Tag Archives: kind

Real-time web eats its own shit: Google buys, then does not buy ICOA

The power and the freedom of the press is a flaming sword. That it may be a faithful servant to all the people, use it justly… hold it high… guard it well.” -Steve Wilson, Illustrated Press

Don’t Hate the Playah, Hate the Game.

Dozens of top tech journalists were caught in a hoax today on PRWeb announcing the acquisition of ICOA by Google for $400M.

Top news brands including:
Telecom Paper
USA Today

and many others

The fact that this story broke and unbroke so fast is evidence of a new culture of Journalism that is somewhat toxic–an atmosphere of mutually assured destruction in an arms race of who can publish the news fastest and itchy trigger fingers across the journalistic profession.

Nobody in the broader readership much cares if a news story breaks in a hour, three hours or within seconds of the announcement. It’s a kind of snotty one-upmanship within the tech press community that drives press people to shoot first and ask questions later.

Some of the most experienced and savvy press folks I know were caught up in this sting and I absolutely dont blame any of these fine individual journalists. What I blame is the toxic atmosphere of one-upmanship which places more emphasis on who is king of the pecking order in journalism by breaking stories faster than others. This is masturbatory.

What the tech community needs is a brain that sits between the ear and the mouth, not some kind of trigger happy echo chamber. I’m not pointing the finger at any specific individual–even the person who perpetrated this hoax. This could not have happened if the community valued measured, thoughtful, analytical reporting.

Every journalist I have a personal relationship with that I know probably longs for the days when you could afford the luxury of fact-checking, interviewing and actually analyzing and writing intelligent news.

I don’t point any fingers in this blog post, but Kara Swisher savagely beat down TechCrunch over this in a series of blistering twitter posts referencing their role in this journalistic debacle:

To all those in the journalism industry, writers, bloggers, editors, I humbly ask you to work together to build a news culture that values disciplined, analytic, fact-based and professional journalism over what’s out there right now, a self-important, toxic, masturbatory echo chamber. Shame on you if you helped to perpetuate this sad culture of journalism.

I sincerely hope this incident results in editorial meetings and some accountability and process-improvements across the industry. I don’t think any disciplinary actions are called for, I think this is a cultural problem across the industry. Because of this, I feel the industry should take this opportunity to take a look at itself and understand better its role in serving the public.

Journalism is not a game of one-upmanship. It is a flaming sword. Hold it high, guard it well.


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The Neuroscience of Mobile App Engagement

My old pal Dylan Tweney @Dylan20 at VentureBeat wrote this fun article about Why Instagram is Worth 1 Billion and Your Startup Isnt.

The crux of the article is that Instagram fits my neuroscience model for user engagement. This is based on the observation that the Limbic System is primarily focused on three “threads” that run continuously in the background:

  • 1) Can I Eat This?
  • 2) Will this Eat Me? and
  • 3) Can I reproduce with this?

These threads come on line at different stages of human development.

Can I eat this comes first… a newborn baby doesnt even have much of this, except for maybe the ability to nurse. But soon this thread kicks into gear and babies crawl around like mad stuffing things into their mouths.

Will it eat me (The threat processing thread) comes online next, but it’s highly dependent on a maternal threat coprocessor and the user interface is the mom’s face. If mom looks scared, watch out, otherwise everything is ok. Babies dont have enough hardware to recognize and process threats. If you watch TV this is recapitulated in the “reaction shot” where a car blows up and the camera does a close shot of Farrah Fawcett’s face looking all shocked. (1970s Charlie’s Angels reference)

The reproductive thread doesnt spin up until puberty.

It turns out that there’s also a subthread in high-investment mammals which is the “it’s cute so I should protect it” thread, which is primarily about defending the young. This thread seems to show up weirdly early, which perhaps is related to siblings protecting each other.

Social impulses are built on top of this limbic system “platform”, in the sense that the “village” of your social network (in the Robin Dunbar sense) is what provides you with nutrition, protection and even a supply of reproductive partners.

How does this relate to the world of Mobile Apps? Exactly as Dylan perceives in this article… the highest engagement apps appeal to the lizard brain. The limbic system sits very close to the hindbrain and spine and is the big driver of action.

The other day someone tweeted “Why does California spend N Billion dollars on prisons and so much less on Schools?” What they might not realize is that the neocortex (responsible for things like thinking) is about the thickness of six playing cards stacked on top of each other, and that the word cortex means “bark” which kind of shows you how thin it is.

This kind of deep engagement shows up in applications like Pinterest. For example my Pinterest board is filled with good things to eat. I independently discovered the “cuteness” thread because I was searching for a broccoli recipe and a bunny rabbit named “broccoli” showed up. Since then pictures of cute animals have been replicating on my pinboard like umm… rabbits I guess.

In any event, this is my neuroscientific analysis of user engagement in mobile applications. Thanks for reading.

If you like it, please bonk the TWEET button below and retweet it!

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Escape Velocity — How Your App Can Survive the Coming App-ocalypse

So there’s an app for everything… and a ton of people putting apps into the app store… but of course this kind of onslaught of new apps is exciting for entrepreneurs–but not all of them will survive the upcoming culling…Peter Yared calls this the coming App-ocalypse.

