Thursday, December 01, 2005

BrainJams this Saturday in Menlo Park

BrainjamsJust had lunch with Chris Heuer over at Firewood Cafe.   He's gearing up for this Saturday's BrainJam down at SRI in Menlo Park.  Chris' energy and passion and sense of can-do are damn inspiring -- I'm looking forward to participating and seeing what unfolds.

If you don't know what a BrainJam is, think speed-dating for jeans and suits (geeks and "biz" people), but where the goal is to meet new people unlike yourself to share, learn, help, and get help.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Collaboration SIG Kicks-Off Nicely

Thanks to everyone who came out Monday night to the  kickoff get together of the new SDForum Collaboration SIG.  I forgot to count but judging from the pictures, about 50 folks come out to meet, mingle, and hear our panel’s perspective on founding, funding, and growing a successful collaboration-focused company.

David Glazer posted a comprehensive transcript of the event, and there’s also a podcast available.  Four days later, three things stand out from the panel’s discussion:

  • The SMB market remains huge and untapped for collaboration tools and services.  Search engine marketing and software as a service are two promising approaches to profitably marketing and selling into this collection of niches. 

  • Keep It Simple Smarty.  Described variously as the “grandma test” or the “mom test” (what’s with picking on the ladies?), if people can’t start using your product or service and get some value out of it without being trained or reading a manual, don’t bother.  This is the obvious one that most everyone ignores to their peril.  If this isn’t keeping you up at night, you’re priorities are wrong.

  • A great way to explore opportunity in the collaboration space is to solve a problem handled so poorly by email that people would switch to a new solution to ease their frustration.

Cheers to our 5–member panel, who did a marvelous job.  It was one of the more interesting panels I’ve attended (not biased of course ;), but in contrast to the other “ad-hoc” events (e.g. Barcamp, 106Miles, BrainJams, SFWIN) I've been attending lately, it felt a bit strange and restricted. 

The bottom line is there’s not enough interaction amongst the attendees and also amongst attendees and guest speakers, which I think is crucial for the SIG to grow strong and make a meaningful difference long term.    Chris Messina and I car pooled back to SF after the event and had a chance to rap about the balance between structure and audience-driven organization being explored by the various *camp events. 

It’s a hard one to navigate — to create something where people who want to lurk and learn can do so while people who want to get more involved can jump in and shape and steer the event, even if they’re not part of the "official” group of organizers. The SIG wiki will help a bit here.

Ultimately I agree with Chris’ sentiment that once you go ad-hoc, you can never go back.  We’re looking forward to experimenting and mixing it up in the future.  Next event in January — details TBA.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

New SDForum Collaboration SIG

The new SDForum Collaboration SIG kicks off next Monday night (14th) with a panel discussion called Show Me the Money

It’s a pretty stellar panel with Joe Kraus of JotspotDave Hornik of August Capital, William Glazier of Redwood Ventures, David Coleman of Collaborative Strategies, and Sam Pullara of Gauntlet Systems 

“Where is the business and investor focus in Business Collaboration today? Join our panel of representatives from current Business Collaboration ventures as they explore and discuss "Where is the money?" From platforms to ASP services and free collaborative services, a wide spread of business collaboration ventures are currently in the market. And they are getting funding ranging from seed money to name brand VC investment stakeholders.”

It’s next Monday November 14th at Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara.  I’m looking forward co-chairing the SIG along with Patti Wilson and Charles Welsh

Check out the SIG blog and wiki for more info and to get involved.  Hope to see you Monday night!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

First JotSpot Meetup Thurs Oct 27th

JotSpot’s having its first meet and greet tomorrow night (10/27) and you’re invited.  Come on by the Blue Chalk Cafe (630 Ramona St.) in Palo Alto around 7p.  We’ll be upstairs by the BAR hanging out.

