Internet Blackout Day, Jan 18, 2012

Today is “Internet Blackout Day” (Jan 18, 2012: http://wordpress.org/news/2012/01/internet-blackout/).

For anyone not yet familiar with the SOPA / PIPA legislation currently being promoted by lobbyists to implement Internet censorship in the U.S. (in order to protect certain vested interests in the U.S. — similar to schemes used to protect certain vested interests in certain other countries, resulting in suppression of free speech and economic development), here is a short reading list explaining why you should be contacting your Congressional representatives to oppose it in totality:

For broader insights into the problems generated by lobbyist politics and vested interests, see many of the writings by Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School, who more recently was focused specifically on election reform initiatives.

Narrowness in business

A friend at Intel used to say, “no matter how narrow you make something, once you get close to it, it looks pretty wide.”   My goal in 2012 is to get a sufficiently narrow web application business off the ground by myself.  No venture capital, no angels, no recruiting, no house of cards.  I’ve done that all before, but today it seems like a) it’s best to be able to move quickly and b) virtual private servers are very inexpensive.

Meanwhile, my narrowness guidelines for 2012:

  • Focus on providing a communication channel that is new, simple,  predominantly mobile, and “obvious in retrospect.”
  • “Faster, better, cheaper” rather than “brave new world.”
  • Browser-based (forget about web apps on Android and iOS).
  • Focus on feedback mechanisms and monitoring tools.
  • Avoid developing new domain knowledge.

The Portland Experience

Portland has overwhelming natural environments within an hour or two, and even in the city, too; fantastic global cultural fusion, represented by the Chinese and Japanese gardens and by hundreds of Asian and European food carts; the biggest, craziest, most social day or night literacy center in the U.S. with “Powell’s City of Books,” and last but not least, from “Tuba Christmas” (with 200 tubas) and “Drunken Santas” with 1,000 Santas to tech meet-ups and un-conferences like pdxgroups, barcamps, and Ignite — people in Portland know how to self-organize.

Pacific coast at Manzanita, Oregon
Pacific Coast at Manzanita, Oregon

Mt. Hood near Portland, Oregon
Mt. Hood near Portland, Oregon

Tuba Christmas, Portland, Oregon

Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon

Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon

Powell's <i>City of Books</i>, Portland, Oregon
Powell's Books, Portland, Oregon

Twitter as News Channels

I use Twitter pretty much only as a news channel today. When I first started a year and a half or two ago, my early Twitterverse expanded rapidly by adding everyone I talked to at local meetups. Over time, after looking at a lot of tools, of which I still find Twitter100.com-based the most useful, I’ve gradually rebuilt my Twitterverse around news about my interests.

My interests may not be your interests (and also may not match my interests six months from now). I’ve been in the tech business for 25 years in marketing and general management, initiating new business because it’s what I like to do, and I’m also a developer of whatever it takes, because it’s fun making things work and if I don’t have a clue how it works then it’s hard for me to sell it. 

Today, Twitter as a set of personal news channels serves as an index for me into other online information. TechCrunch, Brian Solis, “Are Blogs Losing Their Authority to [Twitter] the Statusphere?” , summarizes how Twitter is deflating the blogosphere while creating a co-dependency with it.

So what do I want from Twitter?  I want a channels for:

  • Marketing Updates: what’s happening with new, mostly web and cell phone-based communications products (services, software, hardware) in terms of launches, rumors, reviews, sales trends, demographics trends, geographies, ecosystems, influencers, business strategy insights or speculations.
  • New Developments in Development Platforms: Such as topics in Nginx, XMPP, Python, JQuery, Rails 2.3, large-scale distributed data object manipulation – I need more timely, more “spun,” and higher ROI info than I can get with blogsearch.google.com, Wikipedia, RSS, or filters like ReadWriteWeb, RubyInside. Tweets with links to posts or articles.
  • News About My People: We’re already somewhat up-to-date and in context when we meet at the next meetup, Lunch 2.0, conference or unconference. Twitter-informed transformation in people’s knowledge of each other when I go to 3-4 tech or social meetups a week is remarkable. And it’s more leveragable than knowing the latest in the lives of nieces and nephews on Facebook.
  • Global Community: I also follow people in Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, New York, SF Bay Area to read in Chinese, Japanese, German, French — both to keep up on some of my languages (if there are tweets in classical Chinese, I haven’t found them yet — just maintaining a reasonable snarkiness coefficient and tech market vocabulary in several modern languages is a trick) and to get different perspectives in my areas of interest.
  • Advocacy: Unilateral nuclear disarmament (Do it now!), de-provincialization, greening, bringing the human ecological burden on the planet down by at least 90%, Keynesian and information economics, language and culture interaction — creating 21st-century reality.
  • An Ear into the Cultural Trace: Mostly relating to Western music since 1600 (and I do mean “since” — with all the social, technological, and political history, dialectic, and reinterpretations thrown in — and including music since 1950, which you will rarely hear on classical music radio. Also Chinese, Japanese, and Middle Eastern music new and old, plus jazz.