Monthly Archives: July 2007

new york on track to be the most idiotic city in the world

having previously ‘banned’ the use of the word ‘nigger’, new york is now trying to ‘ban’ the words ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ to discourage their use in music and among young people. of course this ban isn’t legally binding, because of something known as the first amendment. it’s clear that new york hasn’t heard of it so here’s the gist of it: the amendment grants absolute freedom of speech and of press (among others) and places upon the state, the burden to prove that a limitation of any of these freedoms is necessary.

because there is no way the state could make a case to justify limiting the freedom of speech for these words, just like the ban on the word ‘nigger’ the ban on the words ‘ho’ and ‘bitch’ would also be completely symbolic. this is the part that displays the idiocy of new york. because the ban wouldn’t be legally binding, the state won’t be able to enforce the ban and it would be up on individuals to decide whether they respect the symbolic ban.

i just have this feeling that rappers and young people aren’t going to uphold the symbolism and these efforts are just a waste of time for the officials backing it.

mybloglog – we pride ourselves on our stupidity

i was doing some research for an article earlier today and had to log into mybloglog to check something. this was the first time in over 6 months (maybe more) that i logged into the service that i have come to find well-conceived but poorly implemented.

as if the service’s ongoing battle with spammers wasn’t enough of a headache, mybloglog has decided to pride itself on its stupidity. this is an email i got from them today:

Hi Muhammad!

Part of what makes MyBlogLog so special is our ability to automatically add you to communities in which you have shown a repeated interest. We have just added you to the following communities:

1) MyBlogLog
http://www.mybloglog.com/buzz/community/mybloglog/

Bonus — The “Hot in My Communities” box on your My Home page will keep getting better and better with each community you join.

Note: If you decide one or more of these communities is not for you, simply visit that community’s page on MyBlogLog and click the “Leave Community” button.

Rock on,
MyBlogLog

now wait a minute! part of what makes you special is that you can go into my account and without my knowledge or permission add me to communities that you think i’m interested in? you’ve got to be kidding me. it’s been so long since the last time i logged into the service that i don’t even remember. and you are telling me that i have showed a repeated interesting in a community and therefore you are going to make the decision on my behalf and add me to that community?

and as for the “if you decide one or more of these communities is not for you…” part, how about not making the decision for me to begin with and letting me add myself to the communities that i want? that way i won’t have to go remove myself from every community you arbitrarily add me to.

blowing bubbles: spend now, think later

tony has been pondering a stupid question: when will having a business plan matter? he’s talking, of course, about new web startups that are getting funding without a business plan. actually the question isn’t a stupid one at all, rather it’s one that investors are simply not concerned with. should they be? most definitely. why aren’t they then? too much money, too much faith, too much optimism, take your pick.

the guilty parties include not only venture capital firms funding the projects (like Union Square Ventures that funded twitter) but also include companies like google (youtube) and yahoo (del.icio.us) that ultimately acquire these projects.

The question everyone asks is “What is the business model?” To be completely and totally honest, we don’t yet know.

the venture capital firms that invest in the companies do so without having any idea of how the services will be monetized but hope that at some point in the future a corporate giant will swallow the service up and dish a handsome payout to the venture firm, making monetization its own worry. union square, for example, is investing in twitter and hoping to get lucky the way they did with their investment in del.icio.us when it was bought out by yahoo.

the company that ends up acquiring the startup ultimately does so thinking that they will buy it while its hot and help it grow and deal with monetizing it later. it is more a purchase of internet users’ attention (time and page views) than anything else. from google’s point of view it probably made sense to purchase the attention of 64% of the online video-watching audience and worry about squeezing them for money at a later date.

it doesn’t necessarily make sense, and i don’t see it as the best way to go about investments and acquisitions but when you have that kind of money, you’re probably not thinking like me. for now, both the venture capital firms and the companies making the purchases are just blowing bubbles. we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

hi, my name is muhammad and i’m a “user”

josh bernoff’s wrote some rather juvenile commentary a couple days ago on why he is sick of the term “users” and i think its only appropriate that i take a stand for all you users out there. he argues that since everyone is a user we should stop calling them users and ‘backs up’ the argument with the following ironclad logic:

Nobody talks about users of dishwashers, or users of retail stores, or users of telephones. So why are we talking about “users” of computers, browsers, and software?

it only makes sense that i use bernoffian logic to make my counterargument. how about this: since we call people who drive cars, drivers and people who prepare food, cooks, and people who write software, programmers, we should call people who use a particular service or application, users of that service or application.

for some communities there are specific terms, such as digger (for digg), twit (for twitter), but for many others the generic term “user” is used as a synonym for “community member”. you can be a facebooker, a member of the facebook community, or a facebook user. they’re all the same except for the fact that,

  1. facebooker – makes you sound like a moron.
  2. facebook community member – is unnecessarily cumbersome.
  3. facebook user – is familiar and immediately understandable

i’m a user, you’re a user, duncan is definitely a user, and so are millions of others. don’t try to take that away from us.

nytimes bends over backwards for kevin rose

it’s just one more appalling display of mainstream media’s dismally poor understanding of the tech world. the nytimes has an incredibly fanboyishly written article on pownce, kevin rose’s new startup. take one look and it becomes clear that it is more a plea for traffic from digg than anything else.

jason’s description of pownce as “the hottest startup in Silicon Valley — minutely examined by bloggers, panted after by investors…” couldn’t be far from the truth. yes, there are some that like the service, but many find it to be a twitter-clone with added functionality that e-mail or other services can perform much better, and ultimately the service fails to live up to the hype. as for the investors, the only reason they want to invest is because they don’t want to miss the boat on adventure number 3 (after digg and revision3) and are willing to gamble. i.e. the investors panting is indicative of nothing more than the fact that they have too much money and are willing to throw it away (do i hear bubble?).

he goes on to talk about a purported mystique that was injected into pownce because it is invite only. sure, i can’t disagree much here (i wanted an invite asap too), but come on, most startups nowadays launch in private alpha/beta, and not for the sake of mystique but to fix what’s broken before the site is opened to the masses.

after the initial few paragraphs, the article starts to make more sense as the author concedes that most of the site’s functionality is available elsewhere, but this doesn’t last for long. soon after, the article goes into pownce’s “potential to be powerfully distruptive” because apparently file-sharing on pownce would be hard to police. at this point i started to look hard for any signs of sarcasms or hints at humor because no one in their right mind (or with even the faintest idea of how social networking sites work) would make such an absolutely idiotic remark.

all in all the article is shameful. you really have to start worrying when valleywag is more accurate than a site like nytimes. now i don’t claim to have all the answers but how about this: let mainstream media cover mainstream news, and we will handle the niches?