“Look,” she told me one day in a Millsport coffeehouse, “Shopping – actual, physical shopping could have been phased out centuries ago if they’d wanted it that way”

“They who?”

“People. Society.” She waved a hand impatiently. “Whoever. They had the capacity back then. Mail order, virtual supermarkets, automated debiting systems. It could have been done and it never happened. What does that tell you?”

At twenty-two years old, a Marine Corp grunt via the street gangs of Newpest, it told me nothing. Carlyle took in my blank look and sighed.

“It tells you people like shopping. That it satisfies a basic, acquisitive need at a genetic level. Something we inherited from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Oh, you’ve got automated convenience shopping for basic household items, mechanical food distribution systems for the marginalized poor. But you’ve also got a massive proliferation of commercial hives and speciality markets in food and crafts that people physically have to go to. Now why would they do that, if they didn’t enjoy it?”

I probably shrugged, maintaining my youthful cool.

“Shopping is physical interaction, exercise of decision-making capacity, sating of the desire to acquire, and an impulse to more acquisition, a scouting urge. It’s so basically fucking human when you think about it. You’ve got to learn to love it, Tak. I mean you can cross the whole archipelago on a hover; you never even need to get wet. But that doesn’t take the basic pleasure out of swimming, does it? Learn to shop well, Tak. Get flexible. Enjoy the uncertainty.” — Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon

I’m going to call this Product Design Principle #1. When building something new, exploit an urge that’s so basically fucking human that people can’t help but not do it.


The future!

The future, indeed.

rm -r /bin/laden

Barack Obama (via dustyprogrammer)

Is the future of content consumption and monetization? is finally here, and it brings with itself two things that are truly unique to a content consumption app.

1) Reading other people’s streams (over-the-shoulder)

2) Rev-share with publishers for content via subscriptions*

While the discovery angle of reading other people’s stream is amazing, I’m more curious about the subscription approach.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out and if people will pay for it. After all, the content is already available for free online, and in your Twitter stream, right? Unless you’re the New York Times and you have a fancy new paywall (which seems to be working well, apparently). 

What and apps like it bring to the table is convenience, and discovery. You could definitely go find and read all this content on the web but the question is how do you get there?

And if people will pay for convenience and discovery, then perhaps there is a new micropayment model for content about to emerge.

Imagine writing a blog that is syndicated in to, every time someone reads (expands?) your content, you get a chunk of the monthly revenue that extracts from its users. Once you blow this out to more than just the big publishers on the web, and start sharing it with smaller bloggers you’ve got a massively scalable business. Given how low CPMs are for text ads, this could emerge as a viable alternative.

Tipjoy was an early experiment in this space, and Flattr is the other one that comes to mind. Micropayments, of course, are the holy grail but people don’t want to pay for content. So the question becomes will they pay for convenience and relevant discovery?

My bet is that people will subscribe, only because that’s what people are doing on the app store. If the content is useful and relevant to you (which it has been for as long as I’ve been testing the app), the dollar a week isn’t a huge amount of money and you’re already tied into Apple’s payment mechanism so you don’t have to pull out your credit card and fill a form.

In any case, it will be super interesting to watch.

Comment here

Thanks to icey for reading a draft and posting!

Disclosure: I worked at Betaworks while was being built, but wasn’t involved with the project.

* Flipboard supposedly does this too but they’re not actually making any revenue to share, and will just let you sign a contract and start getting paid (from their FAQ): “Licensing your content to is easy – sign a simple contract and you’ll start earning revenue immediately.”

Are tech startups more like Hollywood than we imagine?

Hue wrote about this and I’ve thought a lot about it, so I figured I’d put my thoughts down as well. Read that post first!

Kathy Sierra (who, btw, wrote one of the best ux blogs out there) has written a bit about this topic (eg. here) and John Geraci (who co-founded, has a similar philosophy for startups which he calls the Pirate Ship model.

In essence, you pull smart people in by defining a grand vision, give them a free hand in doing what they’re good at doing, and watch magic happen, at some point in the future an exit event happens and everyone profits. Rinse and repeat. The reality is a lot more boring but that’s the basic premise, in any case. 

I think there are a lot of parallels between the industries, but I’m not sure I agree with Hue’s conclusion regarding “attractiveness” (unless I missed the point and he was talking about something other than physical attractiveness). In order to build and run a hugely successful startup to a meaningful exit (think blockbuster movies), you need really sharp hackers, people who know what they’re doing and have built such systems before. Mediocre, but beautiful people will simply not cut it when you’re trying to scale a system to a billion users. Hollywood doesn’t have this problem because they’re dealing with a static system, once you put together and release a movie you’re done. In Hollywood, there are no complaining users, and the system doesn’t break once every 2 days due to load. I think Hollywood works that way because the entire industry is rooted in glamor, and physical beauty.

The other parallels are completely valid, though. Both worlds are driven by creative entrepreneurial visionaries. Good technical people are hard to come by and make ALL the difference in the world in both industries. Venture capitalists are like movie producers, and recruiters are beginning to look like casting agents. It is a fascinating comparison and I intend to think and blog more about it as time goes by.

What do you think? Comment here

Note: I don’t know nearly enough about how Hollywood approaches things, but I figured I’d get the conversation started


Yeah, that’s the other place I love:

Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop

On the other hand, is delicious:


Everyone seems to love baohaus, but I’m not into it at all. Just sayin’.

Best explanation of the first “synthetic cell” creation process

You did:
then emailed it as an attachment from your hotmail account to DNASyth LLC and they sent you back a vial, you pulled up a bacteria, put a needle in it, squirted your lols into it, and then wrote a paper.
What parts are inaccurate? Was it a yahoo email address?

LOL, via:

First post

Hello world!  First post.