Category Archives: My projects

Things I have done or am doing. Growing set of subcategories.

LeWeb13: Kevin Marks, The Web We Found

The Web that Kevin found 10 years ago and how it is changing now. Left Apple in 2003 selling stock for $10 and joined Technorati, switched to LAMP. The browser war was over, IE6 had won, XML was replacing HTML.

LeWeb'13, Kevin Marks

Was everything over? Not really.

Webkit. The hegemony was not really there. Mobile: Sidekick. steph-note: I used to chat with Kevin at the time while he was on his sidekick commuting to work.

Did we have a social web 10 years ago? We did. Friendster. Realtime? Not really. Google updated their index once a month in the Google Dance.

They way you got to things on the web were portals.

What changed? Blogging. A parallel social web overlaid on the web we were all using. Personal publishing pages connected to each other and updated in minutes. Technorati was indexing that. Minutes rather than once a month.

The key thing were interoperable open specs. Over the next 10 years new devices came along. The Sidekick was ahead of its time, but these new devices all started out with a good web browser, and the apps came later.

Blogging was absorbed into social silos: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. More streamlined but more constrained.

Mobile has now displaced desktop. Biggest OS = Android. IE is now irrelevant.

In 2013, social is consolidated silos. Links spread rapidly, hashtags bridge them.

Myths:

  • Apps will replace the web
  • Facebook is your website — you still should have your website
  • Mobile is some special different thing than the web that we had before

The App is just a browser that only works on one site. steph-note: I’ve always seen them like that.

Facebook is the new portal. Starting to feel like Yahoo a few years ago. We work around it.

Mobile screen resolution has caught up (more pixels than your laptop at times). Distinction of small and large screens is not as binary.

Long-term view:

  • open outlasts companies: we’ve seen companies come and go, but open protocols are still there
  • open protects people, they aren’t trapped in the destiny of a company; an open flow of data between sites protects you; open protocols is also why we now have all these devices (Webkit lay the seeds for Chrome and the iOS browser)
  • open saves effort

IndieWeb: your own website, developers making tools, using silos to connect. Connecting across silos and becoming resilient against any one of those going away.

Principles:

  • you should own your own data, have a website which is not a Facebook page or a Google Plus page
  • you should have visible data; what made Google and Technorati possible was that web pages were visible and indexable and shareable. Social silos going up are taking this away. You can’t crawl Twitter anymore. Bits of Google Plus you can’t crawl either.
  • POSSE: publish own site syndicate share elsewhere steph-note: what us bloggers are doing

Make tools for you, not tools you think somebody else will use. If you don’t use it nobody else will. Cf. Odeo.

Document. Say what works. Open Source what you make.

If you’re a company an hire a developer to work on an Open Source project, and they leave the company, they might continue to work on the OS project and contribute code. A project in a company is only going to last as long as the management chain understands the roadmap — fragile.

Design and UX are most important. Protocols come later.

Be modular. Don’t try and build everything. Use silos and swap pieces out.

The Long Web. Are you making something to last or to disappear? Expect it to last. Don’t destroy history. Spread copies elsewhere. steph-note: blogging again

Bet on the Web: open outlasts closed. Make infrastructure.

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LeWeb13: Ramez Naam

Wiring the human brain. Sending information from one’s person mind to another. Nexus: mankind gets an upgrade.

LeWeb'13, Ramez Naam 2

Keanu Reeves “I know Kung Fu”.

Working circuit printed on human skin, with sensors & ambient supply. Google glass style contact lenses. Pill cam, in use since 2008 in thousands of patients (clinical trial). 3 cameras taking 30fps from inside you.

Let’s go beyond that and talk about the brain. Internet of things: the “thing” we’re the most concerned about is ourselves.

Cochlear implants. 200K people that no hearing aid can help. Data sent directly to the brain.

First motivation for these “cyborg” technologies is medical.

Also progress for sight. Man who lost an eye at 18, and the second (accident) a year later. Now he has a CCTV camera on his glasses. Limited mobility vision. Can very carefully park a car. 16px by 16px grid. Terrible, but a quantum leap up from 0px, and a proof of concept: we can send digital vision to the brain.

Another man, paralysed from the neck down and vocal cords destroyed by tracheotomy. Electrode in motor area of his brain allows him to type on computer.

Damaged hippocampus tissue can be replaced by chip.

Increasing performance in certain tasks in monkeys (Planet of the Apes).

Two monkeys in two rooms with electrodes in their auditory cortex, connected. One monkey hears one sound, the other hears the same sound and knows what it means.

Rats: one is trained to respond to a series of lights => specific lever. Second rat performs much better on the test than if he had no prior knowledge. (Thousands of km away.)

