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There are two holidays every year that I love: Thanksgiving and New Years.

New Years, because it’s the only day of near universal celebration. It’s like everybody’s birthday. Around the world, in almost every country, at midnight you can hear cheering – regardless of race or creed. We all get a chance to look back at the successes and failures of a year gone by and welcome the beginning of what we always hope will be something better.

If there’s a holiday that invites the world to think of what we are hopeful for, it’s New Years.

Thanksgiving, however, looks in the other direction: what are we thankful for?

Taking a day to ponder the things I am grateful for is a welcome reminder of the abundance of joy that I have. And in case you didn’t know, taking the time to think about what we are grateful for actually makes you happier and healthier.

I am thankful to have love and laughter in my life. I have a family (through blood and through friendship) that I treasure. I have friends who never fail to bring a smile to my face. I have the opportunity to chase my own dreams. I have mentors and investors to support and guide me and my business. I live in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

And of course, it’s a time to eat an insane amount of awesome food and get a little… inebriated  with the people you love best.

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s not a question to ask of the candidate, it’s a question to ask yourself. In fact, it’s a question you ask before you even start looking for someone:

“What am I going to *stop* doing after I hire this person?”

This works on a couple of levels.

First, I believe you shouldn’t hire anyone for something that you haven’t already been doing yourself in some capacity. This is so a) you know that you do *actually* need someone in that role (i.e, hiring for that role will not be a waste of resources) and b) you know what to look for.

Second, it encourages the delegation mindset. People don’t scale, they delegate. If you start by listing the tasks that you will stop doing when you hire someone, you’re setting them up to own their work and do a great job.

[Thanks to Vince Turner for the suggestion to write these thoughts down!]

People complain incessantly about vertical videos – videos that are shot in portrait mode. Understandably so, because they’re hard to watch. And they’re weird, cause we’re so used to watching widescreen videos.

If you have ever shot a video on your phone, you’ll notice how much easier it is to hold your camera steady when you’re holding the phone vertically. It feels far more natural and infinitely less precarious.

Many video apps, thinking to do the world a favor, require the user to rotate their phone sideways before shooting video so that the video comes out nice and widescreen. Admirable idea, and it’s one that we tried at Switchcam.

But recently I’ve come to believe that this is bass-ackwards. The device should work to the users needs, rather than some jerk-face piece of software telling the user, “you’re doing it wrong!” Sounds like something straight out of 1998.

Someone (I’m looking at you, Google/Moto) should just make a phone that takes landscape video when held vertically. This is how the Flip Cam worked – hold it vertically, get landscape video.

There’ll be some tradeoffs needed and it will confuse the percentage of well meaning people who attempt to get it right as it is.

But I’m convinced that, in the end, the world will thank you.

I’ve been thinking for a while about the challenges for consumer video startups. One of these challenges relates to what I call “Attention Arithmetic”*.

The basic idea is this. Most of us (at the least the ones you want to hang around) have this innate ability to perform Attention Arithmetic. Attention Arithmetic is how I think about how people decide whether or not something is worth their another person’s attention.

Here are the factors of Attention Arithmetic:

  • How much i enjoyed the content (A)
  • How much i think all of my friends/followers will enjoy the content (B)
  • How many “cool points” do i get from sharing this. (C)
  • How long it takes to watch/read/look at the content (D)

Attention arithmetic says, the more of my time the content demanded, the better the content has to be for the people I’m sharing it for. Does it make me look really cool / smart / awesome? Is it entertaining? Both?**

If you think about your friends on Facebook; how many of them explicitly share music with all of their friends? The number is smaller (at least for me) than I might expect because we listen to music all the time. Teenagers listen to 2.5 hours of music a day. I probably listen to about 4 hours a day while I work. But I only explicitly share my music with a select group of people who I think will enjoy it (B, above) and only when the track/set is particularly awesome. I’m not including ambient sharing in this – most online listening services do broadcast what I listen to.