RSVP on my post on or on,, or

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Craftsman Approach to Web Design

We're in the process of becoming homeowners again, this time in San Francisco.  It's a 1911 Edwardian, a style related in era to the Arts and Crafts (or Craftsman) arts and architecture movement.  Edwardians are much less ornate than Victorians, but not to the level of organic simplicity of Craftsman homes, which are all about organic simplicity.

Escrow is a stressful period, but it's also filled with anticipation of new beginnings.  To get some ideas and have fun looking at old pictures, Rebecca and I busted out our old home books the other night, including a reproduction of Gustav Stickley's 1912 More Craftsman Homes.

While reading Stickley's preface, I was struck by language that sounded like it could have been written in 2005 about web application design:

"The Craftsman type of building is largely the result not of elaboration, but of elimination.  The more I design, the more sure I am that elimination is the secret of beauty in architecture.  By this I do not mean that I want to think scantily and work meagerly.  Rather, I feel that one should plan richly and fully, and then begin to prune, to weed, to shear away everything that seems superfluous and superficial."

-Gustav Stickley, 1912

Like they say, good design never goes out of style.  That said, it's definitely easier said than done, whether in a home or on the web.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

DIY Publishing at Webzine 2005 This Weekend

Webzine 2005 is happening this Sat and Sunday in San Francisco, and if you're into blogging, *casting, web design, or any kind of DIY webby stuff, you should check itWzbanner180x150 out. Oh, and parties too.

It's $20ish bucks but don't let that scare you away -- there's going to be some amazing sessions, including:

  • Making Media With Open Source Publishing Tools

  • Podcasting: The Democratization of Broadcast?

  • Using the Internet to Kick the Man's Ass

  • Around the Corner: Neighborhood Blogging

  • Blog Warez Dance Off!

There's also a conference wiki (thanks JotSpot) and IRC channel to connect with folks before, during, and after the event.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Antony and the Johnsons

I saw Antony and the Johnsons last night at the Palace of Fine Arts.  It was so so soooooo good I just have to gush a little. 

If you don't know Antony, he's british-born, NYC based, a recent surprise winner of the Mercury prize, and has a voice that truly defies categorization.  Close your eyes and imagine Nina Simone meets Sigur Ros meets Boy George.  The music is sparsely arranged piano, violin, cello, and electric bass, but really -- it's all about his voice.  He's got an amazing ability to manipulate silence and emotion with his crazy voice.  Not since seeing Sigur Ros in 2001 have I been so blown away by a live performance.

The guy's got a pretty unique sense of showmanship as well.  Half way through he enticed the audience to whistle a certain low-tone in harmony, and then used it as a background for his solo.  He also engaged in a self-deprecating improvised story-song about a couple of crabs on an island and their relationship with a coconut.  Don't ask.  It worked.  To hear him speak a phrase in a normal voice, and then sing that same phrase in his singing voice, is mind-bending. 

Listen and then buy.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

On The Living Dead of Blogs and Startups

Ran across Will Hsu's Dead Blogs Walking post and it resonated with me on a both the startup and blog level.  Will relates the, "fail fast" philosophy to blogs by pointing to a few blogs experiencing blog-post-atrophy.  Applied to blogs, the theory says these blogs deserve a dignified bullet in the head death rather than live on with infrequentlyupdateditis.

"So I say this to these bloggers, treat your blog like a startup - dont
let your labor of love become labor of lame. Update more frequently or
shut it down completely. Other options include join something like
AlwaysOn where you can contribute to a community instead or opening up
your blogs to more contributors to keep it fresh. In the end, no one
likes the living dead."

RE: blogs, I completely disagree.  First off, what does "shut it down" mean?  Wipe it clean from the web?  Hope not.  Kill it with a "here's my bullet" post and then never return?  Maybe, but what's the point of that if a month... or three later you've got something to say?

Besides losing your once-frequent readers, we've got Google and tags and PubSub and Technorati to keep people connected, so I say keep it up -- keep it going.  If the point of blogging is to participate in conversation, I don't think fail fast applies.  Conversation isn't a contest, and you haven't failed if you don't find yourself posting as frequently as you once did.

