Archive for October, 2007
A) We all knew this was coming (didn’t we?).
B) It *is* a good thing,
I’m really left flat by the whole thing. Maybe that’s because we knew it was coming; maybe it is because I’m just tired; or maybe (maybe) there’s something bigger in my reaction.
I think the whole “open social graph/user controlled data” space is very necessary, and nearly inevitable — I’m just not excited by the APIs that make it happen. I mean, from a user’s perspective there’s nothing here that makes me stand up and shout.
Is that just me?
P.S. Defrag. Next week. Be there. (Everyone else will be.)
The brouhaha over our collective “bubble” just doesn’t stop. Steve Rubel’s most recent piece is the catalyst this time around — something that Alex responds to (good stuff!).
Some quick thoughts:
1. The trauma of the last dot-com bust certainly has an effect. Folks that lived through that are going to be much more likely to “call the top” the second time around, partly out of their own instinctual drives for survival. Plus, its always easier to look really smart if you called the bubble popping. Bottom line: Our individual abilities to “call tops” has been skewed by the leanings of our experience.
2. I think Alex is right - this is a digestion phase. One thing you can *always* find in bubbles is a digestion phase. In the last bubble, about mid-way through, we had a nice little mini-slowdown that shook things out. That digestion phase cleared the path for the real explosion (”the bubble”). This is where I believe we are *right* now.
3. “Calling the top” actually helps us avoid a bubble. Thank you.
4. The valley is an echo-chamber. No doubt about it. Does the valley feel “bubble-like” - absolutely. How can you tell what the rest of the world feels like? LEAVE that environment.
Honestly, I’m getting tired of the bubble-calling, but I know that it is a very necessary part of the process. Next up: ENTERPRISE ADOPTION. That (sometime in late 2008) will begin driving the next phase of bubble-blowing.
Watch for it. And learn what it’ll all be about at Defrag.
It is really kind of weird, actually. Starting, building and running a technology conference (from the ground up, without a team of minions) is really an exercise in moving an idea to the realm of the physical. But it is also a steady march toward being more and more physical. What I mean is that in the early days, all of the work is done in your head. Then after a while, it moves online or onto the phone. Then a bit more and some physical *things* come into the picture (binders, badges). Eventually, you get to this week, and find yourself assembling boxes for shipping, going to the UPS store, etc. And then, of course, next week, all that was once just an idea becomes actual physical reality (and you don’t get to sit in front of a computer anymore, you have to be on your feet).
This is gonna be fun!
Oh yes, barely any blogging today, as I’m wrapping up detail after detail after detail in prep for Defrag.
1 week to go, and we’re counting down!
We spent 6 hours over at the house of the folks that do the Defrag website last night (they’ll be at Defrag); working away furiously on the new Defrag site for *next* year (more on that later). Anyway, in between iterations, we were flipping over to watching G4. And then we heard the quote of the night….
….while reviewing a new dating simulation game for the 360, the female host said: “Does *anyone* realize the inherent irony in playing a high school dating sims game?”
Jeff Nolan (who *will* be at Defrag) points us to a very funny post regarding “what you missed by not going to Web 2.0 last week.”
1. Useless business cards
2. Worst wifi known to mankind
3. Mark Zuckerberg looked at me
4. Robert Scoble took my picture
5. John Battelle asked me for more hair gel
6. Could not twitter (no wifi)
7. I peed next to Steve Ballmer
All of this begs the question: What will you miss by not coming to Defrag on Nov 5-6th?
1. Esther Dyson leading a group discussion “On Attention.”
2. Your very own defrag fleece.
3. Folks like Alex Iskold, Peter Semmelhack, Eran Shir, Matthew Hurst and JC Herz challenging your assumptions.
4. Hotel food (hey - we’re doing the best we can over here!)
5. Really good wifi
6. Ross on “Things to do in Denver when your corporation is dead”
7. Paul Kedrosky fresh from the horrible tragedy that is the fires in SoCal.
8. Jerry Michalski stirring up the nest that is our attendees.
9. Great folks from Cisco, British Telecomm, PayPal, Disney, Safeguard, Pfizer, etc.
10. Me - *completely* exhausted having a stiff drink in the hotel bar on Tuesday night.
Alright, you won’t get the benefit of having John Battelle ask you for some hair gel (see the link), but c’mon!
I’m rolling out three social networking tools (SocialText, CollectiveX and Eventvue) to Defrag attendees over the next few days, and already I’m feeling the pain of separate logins.