Another example is this viral hit – Dove Sketches. It’s a 3 minute video, but it has an undeniable impact, a well told story, and makes people feel good about themselves when they share it. **

Of particular interest to me is Video. Video sharing is less prevalent than image sharing because of the attention arithmetic involved. People share less (in volume) video than they do images and links. The two reasons for this relate to (b) and (d) above:

  • How much i think all of my friends/followers will enjoy the content (B)
  • How long it took me to consume the content (D)

The arithmetic for photos is much less drastic. If i take up 1s of my friend’s time, i won’t feel so bad if she doesn’t enjoy the image.

Corollary:  the “Circles” concept in Google+ is the perfect answer to Attention Arithmetic. You do the arithmetic up front and segment your friends into groups and so now, sharing content or not sharing content comes down to content quality. Google’s approach addresses the attention arithmetic part of the sharing equation. If i have segmented by friends into groups, i need to do less thinking to figure out if my friends will enjoy the content.  ***

Contrast that with Facebook’s approach, which is to algorithmically personalize your newsfeed to only show you the stories you are likely to be interested in. This helps make your feed manageable; it helps the content consumers consume the best content. But it does not help those who want to share content. Because unless i know in advance that Facebook is going to filter my music posts for those of my friends who don’t like music, I won’t share that content. ****

* Many people who are smarter than me have thought about this and have much more intelligent thoughts about this.

** Thanks to Jim Qin for pointing me to this article about viral videos, which provided a really good example w/ dove sketches: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7267.html

*** It goes without saying that it doesn’t help having a “perfect” sharing model when there is no one on the service to share with.

**** I know Facebook has groups and has privacy settings that mimic circles, but they are not the defaults and the defaults are what matters for 90% of users.

When I was 12, I wrote for fun. I would beg the teacher for more time to write longer stories, usually about eagles or battles that somehow involved Frodo or Aragorn.

When I was 21, my lovely mother and sister made me a wonderful compilation of stories that spanned my whole “career” of writing – from the scribbles of a 3 year old through to the  sophisticated scratchings of a 12 year old.

At 16, I dreamed of going to Oxford and studying english literature. I imagined how happy i would be in a warm room, rain sliding down the windows, green fields outside, stories unfolding under my hands.

It’s pretty clear that none of that ever happened. Recently, though, I took a few days out and I started thinking – why shouldn’t I exercise my imagination a little? Why not write some ultra-short stories every week or so?

I gave myself a theme to help keep the creative juices flowing:  “Invitations”. To make sure I have time and can keep up with this outside of my significant work commitments, stories have a limit of 6-ish paragraphs. They are 1 pagers, ultra short stories.

Then, in a lovely twist, my literarily inclined friend Krys agreed to go one-for-one with me. And here we are, writing “Invitations” stories together.

It’s surprisingly fun to have a writing buddy. It’s also really, really fun to have a very short brain exercise that I can look forward to weekly.

Here is the first Invitations piece by me: Watchers

Here is Krys’ piece: Half Moon Bay

And my second piece: Rich Kids, 2104

I’ve also dug up some poems i’d been noodling on for a while and decided to bare them to the world, too.

Feedback is welcome, though constructive criticism is preferred. No one improves without feedback!

If you’d like to follow along with Krys and I, you can subscribe to A Puddle of Dud at the bottom of the blog page.

 

I love that the Hobbits of Tolkien’s world give presents on their birthdays. The idea that the birthday boy should give out presents to his friends seems fitting, a way of saying, “hey, thanks for putting up with me.”

Sadly for my friends I haven’t adopted this tradition, mostly because i am not a Hobbit. Hobbits do not exist, despite the efforts of the NZ tourism board to suggest otherwise. And perhaps, just quietly, I don’t have nearly enough money to buy nearly enough gifts to make up for *you* having to put up with *me*.

So this year, I thought to myself: “I’m going to write a reverse birthday card where i tell everyone how awesome they are and how much I love them.” So here we go. My inaugural reverse birthday card.

