May 2011

Just two weeks until Seattle Startup Weekend!

startup weekend

Jennifer CabalaThis was my first Startup Weekend, and I decided to not just observe, but to get involved.  In case you haven’t heard of it, Startup Weekend is an event where techies try to create a business in less than three days.  Going in I didn’t know how much I could help – I can’t code – but I thought I could write some copy, or at least fetch coffee for the people who could write code.  In the end, I really surprised myself.  Both with what I could do, and what would help achieve Startup Weekend success.

— Jennifer Cabala, Lessons from Startup Weekend

This will be my first Startup Weekend as well, and I’m looking forward to being actively involved as well.  For one thing, I’m already working on a startup, qweries, so it’s a great opportunity to discover some potential co-founders or early employees.  I’ve also got another idea that might be worth investigating (more of that soon); perhaps others will be interested as well — or I’ll find out where it needs to improve.  There are lots of other great reasons to participate in Startup Weekend, so it should be a good time!

Isaac EliasIf you’re a marketing/business dev/ideaman type of entrepreneur looking to go make things happen at a similar event (like the one coming up in San Francisco on May 6 – 8), I want to help you get the most out of the experience. So, here are a few tips and insights to give you a leg-up before you start-up.

1. You are a dude going to “ladies night”.

— Isaac Elias, BizMonkeys and IdeaMen at StartupWeekend – Don’t Waste Your Time

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Changing the Game: Charting a Path Beyond Comment Threads

Innovation Challenge logo

Is it a “game changer?” Not every entry we support will be, but we should all be looking for ones that may be.

— from the review criteria for the Knight Foundation/Mozilla Beyond Comment Threads innovation challenge

Some consistent themes are emerging from the excellent Beyond Comment Threads suggestions, pointing to a radically different user experience from today.   Here’s the new world people are describing:

It seems to me that an API and a family of open-source implementations (in Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, .NET on the server side and HTML5 on the client) supporting all of this, with accessibility and multi-lingual support designed in from the beginning, would be a great project for the innovation challenge to support.  And there are a couple things I’d add to it as well:

  • support for various business models including subscription, advertising, sponsorship, app sales, etc.. A great discussion area should be a profit center for a news organization, and participating actively in comments should be a way for small businesses to help promote their products and for participants to help their careers
  • designed and implemented by a diverse team, and with a goal of prioritizing diversity — something along the lines of Dreamwidth’s diversity statement and How would Quora be different if it prioritized diversity? Many discussion forums today are dominated by a handful of loud voices and/or overwhelmingly male.  Diversity’s like security, you can’t add it in after the fact, so it’s crucial to design it in from the beginning.

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Notes from Underground: Retox, the Nexus Fire Ball at Space 550, and DJ Anomaly at ‘Beyond Rapture’

lights at The Atrium

So between activism, NWEN, and qweries, I’ve been working hard but not killing myself — and still taking lots of time to have fun, hang out with friends, and get sleep. And the universe has been aligning. Life is good.

— from DJ Anomaly and the Mysterious Voice of Ra

Life has continued to be good in my month-long road trip since DJ Anomaly’s last gig at the Atrium.  First I spent three and a half days taking the train across the country, then a week in Folly Beach South Carolina with my Mom.  Next it was out to LA with her and hanging out there with her, Greg, and her family for a week, and then driving up to Hollister for lunch with D’s family.

Nexus presents: The Fire BallBy the time we got to San Francisco last Friday, I was very ready to dance, and the fates obliged: Alchemy “pre-party” at Retox, the Nexus Fire Ball at Space 550, Death Guild at DNA.   Yay!  It was a real flashback weekend, back to the days of 2003/2004 when rationality wasn’t looking so good and we spent a lot of time at Space 550 and DNA.

Alas, some aspects of rationality still aren’t looking so good: if it hadn’t been for Save the Rave’s activism, Friday and Saturday nights would have been illegal, and I would have had to go through a metal detector and ID scanner in order to go a goth club.  And surprise surprise, the government lies: it seems like the PATRIOT Act will once again getting extended without a real debate.  Sigh.

On the whole, though, I’m in a much better space these days — and looking forward to the future even more than I was back then.

After recovering for a few days and then making our way up from SF to Seattle, I’m once again very ready to dance … and once again the fates are obliging!  DJ Anomaly’s kicking off another residency at the Atrium with “Beyond Rapture”.  [Speaking of which, the world did not in fact end at 6 p.m. today.  Whew.]  Somewhat incredibly, we got a special sneak preview last night: DJ Anomaly texted D around dinner time saying she was thinking of heading up to Seattle from Portland, D offered her our spare bedroom in case she wanted a place to crash, and then next thing you know we were listening to new “anomalous tracks”.  How cool is that?

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Beyond comment threads: any ideas about “game-changers”?

One of the best things about the web is that it enables many voices to be heard. Blogs, comment threads, forums, and social networks empower people to take part in new kinds of discussion, dialogue, and debate….

With all that activity happening across the web, how do we enable more coherent, elevated discussion?

Beyond Comment Threads.

The latest Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership (aka MoJo) “Innovation Challenge” is intriguing. The deadline is this Sunday, May 22, and they encourage different kinds of entries: a concept brief or blog post explaining your idea (500 words or less), an embedded video or link to a slidecast (“extra points for explaining your idea this way!”), an early software demo, proof of concept, prototype, wireframes, mock-ups … “anything, really—be bold!”  For that matter, “the challenge brief, resources, and stimuli are all suggestions. Be bold! Color outside the lines.”  Cool!

My summary on Storify has a lot more info, including links to Wendy Norris’ notes from an in-person brainstorming session in the Bay Area and online discussions on Mozilla’s site, Hacker News, and Slashdot.  The challenge brief has some pointers to emerging technologies, and highlights a few questions.  Where do you see the next radical improvement in user commentary? How do we go beyond end-of-story comment threads? How do we make commenting more social?

It also describes the criteria the reviewers will use:

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Will Facebook “archive” the One Million Strong for Barack group?

This group is scheduled to be archived

With Facebook announcing an “upgrade or die” policy for old-style groups, it’s a stressful time for One Million Strong for Barack.  As the Erratic Synapse writes in Facebook Stands Poised to Take Our Group of Over 980,000 Obama Supporters… Back to 0 on Daily Kos,

Here’s the problem: our group may not be eligible for upgrade. Furthermore, any group that fails to upgrade is “archived”, where it is converted to the new format anyway, but we lose all of our members.

Bummer.

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