Monthly Archives: August 2013

Shelby Xbox One

sugarpovaThere needs to be a company that sells the naming rights of people. You can’t tell me that there’s not a brand out there that wouldn’t pay to have 10,000 people legally change their last name for a month or two. How cool would that be?

Stadiums can do it. They’re kinda like people. Kings do it. Popes do it.

The business challenge is to be figure out how to convincingly assess the value of someone’s naming rights, but with tools like Klout — isn’t this is the killer feature for Klout? — that should be doable.

The tennis star Sharapova appears to be pioneering the idea. At the very least it makes for a nice media stunt.


Killing The Game

I’m always a sucker for founder stories so thanks to Robert for the heads-up on this interview with Mike Karnjanaprakorn. He’s a co-founder of Skillshare, a brilliant product — an online platform for low cost classes taught by regular people on things they’re good at.

What struck me in particular was hearing a version of “lean startup” that didn’t come from MBA types but had a grittier idiom. All the usual themes showed up — be scrappy, start small, iterate and grow, don’t waste time, and mostly, fail until it works — but with examples from video games, hiphop, street restaurants.

It fired me to get that prototype of the H2H B3TZ feature done today. Like, today.

And at some point I need to check out a movie that Mike referenced, How To Make Money Selling Drugs.

Last thing — I like how inarticulate and bumbly the whole conversation is, sort of an example of failing forward on its own. Apparently Mike cleans up nicely tho..

A Comment On Snow Crash

Snow CrashSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I re-read this last June and couldn’t shake my first reading from many years ago — to me Snow Crash is still a comic book pretending to be a novel.

As cyberpunk worlds go this one is very influential and in some places garishly brilliant but the overachieving, desperate cleverness at the heart of this book really got in the way of characters I wanted to like.

One comment on Gibson’s Neuromancer that I think haunted its success was some critics pointed out that the plot evaporates, that it doesn’t come to a pointed ending. I used to kind of agree but the intense gorgeousness of the world and the language were so strong I didn’t care.

After revisiting Stephenson’s forced plot (wait, Hiro’s father was..?) and over-explained motivations (library scene!) I’m kinda looking at Gibson’s approach as a feature not a defect. I have to wonder if Stephenson had the Neuromancer critique in his head all along.

No, I don’t believe the world has square corners with a bow on top. There are layers, and a novel should have humility to find its place in those layers and not feel like it needs to wrap everything up. Even a made up crazy world needs mystery at the edges. Especially a made up crazy world.

I think I need to find time to check in with my old friends Case and Molly..

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Chance Favors The Connected Mind

There are a few TED talks that are bible for me, and this is one of them.

I’m especially drawn here to the idea of creativity as a group activity, a team sport — something that I suppose every creative person has experienced but maybe not recognized because this process is really haphazard and slow.

I also like the relationship between connected-ness and the idea of play. The story at the end of this talk about the birth of GPS sounds like a lot of fun, and super-underscores for me that cool ideas are shaped like a conversation.

Of course it’s probably a good idea if you’re going to do a talk on connections if you have all of your main stories connect up with each other.. Nice.

The Month of Streaking — Wrap

So I tried reasonably hard in July to win the ESPN prediction game Streak For The Cash — in a famously “whacky” sports month, where typical action is dogdays MLB and Finnish premier league soccer and where the WNBA is a “mainstream” sport, I played every day consistently and did at least 30 seconds research on my picks rather that just picking the consensus winners.


No dice for me. The winner got a streak of 23 — my longest was 14. For most wins, the winner had 116 — I got 82. Flo had a terrible month, with 872 people ahead of her, but she had 86 wins so I wasn’t even one of those bums.

While the game is a lot of fun to play solo, the game does not help with the social action at all. I had no idea when people joined the group without logging in a checking. I had no idea that Jeremiah was sneaking up on my W14.

Basically the play-with-a-friend feature is a “room”¬†where you can see your friends scores, but it amounts to nothing more than a “private leaderboard”, a lot like the PGA has been doing awesomely now on their killer shot-tracking leaderboard.

There’s no prize — not even a crappy badge — for a private group winner. In fact there’s no real winner. Is it the person with longest streak? the most wins? the best percentage? No indication — just a group of players. Arrgghh!

Getting into a group is a bit of a challenge, communicating with group members is weird — certainly neither is as good as even an average fantasy football game. Arrrggggh!

Worst of all there’s no history — every month the deck gets cleared with no way on “the morning after” of even seeing the standings! Super Arrrrggghh!

Where are the simple, fast, social prediction games? OK, heads down on bringing H2H to B3TZ — enough goofing around!