Dear friends, family, and random internet people.

Apparently, if my parents are to believed (fat chance), I am turning 30 years old. Shock, horror. But no, actually i don’t care. Or if anything, I’m sorta looking forward to getting carded at bars so I can knowingly smirk at the bouncer as I hand him my ID card. Then, as a surprised look dawns upon his face, I can kind of huff at him as he waves me through. Anyway.

I am truly lucky to have a group of wonderful people around me. You are all absolutely fucking wonderful. I don’t know how you manage to help me float somewhere between bat-shit insanity and boredom, but the balance appears to work. For example, it’s been quite a while since I believed I was a Teletubby. I think we can all agree that it’s an improvement.

But in my ever-diminishing wisdom, I’ve also figured out that most of us really don’t have any idea what we’re doing. The magic of it all is, even though we probably shouldn’t operate heavy machinery (let alone run businesses), we tend to figure it out when we work together.

I shouldn’t have driven,
You shouldn’t have driven,
But we got there.

It is to my infinite fortune that the people who have chosen to embark on my various life endeavors with me – and those who have helped me along the way – have unanimously been smarter, or wiser, or more experienced (or all three) than I. Thank you.

I’m also amazed that I’ve somehow convinced a very special group of incredibly fun, talented and crazy-in-a-good-way people to hang out with me from time to time. Who are you people, and how is it that you can be so awesome? Can we eat Vegemite at 4am again sometime? That hippie camp up in Mendocino, let’s do that again, and no, i don’t want to convince the old lady to put her clothes on when she’s swimming in the pool; she looks way too happy. I think she might just know the secret to the universe. Speaking of which, didn’t we find the meaning of life somewhere in the clouds above Coachella? And do any of you *actually* remember what it was?

Can we be crazy for a few more years? Have I got them in me?

They say that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Well, whoever chose my family for me did such a good job, I’m kind of glad i wasn’t able to get in the way and screw things up. My family is a clan of inspiring ninja warriors with hearts of gold. I am talking from my grandparents down. My uncles and aunts and adopted aunts, my cousins and adopted cousins, they’re all doing awesome things with their lives and I’m proud to be a part of the fam. But most of all, Mum, Dad and Tara. I couldn’t even describe how important you are to me, or what your love and support means for me, but i hope it’s pretty damn clear that I love you all very much.

So, here we go. 30. I’m pretty excited. Mostly because I look around me and all I see are awesome people.

If this isn’t love, it’s very close.
Can you hear the world is waking up?

Thank you.

p.s Random internet people, I haven’t forgotten you. Thank you for making lolcats. I see you 9gag and imgur and Larz Shinola, president of the internet people. You give me teh lulz on the sad days with the sad feels. Thanks.

p.p.s This is the song that has been running through my head as I was writing. It’s also the source of all the quotes.

I backed App.net on Tuesday when they barely had $200k committed to their goal of $500k. After a whole bunch of press and even a few beta-ish apps being released, they’ve scooted past their goal.

I backed App.net because i think it’s a marvelous experiment. Can a pay-for-entry social network actually work when it isn’t a dating site? Will it reach some kind of scale? Could it even be a massive business?

My personal belief is that the quality of the people on a network like App.net is very very likely to be high and of great interest to me. The fact that payment is required to get in is a good reason to believe it will remain high.

We’ll see, but the experiment itself (and being a part of it!) is totally worth the $50 I paid. I’m glad they made their goal.

There’s still 13-ish hours left – here’s where you can back the project: https://join.app.net/

I aspire to see beyond the next mountain. I dream of building products that I will use and love every day. That you will use and love every day. I want to build something for the future we haven’t met yet.

I aspire to pitch my products with humor and enthusiasm. To engage and inspire people with what is possible, not by what simply is. Less words, less features, more feelings.

I aspire to deftly lead my business. I aspire to have the ability and strength to lead a business back from the brink of ruin to find greatness once more. I dream of enabling people to do more and go further, to build and to innovate and to create happiness.

