Archive for October, 2010

A picture speaks a thousand words

Posted on October 23, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups | Tags: , |

I had a meeting on Friday with a super smarty.  We were talking about hyperpublic and I was trying to explain what I wanted it to become.  She sent me a note today saying that she spent all day walking around the city and couldn’t stop picturing small tag bubbles above people’s heads.  Here’s a doodle she drew around one element of our vision, which I love…

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Execution, Reflection, and the Friction Therein

Posted on October 17, 2010. Filed under: startups, venture capital | Tags: , , |

I’m staring at a blank page of paper, trying to find my voice, searching for the window into my thoughts that allows me to write three paragraphs in 15 minutes, and wondering why it is so fucking hard to find right now.  Galpert is sitting next to me, tapping away at his newsletter, 90 words a minute, and I can’t seem to hear myself.  This has been a regular occurrence over the past few months.  At earlier times in this blog, my thoughts and reflections flowed so freely, the commitment to post was not a commitment at all.  But lately words have been slow to come.

I think it is largely because I am in a state of prolonged execution, not just professionally, but in all facets.  These past few months have been about checking boxes and getting shit done, and I believe that state is at odds with deep reflection.  Sometimes you are moving too fast to stop and think about your movement.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Execution can often be governed by intuition, a recipe which does not require nor even necessarily accommodate deep reflection, but the yield on periods of my life that are governed by one vs. the other are quite different.  Right now, for example, I miss the deep analysis of myself.  I miss the frequent attention to nuances of human experience, and generally floating 10,000 feet above ground level, looking at the world and population move by, not actively participating or engaging with it at ground level.

The past few months have been about to do lists, and moving, get the gas turned on, push the product, hire the people, buy a couch, get new clothes, find healthcare,  etc. etc. etc. These are the things that need to get done, but when I find myself sitting in a café with a pot of tea, the music I’ve been waiting to listen to all week, and an opportunity to revisit interesting thoughts or observations that I’ve had over the past few days, I realize that I can barely recall them.  It’s not because I am not having them, but more because “bookmarking” them and taking notice before they flea into the abyss that is my ADD black hole of a memory is not something that is easy for me to do when every pause in execution I have trained myself to glance back at the to do list instead of upward at the sky and the clouds, and inward at myself, my imagination, and whatever direction my mind would go if it wasn’t autofocussing on the next task ahead.

Every so often I notice friction points in my life, where a function doesn’t move as smoothly as it should.  The shift between states of execution and reflection is a point of friction that I will now actively work to diminish.  Like everything else with the mind, you can exercise the weak elements and build toward frictionless computation.  Execution is the order of the day, but welcome back reflection.  I missed you, let’s hangout again tomorrow.

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Living in a State of “Anonymity PLUS”

Posted on October 12, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

As I sit here on this train, bound for the Meadowlands where I will undoubtedly watch the Jets destroy Randy Moss and the Vikings, it occurs to me that although unnamed, I am not anonymous in this crowd.  Miriam Webster offers the following 3 definitions of anonymous, none of which (save the most literal “not named”) describe my state on this train.

Anonymity would imply that I am unidentifiable, when that is not, in fact, the case.  The people who surround me here actually have access to enough data that they are able to categorize and classify me.  Despite the stigma around that concept, I am not concerned in the slightest.  Why? Because I control the data I am sharing with the people on this train.  In fact, because I control the inputs that define their impression or perception of me, I am actually excited for them to consume this “metadata on top of my physical presence.”

I wear a long sleeve green Rugby shirt in support of the Jets, which when paired with a time stamp (1 hour before game time) and location (on a train headed westward from Manhattan), identifies me as a Jets fan.  I am proud of this facet of my identity and wish to communicate it to all who will observe.  Why?

1)   I guess I seek the camaraderie. Other Jets fans in my presence will recognize me as one of their own

2)   I want to display that I welcome conversation and interaction with those who share my affiliation or interest

3)   I want to further the facet of my identity that I am showing, spread it if you will.  If I am able to convert others or strengthen/support the interest which I make visible, there is a reflective property where I actually strengthen my own identity (basic missionary theory)

4)   I see myself publicly tagged as “Jets” and it affirms my concept of myself and my level of commitment to what it represents.  The fact I make it visible to all reminds me that it is core to my identity

Clothes are but one example of a tool people use to communicate and control their public identity.  The woman to my left smiles upon eye contact, publicly sharing a “tag” of friendly (the most frequent tag on to date, btw), while the drunk to my right sits face cringed, communicating “misery” or “inapproachable.”  We were given the capacity to publicly display emotions through facial and body gestures, a sort of biological tagging system which non-verbally influences the level and type of engagement we have with our surrounding population.  These signals are completely public, the fact that we share them with everyone is an almost biological recognition that there is, indeed, potential value waiting to be extracted from those with who we share a physical, but not yet social relationship.