Two computer scientists playing a video game as a single player thousands of miles away.

Hippocampal bridge: prior knowledge of the maze for a second rat.

This is far ahead, more than 10 years.

Issues: this is your brain. Who wants to play with it? If you’re blind of deaf, benefits can be great, but if you’re healthy… ahem.

Digital stuff never malfunctions and is never hacked. (NOT)

You don’t want the NSA in your brain either…

All that said, Ramez is very optimistic, because of the history of information technology.

The printing press increased the pace of innovation and scientific progress. Newton was able to write his book only because he was able to absorb the ideas of hundreds of others before him through books. And printing allowed him to spread his ideas to hundreds and thousands of others.

Increase our ability to spread ideas => more ideas. Also, democratisation of knowledge. Changed the relationship between the government and the governed.

Even the idea of civil rights was only made possible by the cheap distribution of new disruptive ideas.

See things through others’ eyes? Maybe literally possible in the future.

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LeWeb13: Brady Forrest

Brady has dived into hardware during the last year.

It all began with the Arduino. Almost an accident in the way it changed the world. Open-sourced, cheap. Designed for students.

Now is a great time for experimentation with hardware. That’s why we have the quantified self, and connected homes…

Prototyping is now “solved”. Anybody can prototype a hardware project. Don’t even need to know basic code.

Circuit Stickers. Stickable circuits that you can put all over the place. Crowdfunded. Trouble shipping. Building and shipping thousands of products is hard. Prototyping is just the beginning. You can’t walk into a factory, show a prototype and have it made.

That kind of scale requires rigour, teaching other people how to build your complex product perfectly thousands or millions of time.

LittleBits. OSHWA.

Open Source hardware business models. Challenge: being copied. Challenge 2: the prototype is not your documentation. AWS for manufacturing.

Third, products like SmartThings or ThingSpeak. Gadgets that don’t talk to each other. Need for open APIs.

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LeWeb13: Robert Scoble

Robert and his Google Glass:

leweb13 2013-12-11 17h26-2

The Age of Context.

  1. Sensors. We all have a smartphone filled with sensors

  2. Wearables.

  3. Location

  4. Data

A new kind of contextual operating system. Your phone is going to know what you’re doing. Are you skiing? Personalized ski goggles (Oakley). Software that anticipates our needs and gets ahead of us.

Also means we are going to see everything that’s going on in our businesses in real time. (Uber and GE). Deep insights into customers. Initially, the Ritz was built on index cards. They’d write down everything about you to give you better customer service. That’s lost, but can come back.

Pinpoint marketing. Robert has an app that knows he’s sitting down. Apps will know that we’re at the store or hanging out with a friend.

A sensor that knows that your hand is reaching for the box of cheerios.

Eightly: instant creation of personal channels across devices. steph-note: examples? a bit abstract so far. Ah, demo coming. Feature-centred rather than user-centred, sadly. Not convinced…

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LeWeb13: Brian Solis

Tired because has been taking a lot of pictures in Paris, and doesn’t know where to post them: Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook…?

leweb13 2013-12-11 16h38-2

Every week brings a new app, a new trend… Wants to think differently about technology.

Has spent the last several years studying tech that disrupts markets.

Either the next 10 years are going to happen to us, or because of us.

LeWeb is full of people trying to change the world.

Saw a headline recently about the lack of innovation. But VCs are paying attention to Europe now: what is Europe going to do with this opportunity?

Disrupting is something that happens because of what we do. We need to be inspired but also think about a new approach. The future of innovation starts with empathy, seeing things through the eyes of somebody else. See things differently and have the courage to try it.

Some of the best traits in innovative companies follow.

Innovation introduces us to something new, changes behaviour. So obsessed with raising money and reading Mashable that we lose sight of that. Changing behaviour.

Innovative companies apply some variety of design thinking or systems thinking to their approach.

Generation C, the connected generation. Face in our screens. This is the world where we have to either feed complacency or change behaviour to be more productive.

Teenagers can focus on homework for 6 minutes before they need to turn to a device or an app.

Can you read long articles like you did before? Or do you find yourself looking at pictures of cats? steph-note: all the time!

This is the person we need to inspire. How do you invoke empathy for a group that seems to lack empathy?

Creative destruction. Ideas that will make the leader in a market lose its place. Uber, AirBnB. You know you’re onto a good idea when the government tries to shut you down.

Good ideas sound ridiculous at the beginning. The first mouse doesn’t get the cheese, but the second one does.

Bread, once it became sliced, became a platform that created markets for sliced meats, spreads, a company providing you with your dinner. Created an entire market. steph-note: Switzerland doesn’t really have sliced bread… or at least it’s second-rate bread.