RE: startups, I wholeheartedly agree with fail fast.  When I founded Inovie Software and launched TeamCenter in 1997, I didn't think 4 years later we would only have 15 employees and a couple million in revenue.  Heck we were supposed to grow wildly like seemingly everyone else.  But that didn't happen -- bootstrapping can be a slow process. 

Yes I was constantly reminded and fearful we were becoming the "living dead."  I guess you could say we were given our numbers.  In the end we were acquired in a relatively small deal and thus not forced to experience limb loss of the "truly" living dead.

So did Inovie fail fast?  4 years ain't fast.  And despite not experiencing wild success, I don't consider it a failure at all.  But yes, I would have liked to done the same in 2 years and gotten back on the horse for a second go during that period of my life.  Didn't happen, but I learned.

So fail fast is indeed a great mode for startups, but as Fred Wilson points out, it's "rarely that simple."

Thursday, June 30, 2005

OpenEvents and Microformats

Seems like all my blogging-love has been going to the JotSpot Developer Blog lately...  *Sigh*.  Don't get me wrong, I love writing there because I can combine my passion for collaboration software with my admiration for Jot's amazing capabilities and a growing Jot developer community.   

But there's something about writing here on ehick that I've missed -- a place to write out loud more wholistically and randomly about stuff.  Niall Kennedy of Technorati and I were talking about this last week at Gnomedex -- even when your personal and professional interests overlap hugely, there's satisfaction in making and maintaining a distinction.  So I think I'm back!

Speaking of Gnomedex, after a week's rumination on my initial thoughts and listening to the conversation about "How do you design a remixable Web application?", my long-term takeaway is a renewed interest and sense of importance of Microformats (explained). 

Funny because there wasn't an explicit talk about them, but the moment the Microsoft dudes started demoing Outlook subscribed to a custom RSS "calendar feed" using iCal files in enclosures, I thought of Microformats and hCalendar.  Others did too.  Kevin Marks wrote to this effect soon thereafter, as have many folks since.  Adding additional semantic mark up to XHTML makes too much sense for these types of use cases.

Ever since my Google/Internet Arcive meet Mr. Event post last year I remain personally fascinated with "OpenEvents" and the event space in general, even thought I've lagged in keeping up with what's being said and doneEVDB is supporting hCalendar and just launched their new API. seems to be cranking and has an APITrumba's all shiny and new, but not sure they're going the Microformat way...?

All cool stuff, happening quickly.  At the very least I'm going to consume more of this myself to get the user's perspective.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Rojo 2.0 Rocks

Rojo just launched a totally new rev of their RSS feed reading service with a totally redesigned UI based around tags.  Tag love continues, and for good reason.  I've only spent 5 minutes with the new offering, but initial impressions say I'm finally motivated to move off my Caltrain-commuter-friendly Newsgator to an online service.  (Can we get syncing with some offline reader at some point pretty please?  Until then, I'll just use Slogger.)

I test-drove Rojo 1.0 right after it was launched in October, but didn't have the same reaction back then.  It was good but not there.  The new UI is much improved, and tags just plain work for me.  Nice!  (See Jeff Clavier's post for more depth look.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

ETECH: Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool

Just heard an excellent presentation titled, "From the Classroom: Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool". Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon are using wikis (Instiki) and some basic web services to provide an interactive, low-budget teaching "intranet."

Basically they have teachers run Instiki on their laptop, then students in a lab use Mac's Rendezvous to connect to the teacher's laptop & create and submit their schoolwork on the teacher's wiki.  The teach can then take home and read/grade/comment on schoolwork.

Teachers and kids love it.  They love it because it's easy and it works.

Then the needed to integrate w/other systems, e.g. the class rosters or student profiles are located on a different system.  They're using SchoolTool, an open source school management program, and then using web services to hook up the wiki so it syncs with the other IT systems used by teachers.  (SchoolTool reminds me a bit of CivicSpace.)