Basically we see a lot of small one person mobile app startups who can get user traction but then the pull of “gravity” pulls them down to earth… paying the mortgage, the day job, building scalable backends and all of that gunk.

Kii uses venture capital, technology and distribution deals to help apps achieve global scale profitability.

The way booster rockets work is they provide the valuable extra thrust needed to get escape velocity, we kind of see ourselves that way.

I’ve been talking about how Kii Corporation is like a booster rocket for startups… and now this amusing article appears. Apparently Jeff Bezos from Amazon wants to fetch the Apollo 11 boosters out of the ocean.

Anyhow reading this article about Apollo 11 boosters made me think of this… a bit random but interesting to me anyhow.

Apollo 11

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The Apple Guru Steve Jobs Passes Away

I feel sad today hearing this.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, Technology Guru

My first computer was an Atari (thank you Nolan Bushnell), but many of my friends had the venerable Apple II. I bought Apple Stock right out of college. The company was struggling and I felt that it had a great brand, a great history and great potential. Steve Jobs was in exile and did not work there.

Everyone knows that during his return to Apple, the company obtained more cash than the US Treasury


and became the most valuable company in the world.

Apple money
Apple had more cash than the US Treasury and a better bond rating

It’s astonishing what one person has been able to do, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Steve was responsible for this expansion of the company. He’s been an astonishingly bright light in the technology industry, and I think everyone is reacting in shock and is greatly saddened by his comment which reads simply

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

We could see from this letter that this day would come and Steve would succumb to cancer.

We rightly attribute almost superhuman powers to Steve Jobs, and I say rightly because he once ran Pixar and Apple at the same time, both with tremendous success. In his younger years he traveled extensively in India and sought the advice of Gurus. This is well documented here and elsewhere:


While he was at Atari, Steve convinced (Nolan) Bushnell of paying him a trip to India. Atari did pay his trip up to Germany, where he had to work on fixing some Atari machines. Then Steve was joined by his hippie friend from Reed, Dan Kottke, and they went to India in search for enlightenment. They came up pretty disappointed, especially after they met the guru Kairolie Baba, who, as they quickly found out, was a con man.

“We weren’t going to find a place where we could go for a month to be enlightened. It was one of the first times that I started to realize that maybe Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Kairolie Baba put together.”
(quoted in Michael Moritz’s The Little Kingdom“)

When Steve came back, he resumed his job at Atari, and would spend some of his days in primal scream therapy sessions or at the Los Altos Zen Center, where he befriended Governor Jerry Brown and his guru Kobun Chino. He also spent several weeks with his girlfriend Chris-Ann and Dan Kottke in a hippie commune in Oregon, the All-One Farm. Here they would cultivate apples and for some time, Steve would eat only that — when he wasn’t fasting, that is.

The word “Guru” Sanskrit गुरु has lots of meanings, and unfortunately in the west it has been associated with the kind of charlatanism that is well documented, above. However, the guru/devotee relationship is an extremely powerful model of teacher. In tradition, the Guru represents an aspect of the divine and essentially becomes a new non-biological parent that the devotee transfers their survival imprint to. This might be a controversial statement and definition, but changing human beings is tough business, and in psychology this kind of imprinting is referred to as transferrence. It provides a means for a student to imprint on a master in order to transform themselves.

When I say “survival imprint” I mean that those under his tutelage felt shock, awe, fear, reverence and many other feelings. He famously “chews out” engineers and other Apple employees who aren’t helping to realize his vision. This was well documented here:


In 2008, MobileMe had some problems out of the gate, and according to a new “Inside Apple” piece that Fortune magazine will publish later this week, that resulted in a sharp reprimand from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, an immediate change in executive leadership for the project, and changes in the team’s membership.

According to the magazine’s sources, Mr. Jobs called the MobileMe team into a town hall meeting in one of Apple’s auditoriums after the service launched with problems and garnered unflattering reviews from noted tech commentators like Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Jobs reportedly asked the assembled engineers and other MobileMe team members, “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” When one of those employees then volunteered a satisfactory answer, Mr. Jobs followed up with, “So why the fuck doesn’t it do that?”

Steve Jobs did not find his guru in India. However, he became a guru to so many in the technology industry. This kind of leadership doesn’t come often and is clearly transformational.

Was he larger-than-life? Of course he was. So many people projected their fears, dreams, hopes and wrath onto him. Because of this, there are many legendary stories, projections and myths surrounding him.

This led to the creation of “Fake Steve Jobs“:

Fake Steve Jobs

It’s impossible to say which one’s are true unless you were there (I wasn’t). I had the great pleasure to meet Steve Wozniak, but it was as close as I ever got to Steve Jobs unless you count WWDC.

Miko and Steve Wozniak having Breakfast
Miko and Steve Wozniak having Breakfast

As the Guru of Apple Computer, then of Apple Inc, he transformed the lives of so many people both inside and outside the tech industry myself included.

It’s extremely poignant to review this video “How to live before you die”


I’m reposting this with edits. This was originally written when he resigned from Apple, but still applicable.


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