My new gig

As most of you know, I’ve been working with several companies over the past few years helping them with their marketing, communications, business development, and so on. I enjoyed the freedom that came with freelancing – but over the past year was becoming increasingly itchy for a change. I had debated starting another venture, but it felt terribly daunting and I had nothing I was sufficiently excited about to spend the 80 hours a week building it and trying to raise money.

Something I have long been very excited about was one of my clients – EdgeCast. The company is a content delivery network (CDN) competing with Akamai and Limelight (to name a couple.) In a nutshell, EdgeCast does for bits what FedEx does for packages – delivers them quickly, accurately, and intact. [OK, it’s a little bit more complicated, but that’s for another conversation.] The incredible explosion of demand for digital content – and the equally huge explosion in the supply of it – is combining to create a staggering market opportunity in the shuttling and stewardship of those bits. The public internet just wasn’t built for this.

Anyway, the company was founded in 2006 by friends – some very smart guys I admire a lot – and so I have been lucky enough to be involved since the idea stage and to see it mature into a serious contender.

Long story short – I’m really excited to announce that I joined the EdgeCast management team as their VP of Communications and Marketing. It’s actually been a couple of months now, but I haven’t had the chance to formally let the world know.

Everything was right about this opportunity – the timing, the team, the work I’m getting to do, the incredible market potential. I love that I’m applying my creative and technical mind in equal doses – and the company is at a very exciting stage. Perhaps best of all, I’m having a lot of fun.

So there you have it.

Gauging TechCrunch’s Moral Fiber In One Sentence

The study of microexpressions has long been fascinating to me.  If you’re really paying attention, you can learn a great deal about a person in fleeting, unguarded moments.  I think this is true about language as well.  In written and spoken conversation, passing remarks – let’s call them “microprose” – can often give a far more realistic depiction of what’s really going on than what is presented as the main course.  This is, of course, because they are less thought out – and thus less guarded – than the rest of it.

When Arrington posted his rant back in December about how TechCrunch was no longer going to honor embargoes, I stayed out of that fray.  I did that for many reasons: mostly because I think they have every right to refuse to honor embargoes, partially because I didn’t really care enough, and also because the issue was already getting a lot more treatment than it deserved.  But at the time, one little piece of it stood out to me:

“We’ll happily agree to whatever you ask of us, and then we’ll just do whatever we feel like right after that.”

I remember being troubled by that.  It’s one thing to say you won’t honor embargoes and NDAs.  It’s quite another to say you will agree to them and then break them.  The former describes someone doing what they feel is best for their business in an increasingly competitive space; the latter describes someone running a serious ethical deficit.

Last night the news broke that Arrington is in receipt of several hundred confidential Twitter documents forwarded to him by a hacker who broke into some of the company’s email accounts.  I won’t get into it all here; it’s being covered ad nauseam by the usual suspects.  Last night, Arrington publicly feigned moral contemplation about an “ethical line” he didn’t want to cross, then closed the same article with “more posts coming soon.”  Bring me the vomit bag.

I would conservatively estimate that the feedback loop of mutual-Web2.0-masturbation that goes on with Arrington and the toadys immediately around him might evacuate 40% of the oxygen from the social media ecosphere.  And that’s fine; jerk each other off all you want – it’s America.  But when you decide to participate on the buy side of a market for the fruits of criminal labor, I object – and I hope your readers do, too.

Is Real Time Next? [Clue: Yes]

The man who made gMail says real-time conversation is next.

“So, here’s a summary. The father of the best web email program on the planet believes that a real-time streaming interface for simplified aggregation of conversation and content from all around the web is going to join the handful of tools we use regularly, like email, IM and blogging.”

Where Am I? Crossing The Streams, Baby!

I’m still curating a lifestream over at FriendFeed; most of the stuff I want to share with you is over there.  As I said last summer, it’s a lot easier to do than blogging and it enables me to share lots of interesting stuff with you – along with a quick comment or brief discussion – without the “work” of writing a cogent, thoughtful, formatted article about each one.  And you don’t have to sign up to see people’s feeds.  But you might want to, because then you can comment, discuss, and share stuff with me (and the rest of us over there.)  A short refresher: FriendFeed lets you to funnel all your social media stuff (your Twitter updates, your Facebook status, your flickR photos, your blog, LiveJournal, Amazon wish lists, etc. etc.) – through one single stream that everyone can see, comment upon, share, and enjoy.  It’s great.