Then they needed a calendar, so the turned to "SchoolBell" -- a calendar server that is part of SchoolTool, and again use web services to tie the calendar to the wiki.

This is awesome stuff.  It's great to see an elementary school principal talk about how they're mixing technologies to self-serve a better way to teach students.  And this is bottom up -- they bypassed the school district's grand plans for infrastructure that will be purchased "some day soon" and put something together today.

Friday, March 11, 2005

At O'Reilly ETECH Next Week

I'm heading down to my old hood next week for the O'Reilly conference.  I'll be there with fellow JotSpotters Abe and Joe.

ps. up for grilling a steak while sipping a cocktail and lounging in a red naugahyde booth?

OpenXource Helps Open up Closed Source Software

I had the pleasure of coffee Bob McWhirter (blog) yesterday.  Bob is the guy behind, home to open source projects such as Groovy, Jaxen, and ActiveMQ among many others.  Bob recently founded OpenXource, a consulting and product company focused on helping companies move closed source software to open source. 

Helping with the strategy and execution of moving closed source to open source is an undeserved market according to Bob, and I agree with him.  Folks like Sourcelabs and Spikesource are going the other direction, helping companies bring open source in.  I don't know of anyone else specializing in the other way around. 

And while perhaps a smaller market, it's a much harder problem IMHO.  I had a taste of this helping Orbeon transition their presentation server product to open source, and of course their biz model too.  Oh yeah, that thing.  They've since joined ObjectWeb and their community and biz is on the rise, but going it alone, without the benefit of experience, is difficult.

Behind raw adoption numbers, the next most important metric of an open source project's success is the size and health of its dev community.  OpenXource is addressing this with a hosted community service called Xircles.  Its Open source community in a box, leveraging the insights gained starting, growing, and managing  They've got to differentiate from the Collabnet's, sourceforge's, and GForge of the world, but there seems to be room to innovate there for sure.  This is a needed service, and I wish Bob and OpenXource success!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Developer Relations Conference, San Jose

I'm headed down to the Developer Relations Conference next Mon/Tues in San Jose.  Looking forward to meeting some new folks, learning, and sharing some ideas.  If you're going, drop me a line (scott at jot dot com), or leave a comment here.

(Too bad the conference isn't walking distance from CalTrain.  Here's my 44 mile commute.  Google is calling this a 39 minute drive...  When are they going to incorporate a realistic driving time algorithm to compliment their fancy-pants maps?)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Lessons from DEMO@15

Reuben, Joe and I returned yesterday from the DEMO@15 conference in Scottsdale, where we presented JotSpot.  There was a ton of energy there (enhanced by my over-caffeinated state), and a really wide array of really super exciting presenting companies (eg. check out  This was my first time at DEMO, and I definitely want to go back.  Reflecting a bit, once again I can't help but feel lucky to have experienced the true satisfaction of working hard as a team to pull something off.  It ranks among the simple pleasures in life in my book.

Among the swirl of thoughts still in my head, a couple of thoughts have been whizzing into the mental spotlight repeatedly, and the feel like "lessons learned".  Actually, they're lessons re-learned.  I feel like I continually re-learn these lessons, brought to me in slightly different package each time.  In this case, the form of a conference.  These ain't new, but why do I feel like they're so new upon each re-discovery?  I won't worry about that -- just happy to continue to move them to the front brain.

  1. It's about people.  In this case, it's the folks you meet in the hallway and  have a 5 minute conversation with.  It's a new connection and perspective, even if you don't see that person again for another year, or ever.

  2. It's about people.  In this case, it's getting the chance to give rapid-fire demos to people every 5-10 minutes, and get their rapid-fire reaction and feedback.  Can't be done over a web demo, can't be done by getting an email from a customer or a forum posting.  There's no substitute for looking at someones face or body language.  Watch where the brow starts to scrunch up... what's missing?  what's getting confusing?  where is the demo, and thus the product, going wrong in their mind?  What's their world view RE: what's being shown on the screen.  I love to ask what people don't like (I use the "hate" word) about what they just saw after a demo.