Our everyday, real world lives, do not exist within the bounds of true anonymity, yet the majority of internet products that attempt to digitally replicate or enhance real world life, feel an obligation to preserve the veneer of this false ideal for their users.  I believe we move through physical space in a state of “Anonymity PLUS.”  This is a state where we are aware that we are visible to an unfiltered public eye, and thus control and define the data which it is to our advantage and pleasure to broadcast widely.

Hyperpublic is an experiment in recreating that state of “Anonymity PLUS”.  There are no names unless you chose to tag yourself by one.  There is no such thing as private data here, but there is also no data here that you have not actively decided to push to the public.  There is undoubtedly value to be had by sharing that data which you want to be seen by all (think about the value of appearing at the top of Google results for example, how would you wish to define yourself to all who Google you). Our goal is simply to maximize that value by giving your public tags as broad a reach as we possible can.  You choose your green Rugby shirt when you get dressed in the morning, why not choose to display all the data you wish to communicate publicly?

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Physical vs. Social Proximity at a Cafe

Posted on October 2, 2010. Filed under: startups, venture capital | Tags: , |

I’m sitting at a café on 10th street and 1st Avenue, sipping a tea and snacking on an amazing breseola and parmesan Panini.   Until one minute ago, I was 3 sentences into a blog post about The Social Network and the concept of isolation in entrepreneurship (which I will write after this).  As I gazed over the building line to a light blue sky, searching for the words that could best describe entrepreneurial isolation, something happened.  Out of nowhere, a flock of let’s say 50 white birds, that I can only assume are doves, appeared in the margin between the buildings that line the north and south sides of 10th st.  They began to circle inside the frame created by the tops of the brownstones and as they did, they waned in and out of visibility depending on weather they were facing a direction that allowed their white bodies to properly reflect the lowering sun behind me.  The image of the white flock against the blue back drop was striking, bit it was really the prolonged movement in circles and repeated flashes of white disappearing and reappearing, coupled with the contrast between the silence and grace of their movement and the ambient conversation and city sounds of 1st avenue, that made this occurrence noteworthy.  They circled for more than a minute, and as I watched their dance my immediate instinct was to Share.

I believe that instinct to share is not new, and if I were with someone at this table, I almost certainly would have pointed them to the scene and helped them to enjoy this beautiful sliver of life, but in the absence of a friend, I immediately reached for my mobile device.  Between my iPhone’s camera, my Twitter Application, and my Facebook Application, I am so used to pushing out what I experience in life, that it was second nature to want to capture this moment and publish it. As I cycled through my sharing options, I realized that a photo wouldn’t really do this experience justice, “ok, how about video?  But they are so far away, and the microphone on this thing isn’t going to work, and I have 270 degrees of perspective that it’s not going to capture, and the video can’t feel this breeze on my legs, this is not an experience that’s shareable.”

I put down my phone, and continued to watch the birds circle, thinking to myself, that “it’s okay just to have an unshared, personal moment of enjoyment.”  In fact, I don’t have enough of these moments thanks to the share instinct that Twitter and Facebook have undoubtedly amplified in my mind.  Just as I resolved to that point, I snapped out of my own head, looked around the café a bit, and saw a young woman who was methodically waiting tables, moving sugars from one table top to the next, picking up menus, washing down surfaces, and as she whisked by me, continuing in her routine, I grabbed her and said “Hey, look at that.  And I pointed her to the birds, and directed her to watch as they changed direction and caught the sun in a way that would light up the blue backdrop white.  She felt the breeze I felt, and experienced the contrast of their silent dance with the sounds of the city, and for 20 seconds, one other human being was able to experience 100% of what it was that I wanted to Share.

We watched for a bit longer, the birds fell below the building line, and then we returned to our respective lives.  As I sit here now, I realize that as far as we have come in recreating offline human experiences through online products that harness the power of visual capture (photo and video), audio capture (microphone), textual description (text/blog/microblog), etc., everything that is shared and pushed through the social graph, and consumed or experienced by those with whom we share is some fraction of reality.  If our goal is to truly Share ourselves, and more broadly the human experience as we live it, I find physical proximity to be a requisite, and almost urge the Sharing of experience with the strangers that surround you as a viable alternative to the sharing of diluted experience with those socially but not physically proximate.  I am obsessed with improving how we interact with our local graph.  It must happen.

P.S. (The birds came back, did my best to take the above photo)

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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