I guess that in some way, I aspire to change the world. And yes, I’m very far away from doing so.

I don’t dream these things because of Steve Jobs, but I dream them more strongly because he showed me that I could.

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world… are the ones who do.”

Here’s to the crazy ones. And here’s to Steve Jobs.

I’m super excited that we’re covering the Austin City Limits Music Festival down in Texas. The lineup is killer – Coldplay, Kanye, Stevie Wonder(!!!!),  Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket. And Skrillex. Who could miss Skrillex. Pretty Lights. I wish I was going to be there.

One of the really cool things they’re doing is live webcasting many of the performances on YouTube. You can tune in during the event here.

Sometimes I’ll be chatting to people about Veokami, and they’ll ask me – “so, you think you’ll be able to replace an official camera crew?” For now, the answer is: no way. In the future it may become more feasible, but let’s face it – no one is tall enough to get those epic crowd shots, or the artist-eye-level shots where you can see the sweat on their nose.

But what *is* really exciting is the ability to augment the clean, above-the-melee footage with some raw, authentic, I-WAS-FRKN-THERE-MAN shots. That dude dancing up a storm at Big Audio Dynamite. Deadmau5 opening in epic rain.  The crazy mud dancing to the arctic monkeys.

Kinda feels more like being there. And makes me wish I was there. Andddd… in that spirit we’ll be seeing ACL’s official videos mixed in with your fan videos after the fest! Huzzah!

Anyways. Check out ACL on Veokami. Right now, you can only vote (cause it hasn’t happened yet, duh). So go vote for which acts you’d like to see unlocked. Afterwards, come back and add some videos. I’ve voted for a couple:

Enough ramblings. Peace up, A-town down.

Ok, so you’re thinking, “What’s the point of Veokami? Why the hell should I vote for you in this Lollapalooza competition?

Good question. Social niceties aside (i.e I’ll support you because I’m your friend), there are some very good reasons you should vote for us in this competition, especially if you:

  • Love live music
  • Have trouble finding relevant videos from events
  • Take videos at events
  • Want me to buy you a beer. Ever. Again.

First up, Veokami is still in beta. We haven’t finished the product. What will it be within the next two months? Two key things.

  • A place to find video from events like conferences, concerts etc. Any event. We’re organising videos that were taken together in the same place by grouping them together so we can reconstruct parts of the event for you to re-experience.
  • A place where you can share your favourite moments from events you’ve attended and discuss those moments with likeminded people.

Why do you care? I’m going to number these for maximum impact. Yeah. This time, there’s more than two things.

  1. Finding and sorting through more than a handful of videos from a concert is hard… you can easily find the most popular videos. But what if you want to see what happens next? 9 times out of 10, Veokami will find you a video that will show you what happens next. 
  2. The next time I search for “Green Day Lollapalooza” and see some dude in his bedroom singing “Good Riddance” whilst strumming a cruddy guitar he bought at Walmart I’m going to commit seppuku. You know what I’m talking about. I hate that guy. Veokami uses math and smart stuff to make sure that douche doesn’t muddy your results.
  3. More of us are taking videos when we’re at events. Whether it’s iPhones, Android phones, Sony Bloggies, Flip cams whatever, the amount of video that’s being uploaded every minute would blow your mind: 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, every minute. We need to be smarter about how we deal with these videos so we can find them later. Veokami takes an innovative approach that uses audio processing so we can group videos together.

We want to launch Veokami at an event like Lollapalooza, with the blessing of Lollapalooza, so that we can show the potential of what we’ve developed. Also, by the time August rolls around, we’ll have more features in place that will make our product vision clearer.

Please take the time to vote. Please note that the voting requires you to connect with Facebook in order to prevent fraud… not to spam you or your friends.

[NOTE: You can't just "like" the submission. You have to click "Vote"... see the screenshot below]

Thank you! If we do win, beers are on me.

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