  3. KISAP.  Keep It Simple And Pretty.  (or KISP?)  Slight variant on KISS, but I think they go together like two peas in a pod.  I don't like to use software that I can't figure out in say 2 minutes.  Maybe I'm ADD but I put that kind of bar up for new software that comes into my normal work flow.  If it's simple and pretty, I'll get going.  If it's simple and pretty and then has a bunch of advanced features that don't get in the way of simple and pretty, I'm all the more motivated.

  4. Don't try to change people's habits.  Enough said there.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

At DEMO Conference Next Week

As Joe mentioned on the JotBlog, we're (JotSpot) heading to DEMO in Scottsdale this weekend.  I've never been and am really looking forward to it.  Get in touch before hand or just come by our table and say hello if you're going to be there.

Monday, January 31, 2005

CivicSpace Rocks

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Zack Rosen, founder and director of CivicSpace Labs.  CivicSpace is a Drupal-based platform that is being billed as a, "grassroots organizing platform that empowers collective action inside
communities and cohesively connects remote groups of supporters."  Translated that means open source collaboration software to help people connect so they cann campaign and press for change.  "The" public sector platform.  Or if that's not clear, I guess knowing it's the 2nd generation of software written originally for the Howard Dean for President campaign, and you get the vibe.

This is one of the coolest projects I've ever run across!  Collaboration software for all the people trying to change the world for the better.  Of course "the better" depends on your notion of what needs fixing, and over coffee we also discussed people on "the other side" (my words) using CivicSpace to do fun stuff like organize to squash women's rights or keep "those people" from threatening our communities with "their lifestyles." etc.  But that's fine too -- let the best organized pushing the soundest principles win!  Enough of that -- not my typical blogging topic...

People are using this stuff too.  Currently the live sites page lists 147 sites.  The model is to create the software as open source, and then sign up ISPs and consultants to host at costs low enough for cash-strapped grassroots orgs to afford. Zack's recent CivicSpace as a Platform post discusses some of the issues they face going after such a broad customer base, but I agree that this is doable because there are many passionate and capable people to tap.  It helps at this stage to have funding, which they do (some foundations and a Bay Area VC), and conviction, which I can say that Zack has in spades.

CivicSpace is looking to grow the community so if you need this service or want to get involved, check it out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Situated Software and The Long Tail of Software

I want to carry along and dig deeper into the discussion of how the Long Tail supports and interacts with Clay Shirky's concept of situated software (morphed into "situational software" by some).  A briefest-possible summary of these two memes are that the Long Tail is an economic-centric concept that, "the myriad of niche products whose collective market share can rival the blockbusters" (from Chris Anderson), and situated software is a social-centric concept of, "software designed in and for a particular social situation or context...where scalability, generality, and completeness are not the key virtues," (my paraphrase).

Elevator summaries aside, I want to highlight a longer quote from Clay's essay to ground and reinforce my particular emphasis here.  Again from Situated Software:

"The biggest difference this creates relative to classic web
applications is that it becomes easy to build applications to be used
by dozens of users, an absurd target population in current design
practice. Making form-fit software for a small group of users has
typically been the province of banks and research labs -- because of
the costs involved, Web School applications have concentrated on
getting large-scale audiences. And by privileging the value that comes
with scale, Web School applications put other kinds of value,
particularly social value, out of reach.
This in turn gives software form-fit to a particular group a number of
desirable characteristics -- it's cheaper and faster to build, has
fewer issues of scalability, and likelier uptake by its target users.
It also has several obvious downsides, including less likelihood of use
outside its original environment, greater brittleness if it is later
called on to handle larger groups, and a potentially shorter lifespan."

