse
  15. Axe Gnawa – Celso Machado
  16. Rubber Ring – The Smiths
  17. London Bridges – Josh Rouse
  18. The Ocean- Richard Hawley
  19. Walking Through The Park – blues
  20. Cantando No Toro – Chico Buraque
  21. Domesticated Lovers – Josh Rouse
  22. The Clear Coast – Josh Rouse
  23. World – Paz Suay

Did Flickr Just Kill Itself?

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Am I missing something? When I originally signed up for Flickr it was unlimited photos with only a limitation on the amount I could upload per month. Today I get a message saying I’ve just uploaded 200 photos and that I’ll have to pay for a pro account in order to see any but my most recent 200 photos. Is this not news? Did this change of TOS just happen recently? I realize that 24.95 is not a lot to pay per year, but it isn’t a lot to pay for Facebook or Twitter either, but what would happen to those services if they decided that you can only look at your most recent 200 items unless you paid. They’d be gone. Why am I not hearing more written about this on the internets? Flickr is the only piece of Web 2.0 credibility that Flickr has, and I think they’ve just killed it. Why not just move to Picasaweb or Photobucket? ¬†The photos that I’ve uploaded there came from my phone directly sent by MMS. Are the ones beyond the 200 mark that I can’t look at now being held hostage unless I pay the 24.95 ransom. This ¬†is bad karma all the way around. They at least should have grandfathered in existing users who signed up like I under a different understanding.

But the money is missing the point. The money is in exposure and search. Why for heaven’s sake are there no ads on Flickr? That’s their revenue model. Thoughts? Am I missing something? Am I wrong?