Last Build Date: Sat, 04 Jun 2016 04:40:04 PDT
Fri, 04 Dec 2009 15:27:07 PST
Thu, 23 Jul 2009 15:54:55 PDTThe World's Best View on Government Spending
Mon, 05 Mar 2007 22:08:12 PSTThe Family Tree
Tue, 19 Dec 2006 21:54:26 PSTIdentity and Differentiation
Sun, 10 Dec 2006 21:06:52 PSTEnvironment
Thu, 30 Nov 2006 13:40:41 PSTIdeas and Attention:
Sat, 18 Nov 2006 09:58:32 PSTMessaging: Part II Community Around Communication
Fri, 10 Nov 2006 00:09:35 PSTMessaging: Part I Communication and LanguageI've been thinking about the nature of the internet and communications. I've got a lot of stuff to post. But I am going to break it down into a series of posts. This is my first in a multi-part series on messaging and humans.Part I Communication and LanguageWhen I was an undergrad at MIT, I had a "humanities" minor in computational linguistics. It was really interesting. Noam Chomsky led the thinking about linguistics at MIT. Noam's ideas about linguistics and politics seem to be uncorrelated. But they are one in the same. Another thought leader in communications, Jaron Lanier, was my boss at VPL Research, where he coined the term virtual reality. I had lots of interesting discussions over years with Jaron about symbolic communication.Basically, symbolic communication has to do with the observation that all spoken and written language are composed of symbols. Symbols that represent the physical, visceral, conceptual and emotional human experiences. These experiences have components that tend to repeat and be shared across humans. We share these components by physically producing them as sounds and written words. In effect, these words and language as symbolic communication are a form of a lossy compression algorithm. That's right. This post. You talking to a friend. Language is just a lossy compression algorithm to represent these experiences. Human culture has driven lots of microcultures. Each with their own language. Each with their own lossy compression algorithm. Over time, languages are subject to Darwinian competition, just like physical organisms. Just like companies in a capitalistic society. Capitalism has spread English as the business dominant language. It's basically the dominant protocol/format for the algorithm. How did this start? First, as humans we used sounds which were probably composed of 1 or 2 sounds. Basic sounds to represent basic experiences. These sounds were probably utterances that we used to communicate with our tribe members. And they were short in order to get the point across and not be confused. Over time, syllables and phonemes were added to these utterances to build longer words and more narrow experiences. Perhaps narrow experiences shared by a subset of people.And then with the advent of writing and print, written language took off. Why are the most popular website domain names a few syllables? Probably because they are easy to remember. And communicate. Just like those early utterances.So, in essence all of our written and spoken language is a sequence of symbols. Like the ones you are reading right this instance. And you can now see that language is basically a lossy compression algorithm for communicating experiences. Maybe that's why it is so easy to misunderstand what people say. And why its so powerful to have the internet now. Because our symbolic communication can be shared with 6 billion humans.Thinking of langauge has also helped me see that distinct terminology can be used almost like codewords to identify who is in your tribe. And who isn't. Maybe that's why its so important to certain groups of people to make their members speak like they do. And enforce the correct usage of those symbols. Basically, language is being used as code for group formation of individuals. And to identify with a group. And to identify who is in the group. And who isn't. New groups need new codewords so that the members feel distinct and part of a new self-contained group. These new groups form from the burgeoning need of humans to continue to form identity and differentiate from each other. This leads to the constant creation of new words. New slang. New terms. Forever.Everyone has had the experience of hearing a word that they are not used to. And wondering what it is. A lot of people call that slang. A lot of pe[...]