With that as context, there's definitely a set of ongoing conversations about the subtleties and implications that arise from this approach to software.  These are the things I'd like to begin to explore here: implications and opportunities down at the nook and cranny level of detail.  We can start by looking at situational software through the lens of topics we already discuss in software, i.e. what's the impact on: development practices? support and training? business models? integration? etc.  Looking back at that last sentence, those topics certainly provide starting points for discussion, but they feel a bit out of place here, like they're last year's problems in this "newly discovered moon" of situated software.  (Or maybe I'm drinking too much kool-aid? ;)

Let's kick off with a micro-survey of previous perspectives. Ben Hyde addresses documentation and support:

"That reminded me of how often I’ve encountered in-house one of a kind
systems with no training materials what so ever. You do occasionally
hear complaints about the lack of training materials (or doc); but
generally the social networks of the organization are entirely
sufficient to make up for the lack of doc."

Meg Hourihan talks generally about requirements:

"One reason the situated software approach works so well is the clear
definition of the end users of the system. It enables developers to
build for a very specific set of users and features, which is a
wonderful foundation for success. When you don't have business people
requesting new features for some hypothetical user or situation, your
software tends to do what it's designed to do better."

as does City Noise:

"But the exciting possibilities are for more informal even temporary
applications built by people in a neighbourhood to be used by people in
that neighbourhood."

Mike at Techdirt hints at relationships with SOA:

"The idea of more open "service oriented" systems is clearly the way where enterprise systems need to move. However, beneath that level, the idea of more niche, focused applications (perhaps designed by non-programmers) for specific needs still has a very large (and rapidly growing) place."

Carlos Perez addresses business models (as well as this post's subject from 40k feet):

"Micro-ISVs have an interesting strategy. The strategy is to as quickly
and as cheaply as possible introduce products into the marketplace.
That immediately implies that there are absolutley no real barriers of
entry. The only barrier of entry is a psychological one, that is, the
monetary gains that one can reap in such a venture is so small that
it's not worth any company's effort."  (see also Carlos' Gold... post and Eric Sink's Exploring Micro-ISVs article)

And rounding it all out, Matthew the Silent Penguin points to a particularly relevant  situational software use case relating to Tsunami relief:

"So we designed a simple requirements system for them and are building
it right now. The system will basically allow everyone to record the
requests they get from various sources and then check out requests to
say they took care of it. The (of course Web based) system will at
least help eliminate duplication of effort. This is going to be demo'ed
to them at tomorrow's (well today's now really .. its nearly 3am) 8am
meeting and if they accept it'll will go live by noon. Not a bad
turnaround time eh?"

Okay!  Clearly there are many angles and interested parties talking.  As I said above, my point in this post is just lay some groundwork for collecting situational software's "issues" from say a 5k foot perspective, both yesterday's and tomorrow's.  What's the comprehensive list?  I look forward to discussing and dissecting these one by one in the future to get a better picture of what the real-world details look like on the ground. 

ps. My personal interest in this subject traces back to my GroupWare to TeamWare to SituatedWare: Wikis Get the Platform Right post a few months ago.  I feel lucky to have connected that personal interest with my day job as JotSpot's new Director of developer relations!



Monday, January 10, 2005

Information Overload Makes Better Specialists

Mary Hodder has posted on Information Overload -- a problem dear to many people's hearts.  Mary talks about the tangible benefit and relief she experienced after allowing herself to operate in "skim" mode vs. "fully understand" mode when facing firehose, as well as differing comfort levels with skimming based on age.  Somehow skim mode allows her a subtle but powerful release of the pressure to read thoroughly and follow all threads to understanding, which in turn puts a friendlier face on info overload and makes her more effective:

"So a while ago, when I first started seeing this difference, I decided to skim, like a skipping rock, certain kinds of information and data, because I found that living with less anxiety actually allowed me to take in more and understand it more deeply. I am not sure if this is all real, or just something on the way to understanding better what really is happening as I take in this flood of data and watch people interacting with it. But I do know that I'm much happier filtering more information I want to understand by type, as I take things in, and doing surveys in the flood of digital information, instead of feeling obligated to consume every bit before I can understand something." 

