Daily Archives: December 27, 2008

The interview of the year: Tim O’Reilly

How can you tell that someone I interview is good? My producer/editor Rocky Barbanica can’t cut much out of the interview (most interviews lately get edited to just their good parts, which usually means a 40-minute interview comes out to about 20 minutes or so). Not this one.

Tim O’Reilly talks about web 2.0, foo camp, book publishing and a lot more. The first part is up and is 24 minutes long. Second part will be up on Monday.

For those who don’t know who Tim is, he is the guy who named “web 2.0″ and he runs a publishing company that produces a ton of the industry’s most popular events, books, and magazines. You can read more from him on his blog and he’s also my favorite Twitterer, bringing tons of interesting stuff to his followers on his Twitter account.

After the “pro” interview that’s up on FastCompanyTV (shot with two HD camcorders) we went outside and shot even more with my FlipCamera. Here he responds to questions left on friendfeed.

Anyway, enjoy the interview of the year and thanks to everyone who gave me a great interview this year.

Oh, and by the way, Tim got me to live a foocamp life which led directly to my show. What’s the foocamp life? Have interesting conversations with smart people every day. I’ve been living that life almost every day for more than four years now. We cover that in the video too.

30 minutes at 12seconds.tv shows future of “reality based” tech startups

Welcome back after Christmas. Yesterday I visited Santa Cruz to shoot some surfers with Marc Silber, photographer, and to visit 12seconds.tv.

At first glance 12seconds.tv is a lame idea. But, most of you thought the same thing about Twitter. So, that first impression should be thrown in the recycling bin along with all the torn up wrapping paper from Christmas presents you received yesterday.

What is it? It’s a service that lets you upload or record videos 12 seconds at a time. Sort of a video Twitter. It’s gained a cult following around the world.

But forget all that.

In my 30-minute video interview I discover a few other reasons to pay attention to this team and this service and why this company shows the future of tech startups in our new “reality-based” economy (I split the video into two parts. Here’s part one and here’s part two).

1. This isn’t their day job. They all work other places during the day. But are building this on nights and weekends, which is why I visited the day after Christmas.
2. They are part of the new “reality economy” which is self funded until they find a revenue stream which is significant enough for them to live off of. Only then will they go for VC funding, if they need it at all.
3. They are using a “cloud bursting” architecture. All the videos are hosted on their own servers, but if one gets popular they move it, and all the traffic, over to Amazon.com’s web services, to protect their servers from being overloaded. This lets them serve a lot more people very efficiently and cheaply.
4. They use Twitter for everything. Customer service. Building community. TweetDeck is up on their screens and they use iPhones — even answering questions on Christmas day.
5. That lack of resources causes them to focus on one thing, and one thing only (I wish Podtech had learned that).
6. In the second part of the video they demo their new iPhone app which they charge for “if no one is going to pay for this why are we building it?”

Anyway, enjoy. You’ll also see Marc Silber shooting photos in the video and Jeremy Toeman explaining how he’s helping 12seconds with PR and strategy. From 12seconds.tv you see Jacob Knobel, lead developer, who, along with Sol Lipman and David Beach started 12seconds.tv (you see all three in the videos).

What do they mean by “reality based?” Well, they have already noticed that investors are looking at monetizeable ideas much more closely and are less likely to fund things that don’t have community support already and don’t have a good idea of how they’ll make money in two years.

Welcome to the new “reality based” tech startup. Anyone have any other examples?

Mike and Loic are wrong about Twitter search

Bob Warfield has it all right: Loic Le Meur’s call for authority-based Twitter searches is all wrong.

What is Loic’s idea? To let you do Twitter searches with results ranked according to number of followers.

You’d think I’d be all over that idea, right? After all I have a lot more followers than Loic or Arrington has.

But you’d be wrong. Ranking by # of followers is a stupid idea. Dave Winer agrees. Mike Arrington, on the other hand, plays the wrong side of the field by backing Loic’s dumb idea.

Here’s why it’s a stupid idea: everyone is gaming the number of followers. And, even if everyone weren’t, popularity on Twitter isn’t a good way to measure whether a Tweet is any good or not.

It would increase noise, not decrease it. After all, if such a system were in effect you’d see my Tweets at the top of the page, even for things that I don’t have any business being at the top of the page for.

For instance, let’s say we were talking about something in China. How about something affecting supply chain management. Who should be at the top of such a result? @liamcasey because he runs a sizeable supply chain management company in China. But, no, he won’t be at top if Loic gets his way. I would be. That’s really lame.

So, what’s a better idea? Study the metadata that really matters.

Here’s some on Twitter:

1. Number of retweets of that tweet.
2. Number of favorites of that tweet.
3. Number of inbound links to that tweet.
4. Number of clicks on an item in Twitter search.

On friendfeed there’s even more to study:

1. Number of likes of that tweet.
2. Number of comments on that tweet.
3. Amount of resharing of that tweet.
4. Clicks on each tweet.
5. Velocity of commenting and liking behavior.

On both services you should see a bias of tweets made by people you’re actually following. Who you are following is a LOT more important than who is following you. Why? Those are active choices YOU made, which should tell the system something about you and who brings you the most value. The numbers of people following you is almost totally irrelevant.

I really hope that the Twitter team doesn’t listen to the popular users on this issue.

Oh, and friendfeed, why is your search so bad?

I can’t pull much value out of the search engine. Why can’t I say “show me all tweets that include the word ‘obama’ and that have two or more likes and three or more comments?” If we had the ability to actually pull value out of friendfeed’s database this whole argument would be moot.

To Loic and Mike: since when did “authority” have anything to do with “popularity?”