Followers outperform pioneers. Benefits of second-movers.

“Does anyone in the audience have the new Samsung smartwatch?” — nobody moves. “Exactly! How many of you will have the Apple iWatch when it comes out?” Apple applies design thinking to their stuff.

Inspiring book: The Innovator’s Dilemma.

What’s the problem? What’s the opportunity? Disrupt the market because you solved a real problem and created a solution for it.

The best companies out there have all applied this model.

Start with Why, not What and How. Why = motivation, How = process, What = product. Start with Why. Apple believes that they can challenge invention, shake the status quo, and do that by thinking differently. Computers that are beautifully designed, with great user experience. When you start with why you’re already empathetic.

Empathy — Context — Creativity — Rationality

Characteristics of innovators

leweb13 2013-12-11 16h47

Wonderful paper by Google: 8 pillars of innovation (head over and look at them).

Starting with Why, empathy and context, that is more powerful than you imagine. Design and systems thinking is key, not technology.

New York lit up by electricity. Needed a power plant, needed to be built!

Nike don’t just make shoes now. They’re a technology company, services company, data, platform.

Tesla don’t just make electric cars. They’re the second mouse. They figured they needed a complete ecosystem to support that car. A platform. Not just about how the car looked and drove. Built a new model to sell cars, because they wanted a great experience throughout.

They’re building a whole electrical infrastructure around key points in the US so people can feel safe about having a full battery. => best car that’s come out in a long time.

Two ways to influence human behaviour: manipulate or inspire.

The future is a blank slate. Yours to define.

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LeWeb13: Dina Kaplan, Blip Co-founder (Fear)

Fear and the role it plays in your life. Dina asks for a show of hands, who has thought about it? steph-note: I’m astonished how many peopled didn’t raise their hands.

Two years ago Dina was at an intersection, two blocks from work, incapable of crossing the road.

PC110053
Thanks to Adam Tinworth for the photo.

When they launched, she worked without stopping. Literally. High-power, high-media life. Public face of the company, daily press stuff, managing 6 departments, awards…

She looked fearless, but it was all BS. She wasn’t mindful of her fear, but fear was holding her back in every area of her life.

She was super stressed and taking way too much on, but afraid to ask for help. She’d taken on a role, emulating men (“What would Larry or Sergei do?”). She was held up as a model woman entrepreneur, but felt like an actress playing that role. Didn’t have the confidence to be herself. Imposter syndrome, part of her who worried that she didn’t deserve what she had.

She started having panic attacks. Lived in fear of passing out in the middle of NYC intersections. Started taking cabs everywhere.

Back to that day in November, she’s on that intersection, trying to make eye contact on the other side of the street so that if she did pass out, they would stop to scrape her body off the street.

Decided it was not working. Quit her job, took a one-way flight out.

Travelled, but was still being entrepreneurial. The girl with the endlessly cool vacation photos on Facebook.

Patrick, for years, had been telling Dina to meditate and face her fears — which she didn’t listen. Went on a hike together, tried meditating. Being rather than doing.

She went to a 10-day silent meditation retreat to study meditation. Hard and painful, no way escaping herself. Wanted to quit on day 1, on day 2, on day 3. On day 8, she understood what her driver was: she was obsessed with being like. Bullied in summer camp when she was little, vowed to herself that she would be like. Cost? Was never authentic even though she managed to surround herself with people and friends.

Didn’t ask for help because didn’t want to upset people or cause trouble.

How could she break the pattern? Patrick’s words came back to her: if she faced her physical fears and conquered them, would that help?

Start with a big one: scuba-diving. When she was young, somebody had died on her very first scuba-diving trip. Went diving with another family, the father never came back up.

Super afraid before going into water, but felt ok once inside. And after, felt different: she had done something for her. Ziplining. Bungee jumping. Decided to do it for herself, for a new life.

leweb13 2013-12-11 16h23

Back in NY, she has changed. Tells a VC friend she thinks every entrepreneur should learn to meditate. He calls back to say it was a super meeting. She dared to be herself.

leweb13 2013-12-11 16h22-5

Used to be afraid of confrontation, of asking favours, of being herself. Is OK with people not liking her.

But… no need to bungee jump to be free or spend a year in Asia.

Three things:

  • mental agility, breaking your habits, those that hold you back
  • fear: what if I face my fear?
  • mindfulness, not just to connect to others, but connect to yourself

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LeWeb13: Meditation (Headspace)

One of the founders of Headspace was a buddhist monk and then became a circus clown. How can you teach meditation in a fun way?