I can definitely relate to this sense of liberation.  I summarize my version of this tension by tracing it back to my "jack of all trades master of none" phobia.  Not sure where I got it, but it's a little voice that I can remember hearing going way way back.  While I think there are obvious and universal benefits to "specializing", you can go too far.  It's ultimately why I dropped out of a CS PhD program, and I've been whittling away at this phobia slowly but surely ever since, accelerating as time passes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a focus maniac, and think most people, myself included, are well served by hanging their hat on one or maybe two "specializations."  But while specializing, it's equally important to cross-pollinate.  Without it, it's much harder to be an effective specialist, and particularly hard to innovate.  In growing your ecosystem, information overload can be a blessing and not a curse.  From your sturdy oak perch, throw a bunch of seeds in the surrounding field and see what grows.  Most will be small and easily crushed under pressure (i.e.. shallow knowledge acquired while skimming), but some will thrive in unexpected ways to ultimately make a more beautiful landscape. 

As an example downside of over-specialization I point to Evelyn Rodriguez's recent, "This is what can happen whey you think narrowly post:

Reading this article has me seething - and it's an unfortunate reminder that over-specialization is dangerous not just in business:

"The earthquake centre had been inundated with calls since 8.05am when tremors were felt in Bangkok and the northern capital of Chiang Mai.... Burin Vejbanterng, the duty officer [for the government-run Earthquake Bureau in Thailand] at the time [of the Sumatra earthquake] said: 'To be honest I did not think of the waves because my speciality is earthquakes.'"

That's pretty extreme.  I don't think Burin skims much.

Another take comes from Chris Anderson.  In discussing the importance of metadata in the context of ecommerce and the Long Tail, Chris supports the notion that skimming is a nice compliment to "going deep", and by extension is an effective info overload strategy:

"As Amazon's Jeff Bezos explains it, for a product that a potential purchaser has a great deal of interest in, no amount of information is too much: from reader and trade reviews to service records, the more they can learn about a product the more comfortable they are buying it. But for products that they just don't care much about, even something as simple as knowing what most other people bought can make the difference between being frozen by overwhelming choice and purchasing with confidence."

Squint a bit and this pretty much summarizes my strategy.  Go deep and devour when I'm presented with something important and meaningful, but strive to leave time to skim a diverse set of specialist, as wide and as deep as I can handle in a given day.  With this in mind, I face info overload a bit more peacefully.

Friday, January 07, 2005

JotSpot Company Blog

It's official: JotSpot just started a company blog.  In addition to my personal posts here, I'll be contributing more JotSpot-specific stuff there.

Monday, January 03, 2005

JotSpot in 2005!

I love driving at night.  With the kids lulled to sleep by the harmony of rain and freeway drone, we decided late last night to skip our planned LA layover and power all the way to San Francisco, downpour and all.  It was a great way to cap a 2-week retreat to San Diego.  With the exception of 10 minutes of SNOW on the grapevine, it was easy sailing all the way to our 5am arrival, and my wife and I used the time to reflect as well as look ahead to 2005.

Jon Udell is calling 2005 the Year of the enterprise Wiki, and I couldn't agree more!  In addition to hanging out with friends and family over the holiday, I accepted an offer to join JotSpot, the Application Wiki company.  Since first blogging optimistically about JotSpot following their October beta launch, I've gotten to know their service and spent some time noodling, and have been both very impressed and very inspired.  So I'm incredibly excited to be joining Joe and Graham and the rest of the JotSpot team.  I start tomorrow -- more details after I get going.  Right now I couldn't agree more with Jon's sentiment:

"As the Wiki phenomenon enters its second decade, it’s hard to predict just how the technology will evolve. Two things seem
certain: Wiki culture will continue to thrive, and enterprise users will continue to seek lighter, easier collaboration tools.
Sounds like a winning combination."