The answer to this problem could come in a couple of forms:
1. All social networking tools merge into one entity — Not likely.
2. Federated single sign-on relationships are established between the vendors of the tools (Andre?).
3. These tools adopt something like OpenID (or anyone of the vendors that support OpenID, CardSpace, etc).
I know everyone is busy building features and landing business, but can we puh-lease get together and get this done.
A guy that uses social networking tools
PS: None of the above is meant to imply that each tool isn’t useful and worthwhile - they are, and they all perform different functions, hence my frustrations.
If you’re sitting on one of those Defrag discount codes, the time is upon you to use it.
At the end of this week, all discounts will cease to exist. If you show up at Defrag hoping to use that discount code, you’re flat outta luck (or time, as the case may be).
In other words, use it or lose it.
I’m a “cycles” guy. Which is to say that I’m always inherently looking for the cycle or analogy as I read news and history. This, of course, biases how I see the world (and could result in a much larger argument about whether/why history is cyclical or linear - one we won’t have here). But my admitted bias does allow my brain to walk down some interesting paths.
This morning, I’m looking at 3 juxtapositioned thoughts:
1. This NYT’s article about the broadening of losses from the mortgage meltdown. Specifically, I’m keying in on this line: “If prices drop 5 percent next year, that would mean a decline of $60 billion in spending, all else being equal. That would be a noticeable slowdown, but not enough to cause a recession.” (Throw in here Mary Meeker’s recent statements about an upturn in the relative funk in enterprise spending — especially in the area of technology.)
2. The news from yesterday about Facebook investments (Microsoft, hedge funds), specifically what it all means for the cycle that I think exists in technology innovation — namely, that the startups and investments swing back and forth between “consumer-focused” and “enterprise-focused.”
3. The consumer-to-enterprise swing that we saw occur in the very early days of Digital ID World (and identity, in general).
Putting it all together, here’s what I’m thinking: Bottom line — Tech innovation is about to get very focused on selling to the enterprise.
Explanation (if rambling and nearly incoherent):
We’ve just gone through an incredible surge in “consumer-focused” startups launching. The mortgage meltdown (which I don’t believe will result in a full-blown recession), combined with the apparent coming uptick in enterprise IT spending, sitting next to a huge investment in what is ostensibly a consumer-focused platform (indication of a top, anyone?), says to my gut that a lot of companies that have started by thinking they’re consumer (or advertising or end-user or eyeballs or whatever) focused are about to realize the value that comes from selling to the enterprise.
It, of course, helps that many enterprises seem to be waking up to the value of some of these consumer-focused tools (see “the consumerization of IT”).
Which all brings me back to the early days of Digital ID World. Its useful to note that early on an awful lot of “identity startups” were trying to solve the consumer-facing side of that problem. After all, if you could be the one company to provide “digital IDs,” you’d be beyond monstrous. It never happened. What happened instead was a steady shift toward selling to the enterprise, and (eventually - as in 4 years later) a coming around to a grassroots movement to solve the “consumer-facing” side of things.
And here’s how it all relates to Defrag: I see a lot of the companies in the “defrag space” (including a lot of our sponsors) starting on the consumer-side of things. I also see nearly all of them making the shift toward the enterprise.
If you define the broad defrag problem-set as having the data that’s accruing on the Net come to organize itself in support of the individual (and groups of individuals), then its quite easy to come to see how the early tool-sets might be most useful in the “closed test labs” of the enterprise.
That’s actually why I think Defrag the conference is in such a unique position. Like digital identity, we can move through a cycle of “enterprise work” (and watch Defrag companies solve enterprise problems), and have that work lead to “consumer-facing” solutions.
If (big IF) I’m at all right on this, we’ll see “defrag sponsors” enter into a really strong growth period as the economy works its way through our consumer-focused slowdown and the enterprise spending picks up.
I’m not sure if that made any sense at all. And, obviously, if you think I’m wrong, I hope you’ll show up in person and debate me.
[update: Maybe I'm even *late* to the game on this, as it looks like Microsoft is seeing a nice upturn in business spending.]
By now, surely, you’ve heard the big news of the day: Microsoft, after Ballmer called social networks “faddish,” has gone and invested 240 million in Facebook — a move which apparently values them at somewhere around 15 *billion* dollars.
I’ll let a lot of smart folks (smarter than me) examine the ramifications for Microsoft, Google, et al — but I will say this: I really don’t think *anyone* has cracked this social networking puzzle yet. And I especially don’t think anyone’s figured out how this all works inside the enterprise — a theme (the enterprise) that I will be harping on for the next few weeks.
Of course, if you’d like to help us figure all of this out, we’d love to have you join us.
10 days and counting…