Tue, 07 Nov 2006 22:48:10 PSTCRV QuickStart: Clarity on What it isMy firm Charles River Ventures announced yesterday a program to help entrepreneurs get a cool idea off the ground called QuickStart. There's been a tremendously positive reaction. We also noticed that there was some confusion about what it is. So let me clear things up a bit.1) What is QuickStart?QuickStart is a seed funding program whereby CRV will invest $250K in a promising new startup in the form of a loan to the starutp. 2) What kind of a loan is it? And who is the loan to?The loan is a convertible note made to the entrepreneur's company. It is unsecured debt. If the company goes out of business, the entrepreneur is not personally liable in any way. The purpose of the loan is to get the entrepreneur up and running and proving out their concept quickly3) Why is it a loan?Well, because entrepreneurs started asking us for their seed funding to be a loan. The advantage of the loan is that it allows the entrepreneur to keep the entire equity of the company for themselves as they prove out their concept. There is no equity dilution for taking the loan. It is also a simple 2 page loan that is easy to understand. And it is fast. There is no need to go out and convince and negotiate the "valuation" of the company for the entrepreneur. This allows for the entrepreneur to quickly get operating and prove out the concept in a stealthy way.4) If the entrepreneur wanted the seed funding of QuickStart to be seed equity instead of seed loan could they do that with CRV? YES, totally up to the entrepreneur. We are just offering another option.5)Why is CRV doing this? Because entrepreneurs kept asking us for this and we realized the whole startup funding market was entering a new long term trend. A trend where with $250K an entrepreneur could build out and prove a concept.We believe that there is heightened experimentation on the part of entrepreneurs and we want to support as broad a landscape of entrepreneurship in these projects that are "capital light." We realize that QuickStart could be viewed as disruptive to the business model of seed equity angel investors who traditionally ask entrepreneurs to dilute their stock during the seed phase. We didn't set out on purpose to disrupt anyone's business model. All we are doing is moving in the direction of the entrepreneurs' needs to get concepts out and tested quickly in a way that is palatable to the entrepreneur.6) If this is so great for entrepreneurs, what is the benefit to CRV? In exchange for giving $250K as a loan to the company what does CRV get?Very simply, CRV gets the right to participate equally with other equity investors IF and WHEN the entrepreneur decides they want to raise a Series A equity round.7) Assuming the entrepreneur accepts the $250K QuickStart convertible loan, what are their obligations to CRV?The obligation is a right for CRV to participate in the first EQUITY round (Series A) with other investors on an equal basis. On our website, we state that we have a right to participate in 50% of the Series A equity round. Frankly, we said that as most Series A investments have 2 venture firms as investors. And we'd like to be 1 of the 2. Thus 50% of the Series A round. But if the entrepreneur wants more than 2 firms, all we are asking for is the right to participate equally with other investors in that first Series A.8) Who controls the size, timing, valuation, etc. of the Series A equity round? The entrepreneur does. CRV claims no right at all here. We believe that the entrepreneur has the right to go to the free market and suggest the size of Series A they want to raise. At the time they want to raise it. At the valuation they are seeking. From whatever investors they want.9) Will CRV help me in raising Series A? If the entrepreneur asks us to, we are happy to introduce the company to q[...]
Wed, 01 Nov 2006 18:15:51 PSTConnected AlonenessHave you noticed that you are spending more and more of your time in front of your PC? And less time in front of your usual media, like the TV, like the radio, like the newspaper? Well, of course you have. The data from Comscore and Compete say that you do. And my guess is that if you ask most of your friends, they would probably say so.At the same time, have you noticed that more and more of time with friends is virtual? That you have more virtual relationships and friends?We are rapidly transitioning to a model where we are abstracting from our humanness of enjoying in-person face-to-face physically based meetings. To virtual encounters. To virtual meetings. To virtual relationships.So, let's back up a step. And ask when did this start? Well, historians will argue that it started the moment we as humans started using symbolic communication known as language. Which then became books. But let's skip some millennia and get to recent history.Let's go back to when (if you are old enough!) you first saw someone walking around with a Sony Walkman. Remember how people would get irritated about that person with their earphones plugged into their ears just enjoying their own sonic world? Well, now its commonplace. But back about 20+ years ago, it was a new social phenomena.It was the beginning of our use of our own personal worlds. Where we separated from the people around us. Enjoying our own experience.Zoom forward two decades. Now the use of cellphones and MP3 players are commonly accepted. And even email, IM, and your own list of virtual friends on a social networking site like MySpace has its own representation and in some way, an emotional connection for yourself.Recent studies on kids between grades 7 through 11 indicate that IM use with people you know in real life is being surpassed by IM use with people you virtually know online. That the discovery of virtual people through virtual sites is a real phenomena. And is already dwarfing the use of IM. These surveys also reveal that these kids view as a status badge the number of virtual friends they have listed as "friends' on the social networking site's profile.Why is this happening? Well, because it's fun! And maybe because it offers a seemingly brand new social playing field. Where you can feel a sense of discovery, differentiation, identity, and mastery. Where you can feel a bigger global stage for your life. A sense that your life is connected to everyone. A sense that you are not alone.Are we any happier because of it? Good question. I don't know. Each person should answer this for themselves.Where is it going? I think we are on version 0.1 of the virtual world. Face it, we are already living in the virtual world. Its just clunky. We live in a virtual world full of text blogs, podcasts, flash video embeds, IM, email, and web page surfing. And sure, we hear of all the "registered users" of Second Life. By and large, it's a clunky 2D one-person-at-a-time text world that is in the cro magnon stages of something that is arcing to an inevitability. An inevitable virtual world that creates experiences for all of us that are like the ones in Total Recall and Snowcrash. Only better integrated with our physical lives.We are rapidly, in fits and starts, building out this new world for all of us. One where we can feel connected to everyone. But right now, connected while being alone.This is something to think about. As we continue to read blogs like this. View video on sites like YouTube. Meet virtual "friends" at MySpace. And go about our usual digital lives. All in front of our PC. With everyone, keystrokes away from us. In our connected aloneness.[...]
Wed, 25 Oct 2006 23:44:47 PDTevhead: The Birth of Obvious Corp.
Sun, 22 Oct 2006 19:47:45 PDTThe Consumer. What does a consumer do?