Israel: a country too far from Mike Arrington's house

This headline is only a little in jest. But as I’ve gotten around to various tech companies here in Israel I’ve started noticing a trend: that the further away a tech area is from Silicon Valley the less respect that area will get. The headline is also a bit unfair to TechCrunch/Mike because he’s actually been to Israel and has a couple of writers covering the tech scene here, but if you’re a blogger and let the facts get in the way of a good headline you’ll never go anywhere.

I’ve noticed this when I visited MySpace: they were so excited when I visited because they say that tech bloggers never visit. I was thinking back to my own experiences. Yes, that’s true. Facebook employees regularly meet up with us at parties and dinners and conferences. We run into MySpace employees far less often. These personal connections turn into stories on blogs.

Same when I visited San Antonio. These were companies I never hear about in conversations in the valley. We don’t have personal connections to their employees. Ask yourself, have you ever heard of PerfTech? Kulabyte? Rackspace? Newtech?

Anyway, I’ve been all over to the world. Shanghai. Tokyo. Frankfurt. London. New York. Cork. Dublin. Hamburg. Geneva.

I’ve never seen the entrepreneurial spirit outside of Silicon Valley like I’ve seen here in Tel Aviv. The companies here are doing technology that’s deep, varied, and highly profitable.

Anyway, I’ll write more about this topic over the weekend, because right now we’re about to leave to see Jeruselem and meet with some Venture Capitalists to further understand what’s going on here in Israel.

In the meantime, go to TechCrunch and check out Fring’s new iPhone app. (Fring is headquartered here in Israel, and shows another trend that I’ve noticed here that Israel is WAY ahead of the United States in use of Mobile apps — another thing that’s surprising is how many iPhones you see here, even though there isn’t a single Apple store).

One other thing, Twitter has been where we’ve been having interesting conversations. It was amazing. The other day we were in a van between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Talking with Arrington back in California. Christineleu in China. GiaGia in London. All at the same time.

The advent of Twitter is one thing that’s bringing far away lands into the PR machinery that exists only in Silicon Valley.

I wish I had a month to spend here, so many startups want to get my attention, but I just can’t see them all. But there still is nothing better than meeting face-to-face over a beer to find out interesting stories about people, companies, countries.

For instance, last night several people begged me to write about the proposed Israel Censorship Law. Global Voices Online has already done that, but if it weren’t for being here I wouldn’t have known about the issues that they really care about.

Anyway, off to Jeruselem, stay in touch with us on my Twitter account.

Do you agree or disagree that people, companies, countries can get the respect and/or tech industry PR they deserve if they are far away from Silicon Valley?

My new roommate: Craig Newmark

When I got into the Kinnernet conference in Israel I found out that we were all going to have roommates so that everyone could fit into the lake-side resort here. I was a little disappointed, after all I had just spent the last few trips rooming with Rocky Barbanica and I was looking forward to having a room all to myself.

But when I opened the door and found Craig Newmark, founder of Craig’s List, sitting there on his computer I knew that this would be an interesting weekend. Craig’s List is the top classified ad site on the Internet and is how I got my job at NEC.

And interesting it has remained. I’m at the Kinnernet camp which is a small, exclusive, elitist, by invitation only, affair that’s just been a thrill a minute (it’s done by Yossi Vardi, the investor who’s kids started ICQ back in 1996). How did I get invited? Yossi proudly shows me around and says “this is the guy who had the first ICQ Web site.”

At Kinnernet there are robots running around, people flying weird contraptions (one of the world’s top remote control helicopter pilots is here), weird devices of all kinds, and TONS of geeks and entrepreneurs.

But back to Craig. He’s got such a great sense of humor. His business card reads “customer service representative.”

I’ve been giving him heck for not being on Twitter. He joined this morning and said “now everyone can see how boring I am.”

Valleywag, last night, asked me to ask him if he’s gotten rich yet. He answered “if I really had a lot of money would I be rooming with Scoble?”


Anyway, some of our fun here at Kinnernet is up on my Qik account. The wifi here is very shaky.

For more info on Kinnernet, there are quite a few people blogging and stuff. Check out Google’s Blog Search for Kinnernet.

Off to Israel…

I’m off to Israel to interview a bunch of companies and geeks there. Sorry for the slow blogging, I’ve been having too much fun on Twitter and on FriendFeed. A lot of you have been writing saying that you miss the longer, more thoughtful Scoble so I’ll work on that this next week from Israel. My blog’s redesign will turn on the week I get back, too, on the 21st or so. Over on we’ll have the first part of an interesting look into Rackspace up today. Watch my Qik channel for video dispatches from Israel when I can get on wifi. First stop in Israel? The Kinnernet event which is hosted by Yossi Vardi.

Some things I’m thinking about?

1. The Friend Divide. Much of the new Web 2.0 software really is lame until you get at least 50 friends onto it. What does that mean and how do we make the first experience people have much better (it really sucks, you should sign up for all these new services with a clean account and compare to when you have a bunch of friends). Have we created a new, nasty, world where if you don’t have friends you simply won’t have access to interesting experiences or, even, news?
2. “The 250.” Valleywag derides the early adopter world, saying that only 250 people care about all this new stuff that gets reported on TechMeme. Even if Valleywag’s numbers are off (millions read TechCrunch, for instance) they do have a point. I just spoke to my dad’s Kiwanis Club and many of the people there hadn’t heard of Twitter, Qik, Flickr, or even, gasp, blogs. Most of the world is even further behind — there are five billion people who’ve never owned a computer, for instance. I’m thinking about what that all means and what it means I should do with my blog going forward.
3. Flickr video. Too short. Or long enough? Discuss in 90 seconds or less. :-)

Anyway, have fun. I’ll see you in economy squished into a seat trying to do my email.