1 mio users. Fashion that’s going to die? Meditation has been around for a long time, just normal evolution of an age-long practice to be able to do it with your phone.

We understand more about what the impact of meditation on the brain is. So… brain fitness just like we have body fitness.

Little meditation session. Incredible how quiet the main room was.

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LeWeb13: Gary Vaynerchuk

Snapchat is Gary’s most effective tool to connect with his fans. Breadth is not important, it’s how many people care.

In the mid-nineties, Gary invested in email lists. Bought 2 million addresses! But it didn’t work. Understood it wasn’t about how many people, but about people caring.

Snapchat isn’t about impressions it’s about attention. Number one thing: tell your story to somebody along the path of making a decision. Before telling your story you have to get people’s attention.

Once the famous people arrived on Twitter, Gary’s days were over, at least when it came to making something trend on Twitter.

49 minutes to select 4K people by hand on Snapchat. Reminds me (SB) of how taking shortcuts in communication decreases return. He sent a picture, and within a few seconds, many of those people had posted that pic with hashtag to Twitter.

Marketing sucks. Most people suck too because they just want to promote their stuff.

Jab, jab, jab, right hook is in fact give, give, give, and then ask. steph-note: agreed, you need to earn the right to ask favours.

steph-note: whoops. I downloaded Snapchat and tuned out.

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LeWeb13: Tony Fadell, Nest Labs Founder

We already have smoke detectors, etc. Change the customer experience. Have products that we love.

These products need to be highly differentiated from what they are today. You have your smartphone in your hand at all times. How does your life change? How does your person, house, car change?

Upsetting established markets. Disturbing businesses who have been able to do the same thing over and over again for 40 years.

Have seen really dirty tactics from their competitors. Incumbents throw everything they can think of at a startup trying to disrupt their business.

Manufacturing brings a whole other set of problems than building a few products. Need to plant the seeds early to be able to defend yourself and manufacture properly.

Nest Labs have over 100 patents issued. Many more on file. Not agreeing with Guy Kawasaki clearly.

Mass market products which need to go in every home, every business. They are not daily products. So you need disruptive marketing, disruptive product, disruptive retail.

steph-note: mandatory smoke detectors in homes feels ridiculous seen from Switzerland. Everywhere I go where they have smoke detectors (UK, etc) it’s just false alarm after false alarm => alarmapathy.

Important that people can trust the products. Baked into the company culture.

Vision: from anywhere in the world you know what’s going on in your house. Increased levels of comfort when you travel.

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LeWeb’13: Carmine Gallo, The 3 Unbreakable Laws of Communication

Communication matters! Dan Pink: we’re all in sales now, like it or not.

LeWeb'13, Carmine Goffi

We’re understanding a lot now about how the brain processes communication. The science of persuasion (cf. Carmine’s book “Talk Like TED“).

If you break the three laws, bad things happen. You don’t sell, etc.

Emotional — Novel — Memorable

Ideas that spread are emotional. Touch my heart before you touch my head. Passion leads to mastery. Make sure you’re passionate about what you do, you can’t inspire unless you’re inspired first. Passion is not interest… Passion is your greatest love. You don’t tell your sweetie “Marry me, you are interesting!” (Larry Smith)

Tony Hsieh’s passion isn’t shoes, it’s about delivering happiness. Branson’s love is elevating the customer experience, disrupting the status quo, making the world a better place.

Master storytelling. Remarkable things happen to your brain “on stories”. We connect when we’re told a story. Storytelling is connecting. When I tell you a story, the same areas of our brains light up. We’re in sync. We’re connected.

Novel: teach me something new. Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, the stands out, that looks delicious (Pradeep, The Buying Brain). Jobs was brilliant because he came up with new ways to solve old problems, and he presented those in a new way.

Steve Jobs’ intro of the iPhone: 3 thoughts that were in fact one. That was novel! Expected 3 products, got one.

The brain cannot ignore novelty. Ballard, who discovered the Titanic: you can only inspire when you give people a new way to look at the world. Dopamine activates the brain’s mental save button.

Memorable: none of this matters if I can’t remember what you said. Present content in a way people will remember.

Three techniques:

  • picture superiority: speech 10%, add a picture, 65% (use more pictures than words — steph-note: I suck at that)
  • stick to the rule of 3: short-term memory can deal with 3 chunks of information. Just give me 3. Three is a powerful technique.
  • keep it short. 20 minutes is great. Even less. JFK inspired the nation to look to the stars in 15 minutes. MLK articulated his vision of racial harmony in 17 minutes. Steve Jobs did his commencement speech in under 20 too.

None of this doesn’t matter if you don’t have the courage to stay in your lane, follow your life’s purpose.

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