The Cosmic Tap will continue to be my personal outlet, so don’t unsubscribe and don’t go away.  It’s just slowing down because FF lets me to do most of the things that motivated me to blog in the first place.  I also am now contributing to the Huffington Post, so the newsy stuff is likely to end up there.

FriendFeed is growing rapidly and getting better by the day.  Today, they launched a new feature which enables truly real-time streaming.  See cNet’s coverage of the redesign.  Many people will like this – but many will find real-time overwhelming (and you don’t have to turn it on.)  Also: there are plenty of filters to help you manage the “flow” in case you end up with too many friends, feeds, etc.  But it does rock.  Give it a shot.

flickR works against photographers by stripping EXIF data

Orphan Works, by itadela
Orphan Works, by itadela

For years, ignoring the pleas of its customers, and seemingly unbeknownst to most of us, flickR has been stripping author, license, and other information from the resized versions of every image we upload.

To most of you, this probably sounds like pointless geekery, but it poses a serious copyright problem.  This practice contributes massively to the developing “orphan works” issue and needs to be addressed by flickR, pronto.

Most cameras insert data into images when they are created, and many photographers insert additional data such as copyright information, author information, and so on.  The idea is that this information follows the image as it travels the world, and hopefully helps people (who are curious enough to look) to understand who made it and how.  It also helps honest people who, down the road, discover an image they like and want to find out how – and if – they can legally use it.

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Etymotic hf2 Review, or: Can A Headset Change Your Life?

First, this article requires some personal background: I had meningitis as a kid; as a teen I went to a lot of rock concerts with zero hearing protection; then, a few years ago, had a vestibular infection and/or Meniere’s Disease (even the experts at Harvard’s Mass Eye and Ear couldn’t decide) on my right side.

The net:net, without all the personal whining, is that I’ve ended up with some fairly significant nerve deafness, much worse on the right side. While it doesn’t much affect my day-to-day life, over the past several years I’ve found that I just don’t use the phone like I used to.  Don’t like it much at all.  No fidelity to the voices, they sound extremely flat, have to ask people to repeat, etc. etc. …… so I generally avoid the phone if I can.  I know, I know, I should probably go get a hearing aid or something but I hate the idea – and besides (and more important) – why? I can carry on conversations just fine (unless there’s a ton of background noise), can still enjoy music, and honestly, most of the sound out there in the world I’d just as soon not hear.

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Vote or be Ugly and Uncool

vote for better tape
image by tom.arthur via Flickr

Everyone – please, for the love of all that is holy, get out and vote tomorrow.  If you can vote early (at this point I guess that’s just today), do. Those of you who can’t vote early, please be sure you know where your polling place is, and that you bring anything you may need to bring (some states require ID for first-time voters.)

RockTheVote has a great resource center that helps you figure out where to go and what you need to bring.  Use it.  Now.  And DO IT.

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The State Murder of Peter McWilliams

Growing up, there was a book that first got me excited about computers.  I’d never really forgotten it, but over the years it had faded deep into memory.  And fond memories they were – the book was whimsical, full of strange artwork and far-out metaphors.  It really helped me – a middle-school kid in the middle of nowhere trying desperately to think big – to see outside my small world and into a universe of infinite technological possibility.  I was probably 12 or 13, just starting to tinker with TRS-80s and early Apples and really having my mind opened up by these strange little boxes.

A few months ago – for some reason – that book popped back into my mind.  Who was that guyWhat was that book?  And off I went to figure it out.

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FriendFeed, Blogging, and Crossing the Streams

I’ve often whined in these pages about various modalities I enjoy online and, also, my frustrations with some of them.  A couple of years ago, right after the great big anorexia brouhaha of 2006, I remarked that folks seemed to be starving for conversation, and online tools hadn’t matured to the point where it could happen very well.

What I really love about blogging – other than getting my opinion out there and pissing people off – is curating.  I love finding cool, random things that inspire or touch me in some way and sharing them with all of you.  My hope is that you see, read, or feel things you would not have otherwise.

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Why Doesn’t Los Angeles Have Reverse 911?

During the recent earthquake here in Los Angeles, I found myself mildly spooked.  Not because of the quake itself, nono – after all, I had, since I moved to LA, wished for exactly this kind of quake.  “I want a quake,” I told friends, “just strong enough for me to experience one [I’d never felt one before], but mild enough so no one gets hurt.”  The quake of a couple of weeks ago was exactly what I’d ordered.

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